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The Coming of the American Behemoth

The Coming of the American Behemoth: The Origins of Fascism in the United States, 1920–1940

Most people in the United States have been trained to recognize fascism in movements such as Germany’s Third Reich or Italy’s National Fascist Party, where charismatic demagogues manipulate incensed, vengeful masses. We rarely think of fascism as linked to the essence of monopoly-finance capitalism, operating under the guise of American free-enterprise. But, as Michael Joseph Roberto argues, this is exactly where fascism’s embryonic forms began gestating in the United States, during the so-called prosperous 1920s and the Great Depression of the following decade. | more…

New this week!
Reconstructed replica of the skull of “Lucy,” a 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis

Posture Maketh the Man

In this article from Ever Since Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould describes how the Museum of Natural History’s Gobi Desert expeditions of the 1920s failed to achieve their stated purpose: to find the ancestors of man in Central Asia. In a perceptive analysis of the political role of science and of the social biases that affect thought, Gould describes how anthropologists—despite a complete lack of direct evidence—believed that human evolution was propelled by an enlarging brain, and not, as is the case, upright posture. | more…

Containers being loaded onto a ship behind enormous crane gantrys at Yangshan deep water port

The Enigma of China’s Growth

This article will be released in full online December 24, 2018.

China’s economic development and success has been widely misunderstood and treated with perplexity. This overview of the Chinese economy provides an analysis of the drivers of the country’s growth and crises, including industrialization and the agrarian question. | more…

November 2018 (Volume 70, Number 6)

November 2018 (Volume 70, Number 6)

The twenty-first century has resulted in a vast upsurge of ecological Marxism and ecosocialism more generally, building on the environmental critique of capitalism embedded in classical historical materialism. At the same time, it has also engendered opposing tendencies and approaches concerning how we understand relentless ecological destruction under capitalism. This issue is dedicated to exploring the theoretical advances, schools of thought, and debates on the left in regard to our world’s ecological crisis, which threatens the survival of humanity and is inescapable within the present capitalist system of production. | more…

Chinese Yuan

Renminbi: A Century of Change

There is considerable interest in the history and characterization of China’s economy. This overview of the evolution of the renminbi from the late Qing dynasty to the present, shows how China’s political and economic changes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are reflected in the development of its highly contested modern currency system. | more…

Cuban Doctors Provide Vaccinations in Senegal in 1973

Cuba’s First Military Doctors

In the 1960s and the context of mushrooming popular movements across the globe, the brutality of U.S. imperialism, the unreliability of the Soviet Union as an ally, and the Latin American Communist Parties’ focus on the urban working class, Cuban leaders felt beckoned to help revolutionary projects in Africa. While Cuba sent soldiers, they also sent doctors. By the end of the 1960s, when the Cuban revolutionary government had been in power for only ten years, doctors had been involved in four different African political projects. Cuba’s deployment of military doctors to Africa left profound impacts, both on the host countries and on the Cuban doctors, who were bound to secrecy and only began sharing their stories decades later. | more…

Samir Amin

The Communist Manifesto, 170 Years Later

In the last piece he wrote before his passing, Samir Amin revisits, for our age, the most important revolutionary document of all time, the Communist Manifesto. In a fitting conclusion to the work of a great revolutionary intellectual, Amin seeks nothing less than to explain the changing world trajectory from 1848 to 2018. Against the persistent vision of the globalized development of capitalism, he puts forward a vision for the transformation of the world through revolutionary processes—breaking with the submission to the deadly vicissitudes of the decadence of civilization.
Panoramic view at Shanghai Pudong from the Eton Hotel

On the Nature of the Chinese Economic System

There is considerable debate within China about the nature of the economy, including recognition of tendencies toward state capitalism. Consequently, most writers focus theorization of the many possible paths the economy could take—whether toward or away from capitalism. The present article takes a step further, arguing that the Chinese system today still contains some key components of socialism and is compatible with a market, or market-based, socialism that is clearly distinct from capitalism. | more…

From Commune to Capitalism: How China's Peasants Lost Collective Farming and Gained Urban Poverty

From Commune to Capitalism: How China’s Peasants Lost Collective Farming and Gained Urban Poverty

In the early 1980s, China undertook a massive reform that dismantled its socialist rural collectives and divided the land among millions of small peasant families. Known as the decollectivization campaign, it is one of the most significant reforms in China's transition to a market economy. From the beginning, the official Chinese accounts, and many academic writings, uncritically portray this campaign as a huge success, both for the peasants and the economy as a whole. This mainstream history argues that the rural communes, suffering from inefficiency, greatly improved agricultural productivity under the decollectivization reform. It also describes how the peasants, due to their dissatisfaction with the rural regime, spontaneously organized and collectively dismantled the collective system. A closer examination suggests a much different and more nuanced story. By combining historical archives, field work, and critical statistical examinations, From Commune to Capitalism argues that the decollectivization campaign was neither a bottom-up, spontaneous peasant movement, nor necessarily efficiency-improving.  | more…

Buried machinery in a barn lot; Dallas, South Dakota, May 1936

No Empires, No Dust Bowls

Ecological Disasters and the Lessons of History

When scientists describe the increase of Dust Bowl-like conditions under climate change, they signal a particular kind of violent ecological and social change. But equally violent are the social forces, historical developments, policies, and practices that produce such massive socioecological crises in the first place. | more…

Monster soup commonly called Thames water, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us!

Cesspools, Sewage, and Social Murder

Environmental Crisis and Metabolic Rift in Nineteenth-Century London

The accumulation of human excrement in nineteenth-century cities, particularly London, precipitated a historic environmental crisis—an aspect of the metabolic rift mostly overlooked in ecosocialist analysis. The solution that was finally adopted only shifted the problem out of sight, setting the stage for even greater crises in our time. | more…

Healthcare workers celebrating in Cuba

The Birth of the Cuban Polyclinic

During the 1960s, Cuban medicine experienced changes as tumultuous as the civil rights and antiwar protests in the United States. While activists, workers, and students in western Europe and the United States confronted existing institutions of capitalism and imperialism, Cuba faced the even greater challenge of building a new society. | more…

The Age of Monopoly Capital: Selected Correspondence of Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, 1949-1964

A Marxist Correspondence

Paul A. Baran (1910–1964) and Paul M. Sweezy (1910–2004) were two of the most creative and influential Marxist economists of the last century. The Age of Monopoly Capital collects hundreds of letters between Baran and Sweezy, written between 1949 and Baran’s death in 1964. The correspondence contains numerous interesting, important, and unanticipated ideas. Nuggets of wisdom about economic theory, socialist history, dialectical method, academic politics, and many other topics are scattered throughout. | more…

Paul M. Sweezy and Paul A. Baran

Two Intellectual Giants of the American Left

Instead of theory, early U.S. radicals excelled in reportage, like John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, or fiction, like Upton Sinclair’s packing-house shocker The Jungle. To Europeans American thought seemed impermeable to the difficult ideas of Marxism. That changed with the founding of Monthly Review in 1949, which marked a newly realized if not entirely new trend in American Marxist thought. | more…

The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce

The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce

Karl Marx famously wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon that history repeats itself, “first as tragedy, then as farce.” The Cold War, waged between the United States and Soviet Union from 1945 until the latter's dissolution in 1991, was a great tragedy, resulting in millions of civilian deaths in proxy wars, and a destructive arms race that diverted money from social spending and nearly led to nuclear annihilation. The New Cold War between the United States and Russia is playing out as farce—a dangerous one at that. The Russians Are Coming, Again is a red flag to restore our historical consciousness about U.S.-Russian relations, and how denying this consciousness is leading to a repetition of past follies. | more…

Romans during the Decadence

Revolution or Decadence?

Thoughts on the Transition between Modes of Production on the Occasion of the Marx Bicentennial

Revolution is still on the agenda for the global periphery. Restorations in the course of socialist transition are not irrevocable—and in the weak links of the center, breaks in the imperialist front are not inconceivable. | more…