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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…

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

A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee

The circumstances that impelled Victor Grossman, a U.S. Army draftee stationed in Europe, to flee a military prison sentence were the icy pressures of the McCarthy Era. Grossman—a.k.a. Steve Wechsler, a committed leftist since his years at Harvard and, briefly, as a factory worker—left his barracks in Bavaria one August day in 1952, and, in a panic, swam across the Danube River from the Austrian U.S. Zone to the Soviet Zone. Fate—i.e., the Soviets—landed him in East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic. There he remained, observer and participant, husband and father, as he watched the rise and successes, the travails, and the eventual demise of the GDR socialist experiment. | more…

Neoliberalism is creating loneliness

Capitalism and Mental Health

The psychoanalytical framework developed by Marxist Erich Fromm strongly challenges the dominant biological and individualistic explanations of the mental-health crisis that is now sweeping the globe. Fromm emphasized that all humans have certain needs that must be fulfilled in order to ensure optimal mental health. It follows that capitalism is crucial to determining the experience and prevalence of mental well-being, as its operations are incompatible with true human need. | more…

A 19th-century illustration depicts a scene off the coast of Peru, where bird poop, or guano, was harvested

The Robbery of Nature

Capitalism and the Metabolic Rift

Marx’s notion of “the robbery of the soil” is intrinsically connected to the rift in the metabolism between human beings and the earth. To get at the complexities of his metabolic rift theory, it is useful to look separately at the issues of the robbery and the rift, seen as separate moments in a single development. | more…

Monster soup commonly called Thames water, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us!

Cesspools, Sewage, and Social Murder

Environmental Crisis and Metabolic Rift in Nineteenth-Century London

The accumulation of human excrement in nineteenth-century cities, particularly London, precipitated a historic environmental crisis—an aspect of the metabolic rift mostly overlooked in ecosocialist analysis. The solution that was finally adopted only shifted the problem out of sight, setting the stage for even greater crises in our time. | more…

The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce

The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce

Karl Marx famously wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon that history repeats itself, “first as tragedy, then as farce.” The Cold War, waged between the United States and Soviet Union from 1945 until the latter's dissolution in 1991, was a great tragedy, resulting in millions of civilian deaths in proxy wars, and a destructive arms race that diverted money from social spending and nearly led to nuclear annihilation. The New Cold War between the United States and Russia is playing out as farce—a dangerous one at that. The Russians Are Coming, Again is a red flag to restore our historical consciousness about U.S.-Russian relations, and how denying this consciousness is leading to a repetition of past follies. | more…

Romans during the Decadence

Revolution or Decadence?

Thoughts on the Transition between Modes of Production on the Occasion of the Marx Bicentennial

Revolution is still on the agenda for the global periphery. Restorations in the course of socialist transition are not irrevocable—and in the weak links of the center, breaks in the imperialist front are not inconceivable. | more…