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Monthly Review Volume 70, Number 4 (September 2018)

September 2018 (Volume 70, Number 4)

Notes from the Editors

Founded in the late 1960s and recently revived, the radical organization Science for the People did—and does—far more than just publish a magazine. Chapters are forming around the country, including physicists, engineers, and biologists, as well as representatives of other scientific groupings and social movements. We at MR welcome the return of this great publication and movement of the U.S. left. | more…

Seeding clouds over the ocean

Making War on the Planet

Geoengineering and Capitalism's Creative Destruction of the Earth

The dangers posed by climate change have inspired a desperate search for technological fixes in the form of geoengineering—massive human interventions to manipulate the entire climate or planet. But as long as the dominant strategy for addressing global warming remains subordinated to the ends of capital accumulation, any attempt to implement such schemes will prove fatal to humanity. | more…

Dark Clouds of Factory Smoke Obscure Clark Avenue Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio in 1973

‘The Deadly Implications of Capital for the Human Habitat’

A Letter to István Mészáros from Paul M. Sweezy, October 16, 1992

This article will be released in full online September 17, 2018.
In October 1992, MR founding editor Paul M. Sweezy wrote the following brief letter, published here for the first time, to Mészáros in response to an interview with Chris Arthur and Joseph McCarney that had just been published in Radical Philosophy. Sweezy saluted the critical significance of Mészáros’s argument on “the monstrous power of capital,” and the failure of many Marxists to perceive this problem in its full dimensions. He also affirmed the imperative of incorporating the ecological economics of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen.
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…

Nutrient pollution caused by Surface runoff of soil and fertilizer during a rain storm (1999)

Land–Sea Ecological Rifts

A Metabolic Analysis of Nutrient Loading

Increasing rates of nitrogen and phosphorus application have caused severe damage to aquatic systems, as rivers, streams, lakes, bays, and ocean systems have been inundated with nutrient runoff. Only by addressing the metabolic rupture in the soil nutrient cycle and the contradictions of capital can we begin to mend these land–sea rifts. | more…

A spectre haunts capitalism

Marx’s Open-Ended Critique

Against attempts to characterize Marx as a dogmatic and deterministic thinker, it is precisely the open-endedness of his criticism that accounts for historical materialism’s staying power. This openness has allowed Marxism to continually reinvent itself, expanding its empirical and theoretical content and embracing ever larger aspects of historical reality. | more…

Protest against worker precariousness

The New Service Proletariat

From call centers to fast-food restaurants, the future of service work is one of precarious employment, with no stable schedules, wages, benefits, or union representation. Should these workers be considered part of a new service proletariat, or treated as a new class altogether, the “precariat”? | 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…

Ecosocialism

Marx’s Ecological Education

Kohei Saito’s Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capitalism, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy shows convincingly that Marx’s ideas about the interaction between humanity and nature did not arrive fully formed, but arose from his rigorous engagement with science and philosophy. His insights still offer unparalleled tools to understand capitalism’s current assault on the environment. | more…

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx's Law of Value: Monopoly Capital and Marx's Law of Value

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx’s Law of Value

Unlike such obvious forms of oppression as feudalism or slavery, capitalism has been able to survive through its genius for disguising corporate profit imperatives as opportunities for individual human equality and advancement. But it was the genius of Karl Marx, in his masterwork, Capital, to discover the converse law of surplus value: behind the illusion of the democratic, supply-and-demand marketplace, lies the workplace, where people trying to earn a living are required to work way beyond the time it takes to pay their wages. Leave it to the genius of Samir Amin to advance Marx’s theories—adding to them the work of radical economists such as Michal Kalecki, Josef Steindl, Paul Baran, and Paul Sweezy—to show how Marxian theory can be adapted to modern economic conditions. | more…

Black Women Will Not Be Intimidated

Invisible Exploitation

How Capital Extracts Value Beyond Wage Labor

An expanded Marxist understanding of capitalist exploitation is long overdue. There are many pathways of surplus extraction beyond the wage form, and understanding them is a task with profound implications for anticapitalist movements around the world. | more…