Top Menu

Europe

Tractor factory in the Soviet Union in 1972

Crisis of Socialism and Effects of Capitalist Restoration

This article will be released in full online April 13, 2020.

The main criticism leveled at the socialist economies was that a planned economy was inherently less efficient than a market one, due to the sheer scale of the bureaucratic task involved with planning a major economy. But the collapse of the Soviet and later the Russian economy under Mikhail Gorbachev and then Boris Yeltsin was an economic disaster that was otherwise unprecedented during times of peace. The world’s second superpower was reduced to the status of a minor bankrupt economy with a huge decline in industrial production and in living standards. | more…

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky at 100: Was Minsky a Communist?

Since the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09, Hyman Minsky (1919–96) has been widely recognized as one of the late twentieth century’s most insightful economic theorists. Nevertheless, if Minsky had still been alive at the time of the Great Financial Crisis, there would have been little likelihood that his new-found reputation would have resulted in his receiving the Nobel Prize in Economics given his heterodox and socialist economic views. | more…

Evald Ilyenkov

On the Coincidence of Logic with Dialectics and the Theory of Knowledge of Materialism

In this reprint of “On the Coincidence of Logic with Dialectics and the Theory of Knowledge of Materialism,” Evald Ilyenkov discusses the idea of the coincidence of dialectics, logics, and theory of knowledge—one of the hallmarks of the Ilyenkovian current in post-Stalin Soviet philosophy. Ilyenkov was a renowned and controversial Soviet Marxist philosopher who contributed substantially to the Marx Renaissance that emerged in the so-called Thaw Period, aiming to reconstruct Marx’s original methodology. He was known as an ardent critic of technocratic tendencies in the Soviet Union and stressed that socialist society should express humanist values and not merely be an engineering project. | more…

A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee by Victor Grossman

The Wisdom of a Socialist Defector

Victor Grossman’s A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee is at once an exciting adventure story, an engaging autobiography of a radical opponent of U.S. imperialism, and a clear-headed assessment of the successes and failures of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) at the onset of the Cold War until 1990, when its citizens voted to merge with the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany). Most poignantly, Grossman compares the benefits workers gained in the GDR, the FRG, and even the United States during the Cold War. | more…

Polish students, their teachers and others gather in front of universities to protest in March 1968

Liberated Capitalism

An interview with Henryk Szlajfer by Grzegorz Konat. Szlajfer was a leading figure in the student uprisings in Poland in March 1968. He was expelled from the University of Warsaw and was arrested and imprisoned for political dissent. He later conducted research in political economy focusing on the theory of monopoly capitalism, where he made major contributions, and coedited The Faltering Economy with John Bellamy Foster. | more…

The Punishment Monopoly: Tales of My Ancestors, Dispossession, and the Building of the United States

Why, asks Pem Davidson Buck, is punishment so central to the functioning of the United States, a country proclaiming “liberty and justice for all”? The Punishment Monopoly challenges our everyday understanding of American history, focusing on the constructions of race, class, and gender upon which the United States was built, and which still support racial capitalism and the carceral state. After all, Buck writes, “a state, to be a state, has to punish … bottom line, that is what a state and the force it controls is for.” | more…

Copenhagen house' (John Gale Jones; Joseph Priestley; William Hodgson; John Thelwell; Charles James Fox), by James Gillray (died 1815), published 1795

The Trial of Thomas Hardy

A Forgotten Chapter in the Working-Class Fight for Democratic Rights

November 5, 2019, is the 225th anniversary of the acquittal of Thomas Hardy on charges of High Treason. Hardy is nearly forgotten today, but for decades workers and democrats in England celebrated November 5 as the anniversary of a major victory, a triumph over a powerful state that had deployed immense resources to crush working-class organizations and suppress popular demands for democratic rights. | more…

Shamrocks and Oil Slicks: A People’s Uprising Against Shell Oil in County Mayo, Ireland

County Mayo, Ireland, is spectacularly beautiful. Dolphins, whales, and seals frolic in bays, rivers teem with salmon. Into this tranquil, unspoiled region, in early 2002, came Shell Oil, announcing plans to build a gas refinery. Shell promised wonderful things: new jobs, improved roads, money for schools. Church officials called this project a “godsend,” while honest, hard-working families, who had lived in Mayo for generations, certainly saw no harm in the project. But when the citizens of County Mayo realized what Shell actually intended to do, they rose up. Shamrocks & Oil Slicks tells the story of County Mayo—the fishermen, farmers, teachers, business people—who, motivated by love for their environment, their community, and their country, fought one of the planet’s most powerful destroyers to a standstill. | more…

Lexit

Socialist Internationalism Against the European Union

Costas Lapavitsas’s The Left Case Against the EU (Polity, 2019) is recognized as the leading work advocating Lexit, the left-wing case for Brexit, and for nations leaving the European Union more generally. In light of current Conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to exit the European Union by October 31, even if it means a no-deal Brexit, the role of the left takes on growing importance. Moreover, this raises issues of the European Union generally, including the dominance of neoliberalism within it and the question of German hegemony. Here, Neil Davidson offers an assessment of Lapavitsas’s book. | more…