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Can the Working Class Change the World?

Can the Working Class Change the World?

One of the horrors of the capitalist system is that slave labor, which was central to the formation and growth of capitalism itself, is still fully able to coexist alongside wage labor. But, as Karl Marx pointed out, it is the fact of being paid for one’s work that validates capitalism as a viable socio-economic structure. Beneath this veil of “free commerce”—where workers are paid only for a portion of their workday, and buyers and sellers in the marketplace face each other as “equals”—lies a foundation of immense inequality. Yet workers have always rebelled. They’ve organized unions, struck, picketed, boycotted, formed political organizations and parties—sometimes they have actually won and improved their lives. In his timely and innovative book, Michael D. Yates asks if the working class can, indeed, change the world. | 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.
Monthly Review Volume 70, Number 4 (September 2018)

September 2018 (Volume 70, Number 4)

Notes from the Editors

Founded in the late 1960s and recently revived, the radical organization Science for the People did—and does—far more than just publish a magazine. Chapters are forming around the country, including physicists, engineers, and biologists, as well as representatives of other scientific groupings and social movements. We at MR welcome the return of this great publication and movement of the U.S. left. | more…

Dark Clouds of Factory Smoke Obscure Clark Avenue Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio in 1973

‘The Deadly Implications of Capital for the Human Habitat’

A Letter to István Mészáros from Paul M. Sweezy, October 16, 1992

In October 1992, MR founding editor Paul M. Sweezy wrote the following brief letter, published here for the first time, to István Mészáros in response to an interview with Chris Arthur and Joseph McCarney that had just been published in Radical Philosophy. Sweezy saluted the critical significance of Mészáros’s argument on “the monstrous power of capital,” and the failure of many Marxists to perceive this problem in its full dimensions. He also affirmed the imperative of incorporating the ecological economics of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen.
Black Lives Matter protesters kneel and raise their hands in London's Oxford Street on July 8, 2016

Beyond the Class–Race Binary

In his insightful new book, the historian David Roediger raises critical questions for scholar-activists seeking to understand white racism and contemporary capitalism and its class realities. He joins a long line of thinkers who have clearly recognized the need for both specifically racial and more universal, class-oriented programs of major social and economic change. | 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…

A spectre haunts capitalism

Marx’s Open-Ended Critique

Against attempts to characterize Marx as a dogmatic and deterministic thinker, it is precisely the open-endedness of his criticism that accounts for historical materialism’s staying power. This openness has allowed Marxism to continually reinvent itself, expanding its empirical and theoretical content and embracing ever larger aspects of historical reality. | 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…

Section of the Diego Rivera's mural "From the conquest to 1930" focusing on Marx and the class struggle

The Multiple Meanings of Marx’s Value Theory

The Marxian critique of political economy is inseparable from the “labor theory of value.” But what exactly does this theory mean? This article considers Marx’s value theory from five perspectives: as a monetary value theory, a theory of exploitation, a macro-monetary theory of capitalist production, a theory of individual prices, and a theory of crises. | more…

Culture as Politics: Selected Writings of Christopher Caudwell

Considered by many to be the most innovative British Marxist writer of the twentieth century, Christopher Caudwell was killed in the Spanish Civil War at the age of 29. Although already a published writer of aeronautic texts and crime fiction, he was practically unknown to the public until reviews appeared of Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry, which was published just after his death. A strikingly original study of poetry’s role, it explained in clear language how the organizing of emotion in society plays a part in social change and development. Culture as Politics introduces Caudwell’s work through his most accessible and relevant writing. Material will be drawn from Illusion and Reality, Studies in a Dying Culture and his essay, “Heredity and Development.” | more…

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx's Law of Value: Monopoly Capital and Marx's Law of Value

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx’s Law of Value

Unlike such obvious forms of oppression as feudalism or slavery, capitalism has been able to survive through its genius for disguising corporate profit imperatives as opportunities for individual human equality and advancement. But it was the genius of Karl Marx, in his masterwork, Capital, to discover the converse law of surplus value: behind the illusion of the democratic, supply-and-demand marketplace, lies the workplace, where people trying to earn a living are required to work way beyond the time it takes to pay their wages. Leave it to the genius of Samir Amin to advance Marx’s theories—adding to them the work of radical economists such as Michal Kalecki, Josef Steindl, Paul Baran, and Paul Sweezy—to show how Marxian theory can be adapted to modern economic conditions. | more…

Black Women Will Not Be Intimidated

Invisible Exploitation

How Capital Extracts Value Beyond Wage Labor

An expanded Marxist understanding of capitalist exploitation is long overdue. There are many pathways of surplus extraction beyond the wage form, and understanding them is a task with profound implications for anticapitalist movements around the world. | more…

In the Name of Women’s Rights: The Rise of Femonationalism book cover

Patriarchies East and West

Sara Farris’s In the Name of Women’s Rights is a brave monograph that analyzes the way that the discourses of Europe’s right-wing nationalists, government agencies, and liberal feminists converge in their representations of Muslim and non-western immigrant women, relegating these communities to commodified spheres of social reproductive work. | more…

Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power

Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power

Forthcoming in October 2018

“Mythologies,” writes veteran human rights lawyer Michael Tigar, “are structures of words and images that portray people, institutions, and events in ways that mask an underlying reality.” For instance, the “Justice Department” appears, by its very nature and practice, to appropriate “justice” as the exclusive property of the federal government. In his brilliantly acerbic collection of essays, Tigar reveals, deconstructs, and eviscerates mythologies surrounding the U.S. criminal justice system, racism, free expression, workers’ rights, and international human rights. | more…