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Illustration of the Paris Commune from Cassell's History of England

The Paris Commune: Marx, Mao, Tomorrow

Today the political visibility of the Paris Commune is not at all evident. At least, that is, if what we mean by “today” is the moment when we have to take up the challenge of thinking politics outside its subjection to the state and outside the framework of parties or party.… And yet the Commune was a political sequence that, precisely, did not situate itself in such a subjection or in such a framework. [To tackle] the political facts and determinations of the Commune…[it is necessary to utilize] a completely different method…[than that of the classical interpretation]. | 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…

Eifel Tower

Sovereignty and the State of Emergency

France and the United States

Following the July 14, 2016, massacre in Nice, French President François Hollande once again extended for three months a state of emergency that was to have ended on July 26. An initial, twelve-day state of emergency had been declared after the Paris attacks and extended for three months by a law of November 2015. Still another three-month extension was added and came to an end on May 26, only to be extended for two additional months. Despite the obvious ineffectiveness of such a measure…it has been extended yet again, through January 2017.… This normalization of the “state of exception” has provoked only a muted public reaction. France has thus entered into a permanent state of emergency. This choice is not the result of exceptional events to which the country must respond, but rather expresses an intention to change the political system, as shown by the move to constitutionalize the state of emergency. | more…

February 2016 (Volume 67, Number 9)

February 2016 (Volume 67, Number 9)

From mainstream news reports, one might easily conclude that the Paris climate agreement, presented to the world on December 12, 2015, was a complete triumph. The Guardian headlined it as “The World’s Greatest Diplomatic Success.” However, by any meaningful criteria, the Paris climate change agreement was fraudulent, based on a fabric of illusion. Moreover, the distorted media coverage of the climate deal, presenting it as a historical agreement virtually without shortcomings, was made possible in large part by the French government’s banning of the mass climate protests, following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. With radical protestors silenced and their demands marginalized, the global power elite could make virtually any public claims it wished, without acknowledging any other public voice or alternative view. | more…

France: An Algorithmic Power

The Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, demonstrate, if such a demonstration is still necessary, that the aim of new French intelligence laws is not to anticipate or prevent terrorist attacks, but simply to eliminate the private lives of French citizens. President Hollande’s statements that delays in implementing the law were behind the “failure” of the intelligence services are a denial of the fact that this legislation only confirms existing practices. The Law on Intelligence, just like the law on military planning, is mainly an attack on private freedoms. The state of emergency will likewise eliminate public freedoms.… Following the November 13 massacres, the government is already considering changes to the Law on Intelligence, with the aim of “eas[ing] the procedures the intelligence services must follow when they would like to use means of surveillance.” Yet this law does not establish any controls over the activities of the secret services. It does set up a National Control Commission, but this body has no effective possibility of carrying out its mission, and can only offer recommendations. It is not a question, then, of eliminating a control that does not exist, but of signaling that the very idea of monitoring the executive branch should be abandoned—a clear signal that no limitation can or should be placed on its actions. | more…

Piketty and the Crisis of Neoclassical Economics

Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has it been so apparent that the core capitalist economies are experiencing secular stagnation, characterized by slow growth, rising unemployment and underemployment, and idle productive capacity. Consequently, mainstream economics is finally beginning to recognize the economic stagnation tendency that has long been a focus in these pages, although it has yet to develop a coherent analysis of the phenomenon. Accompanying the long-term decline in the growth trend has been an extraordinary increase in economic inequality, which one of us labeled “The Great Inequality,” and which has recently been dramatized by the publication of French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Taken together, these two realities of deepening stagnation and growing inequality have created a severe crisis for orthodox (or neoclassical) economics. | more…

July-August 2014 (Volume 66, Number 3)

July-August 2014 (Volume 66, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

Allusions to Marx seem to be emanating from all points of the political compass these days in the context of the current political-economic crisis of capitalism, reflecting the remarkable resurgence of both Marxism and anti-Marxism. What is especially notable in this respect is the extent to which such allusions have come to focus on the saying, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”—usually identified with Marx’s famous 1875 Critique of the Gotha Programme. Conservatives frequently quote “from each according to his ability” (ignoring the rest of the saying) and use it as a kind of code phrase for “Marxism” to attack all progressive measures. | more…

Merging the Law of War with Criminal Law

France and the United States

To support the “war on terrorism,” the concept of war has been introduced into the criminal code of all Western countries. This is the first step on the way to a merger between criminal law and the law of war. Massive spying by the secret services of a country on its citizens has today become the norm. The Snowden revelations on the operations of the NSA have only brought to light a widespread surveillance that is already legalized.… Despite the prominence given to the practices of U.S. intelligence agencies and the resulting indignation in France, the French parliament just adopted a military planning law that includes measures allowing practices similar to those of the NSA, specifically massive spying by intelligence agencies on citizens. | more…

The Infinite Hypocrisy of the West

ALTHOUGH several articles on this subject were published before and after September 1st, 2010, on that day the Mexican daily La Jornada published one of great impact entitled “El holocausto gitano: ayer y hoy” (The Gypsy Holocaust: yesterday and today) which reminds us of a truly dramatic history. Without adding or removing a single word from the information contained in the article, I have selected some lines referring to certain events that are really moving. Neither the West nor -most of all- its colossal media apparatus have said a single word about them. | more…

The powerless powers

This is a serious subject.

The summit meeting of leaders of the eight most highly industrialized powers on the planet took place July 7-9 at a mountain retreat on the banks of the Toyako, a lake formed inside a volcanic crater located in the north of the island of Hokkaido, in the northern reaches of the Japanese archipelago. It would be hard to choose a site more removed and distant from the madding crowd than this. | more…

The Work of Sartre: Search for Freedom and the Challenge of History

The Work of Sartre: Search for Freedom and the Challenge of History

This landmark book, first published in 1979, met acclaim as a doubly important work of radical philosophy. Its subject, Jean-Paul Sartre, was among the twentieth century’s most controversial and influential philosophers; its author, István Mészáros, was himself establishing a reputation for profound contributions to the Marxian tradition, which would continue into the next century. In this completely updated and expanded volume, Mészáros examines the manifold aspects of Sartre’s legacy—as novelist, playwright, philosopher, and political actor—and in so doing casts light upon the entire oeuvre, situating it within the historical and social context of Sartre’s time. | more…

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