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Inequality

SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19

COVID-19 and Circuits of Capital

COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the second severe acute respiratory syndrome virus since 2002, is now officially a pandemic. As of late March, whole cities are sheltered in place and, one by one, hospitals are lighting up in medical gridlock brought about by surges in patients. | more…

Health Care Under the Knife Moving Beyond Capitalism for Our Health

Health Care for Profit (Not Health)

A Sick System

This article will be released in full online April 27, 2020.

Health Care Under the Knife, a collection of essays under the editorship of Howard Waitzkin, presents a vigorous critique of health within the context of capitalism, examining the extent to which the economy and its relations of production determine how health is socially distributed, the conditions of medical practice, and the structural organization of health systems. Rather than considering health as primarily a biomedical phenomenon and health systems as autonomous institutions, the volume recognizes the intricate fundamental relationship between health and the wider political, economic, and sociological context. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 10 (March 2020)

March 2020 (Volume 71, Number 10)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy is experiencing an unemployment rate that is at a fifty-year low. Yet, wage growth continues to be weak, with continuing wage stagnation even at the peak of the business cycle. A major and largely undertheorized reason for the sluggish wages in a period of seeming full employment is to be found in the fact that the new jobs being created by the economy do not measure up to those of the past in terms of weekly wages and hours, or in the degree to which they support households or even individuals. | more…

Mental Health

A Theory of Mental Health and Monopoly Capitalism

As an exposition of capitalism’s contradictions, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital remains one of the most influential treatises in Marxist political economy produced in North America. Among Baran and Sweezy’s sociological investigations, they identified the negative consequences of capitalism for mental health, drawing attention to the manner in which the organization of capitalist society conflicted with the essential needs of the individual. | more…

Karl Marx on Alienation

The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Mental Health

When Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital was published by Monthly Review Press in 1966, two of the chapters originally drafted for the book were left out of the final volume: what was to have been Chapter 9 in the original plan for the book, entitled “Some Theoretical Implications,” and what was intended as Chapter 11, “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Mental Health.” In July–August 2012, “Some Theoretical Implications” was finally published in Monthly Review. This was followed by the publication of the first part, approximately two-thirds of the whole, of “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Mental Health,” titled “The Quality of Monopoly Capitalist Society: Culture and Communications,” in the July–August 2013 issue of the magazine. The section on mental health was left out on the grounds that it was incomplete. We finally publish it here. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 9 (February 2020)

February 2020 (Volume 71, Number 9)

Notes from the Editors

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy is experiencing an unemployment rate that is at a fifty-year low. Yet, wage growth continues to be weak, with continuing wage stagnation even at the peak of the business cycle. A major and largely undertheorized reason for the sluggish wages in a period of seeming full employment is to be found in the fact that the new jobs being created by the economy do not measure up to those of the past in terms of weekly wages and hours, or in the degree to which they support households or even individuals. | more…

Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality

Sex and Socialism

While later generations of Marxian scientific socialists saw sex as secondary, derivative of the real relationships of production, many of the earliest socialist theorists and movements took sexual matters very seriously. Thus, in many ways, the advent of Marxian socialism represented something of a step backward in the development of a radical sexual politics. However, in the twentieth century, old divisions on the sex question within the left soon reappeared. | more…

The Struggle for Development

The Case for Labor-Led Development

As Benjamin Selwyn points out in his sharp and thoughtful The Struggle for Development, capital-centered development deepens exploitation. Selwyn powerfully challenges the capitalist road to further immiseration for the majority of the world’s population, opening up an important discussion regarding what is to be done in the twenty-first century. An alternative form of development, led by the laboring classes, is not only necessary but possible. Above all, “labouring-class movements and struggles against capitalist exploitation can be, and are, developmental in and of themselves.” | more…

Mass Incarceration

From Mass Incarceration to Mass Coercion

From the mid-1960s to the late 2000s, the number of people locked in U.S. prisons and jails, and forced onto parole or probation, increased from less than eight hundred thousand to more than seven million. From the beginning, this explosive growth, known commonly as mass incarceration, has been about containing, stigmatizing, and exploiting the poorest sectors of the working class. While an important prison reform movement has been underway for many years, private forces have attempted to co-opt this movement and have implemented and profited from alternative forms of mass coercion proliferating throughout society. | more…

The Punishment Monopoly: Tales of My Ancestors, Dispossession, and the Building of the United States

Why, asks Pem Davidson Buck, is punishment so central to the functioning of the United States, a country proclaiming “liberty and justice for all”? The Punishment Monopoly challenges our everyday understanding of American history, focusing on the constructions of race, class, and gender upon which the United States was built, and which still support racial capitalism and the carceral state. After all, Buck writes, “a state, to be a state, has to punish … bottom line, that is what a state and the force it controls is for.” | more…

Greenwich Village

Endgame Marxism (and Urbanism)

Collectivity and individuality express two different aspects of Marxism’s humanist tradition, of how they ought to go together. It is another way to frame the dialectic of justice and jouissance, a radical hope for equality on the one side, plus a diversity of self-expression on the other. In a sense, this is not only what Marxism should offer; it is what any city should offer, too. Cities should reconcile problems of freedom and necessity, ought to provide affordable housing and a decent quality of life, alongside novelty of experience and scope for expansive individuality. | more…

The Man Who Fell From the Sky

Race and Mystery in Cape Cod

In Bill Fletcher Jr.’s first novel, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, the sleepy Cape Cod town of Osterville has blood on its hands. In this murder mystery, Fletcher digs through layers of racism in Southern Massachusetts to uncover more than the killer’s identity. The novel compellingly exposes the racism of society, turning its victims against each other. | more…