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Social Structure & Forms of Consciousness Vol. II reviewed on Counterfire

The central aspect of Mészáros’ argument is the impossibility of understanding structure except through history. Furthermore, the denial of history (which is more or less explicit in structuralism and its progeny) is the necessary result of a failure to understand the dialectic of structure and history. Associated with this problem are a whole range of issues, first of all of course, the use of the Marxist concept of base and superstructure. There are also such matters as the relationship between individual and society, as exemplified, in a problematic sense, in Jean-Paul Sartre’s attempts to reconcile existentialism and Marxism. While both Sartre’s and Lévi-Strauss’ work is seen ultimately in terms of failure, Sartre is regarded with considerable respect. In contrast, Mészáros has little patience with Lévi-Strauss, for whom history in itself was a problem. | more…

"Oh Union," music inspired by Wisconsin Uprising

Wisconsin Uprising, published by Monthly Review Press, has just done what was needed, which was publishing a book for the people’s movement. In honor of Wisconsin Uprising, here is a free download of “Oh Union,” which is a tribute to our greatest defense against corruption, the Union. Inspired in part by recent events in Wisconsin, the song describes the world without Unions. | more…

Mexico's Revolution Then and Now reviewed in The Progressive Populist

In Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now (Monthly Review, paperback, 2010), James D. Cockcroft provides a window to the past and present of the US neighbor. A speaker of English and Spanish, Cockcroft is also a prolific author of books on Mexico, with over a half-century of experience and study there. His new book published a century after the Mexican Revolution arrives at a crucial time, as pundits and politicians “talk loud and say nothing” about the struggles of common people in Mexico. | more…

The Science & Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould reviewed in New Politics

It has been almost 10 years since the death of the Harvard paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould at the relatively early age of 60. Gould was not only a major figure in the life sciences, he was also one of the great popularizers of science. He wrote a monthly column for Natural History magazine from 1974 to 2001, generating exactly 300 essays that explained complex scientific ideas without oversimplifying them. Ten collections of Gould’s popular articles, together with several other books aimed at a general audience, were best sellers, making him one of the best-known scientists of his generation. A year before his death, he was named a “living legend” by the U.S. Library of Congress. What makes Gould of particular interest to readers of this journal is that his scientific views were informed in interesting ways by his radical politics. | more…

Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror reviewed on CounterPunch

I just had the pleasure of reading an important new book entitled, Cocaine, Death Squads and the War on Terror: U.S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia. This book, which was ten years in the making, is written by Oliver Villar & Drew Cottle and published and published by Monthly Review. The premise of the book is that, despite the U.S. claims that it is engaged in a war against drugs in Colombia, it is in fact engaged in an anti-insurgency war against the left-wing FARC guerillas – a war which does not seek to eradicate coca growing and cocaine production in Colombia at all. | more…

David Wilson, co-author of The Politics of Immigration, on Occupying the Immigration Debate

People in the United States may not be as rabidly anti-immigrant as we’ve been led to believe. An article posted on the Center for American Progress website in December, “The Public’s View of Immigration,” summarizes five recent U.S. opinion polls. Authors Philip E. Wolgin and Angela Maria Kelley find that while the media and the politicians frantically call for the mass deportation of “illegals,” a majority of U.S. adults don’t favor the idea of removing all 11 million of the country’s unauthorized immigrants. And while immigrant rights advocates don’t dare use the word “amnesty,” the polls show a majority of the population supporting some form of legalization for many or most of the undocumented — in other words, they support an amnesty. | more…

The Rise of the Tea Party reviewed in The Progressive Populist

Anthony DiMaggio is a social justice activist who has written a timely book on the myths and realities of the Tea Party, with its ties to corporate and GOP interests, and sheen of a grassroots social movement. He disentangles big money and media errors of fact in The Rise of the Tea Party: Political Discontent and Corporate Media in the Age of Obama (Monthly Review Press). DiMaggio carefully looks at the reporting on the Tea Party and flawed assumptions. They yield mistaken conclusions. | more…

75 Years after the Death of Christopher Caudwell

On February 12, 1937, Christopher Caudwell, a Marxist scholar and revolutionary, was killed by fascists in the valley of Jarama during the Spanish Civil War. He died at a machine gun post, guarding the retreat of his comrades in the British Battalion of the International Brigade. He was 29.  | more…

Revolutionary Doctors reviewed on A World to Win

Of the many statistics in Steve Brouwer’s book, Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba are changing the World’s Conception of Health Care, one in particular stands out. There are more students, about 73,000, in medical school in Cuba and Venezuela, with a combined population of 39 million people, than there are in the whole of the US with a population of 300 million. And they are all educated and trained for free. Many of them will go to Bolivia, Haiti and other countries in order to “to serve the poor, heal the afflicted and make a better world”. | more…

Marx & Philosophy Review of Books on the work of Samir Amin

On 3 September 2011 Samir Amin celebrated his 80th birthday. Amin is a consistent and irrepressible exponent of the development of Marxism in his chosen discipline, International Political Economy. His long and fruitful career of intellectual struggle has been marked by a series of publications and re-publications, including the five books under review. | more…