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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…

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…

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…