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Socialist Register 2020: Beyond Market Dystopia: New Ways of Living

How can we build a future with better health and homes, respecting people and the environment? The 2020 edition of the Socialist Register, Beyond Market Dystopia, contains a wealth of incisive essays that entice readers to do just that: to wake up to the cynical, implicitly market-driven concept of human society we have come to accept as everyday reality. Intellectuals and activists such as Michelle Chin, Nancy Fraser, Arun Gupta, and Jeremy Brecher connect with and go beyond classical socialist themes, to combine an analysis of how we are living now with visions and plans for new strategic, programmatic, manifesto-oriented alternative ways of living. Crafted with purposeful hope in an age of despair, each essay in this volume aims to create a world of agency and justice. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 7 (December 2019)

December 2019 (Volume 71, Number 7)

Notes from the Editors

Bloomberg insists that we need to get our priorities straight: the economy comes before the earth, capitalism before nature. Yet, from any sort of realistic, world-wise perspective, it is clear that we are faced with two immense, imminent, and irreversible crises, one threatening within as short a time as a year to destabilize the world capitalist economy, the other promising to destroy the planet as a home to humanity, destabilizing industrial civilization and undermining the survival chances of hundreds of millions or even billions of people this century. Both represent the culmination of capitalist contradictions over centuries of development and both point to the need to transform society in revolutionary ways. It is the coevolution of economic and ecological contradictions under global monopoly-finance capital that defines the epochal historical crisis of our times. In this new issue of Monthly Review, we also celebrate Monthly Review‘s relationship with the annual School of Ecology in Mauritius. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 5 (October 2019)

October 2019 (Volume 71, Number 5)

Notes from the Editors

New issue of Monthly Review! If there is one thing that is clear about the economic situation in the mature capitalist economies, as we write these notes in mid-August 2019, it is that the financial world is increasingly running scared and looking for safe havens, worrying about the storm clouds ahead. There is now little doubt that the world economy is on the verge of a recession after a long sluggish recovery from the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-09. In itself this should not give occasion to surprise. In this instance, however, there lurks a bigger fear, the possibility of a financial Armageddon on the level of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008—or worse. | more…

Lexit

Socialist Internationalism Against the European Union

Costas Lapavitsas’s The Left Case Against the EU (Polity, 2019) is recognized as the leading work advocating Lexit, the left-wing case for Brexit, and for nations leaving the European Union more generally. In light of current Conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to exit the European Union by October 31, even if it means a no-deal Brexit, the role of the left takes on growing importance. Moreover, this raises issues of the European Union generally, including the dominance of neoliberalism within it and the question of German hegemony. Here, Neil Davidson offers an assessment of Lapavitsas’s book. | more…

The Lie of Global Prosperity: How Neoliberals Distort Data to Mask Poverty and Exploitation by Seth Donnelly

The Lie of Global Prosperity: How Neoliberals Distort Data to Mask Poverty and Exploitation

“We’re making headway on global poverty,” trills billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. “Decline of Global Extreme Poverty Continues,” reports the World Bank. And “How did the global poverty rate halve in 20 years?” inquires The Economist magazine. Seth Donnelly answers: “It didn’t!” In fact, according to Donnelly’s The Lie of Global Prosperity, virtually nothing about these glad tidings proclaiming plummeting global poverty rates is true. | more…

The Octopus by Nicci Yin

Absolute Capitalism

Although neoliberalism is widely recognized as the central political-ideological project of twenty-first-century capitalism, it is a term that is seldom uttered by those in power. Behind this particular ruse lies a deeply disturbing, even hellish, reality. Neoliberalism can be defined as an integrated ruling-class political-ideological project, associated with the rise of monopoly-finance capital, the principal strategic aim of which is to embed the state in capitalist market relations. Hence, the state’s traditional role in safeguarding social reproduction—if largely on capitalist-class terms—is now reduced solely to one of promoting capitalist reproduction. The goal is nothing less than the creation of an absolute capitalism. All of this serves to heighten the extreme human and ecological destructiveness that characterizes our time. | more…

Rethinking Democracy: Socialist Register 2018

Socialist Register 2018: Rethinking Democracy

For years, intellectuals have argued that, with the triumph of capitalist, liberal democracy, the Western World has reached “the end of history.” Recently, however, there has been a rise of authoritarian politics in many countries. Concepts of post-democracy, anti-politics, and the like are gaining currency in theoretical and political debate. Now that capitalist democracies are facing seismic and systemic challenges, it becomes increasingly important to investigate not only the inherent antagonism between liberalism and the democratic process, but also socialism. Is socialism an enemy of democracy? Could socialism develop, expand, even enhance democracy? | more…

Trump in the White House: Tragedy and Farce

Remember that metaphor about the frog that slowly cooks to death in the pot of increasingly warm water? Leftists have used it for years to describe how people can accept dwindling health care, fading job opportunities, eroding racial and gender equality—as long as the loss occurs gradually. Now, with Donald Trump having slouched off to Washington, most of the mainstream media are working overtime to convince us that we can still stand the heat. Leave it to John Bellamy Foster, one of the world’s outstanding radical scholars, to expose Trump for who and what he is: a neo-fascist. Just at the boiling point, Foster offers us cool logic to comprehend the system that created Trump’s moral and political emergency—and to resist it. | more…

Capitalism and Its Current Crisis

The “thirty-year crisis” of capitalism, which encompassed two world wars and the Great Depression, was followed by a period that some economists call the Golden Age of capitalism. Today, however, capitalism is once again enmeshed in a crisis that portends far-reaching consequences. I am not referring here to the mere phenomenon of the generally slower average growth that has marked the system since the mid-1970s. Rather, I am talking specifically of the crisis that started with the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble in 2007-8 and which, far from abating, is only becoming more pronounced.… The Western media often give the impression that the capitalist world is slowly emerging from this crisis. Since the Eurozone continues to be mired in stagnation, this impression derives entirely from the experience of the United States, where there has been talk of raising the interest rate on the grounds that the crisis is over, and inflation is now the new threat.… To claim…that the United States is experiencing a full recovery is, in terms of working class well-being and economic security, wrong. And if we consider the rest of the world, especially recent developments in the “emerging economies,” the situation is much worse. | more…

Stagnation and Financialization

The Nature of the Contradiction

More than six years after the beginning of the Great Recession in the United States, and nearly five years since it was officially declared over in this country, the core economies of the capitalist world system remain crisis-ridden. The jobs lost in the downturn in the United States have not yet been fully recovered and the economy remains sluggish. In Europe the crisis has hardly abated at all and a number of the peripheral European Union countries are in what can only be called a depression—especially Greece, Spain, and Portugal. The last member of the triad of advanced capitalist centers, Japan, has gone through what have been called two “lost decades” of slow growth and deflation and is attempting once again to jump-start the economy through a combination of devaluation of the yen and deficit spending. | more…