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The Devil's Milk reviewed in Red Pepper

Socialist historian and novelist John Tully’s well-researched history of rubber shines a spotlight on a material most of us take for granted. The result is an accessible, well-written and absorbing account of rubber’s blood-soaked history, from the plunder of the Amazon and the Congo basin to slave labour in Nazi work camps. At first glance, a 360-page book on a single commodity might put off a potential reader. However it soon becomes clear why rubber is such a worthy subject. An essential commodity in the development of industrial capitalism, the drive to acquire rubber was central to European imperialism – with its catastrophic effects for indigenous populations. | more…

Mexico's Revolution Then and Now reviewed on Counterfire

The first twenty years of the twentieth century were decades of revolution that set the terms of world politics perhaps for the rest of the century. The most familiar events would be the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, but others of world importance include the Chinese revolution of 1911, and the German revolution of 1918-19. To these should be added Mexico’s revolution that began in 1910. | more…

John Marsh’s op-ed for the NY Daily News

It is not every day that the U.S. secretary of education charges a professor with “insulting all of the hardworking teachers, principals and students all across the country.” But in the cutthroat world of education reform, the daggers have come out. The professor, Diane Ravitch of NYU – who once shared educational reformers’ love for school choice, charter schools and accountability – has in recent years come to oppose them.  | more…

John Marsh, author of Class Dismissed, in Inside Higher Ed

In March, the new governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, announced a 2011-12 budget that, when combined with the loss of federal stimulus money, would reduce funding to public schools by $1.2 billion dollars, and funding to higher education by $649 million. My own institution, Pennsylvania State University, stood to lose $169 million, or about 51 percent of its state appropriation. As our president, Graham Spanier, pointed out, such cuts “would be the largest percentage reduction to public higher education in this nation’s history.” | more…

The Socialist Alternative reviewed in Third Rail magazine

Michael A. Lebowitz, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, begins his new book, The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development, by paraphrasing Marx, “A specter is haunting the world – the specter of barbarism.” The barbarism Prof. Lebowitz speaks of is, of course, the yoke of capitalism and depths that it sinks people into in order to satisfy its insatiable greed. The point of this book is to put forth an argument for the necessity of Socialism in the twenty-first century, and the need to focus on human development. Actual human development, not the all consuming hunger of false needs and consumerism that capitalism thrives on and denies the work force. | more…

The Socialist Alternative reviewed in Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

Michael Lebowitz’s important book portrays a vision of the socialist alternative to capitalism through a synthesis of some of Marx’s most important philosophical arguments concerning human development, revolutionary practice and radical democracy. Developed from his experiences in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela as a ministerial advisor, what is particularly impressive is that this relatively short yet deceptively comprehensive work develops not only the philosophical foundations of that alternative but also outlines strategic, concrete measures that can contribute to making that vision a reality. | more…

The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould reviewed in Counterfire

Darwin concluded his Origin of Species robustly claiming that ‘there is a grandeur about this view of life’, defending his theory against the inevitable objection that life is somehow devalued if it evolved rather than having being created. The scientist and writer Stephen Jay Gould borrowed the phrase for his monthly essays on ‘This View of Life’, through which he became known to a wide public, not least indeed for the sense of wonder and grandeur in the many peculiarities and byways of natural history. Yet exactly what the Darwinian view of life entails has been precisely at issue in controversies between Gould (and others sharing broadly similar perspectives such as Richard Lewontin or Stephen Rose), and other more mainstream figures, such as Richard Dawkins, or Daniel Dennett. | more…

NEW: The People's Lawyer by Albert Ruben

Just released! There is hardly a struggle aimed at upholding and extending the rights embedded in the U.S. Constitution in which the Center for Constitutional Rights has not played a central role. Whether defending the rights of black people in the South, opponents of the war in Vietnam, and victims of torture worldwide, or fighting illegal actions of the U.S. government, the CCR has stood ready to take on all comers, regardless of their power and wealth. When the United States declared that the Constitution did not apply to detainees at Guantánamo, the CCR waded fearlessly into battle, its Legal Director declaring that “My job is to defend the Constitution from its enemies. Its main enemies right now are the Justice Department and the White House.” | more…