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Karl Marx's tomb

A Commodius Vicus of Recirculation

Encountering Marx and Joyce

“In the mid-1990s, when I lived in central London, I used to walk past the British Museum nearly every day. More often than not, I would pop in, did so for years, getting thrilled by a couple of things. The first was entering the great Reading Room, for which I had a Reader’s Card, glimpsing and even sitting in space G-7. I never ordered any books, had no need to order anything; all I wanted was to sit there, in Karl Marx’s seat, and try to feel the vibe. Usually, there was no vibe, only the hushed shuffling and page turning of others close by, mixed with the odd cough and splutter.” | more…

Isabel Crook and Harry Magdoff

Whither China?

An Exchange from 2002–⁠03

In December 2002, Isabel Crook, a Canadian anthropologist who had spent most of her life in China and a longtime friend and supporter of Monthly Review, wrote a letter to the MR editors questioning the critical nature of coverage of China’s capitalist road to socialism since the ascendance of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. This short exchange with Harry Magdoff reflects the complex ways in which dedicated socialists sought to address changes in China and the clarity of the ideas expressed. | more…

A demonstration in Oporto in April 25, 1983

What We Recovered in the Revolution

Álvaro Cunhal's Five Days, Five Nights

A prolific political writer, Álvaro Cunhal—leader of Portugal’s Communist Party for half a century and central figure of the 1974 Carnation Revolution—revealed in 1994 that he had also written several novels under the pseudonym Manuel Tiago. One of these novels, Five Days, Five Nights, was only translated into and published in English in 2020. The novella manages to capture the complexities, loneliness, and bravery of ordinary people, highlighting how we are the ones who keep us safe. | more…

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…

Bend of Jinsha River at Shigu village, Yulong Naxi autonomous county in Lijiang, Southwest China's Yunnan province

The Ecological State

Although natural constraints on supply are important, most economic scarcities that rule our lives are actually social and artificial. Supply and demand are not natural forces drifting through the air; they are contrived realities established by an interactive social environment involving governments, corporations, institutions, and classes. Supply and demand cycles are social constructs designed to answer a basic question: Who gets what? | more…

Red Star: The First Bolshevik Utopia by Alexander Bogdanov

Red Star

Coexistence in Alexander Bogdanov's Utopia

Alexander Bogdanov’s Red Star, published in 1908, was an attempt to reenergize the dejected revolutionaries whose efforts had been crushed during the 1905 Russian Revolution. The protagonist, Leonid, is a Russian revolutionary chosen, in the midst of the revolution, by the Martian expedition to visit their planet and learn about the centuries-old advanced form of communism there. Since the triumph of communism in Russia was the cause to which Leonid had decided to devote his life, he agrees to visit Mars so that he can absorb their ideas and principles. | more…

Between Capitalism and Community

Between Capitalism and Community

Karl Marx, in Capital, focused on capital and the capitalist class that is its embodiment. It is the endless accumulation of capital, its causes and consequences that are central to Marx’s analysis. In taking this approach, Marx tended to obscure not only the centrality of capital’s “immanent drive” and “constant tendency” to divide the working class but also the political economy of the working class (“social production controlled by social foresight”). In Between Capitalism and Community, Lebowitz demonstrates that capitalism contains within itself elements of a different society, one of community. If we are to escape the ultimate barbarism portended by the existing crisis of the earth system, the subordination of the system of capitalism by that of community is essential. | more…

Value and Crisis: Essays on Marxian Economics in Japan, second edition

Marxist economic thought has had a long and distinguished history in Japan, dating back to the First World War. When interest in Marxist theory was virtually nonexistent in the United States, rival schools of thought in Japan emerged, and brilliant debates took place on Marx’s Capital and on capitalism as it was developing in Japan. Forty years ago, Makoto Itoh’s Value and Crisis began to chronicle these Japanese contributions to Marxist theory, discussing in particular views on Marx’s theories of value and crisis, and problems of Marx’s theory of market value. Now, in a second edition of his book, Itoh deepens his study of Marx’s theories of value and crisis, as an essential reference point from which to analyze the multiple crises that have arisen during the past four decades of neoliberalism. The promise of Marx’s theories has not waned. If anything—given the failure of Soviet-style socialism and the catastrophe of neoliberalism—it grows daily. | more…

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…

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