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Review of the Month

Trump Administration Cabinet Meeting (2017-03-03)

This Is Not Populism

Since Trump’s election, mainstream commentary has generally avoided the question of fascism or neofascism, preferring instead to apply the vaguer, safer notion of “populism.” In today’s political context, however, it is crucial to understand not only how the failures of neoliberalism give rise to neofascist movements, but also to connect these to the structural crisis of concentrated, financialized, and globalized capitalism.… | more…

Desertification

An Eco-Revolutionary Tipping Point?

Global Warming, the Two Climate Denials, and the Environmental Proletariat

To solve the climate crisis, we need a system in which working people and their communities collectively and democratically regulate production and other interactions with their material and social environment. To deny that this crisis is hardwired into capitalism, and that we need a new system to deal with it, is just as misleading and dangerous as to deny the existence of human-induced global warming.… | more…

Parody of the gleichschaltung process

Neofascism in the White House

Not only a new administration, but a new ideology has now taken up residence at the White House: neofascism. It resembles in certain ways the classical fascism of Italy and Germany in the 1920s and ’30s, but with historically distinct features specific to the political economy and culture of the United States in the opening decades of the twenty-first century.… | more…

Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, and Engels

Organisms and Objectifications

A Historical-Materialist Inquiry into the 'Human and Animal'

The anthropocentric tendency to view nature or the environment as everything that is not human obscures the productive processes that go on in “nature.” But non-human animals are also the purposeful producers of their own worlds: they too engage in their own species-specific objectifying activity that transforms what is, from their perspective, nature; they too build worlds in their own bodily image.… | more…

Trump Digs Coal

Trump and Climate Catastrophe

It would be wrong…to see the new administration as simply a cabal of ignoramuses, beginning with the climate-change-denier-in-chief himself. Rather, their efforts to undermine even modest regulations and to discredit sound science are necessary parts of an attempt by carbon capital to proceed undeterred with burning of fossil fuels, as if this did not constitute a dire threat to the human species.… Today virulent anti-environmentalism, tied to a broader neo-fascist politics linked to white supremacy, is the backfire being ignited against both efforts to combat climate change and the larger movement for social and environmental justice.… | more…

Eifel Tower

Sovereignty and the State of Emergency

France and the United States

Following the July 14, 2016, massacre in Nice, French President François Hollande once again extended for three months a state of emergency that was to have ended on July 26. An initial, twelve-day state of emergency had been declared after the Paris attacks and extended for three months by a law of November 2015. Still another three-month extension was added and came to an end on May 26, only to be extended for two additional months. Despite the obvious ineffectiveness of such a measure…it has been extended yet again, through January 2017.… This normalization of the “state of exception” has provoked only a muted public reaction. France has thus entered into a permanent state of emergency. This choice is not the result of exceptional events to which the country must respond, but rather expresses an intention to change the political system, as shown by the move to constitutionalize the state of emergency.… | more…

Pig CAFO

Marx as a Food Theorist

Food has become a core contradiction of contemporary capitalism. Discussions of the economics and sociology of food and food regimes seem to be everywhere today, with some of the most important contributions made by Marxian theorists. Amid plentiful food production, hunger remains a chronic problem, and food security is now a pressing concern for many of the world’s people.… Despite the severity of these problems and their integral relation to the capitalist commodity system, it is generally believed that Karl Marx himself contributed little to our understanding of food…. [Yet] food for Marx was far more than a “passing interest”: in his work one finds analyses of the development of agriculture in different modes of production; climate and food cultivation; the chemistry of the soil; industrial agriculture; livestock conditions; new technologies in food production and preparation; toxic additives in food products; food security; and much more. Moreover, these issues are not peripheral, but organically connected to Marx’s larger critique of capitalism.… | more…

The Great Inequality by Michael D. Yates

Measuring Global Inequality

It is by now well known that significant and growing economic inequality is a central feature of the U.S. economy, as previous articles in Monthly Review have shown. However, the same is also the case for much of the rest of the world. Inequality arises in other countries for reasons similar to those in the United States, but each nation has its own history, along with widely divergent economic and political structures. Here we will look first at the most recent data on global inequality, and then at its causes and consequences.… | more…

Marxism and the Dialectics of Ecology

The recovery of the ecological-materialist foundations of Karl Marx’s thought, as embodied in his theory of metabolic rift, is redefining both Marxism and ecology in our time, reintegrating the critique of capital with critical natural science. This may seem astonishing to those who were reared on the view that Marx’s ideas were simply a synthesis of German idealism, French utopian socialism, and British political economy.… The rediscovery of Marx’s metabolism and ecological value-form theories, and of their role in the analysis of ecological crises, has generated sharply discordant trends. Despite their importance in the development of both Marxism and ecology, neither idea is without its critics. One manifestation of the divergence on the left in this respect has been an attempt to appropriate aspects of Marx’s social-metabolism analysis in order to promote a crude social “monist” view based on such notions as the social “production of nature” and capitalism’s “singular metabolism.” Such perspectives, though influenced by Marxism, rely on idealist, postmodernist, and hyper-social-constructivist conceptions, which go against any meaningful historical-materialist ecology and tend to downplay (or to dismiss as apocalyptic or catastrophist) all ecological crises—insofar as they are not reducible to the narrow law of value of the system.… | more…

Black Lives Matter and the Struggle for Freedom

In late April 2016, at a town hall-style event in London, President Obama complained about the rising movement against the state-sanctioned murder of black people often referred to as Black Lives Matter. Activists, he admonished, should “stop yelling” and instead push for incremental change through the official “process.”… The spectacle of the first black president scolding black activists in the context of a rising rate of police murder (as of this writing, the police have killed 630 individuals, at least 155 of them black, nationwide in 2016) speaks volumes about the state of black politics today.… For those trying to understand the emergence of a new black movement—or, perhaps more accurately, a new phase of a longer, older movement—on the watch of the first black president, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s new book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation is an essential starting point.… | more…

Marx’s Ecology and the Left

One of the lasting contributions of the Frankfurt School of social theorists, represented especially by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s 1944 Dialectic of Enlightenment, was the development of a philosophical critique of the domination of nature.… Yet their critique of the Enlightenment exploitation of nature was eventually extended to a critique of Marx himself as an Enlightenment figure, especially in relation to his mature work in Capital.… So all-encompassing was the critique of the “dialectic of the Enlightenment” within the main line of the Frankfurt School, and within what came to be known as “Western Marxism”…, that it led to the estrangement of thinkers in this tradition not only from the later Marx, but also from natural science—and hence nature itself. Consequently, when the ecological movement emerged in the 1960s and ’70s, Western Marxism, with its abstract, philosophical notion of the domination of nature, was ill-equipped to analyze the changing and increasingly perilous forms of material interaction between humanity and nature.… | more…

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