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Navigating the Zeitgeist: A Story of the Cold War, the New Left, Irish Republicanism, and International Communism

Why would an American girl-child, born into a good, Irish-Catholic family in the thick of the McCarthy era—a girl who, when she came of age, entered a convent—morph into an atheist, feminist, and Marxist? The answer is in Helena Sheehan’s fascinating account of her journey from her 1940s and 1950s beginnings, into the turbulent 1960s, when the Vietnam War, black power, and women’s liberation rocked her bedrock assumptions and prompted a volley of life-upending questions—questions shared by millions of young people of her generation. But, for Helena Sheehan, the increasingly radicalized answers deepened through the following decades. | more…

Migrant workers returning home in a train in Cochin, India.

Global Commodity Chains and the New Imperialism

To comprehend twenty-first-century imperialism we must go beyond analysis of the nation-state to a systematic investigation of the increasing global reach of multinational corporations or the role of the global labor arbitrage. At issue is the way in which today’s global monopolies in the center of the world economy have captured value generated by labor in the periphery within a process of unequal exchange, thus getting “more labour in exchange for less. The result has been to change the global structure of industrial production while maintaining and often intensifying the global structure of exploitation and value transfer. | more…

Monitoring is built in to many of the jobs that form the ‘gig economy’—but surveillance is increasing across the workplace

New Means of Workplace Surveillance

From the Gaze of the Supervisor to the Digitalization of Employees

Workplace surveillance and the invasion of employee privacy have always been present under capitalism. Historically, this has mostly involved the combination of visual observation and abstract time, focusing on employee performance. However, the development of new information and communication technologies has brought important changes to the manner in which employers control employee productivity. Such digitalization or datafication of employees constitutes a qualitative change in the history of workplace surveillance—a change that reduces workers, their performance and bodies, to lines of code and flows of data to be scrutinized and manipulated. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 70, Number 8 (January 2019)

January 2019 (Volume 70, Number 8)

Notes from the Editors

In this issue we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the publishing of the definitive version of The Combahee River Collective Statement in Zillah Eisenstein, ed., Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism. We are also extremely pleased to announce Monthly Review Press author Kohei Saito has won the prestigious Deutscher prize for 2018 for his Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy. There is no doubt that this book constitutes one of the great works of Marxian theory in our time. | more…

Student protesters in South Africa

South Africa Suffers Capitalist Crisis Déjà Vu

Business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa, who, according to Forbes, was worth more than $450 million in 2015, has been the president of the ruling African National Congress since December 2017. Despite the change in ruling-party leadership, the residual old-guard politicians from the era of Jacob Zuma’s patrimonial, corrupt regime still retain enormous power. | more…

Safehouse in Ladvi near Prague used by Che Guevara

Cuba, Che Guevara, and the Problem of “Socialism in One Country”

The presidential elections in Cuba in March 2018 has raised again the question of the country’s survival. How can Cuba hold up and develop against the economic, cultural, and military encirclement of U.S. imperialism in particular and the capitalist system in general? An answer can be sought in the history of Cuba’s socialist transition, the unique role played by Che Guevara, and the emergence of ideas regarding the possibility (and impossibility) of achieving socialism in one country alone. | more…

Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power

Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power

“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…

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…

From Commune to Capitalism: How China's Peasants Lost Collective Farming and Gained Urban Poverty

India after Naxalbari: Unfinished History

Although the 1967 revolutionary armed peasant uprising in Naxalbari, at the foot of the Indian Himalayas, was brutally crushed, the insurgency gained new life elsewhere in India. In fact, this revolt has turned out to be the world’s longest-running “people’s war,” and Naxalbari has come to stand for the road to revolution in India. What has gone into the making of this protracted Maoist resistance? Bernard D’Mello’s fascinating narrative answers this question by tracing the circumstances that gave rise to India’s “1968” decade of revolutionary humanism and those that led to the triumph of the “1989” era of appallingly unequal growth condoned by Hindutva-nationalism, the Indian variant of Nazism. | more…

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…

Farmers fertilizing an aerobic rice field

Rural Communities and Economic Crises in Modern China

Throughout China’s nearly seventy-year history of industrialization and financialization, whenever the cost of an economic crisis could be transferred to the rural sector, capital-intensive urban industries have had a “soft landing” and existing institutional arrangements have been maintained—a pattern that continues today. We argue that Chinese peasants and rural communities have rescued the country from no fewer than ten such economic crises. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 70, Number 2 (June 2018)

June 2018 (Volume 70, Number 2)

With the eruption in March of the scandal around Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, articles raising the alarm on “surveillance capitalism” are suddenly everywhere. The term, which was coined in MR in August of 2014, was developed to highlight the links between digital spying systems and contemporary capitalism as a whole. Academic interpretations of the concept effectively divorced surveillance capitalism from class analysis, and from the overall political-economic structure of capitalism—as if surveillance could be abstracted from monopoly-finance capital as a whole. | more…

Overview of food and nutrition security in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Politics of Food in Venezuela

Few countries and political processes have been subject to such scrutiny, yet so generally misunderstood, as Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution. This is particularly true today, as the international media paints an image of absolute devastation in the country, wrought by failed policies and government mismanagement. One way to comprehend the complexities of what is happening in Venezuela today—missed entirely by the dominant, mainstream narrative—is by homing in on the dynamics around Venezuela’s most highly consumed staple foods. | 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…

Black protest in Krakow

Behind the ‘Black Protests’

The Struggle for Abortion Rights in Poland

In October 2016, cities across Poland were seized by massive demonstrations against proposals for a total ban on abortion. Whatever their ultimate outcome, the protests prove that mass mobilizations are possible in today’s Poland, and that the right’s political and cultural hegemony may yet be more fragile than it appears. | more…