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SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19

COVID-19 and Circuits of Capital

COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the second severe acute respiratory syndrome virus since 2002, is now officially a pandemic. As of late March, whole cities are sheltered in place and, one by one, hospitals are lighting up in medical gridlock brought about by surges in patients. | more…

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky at 100: Was Minsky a Communist?

Since the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09, Hyman Minsky (1919–96) has been widely recognized as one of the late twentieth century’s most insightful economic theorists. Nevertheless, if Minsky had still been alive at the time of the Great Financial Crisis, there would have been little likelihood that his new-found reputation would have resulted in his receiving the Nobel Prize in Economics given his heterodox and socialist economic views. | more…

Leszek Kolakowski and Henri Lefebvre at a conference in the Netherlands on March 9, 1971

Mystified Consciousness

The great French Marxist Henri Lefebvre authored sixty-eight books, since translated into thirty languages, making brilliant analyses on dialectics and alienation, everyday life and urbanism, ecology and citizenship. Yet, his La conscience mystifiée(Mystified Consciousness), published in 1936, has seemingly been forgotten in every language, largely ignored everywhere. Though it may well be his most enduring political tract, it was his most prescient thesis for understanding the human condition in the twenty-first century. | more…

Mental Health

A Theory of Mental Health and Monopoly Capitalism

As an exposition of capitalism’s contradictions, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital remains one of the most influential treatises in Marxist political economy produced in North America. Among Baran and Sweezy’s sociological investigations, they identified the negative consequences of capitalism for mental health, drawing attention to the manner in which the organization of capitalist society conflicted with the essential needs of the individual. | more…

Karl Marx on Alienation

The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Mental Health

When Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital was published by Monthly Review Press in 1966, two of the chapters originally drafted for the book were left out of the final volume: what was to have been Chapter 9 in the original plan for the book, entitled “Some Theoretical Implications,” and what was intended as Chapter 11, “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Mental Health.” In July–August 2012, “Some Theoretical Implications” was finally published in Monthly Review. This was followed by the publication of the first part, approximately two-thirds of the whole, of “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Mental Health,” titled “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Communications,” in the July–August 2013 issue of the magazine. The section on mental health was left out on the grounds that it was incomplete. We finally publish it here. | more…

The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift

In the nineteenth century, Karl Marx, inspired by the German chemist Justus von Liebig, argued that capitalism’s relation to its natural environment was that of a robbery system, leading to an irreparable rift in the metabolism between humanity and nature. In the twenty-first century, these classical insights into capitalism’s degradation of the earth have become the basis of extraordinary advances in critical theory and practice associated with contemporary ecosocialism. In The Robbery of Nature, John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, working within this historical tradition, examine capitalism’s plundering of nature via commodity production, and how it has led to the current anthropogenic rift in the Earth System. | more…

Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality

Sex and Socialism

While later generations of Marxian scientific socialists saw sex as secondary, derivative of the real relationships of production, many of the earliest socialist theorists and movements took sexual matters very seriously. Thus, in many ways, the advent of Marxian socialism represented something of a step backward in the development of a radical sexual politics. However, in the twentieth century, old divisions on the sex question within the left soon reappeared. | more…

The Struggle for Development

The Case for Labor-Led Development

As Benjamin Selwyn points out in his sharp and thoughtful The Struggle for Development, capital-centered development deepens exploitation. Selwyn powerfully challenges the capitalist road to further immiseration for the majority of the world’s population, opening up an important discussion regarding what is to be done in the twenty-first century. An alternative form of development, led by the laboring classes, is not only necessary but possible. Above all, “labouring-class movements and struggles against capitalist exploitation can be, and are, developmental in and of themselves.” | more…

How the World Works: The Story of Human Labor from Prehistory to the Modern Day

Few authors are able to write cogently in both the scientific and the economic spheres. Even fewer possess the intellectual scope needed to address science and economics at a macro as well as a micro level. But Paul Cockshott, using the dual lenses of Marxist economics and technological advance, has managed to pull off a stunningly acute critical perspective of human history, from pre-agricultural societies to the present. In How the World Works, Cockshott connects scientific, economic, and societal strands to produce a sweeping and detailed work of historical analysis. This book will astound readers of all backgrounds and ages; it will also will engage scholars of history, science, and economics for years to come. | more…

A Woman's Work Is Never Done

Liberating Women from “Political Economy”

Margaret Benston's Marxism and a Social-Reproduction Approach to Gender Oppression

There is an unresolved tension at the heart of Marxist explanations for women’s oppression under capitalism. Although there is general agreement that the bourgeois family, as the dominant kinship unit, has something to do with generating and reproducing that oppression, the exact role of the family varies among Marxists. In this respect, Margaret Benston’s proposal to situate domestic labor within capitalist production was truly pioneering. Rather than record and describe domestic work, Benston theorized this labor and laid the basis for later feminists to apprehend the production of commodities and the reproduction of labor power within a unitary framework. | more…

Socialist Register 2020: Beyond Market Dystopia: New Ways of Living

How can we build a future with better health and homes, respecting people and the environment? The 2020 edition of the Socialist Register, Beyond Market Dystopia, contains a wealth of incisive essays that entice readers to do just that: to wake up to the cynical, implicitly market-driven concept of human society we have come to accept as everyday reality. Intellectuals and activists such as Michelle Chin, Nancy Fraser, Arun Gupta, and Jeremy Brecher connect with and go beyond classical socialist themes, to combine an analysis of how we are living now with visions and plans for new strategic, programmatic, manifesto-oriented alternative ways of living. Crafted with purposeful hope in an age of despair, each essay in this volume aims to create a world of agency and justice. | more…