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Marxism

July-August 2005 (Volume 57, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

Even regular readers of Monthly Review may be unaware that the magazine appears in Spanish, Greek, and Indian editions. Moreover, a Turkish edition is currently in the works. Analytical Monthly Review (“AMR”), published from Kharagpur in West Bengal, reproduces monthly all (or nearly all) the contents of MR in English, together with editorial comment on matters of current interest in India. It is in its tenth year of publication. Supported by longtime friends of Monthly Review from all over India, it is available at a small fraction of the cost of the edition printed in the United States. From the early ’70s to the late ’80s editions of Monthly Review appeared in Spanish, Italian, and Greek (the Greek edition was founded by Andreas Papandreou before he became prime minister of Greece). A small but cheering sign of ebbing global counter-revolution is the reappearance in the last two years of Spanish and Greek editions. The Spanish edition of MRMonthly Review: Selecciones en castellano—published in Barcelona, appears twice a year with translations of selected articles. The Greek language Monthly Review translates several MR articles each month and also presents a range of political commentary of particular interest in Greece. In addition, they have released two books in their book-publishing arm, Monthly Review Imprint, one consisting mainly of Papandreou’s writings in MR and another on Is Iraq Another Vietnam?—also drawing on the magazine. The very first Turkish language edition of Monthly Review is scheduled to appear by the end of this year | more…

The Renewing of Socialism: An Introduction

Articles in Monthly Review often end by invoking the socialist alternative to capitalism. Readers in recent years have frequently asked us what this means. Didn’t socialism die in the twentieth century? Wasn’t it defeated by capitalism? More practically: if socialism is still being advocated what kind of socialism is it? Are we being utopian in the sense of advancing a pleasant but impossible dream? | more…

Approaching Socialism

Among the arguments against socialism is that it goes against human nature. “You can’t change human nature” is the frequently heard refrain. That may be true of basic human instincts such as the urge to obtain food to eat, reproduce, seek shelter, make and wear protective clothing. However, what has usually been referred to as “human nature” has changed a great deal during the long history of humankind. As social systems changed, many habits and behavioral traits also changed as people adapted to new social structures. Anatomically modern humans emerged some 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. Over the tens of thousands of years since, many different kinds of social organizations and societies have developed. Initially, most were based on hunting and gathering, while for about the last 7,000 years many have been based on agriculture. These societies were organized as clans, villages, tribes, city-states, nations, and/or empires | more…

The Knowledge of a Better World

There is an old saying that if you don’t know where you want to go, then any road will take you there. I think that recent years, years of neoliberalism, imperialist outrages, and the virtual destruction of almost every effort to create an alternative, have disproved this saying. Our experience tells us that if you don’t know where you want to go, then no road will take you there | more…

What is Socialist Feminism?

At some level, perhaps not too well articulated, socialist feminism has been around for a long time. You are a woman in a capitalist society. You get pissed off: about the job, the bills, your husband (or ex), about the kids’ school, the housework, being pretty, not being pretty, being looked at, not being look at (and either way, not listened to), etc. If you think about all these things and how they fit together and what has to be changed, and then you look around for some words to hold all these thoughts together in abbreviated form, you’d almost have to come up with “socialist feminism.”  | more…

The Utopian Vision of the Future (Then and Now): A Marxist Critique

Oscar Wilde said that any map that doesn’t have utopia on it is not worth looking at. There are few quotes I’ve cited as often or with as much pleasure as this one. Yet, there is something in the sweeping nature of the claim that has always left me unsatisfied. In examining utopian thinking, I will also try to distinguish what is valid and useful in Wilde’s claim from what is not | more…

What is the Soul of Socialism?

At midnight on January 1, 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect. Years in the making, the treaty was designed to solidify the rule of capital over the lives of millions of people from Calgary to Guadalajara. It would smooth the way for capital investment across borders, while blunting labor and environmental laws and reducing the governments’ ability to tax and regulate businesses | more…

The Soul of Socialism: Connecting with the People’s Values

“Theory becomes a material force,” wrote Karl Marx, “once it seizes the masses.” The obverse is also true: if theory does not “seize the masses,” it becomes impotent and irrelevant. Today, in the United States and many other countries, a socialist critique has been excluded from political and popular debate regarding critical economic and social problems. One reason for this is the domination of the mainstream media by corporations, but the existence of a capitalist propaganda mill does not absolve socialists for failing to translate their trenchant and sound observations about the existing social and political order into language that will resonate with the values of the readers or listeners who are the putative beneficiaries of any socialist transformation | more…

André Gunder Frank (1929-2005)

Who is the most cited and discussed economist in the world? Don’t waste time looking among Nobel Prize winners and other stars of the mainstream media. André Gunder Frank is by far the most cited and most discussed, as shown by a number of studies on the subject and by the more than 30,000 entries he has on the Internet  | more…

A Note on the Death of André Gunder Frank (1929-2005)

I met André Gunder Frank and his wife Marta Fuentes in 1967. Our long conversation convinced us that we were intellectually on the same wavelength. “Modernization Theory,” then dominant, ascribed the “underdevelopment” of the Third World to the retarded and incomplete formation of its capitalist institutions. Marxist orthodoxy, as represented by the Communist Parties, presented its own version of this view and characterized Latin America as “semi-feudal.” Frank put forward a new and entirely different thesis: that from its very origins Latin America had been constructed within the framework of capitalist development as the periphery of the newly arising centers of Europe’s Atlantic seabord. For my part, I had undertaken to analyze the integration of Asia and Africa into the capitalist system in light of the requirements of “accumulation on a global scale,” a process that by its inner logic had to produce a polarization of wealth and power  | more…

Albert Einstein (1959), charcoal and watercolor drawing by Alexander Dobkin

Albert Einstein, Radical: A Political Profile

2005 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Albert Einstein and the centennial of the publication of five of his major scientific papers that transformed the study of physics. Einstein’s insights were so revolutionary that they challenged not only established doctrine in the natural sciences, but even altered the way ordinary people saw their world. By the 1920s he had achieved international popular renown on a scale that would not become usual until the rise of the contemporary celebrity saturated tabloids and cable news channels. His recondite scientific papers as well as interviews with the popular press were front page news and fodder for the newsreels. Usually absent, however, was any sober discussion of his participation in the political life of his times as an outspoken radical-especially in profiles and biographies after his death | more…