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British Indian Empire

The Drain of Wealth

Colonialism before the First World War

The Western European powers appropriated economic surplus from their colonies, materially and substantially aiding their own industrial transition from the eighteenth century onward, as well as the diffusion of capitalism to the regions of new European settlement. In the case of India, the concept of drain is based on the fact that a substantial part of its earnings was never permitted to accrue to the country; it was instead appropriated by the ruling power: Britain. | more…

The Ecological Revolution

Preface to the Persian Edition of The Ecological Revolution

The Ecological Revolution was first published a little more than ten years ago in April 2009, at a time when climate change had already been recognized as a pressing global issue for over two decades, but when there was still hardly any realistic discussion of its connection to capitalism or of the immense ecological and social revolution that would be required to overcome the Earth System crisis. Let us look back to understand the historical gulf separating that time from our own. | more…

A Peoples History of Detroit

On Creative Destruction, Myths, and Revolution

It is a testament to the clarity and scope of Mark Jay and Philip Conklin’s vision that A People’s History of Detroit is replete with insights for those trying to make sense of these deeply uncertain and troubling times. In it, Jay and Conklin show that “in order to give a true ‘people’s history,’ one must do more than condemn the malevolence of those in power and celebrate the activists who have struggled for justice; one must also come to terms with the social system in which these people lived. In our case, this means confronting the logic of capital.” | more…

Para-demolition bombs being dropped on supply warehouses and dock facilities at a port in Wonsan, North Korea by the Fifth Air Force's B-26 Invader light bombers (ca. 1951)

The Continuing Korean War in the Murderous History of Bombing

The Korean War, which broke out on June 25, 1950, can be considered the epicenter of bombing as an instrument of war. For one, it was the first—and, so far, the last—time since 1945 that the United States seriously considered using atomic weapons during the course of an imperial war. It was the first war that the United States did not win. It ended in a stalemate—an armistice—that continues until today. Kinetic fighting was suspended, but the war continues (though only by one side) by what is conveniently but simplistically called sanctions. | more…

The Political Economy of Growth

Paul Baran’s Economic Surplus Concept, the Baran Ratio, and the Decline of Feudalism

Recently published and estimated historical data illustrate that economic surplus declined during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in England, helping explain the “crisis of feudalism” that started in the thirteenth century. It was not until several centuries later, when capitalism became the dominant economic system, that the economic surplus began to rise on a consistent basis, due to the reinvestment of a portion of the surplus into productive activities, a greater ratio of capital income to rental income, and a greater ratio of investment to economic surplus. | more…

Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People: Colonialism, Nature, and Social Action

Decolonization in Practice

Lessons from Karuk Nation

Fundamental to Kari Marie Norgaard’s Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People is the seizure of land most evident in the overtly violent era of state-sanctioned frontier genocide and forced relocation of the Karuk. Settler colonialism, Norgaard reminds us, is an ongoing state-led project up to this day—it is not just a moment relegated to the past and, thus, the inherent treatment of Native Americans as relics of U.S. history must be challenged. | more…

The Long Deep Grudge: A Story of Big Capital, Radical Labor, and Class War in the American Heartland

The Left and the Class Struggle

Both Toni Gilpin’s The Long Deep Grudge and Michael Goldfield’s The Southern Key offer ample evidence that the grand era of U.S. labor history scholarship is not yet past. The Long Deep Grudge is in equal parts labor history and family reminiscence as Gilpin seeks the fuller story of her father, who played a leadership role in the United Auto Workers union. The Southern Key is in many ways a study of a different variety, but very much of a similarly militant kind. Goldfield, a labor activist veteran himself, draws the big picture of what he sees as the central failure of the U.S. left: the failure to organize the South. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 72, Number 6 (November 2020)

November 2020 (Volume 72, Number 6)

In this issue of Monthly Review, we publish two articles marking the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Frederick Engels. In the attempt to address our planet’s ecological crisis, Engels’s work has once acquired a renewed importance. His analysis of the dialectics of nature was to play a formative role in the development of modern ecological and evolutionary views and is now being rediscovered in that context. | more…

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…

Portrait of Frederick Engels

Engels’s Emergentist Dialectics

In grasping emergent qualities and laws on various levels of organization of matter, dialectical theory employs its own conceptual structure, scientific language, and investigation method, and takes a categorially open-ended shape. In this context, Engels provides a remarkable illustration that not only argues for the interconnection and interpenetration of distinct spheres such as chemistry and biology, but also draws on a generative feature of self-organizing systems. | more…

Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System

Facing the Anthropocene: An Update

Scientific knowledge and debates in Anthropoene science have developed over the years, particularly in the two main fields involved: geology, which has mainly been concerned with formally defining the new epoch; and Earth System science, which studies the global biological, chemical, and physical changes that are reshaping the conditions of life on this planet. | more…

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