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A famous early photograph of Frederick Engels

Engels’s Dialectics of Nature in the Anthropocene

Today, two hundred years after his birth, Frederick Engels can be seen as one of the foundational ecological thinkers of modern times. Engels’s contributions to our understanding of the overall ecological problem remain indispensable, rooted in his own deep inquiries into nature’s universal metabolism. It is because of the very comprehensiveness of his approach to the dialectic of nature and society that Engels’s work can help clarify the momentous challenges facing humanity in the Anthropocene epoch and the current age of planetary ecological crisis. | more…

A clerk counts cash at a bank in Nantong, Jiangsu province

China 2020: An Introduction

In the twenty-first century, all signs are pointing to another period of hegemonic struggle over the world economy, this time between the United States and China, although complicated in this case by the unique, indeterminate aspects of the post-revolutionary Chinese social formation, which is neither entirely capitalist nor entirely socialist. | more…

Anti-imperialism mural in Caracas, Venezuela

Late Imperialism

Fifty Years After Harry Magdoff's The Age of Imperialism

The globalization of production (and finance)—which emerged along with neoliberalism out of the economic stagnation of the mid–1970s and then accelerated with the demise of Soviet-type societies and China’s reintegration into the capitalist world system—has generated a more generalized monopoly capitalism, ushering in what can be called late imperialism. Late imperialism refers to the present period of monopoly-finance capital and stagnation, declining U.S. hegemony and rising world conflict, accompanied by growing threats to the ecological bases of civilization and life itself. It stands at its core for the extreme, hierarchical relations governing the capitalist world economy in the twenty-first century, which is increasingly dominated by mega-multinational corporations and a handful of states at the center of the world system. Just as it is now common to refer to late capitalism in recognition of the end times brought on by simultaneous economic and ecological dislocations, so it is necessary today to speak of late imperialism, reflecting the global dimensions and contradictions of that system, cutting across all other divisions, and posing a “global rift” in human historical development: an epochal crisis posing the question of “ruin or revolution.” | more…

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…

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