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Soviet Union (USSR)

Tractor factory in the Soviet Union in 1972

Crisis of Socialism and Effects of Capitalist Restoration

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…

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…

Section of the Diego Rivera's mural "From the conquest to 1930" focusing on Marx and the class struggle

The Multiple Meanings of Marx’s Value Theory

The Marxian critique of political economy is inseparable from the “labor theory of value.” But what exactly does this theory mean? This article considers Marx’s value theory from five perspectives: as a monetary value theory, a theory of exploitation, a macro-monetary theory of capitalist production, a theory of individual prices, and a theory of crises. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 69, Number 3 (July-August 2017)

July-August 2017 (Volume 69, Number 3)

For this special issue, MR has invited some of the most profound left thinkers in the world to reflect on the legacy of revolutions and counterrevolutions around the world since 1917. Naturally, these authors do not all offer similar perspectives or come to the same conclusions. Nor should they—the historical issues are too complex and the human stakes are too high. | more…

Petrograd workers drill on Palace Square

Revolution and Counterrevolution, 1917–2017

If counterrevolution ultimately triumphed over the revolutionary waves of the twentieth century, how are we to understand this, and what does it mean for the future of world revolution? The answer requires a survey of the whole history of imperialist geopolitics over the last century. | more…

Children of the poor celebrate the first anniversary of the October revolution

The October Revolution and the Survival of Capitalism

The October Revolution was the first such event in human history that was theoretically conceived and executed according to a plan. It is this theoretical comprehension of the underlying historical conjuncture that explains the revolution’s sweep and energy, the profound changes it wrought in the world, and the extent to which it threatened the very existence of capitalism. | more…

Petrograders examine campaign posters for elections to the Constituent Assembly

The Great Struggle to Escape Capitalism

Post-revolutionary societies, in their efforts to combat counterrevolution, have always been confronted with their own contradictions, and with the persistent threat that an exploiting class could reemerge. Instead of the intended socialization and democratization, in many places what resulted was instead state ownership and stultifying bureaucratization of both the economy and the polity. | more…

Demonstrators supporting the Constituent Assembly on Palace Square

As the World Turned Upside Down

Left Intellectuals in Yugoslavia, 1988–90

Throughout Eastern Europe, there was an unleashing of pent-up questions, hopes, and fears brewing for decades. There was a sense that the ground was trembling underneath these experiments in socialism. It was clear to most of us that socialism could only survive through radical democratization. | more…

Postcard depicting heroes of the October revolution in Petrograd

The Western Left and the Russian Revolution

For a century, the counterrevolutionary reaction to the events of October 1917 has arguably been the most determining ideological factor in Western politics. Today the victory of that counterrevolution is complete, but Western powers still need their inherited antithesis, in changing form, as self-justification. | more…

Presidium of the Second Northern Oblast Congress of Soviets

Bertrand Russell and the Socialism That Wasn’t

Russell was both a liberal and a socialist, a combination perfectly comprehensible in his time, but almost unthinkable today. As a liberal, he opposed concentrations of power in all its military, governmental, and religious manifestations. But as a socialist, he equally opposed the concentrations of power stemming from the private ownership of the means of production, which therefore had to be put under social control. | more…

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