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Marxism

July-August 2006 (Volume 58, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s famous remark, cited by Karl Marx, among others, was surely a part of the sensibility that motivated Harry Magdoff’s life and work. Harry’s writing and scholarship were important achievements and distinguished contributions to the socialist project, but they were grounded in a profound understanding of life, history, and the human condition. The centrality of both theory and life were much in evidence on a clear brisk weekend in early May, when many of the MR extended family—readers, writers, staff, and, of course, the Magdoff family—gathered in New York, on Saturday for a roundtable on Harry’s contributions and the future of MR, and on Sunday for a meeting celebrating, as it turned out, the lives of both Harry and his beloved wife Beadie | more…

Women and Class: What Has Happened in Forty Years?

Forty years ago this summer, a group of women and men came together to form the National Organization for Women (NOW). NOW’s mission was to fight for gender equality through education and litigation. While not the only group fighting for women’s rights, it quickly became one of the best known and largest. Today, NOW has over a half million members and over 500 chapters throughout the country. NOW was founded at a time when women were entering the paid labor force in increasing numbers. NOW had its critics: many said it ignored race and class, others said it was too focused on liberal feminist legal strategies like passing the Equal Rights Amendment. Numerous other organizations representing working-class women and women of color developed, including the Coalition of Labor Union Women, 9to5, the National Organization of Working Women, and the Combahee River Collective. Together with a myriad of other groups these organizations helped build the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s | more…

Remembering John Kenneth Galbraith

When my father, Paul Sweezy, died at the end of February 2004, John Kenneth Galbraith, or Ken, as he preferred to be called, in- vited my mother to gather her children and come talk. He told us that the New York Times and other newspapers had called to in- terview him for Paul ‘s obituary but he had declined. He felt bad about doing so, but he said, their questions focused on political differences and that is not what he wanted to say about Paul | more…

The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development

The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development

“A good society,” Michael Lebowitz tells us, “is one that permits the full development of human potential.” In this slim, lucid, and insightful book, he argues persuasively that such a society is possible. That capitalism fails his definition of a good society is evident from even a cursory examination of its main features. What comes first in capitalism is not human development but privately accumulated profits by a tiny minority of the population. When there is a conflict between profits and human development, profits take precedence. Just ask the unemployed, those toiling at dead-end jobs, the sick and infirm, the poor, and the imprisoned. | more…

The Structural Crisis of Capital

The Structural Crisis of Capital

In this collection of trenchant essays and interviews, István Mészáros, the world’s preeminent Marxist philosopher and winner of the Libertador Award for Critical Thought (the Bolivar Prize) for 2008, lays bare the exploitative structure of modern capitalism. He argues with great power that the world’s economies are on a social and ecological precipice, and unless decisive radical action is taken soon to totally transform our economic system—from one based upon the blind pursuit of profit to one controlled by the workers themselves to not just satisfy our basic needs but to help each of us to develop our full potential as human beings—we will find ourselves thrust headfirst into barbarism and environmental catastrophe. | more…

Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness, Volume 1

Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness, Vol. I: The Social Determination of Method

This new work by the leading Marxian philosopher of our day is a milestone in human self-understanding. It focuses on the location where action emerges from freedom and necessity, the foundation of all social science.…Today, as never before, the investigation of the close relationship between social structure — defined by Marx as “arising from the life-process of definite individuals” — and the various forms of consciousness is particularly important. We can only perceive what is possible by first identifying the historical process that constrains consciousness itself, and therefore social action. | more…

Eurocentrism: Modernity, Religion, and Democracy: A Critique of Eurocentrism and Culturalism

Eurocentrism: Modernity, Religion, and Democracy: A Critique of Eurocentrism and Culturalism

Since its first publication twenty years ago, Eurocentrism has become a classic of radical thought. Written by one of the world’s foremost political economists, this original and provocative essay takes on one of the great “ideological deformations” of our time: Eurocentrism. Rejecting the dominant Eurocentric view of world history, which narrowly and incorrectly posits a progression from the Greek and Roman classical world to Christian feudalism and the European capitalist system, Amin presents a sweeping reinterpretation that emphasizes the crucial historical role played by the Arab Islamic world. Throughout the work, Amin addresses a broad set of concerns, ranging from the ideological nature of scholastic metaphysics to the meanings and shortcomings of contemporary Islamic fundamentalism. This second edition contains a new introduction and concluding chapter, both of which make the author’s arguments even more compelling. | more…

Marxism and Philosophy

Marxism and Philosophy

Marxism and Philosophy is Karl Korsch’s masterwork. In it he argues for a reexamination of the relationship between Marxist theory and bourgeois philosophy, and insists on the centrality of the Hegelian dialectic and a commitment to revolutionary praxis. Although widely attacked in its time, Marxism and Philosophy has attained a place among the most important works of twentieth-century Marxist theory, and continues to merit critical reappraisal from scholars and activists today. | more…

The Taming of the American Crowd: From Stamp Riots to Shopping Sprees

The Taming of the American Crowd: From Stamp Riots to Shopping Sprees

The Taming of the American Crowd explains how the crowd as an active subject of change—often positive, sometimes not—has been replaced by the passive crowd as object of control and regulation. Today, the imperatives of mass society organize people in large numbers to consume goods and conform to permissible behavioral patterns; not to openly contest power. But, with the world entering a new period of economic uncertainty and mass protests erupting across the globe, it is time to reverse that trend. This book shows us the history of the untamed crowd and urges us to reclaim its legacy. | more…

Marx’s Vision of Sustainable Human Development

In developed capitalist countries, debates over the economics of socialism have mostly concentrated on questions of information, incentives, and efficiency in resource allocation. This focus on “socialist calculation” reflects the mainly academic context of these discussions. By contrast, for anti-capitalist movements and post-revolutionary regimes on the capitalist periphery, socialism as a form of human development has been a prime concern. A notable example is Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s work on “Man and Socialism in Cuba,” which rebutted the argument that “the period of building socialism…is characterized by the extinction of the individual for the sake of the state.” For Che, socialist revolution is a process in which “large numbers of people are developing themselves,” and “the material possibilities of the integral development of each and every one of its members make the task ever more fruitful.”  | more…