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Marx, Dead and Alive: Reading "Capital" in Precarious Times

Marx, Dead and Alive: Reading “Capital” in Precarious Times

Karl Marx saw the ruling class as a sorcerer, no longer able to control the ominous powers it has summoned from the netherworld. Today, in an age spawning the likes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, our society has never before been governed by so many conjuring tricks, with collusions and conspiracies, fake news and endless sleights of the economic and political hand. And yet, contends Andy Merrifield, as our modern lives become ever more mist-enveloped, the works of Marx can help us penetrate the fog. In Marx, Dead and Alive—a book that begins and ends beside Marx’s recently violated London graveside—Merrifield makes a spirited case for a critical thinker who can still offer people a route toward personal and social authenticity. | 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…

Marriott strike in San Francisco, CA, October 2018

The Mexican and Latino Question

What Is to Be Done?

This article will be released in full online November 30, 2020.

In his book Chicano Communists and the Struggle for Social Justice, Enrique M. Buelna examines the life of Ralph Cuarón, a Mexican-American or Chicano seaman, furniture maker, father, husband, and lifelong activist who joined the Communist Party at age 19 during the Second World War. The Communist Party, however, largely ignored Mexican workers and local members were not pleased with his organizing of that segment of the working class. In the early twenty-first century, the Mexican question remained, although it became known as the “Latino question” after considerable immigration from Central America in the 1980s and ’90s. In their book The Latino Question: Politics, Labouring Classes, and the Next Left, Armando Ibarra, Alfredo Carlos, and Rodolfo D. Torres deconstruct the word Latino, arguing that it homogenizes an extremely diverse population. | more…

Venezuela, the Present as Struggle: Voices from the Bolivarian Revolution

Venezuela, the Present as Struggle: Voices from the Bolivarian Revolution

Venezuela has been the stuff of frontpage news extravaganzas, especially since the death of Hugo Chávez. With predictable bias, mainstream media focus on violent clashes between opposition and government, coup attempts, hyperinflation, U.S. sanctions, and massive immigration. What is less known, however, is the story of what the Venezuelan people—especially the Chavista masses—do and think in these times of social emergency. Denying us their stories comes at a high price to people everywhere, because the Chavista bases are the real motors of the Bolivarian revolution. This revolutionary grassroots movement still aspires to the communal path to socialism that Chávez refined in his last years. Venezuela, the Present as Struggle is an eloquent testament to their lives. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 72, Number 5 (October 2020)

October 2020 (Volume 72, Number 5)

Notes from the Editors

This special issue of Monthly Review, “China 2020,” is the product of a long period of cooperation with critical Chinese Marxist scholars. This has resulted in an extensive series of articles on contemporary Chinese social and economic relations since 2012, to which most of the authors in the present issue have previously contributed. It takes on a special significance due to the growing conflict between the United States and China, making critical Marxist analysis in this area all the more important. | more…

Rice fields in Jiande city, Zhejiang province, Sept 17, 2020

Tracing a Trajectory of Hope in Rural Communities in China

Survival Bricolage of Zhoujiazhuang and Puhan Rural Community

Zhoujiazhuang and the Puhan Rural Community offer contrasting experiences of how communities in different parts of China have responded to, negotiated, and undergone extensive changes during the last forty years since the reform policy was implemented in the country in 1979. | more…

A farmer operates a harvester to reap rice in a field at Xiaogang Village in Fengyang County, east China's Anhui Province, on Sept. 27, 2018

Revisiting Collectivism and Rural Governance in China

The Singularity of the Zhoujiazhuang People's Commune

Zhoujiazhuang is singular, being the only de facto people’s commune in China today. At present, Zhoujiazhuang still maintains the political, economic, and social structure that has been essentially in place since 1956. For over sixty years—since ten years before the Cultural Revolution and thirty-eight years after the dismantling of almost all people’s communes in 1982—Zhoujiazhuang has survived as an organizational unit over the same territory comprising the same six natural villages. | more…

Local staff members of Puhan cooperatives in the field

Negotiating Debt

The Making of Puhan Rural Community in North China

Originally set up in 1998 in China, the Puhan Rural Community was the first peasant-initiated, cross-village organization established after the collapse of the top-down people’s communes and the implementation of the household responsibility system. Puhan learned a lesson about the exploitation of usurious microfinance and decided that it was capable of establishing a system of mutual aid credit by itself, changing the cultural emphasis on money. Its story of struggling with rural financial organizations opens up a debate on the trap of marketization and monetization, the root causes of loans and debts, the negotiating power of collectives, the production mode of ecological agriculture, and the redefinition of the commonwealth. | more…

First climate demonstration in East Timor, in front of the government palace

The Renewal of the Socialist Ideal

Any serious treatment of the renewal of socialism today must begin with capitalism’s creative destruction of the bases of all social existence. Since the late 1980s, the world has been engulfed in an epoch of catastrophe capitalism, manifested today in the convergence of (1) the planetary ecological crisis, (2) the global epidemiological crisis, and (3) the unending world economic crisis. Added to this are the main features of today’s “empire of chaos,” including the extreme system of imperialist exploitation unleashed by global commodity chains; the demise of the relatively stable liberal-democratic state with the rise of neoliberalism and neofascism; and the emergence of a new age of global hegemonic instability accompanied by increased dangers of unlimited war. | more…

In Nebaj at a cemetery for civil war victims—another History lesson from Jorge

A Violent Guatemala

Among ethnic disasters of the past few decades, few can match in intensity or have been reported in the media more extensively than those of the Indigenous in Guatemala. The social structure of the nationÑits hierarchy, driven by a light-skinned population, most of whom are ethnically mestizo but who do not identify with the purely IndigenousÑits history, and its small size make it an important site for the documentation and reporting of ethnic disputes and differences. | more…

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