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Africa in a Changing World: An Inventory

The Italian communist philosopher Antonio Gramsci makes, in his Prison Notebooks, the following insightful remarks regarding the character of critical work and reflection. He states: “The beginning of a critical elaboration is the consciousness of that which really is, that is to say a ‘knowing of yourself’ as a product of the process of history that has unfolded thus far and has left in you, yourself, an infinity of traces collected without the benefit of an inventory. It is necessary initially to make such an inventory.” In what follows I will undertake such a task.… | more…

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Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial & Palestinians’ Plight

The unspeakable, overwhelming evil of the Holocaust is a necessary element in any attempt to understand the history of modern Israel. The deliberate, systematic annihilation of six million Jews in Europe, after centuries of intermittent persecution and pogroms, led many Jews around the world to conclude, along with those who had already moved to Palestine since the late nineteenth century, that only in a homeland of their own would they have security.…The fundamental problem that haunts Jews and Palestinians to this day is that the land was already occupied, and the Jewish immigrants had to take it by force.… | more…

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High in the Andes

John Malpede has never worried much about transgressing the line between brave and crazy. Otherwise, he would not have started a theater company in Skid Row Los Angeles in the mid-1980s, when few services existed there, and most people, including his own theater members, predicted the idea would never fly. Nor would he have thought it a cool idea to join members of his L.A. troupe with Bolivian actors this August to tour Bolivia—where coca is a major cash crop—with a play about the War on Drugs.… | more…

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In Time

Denise Bergman is the author of Seeing Annie Sullivan, poems based on the early life of Helen Keller’s teacher, which was translated into Braille and made into a Talking Book, and Keyhole Poems, a sequence that combines the history of twelve specific urban places with the present. An excerpt of one poem from that series, “Red,” is permanently installed as public art in Cambridge, MA.… | more…

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Gramsci’s Grandchild

Michael D. Yates, In and Out of the Working Class (Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2009), 217 pages, $19.95, paperback.

Okay. Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way right now. I am a longtime fan of Mike Yates. A big fan. I have used his materials with community and labor activists, made some contributions to a few of his works, and answered his call to write for Monthly Review on other occasions. So it will come as no surprise that In and Out of the Working Class did not disappoint. This personal reflection and journey through the world of Mike Yates from the early 1950s to the present has made me an even bigger fan.… | more…

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December 2009 (Volume 61, Number 7)

» Notes from the Editors

In this issue we are reprinting C. Wright Mills’s “Psychology and Social Science” from the October 1958 issue of Monthly Review. The argument of this piece was subsequently incorporated in Mills’s Sociological Imagination, which appeared fifty years ago this year, and constituted a powerful indictment of mainstream social science. Both “Psychology and Social Science” and the larger Sociological Imagination were strongly influenced by “the principle of historical specificity” as described in Karl Korsch’s Karl Marx. Mills used this to construct a radical challenge to the prevailing notion of a permanent “human nature,” applicable to all societies and social situations. He later referred to The Sociological Imagination — in a letter to an imaginary Soviet correspondent (part of a work he was writing, to be called Letter to a Russian Intellectual) — as “a kind of ‘Anti-Duhring,’” constituting his radical break with ahistorical social science.… | more…

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Seize the Crisis!

The principle of endless accumulation that defines capitalism is synonymous with exponential growth, and the latter, like cancer, leads to death. John Stuart Mill, who recognized this, imagined that a “stationary state of affairs” would put an end to this irrational process. John Maynard Keynes shared this optimism of Reason. But neither was equipped to understand how the necessary overcoming of capitalism could prevail. By contrast, Marx, by giving proper importance to the emerging class struggle, could imagine the reversal of power of the capitalist class, concentrated today in the hands of the ruling oligarchy.… | more…

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The Vulnerable Planet Fifteen Years Later

The original intent of The Vulnerable Planet,when it was first published fifteen years ago, was to provide a brief historical materialist analysis of the development of the global ecological crisis, beginning with the early civilizations and leading up to the monopoly capitalist society of the late twentieth century. Looking back now at the book as it was originally written—and at the second edition published five years later, incorporating a few minor changes plus an afterword—I see no major point on which the analysis has proven to be substantially wrong or where it needs significant revision. Nevertheless, the last decade and a half has witnessed an acceleration of history with respect to the human relation to the environment, adding force to the concerns that the book expressed.… | more…

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The Assassination of Fred Hampton by the FBI and Chicago Police, Forty Years Later

Civil rights lawyer Jeffrey Haas, a founder, in 1969, of Chicago’s People’s Law Office, has written one of the top books of the year: The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2009). The story could not be more worth telling. Police response to the 1960s upsurge of the black community was immediate and brutal, especially after the growth of a mass student and youth movement opposed to the Vietnam War. The FBI, as the leading U.S. secret police force, engaged in a nationwide campaign of provocation, infiltration, and assassination, code named the Counterintelligence Program, or “COINTELPRO.” The resulting murders, on December 4, 1969, of charismatic, twenty-one-year-old Chicago Black Panther state chairman Fred Hampton and twenty-two-year-old Black Panther Mark Clark were a pivotal event in the suppression of militant black resistance and the emergence of today’s U.S. police/prison state. The gradual collapse of the Nixon presidency and public outcry against White House-ordered burglaries opened a window permitting the exposure of secret police crimes, including the Hampton assassination. Jeffrey Haas and his partners at the People’s Law Office made good use of this opportunity through determined and creative litigation, and uncovered the story recounted in his book. But the window was slammed shut in succeeding years, and was finally removed entirely—to be replaced by the blank prison wall of the USA Patriot Act. Hampton’s story is no longer primarily a U.S. concern, but one that affects everyone in the world. It is the story of the path to Abu Ghraib. We interviewed Jeffrey Haas in late September 2009.… | more…

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Farmers, Mao, and Discontent in China: From the Great Leap Forward to the Present

There are widespread misconceptions about numerous aspects of the Chinese revolution. These include a misreading of the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the “reforms” of the post-Mao era, and the reaction of the overwhelming mass of the peasantry to these movements. Although the revolutionary programs/movements resulted in significant hardships—on the rural population (the Great Leap Forward, 1958-61) or the intellectuals (the Cultural Revolution, 1966-76)—they both produced concrete achievements in the countryside that led to impressive gains in agricultural production and in people’s lives. In contrast, the post-Mao era “reforms” have resulted so far in a huge growth of inequality in China, with the rural population suffering greatly by the dismantling of public support for health and education. In addition, local and regional officials have sold farmland for development purposes, usually lining their own pockets, with inadequate compensation for the farmers. This has resulted in the current massive unrest in rural areas, involving literally hundreds of thousands of incidents with protesting farmers.… | more…

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November 2009 (Volume 61, Number 6)

» Notes from the Editors

The Monthly Review sixtieth anniversary celebration at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on September 17, 2009, was a great success. A large crowd turned out to hear Grace Lee Boggs, John Bellamy Foster, Robert W. McChesney, Fred Magdoff, Michael Tigar, Toshi Reagon (providing music), and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and to celebrate MR’s birthday. We would like to thank all those who participated in this extraordinary event. Dr. Wright captured the tone of the evening, declaring that: “Militarism, capitalism and racism, domestic oppression, foreign military aggression, victims of neo-colonialism, victims of community and national racism, and the Cold War days in its infancy to the needless war in Vietnam in its [MR‘s] second decade, through wars of greed in Afghanistan and Iraq in [its] sixth decade” were all incisively covered by the magazine. He spoke of Monthly Review‘s indefatigable insistence on the need to put “people before profits,” and its unflinching criticisms of inequality, injustice, and the realities of capitalism. (See Daa’iya L. Sanusi, Amsterdam News, September 24-30, 2009)… | more…

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