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NEW! Commune or Nothing! Venezuela’s Communal Movement and its Socialist Project by Chris Gilbert (Excerpts)

Commune or Nothing! Venezuela’s Communal Movement and its Socialist Project
by Chris Gilbert
$23.00 / 208 pages / 978-1-68590-023-6

Author’s Note

Karl Marx wrote that theory becomes a material force when it grips the masses. He should have added that theory usually grips the masses because it connects with ideas, projects, and dreams they have developed themselves. This is what generally happens in revolutions, and it is certainly the case for the idea of the communal project in Venezuela.

In 2009, ten years after the Bolivarian Process began, Hugo Chávez proposed the communal path to socialism in a historic television program. That project had solid bases in the thought of Marx and István Mészáros, yet it would have been dead in the water if the idea of replacing a society dominated by the logic of capital with one based on communal relations had not connected with aspirations and values already alive and operating in Venezuelan society.

As it turned out, self-organized communities around the country seized on the communal project, which resonated both with values shaped over the longue durée in Venezuela—through its enduring campesino, Indigenous, and Afro-Venezuelan traditions of self-governance | more…

A history which is far from over (The War Against the Commons reviewed in ‘Counterfire’)

Capital’s war against the commons continues today in the Global South, as does resistance to it. The removal of the people from the land to work in industrial cities is also part of the mechanism which creates the metabolic rift, one of the reasons for capitalism’s inherent environmental destructiveness. The route to overcoming this does not lie in individuals or communities returning to an idealised communal past. As Angus says, this has been the expectation of utopian communal groups since the Diggers established themselves on St George’s Hill in 1649… | more…

NEW! The War Against the Commons by Ian Angus (Excerpts)

The War Against the Commons: Dispossession and Resistance in the Making of Capitalism
by Ian Angus
$26.00 / 246 pages / 978-1-68590-016-8

FOR ALMOST ALL OF HUMAN existence, almost all of us were self-provisioning. Together with our neighbors, we lived and worked on the land, obtained and prepared our own food, and made our own homes, tools and clothing. After our ancestors invented agriculture, most of us lived in small communities where the land was held and farmed in common, and most production was consumed locally.

Today, almost all of us have to work for others.

Our lives depend on, and are largely defined by, our jobs. All the productive wealth is owned by a tiny minority of individuals and corporations, and most of us cannot eat unless we sell them our ability to work.

That’s how capitalism works, and we are so used to it that it seems natural and obvious…. | more…

Novel as biography (Radek reviewed in ‘Against the Current’)

In his 1995 novel Radek, published in English translation for the first time last year by Monthly Review Press, Stefan Heym portrays Karl Radek as not only a man of the world but a perpetual outsider — a socially awkward contrarian with stereotypically Jewish features, thick glasses and a big mouth. In this, Heym likely saw in Karl Radek something of a kindred spirit. | more…

Chandler Davis

NEW!The Prosecution of Professor Chandler Davis by Steve Batterson (Excerpts)

The Prosecution of Professor Chandler Davis: McCarthyism, Communism, and the Myth of Academic Freedom
by Steve Batterson
$16.00 / 200 pages / 978-1-68590-035-9

From the Foreword, by Ellen Schrecker

The American left has few heroes. We specialize in martyrs like Joe Hill, Albert Parsons, and Malcolm X, and masses like the thousands of young women in the 1909 Shirtwaist strike and the Black teenagers who defied the German Shepherds of Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. But we also need to be reminded of those individual heroes who, like Chandler Davis, thrust themselves into history because of their intense commitment to a better world.

…In this all-too-timely exploration of Davis’s encounter with McCarthyism during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Steve Batterson shows us how one principled radical managed to stand up against the Cold War witchhunt. Today, as we confront an equally, if not more serious, threat to political dissent and free expression, perhaps Davis’s story can inspire similar resistance to the right’s current attack on our democratic polity. | more…

On Izzy Stone and his analysis of Korean peace negotiations(The Hidden History of the Korean War in ‘Al’s Substack’)

As Tim Beal and Gregory Elich tell us in their excellent introduction to the new 2023 edition of the book, by closely examining various sources, Stone found inconsistencies that challenged the official narrative of how and why the war started. Most prominently, Stone found considerable evidence suggesting that U.S. and South Korean officials had probable foreknowledge of the North Korean offensive, which they chose not to try to prevent… | more…

A “dialectic of exploitation and expropriation” (The Robbery of Nature reviewed by ‘Socialist Alternative’)

The authors write, “the failure to maintain the soil metabolism was central to Marx’s understanding of the extreme ecological degradation of colonial Ireland.” The peasant farmers, cottiers, lived on a substandard diet, mainly of potatoes. The combination of the economic and ecological system led to the famine that killed one million people and the social collapse that forced another million to emigrate. | more…

WATCH: 50 YEARS OF DEPENDENCY THEORY

This year, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Dialectics of Dependency, Monthly Review Press released the first-ever English translation of Ruy Mauro Marini’s classic – one of the most important texts in the field of Latin American Dependency Theory. An event celebrating its release was held in mid September at The People’s Forum, featuring Cristóbal Reyes (representing his advisor Jaime Osorio), Phethani Madzivhandila, Chris Gilbert and Andy Higginbotham, and co-hosted by Joseph Mullen and Jaime Osorio’s coeditor, Amanda Latimer. | more…

Parallels between the old Cold War in the Pacific and the new… (The Hidden History of the Korean War reviewed in ‘Socialist China’)

Peace was very much an option…Reading Izzy Stone’s reporting today, it’s striking the extent to which these mechanisms of Cold War still exist and are being used to wage a New Cold War. The military bases, the troop deployments, the nuclear threats that aimed to contain socialism and prevent the emergence of a multipolar world in the 1950s continue to serve the same purposes in 2023. | more…