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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…

Selma James in July 2012

Beyond Boundaries

In 1952, Selma James wrote the classic pamphlet A Woman’s Place and, in 1972, she and Mariarosa Dalla Costa published their groundbreaking The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community, which discussed how women’s unpaid housework and care work is crucial to the production of the working class and, thus, the economy as a whole, launching the domestic labor debate inside the women’s movement. That same year, the International Wages for Housework Campaign was formed. In an interview with Ron Augustin at her home in London, James spoke of her political activities and years with C. L. R. James, whom she was with for more than twenty-five years, each with their own political activities but also sharing important struggles. | more…

Karl Marx and the Birth of Modern Society: The Life of Marx and the Development of His Work (Volume I: 1818-1841)

For over a century, Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism has been a crucial resource for social movements. Now, recent economic crises have made it imperative for us to comprehend and actualize Marx’s ideas. But without a knowledge of Karl Marx’s life as he lived it, neither Marx nor his works can be fully understood. There are more than twenty-five comprehensive biographies of Marx, but none of them consider his life and work in equal, corresponding measure. This biography, planned for three volumes, aims to include what most biographies have reduced to mere background: the contemporary conflicts, struggles, and disputes that engaged Marx at the time of his writings, alongside his complex relationships with a varied assortment of friends and opponents. | more…

Gilets jaunes, acte XVIII

The Yellow Vests in France

People or Proletariat?

The Yellow Vests (gilets jaunes) movement first appeared in October 2018 and is active everywhere in France. As this article was written, the spontaneous mobilization was in its twenty-first week. The demonstrations are mainly organized around traffic circles, where protesters block transportation lines. While their concrete demands are about wages, these demands are not presented by workers’ actions aimed at defending the value of labor power, but rather as part of a citizens’ movement, as referred to by the media and many of the demonstrators. In this way, the site of political confrontation has been shifted. | more…

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

Forthcoming in November 2019

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…

The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology

Forthcoming in January 2020

Twenty years ago, John Bellamy Foster’s Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature introduced a new understanding of Karl Marx’s revolutionary ecological materialism. More than simply a study of Marx, it commenced an intellectual and social history, encompassing thinkers from Epicurus to Darwin, who developed materialist and ecological ideas. Now, with The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology, Foster continues this narrative. In so doing, he uncovers a long history of efforts to unite issues of social justice and environmental sustainability that will help us comprehend and counter today’s unprecedented planetary emergencies. | more…

Statue of György Lukács

Searching for Alternatives in Eastern Europe

Tamás Krausz Interviewed by Róbert Nárai

In the 1960s, Georg Lukács—under the slogan Back to Marx!—called for a “renaissance” of Marxism within Eastern Europe. To understand the nature of this renaissance, we have to understand the many important questions that the Hungarian uprising of 1956 raised for the anti-Stalinist left inside Hungary and Eastern Europe more broadly. This interview looks at efforts to rethink the future of socialism from the Eastern European situation in the second half of the twentieth century, including the political lessons of 1968, the internal fight within the Hungarian Socialist Party, and the continued relevance of V. I. Lenin’s Marxism. | more…

Germanys Hidden Crisis cover

Germany’s Hidden Social Crisis

Germany is commonly perceived as a strong, dependable island amid a sea of gyrating European uncertainties, a down-to-earth, dependable ally in attempts by the better U.S. presidents to move the world forward as steadily as possible. For the past thirteen years, this view has been personified in the clear, undramatic words and deeds of Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005. Considerable doubts in this appraisal, with evidence that Germany, like every other country, has never been a monolith free of class conflict and other contradictions, are addressed in Oliver Nachtwey’s Germany’s Hidden Crisis: Social Decline in the Heart of Europe, out now from Verso Books. In describing West German, then all-German, developments from the end of the Second World War until the present, Nachtwey analyzes from the left, unafraid to utilize the ideas of Karl Marx as well as a host of more recent analysts of many shades. | more…

Navigating the Zeitgeist: A Story of the Cold War, the New Left, Irish Republicanism, and International Communism

Why would an American girl-child, born into a good, Irish-Catholic family in the thick of the McCarthy era—a girl who, when she came of age, entered a convent—morph into an atheist, feminist, and Marxist? The answer is in Helena Sheehan’s fascinating account of her journey from her 1940s and 1950s beginnings, into the turbulent 1960s, when the Vietnam War, black power, and women’s liberation rocked her bedrock assumptions and prompted a volley of life-upending questions—questions shared by millions of young people of her generation. But, for Helena Sheehan, the increasingly radicalized answers deepened through the following decades. | more…