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Philosophy

Margaret Randall’s Years in Cuba

Margaret Randall, To Change the World: My Years in Cuba (Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009), 256 pages, $24.95, paperback.

Margaret Randall has always been too much of a feminist for the socialists and too much of a socialist for the feminists. She is one of the foremost oral historians of recent revolutionary history and, more specifically, of the history of women in revolutions. Yet her work has been consistently undervalued. Her memoir…is a rare double opportunity: an intimate look at the Cuban Revolution from 1969 to 1980, and a fascinating portrait of the development of a historian, poet, and political thinker.… | more…

One Day in December: Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution

One Day in December: Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution

Celia Sánchez is the missing actor of the Cuban Revolution. Although not as well known in the English-speaking world as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Sánchez played a pivotal role in launching the revolution and administering the revolutionary state. The product of ten years of original research, One Day in December draws on interviews with Sánchez’s friends, family, and comrades in the rebel army, along with countless letters and documents. This is the extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman who exemplified the very best values of the Cuban Revolution: selfless dedication to the people, courage in the face of grave danger, and the desire to transform society.… | more…

What Race Has to Do With It

Who could have imagined the 2008 presidential campaign?

Commentators, media people, and especially politicians fell all over themselves proclaiming that the 2008 election had, “nothing at all to do with race.” And yet every event, every speech and comment, every debate and appearance had race written all over it. Stephen Colbert, the brilliant satirist, hit it on the head when he asked a Republican operative, “How many euphemisms have you come up with so far so that you won’t have to use the word ‘Black?’” Everyone laughed good-naturedly.… | more…

The Work of Sartre: Search for Freedom and the Challenge of History

The Work of Sartre: Search for Freedom and the Challenge of History

This landmark book, first published in 1979, met acclaim as a doubly important work of radical philosophy. Its subject, Jean-Paul Sartre, was among the twentieth century’s most controversial and influential philosophers; its author, István Mészáros, was himself establishing a reputation for profound contributions to the Marxian tradition, which would continue into the next century. In this completely updated and expanded volume, Mészáros examines the manifold aspects of Sartre’s legacy—as novelist, playwright, philosopher, and political actor—and in so doing casts light upon the entire oeuvre, situating it within the historical and social context of Sartre’s time.… | more…

Capital Accumulation and Women's Labor in Asian Economies

Capital Accumulation and Women’s Labor in Asian Economies

The global impact of Asian production of the wage goods consumed in North America and Europe is only now being recognized, and is far from being understood. Asian women, most only recently urbanized and in the waged work force, are at the center of a process of intensive labor for minimal wages that has upended the entire global economy. First published in 1997, this prescient study is the best available summary of this crucial process as it took hold at the very end of the twentieth century. This new edition brings the discussion up to 2011 with an extensive introduction by world-famous economist Jayati Ghosh of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.… | more…

José Carlos Mariátegui: An Anthology

José Carlos Mariátegui: An Anthology

José Carlos Mariátegui is one of Latin America’s most profound but overlooked thinkers. A self-taught journalist, social scientist, and activist from Peru, he was the first to emphasize that those fighting for the revolutionary transformation of society must adapt classical Marxist theory to the particular conditions of Latin American. He also stressed that indigenous peoples must take an active, if not leading, role in any revolutionary struggle.… | more…

The Devil's Milk: A Social History of Rubber

The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber

Capital, as Marx once wrote, comes into the world “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” He might well have been describing the long, grim history of rubber. From the early stages of primitive accumulation to the heights of the industrial revolution and beyond, rubber is one of a handful of commodities that has played a crucial role in shaping the modern world, and yet, as John Tully shows in this remarkable book, laboring people around the globe have every reason to regard it as “the devil's milk.” All the advancements made possible by rubber—industrial machinery, telegraph technology, medical equipment, countless consumer goods—have occurred against a backdrop of seemingly endless exploitation, conquest, slavery, and war. But Tully is quick to remind us that the vast terrain of rubber production has always been a site of struggle, and that the oppressed who toil closest to “the devil's milk” in all its forms have never accepted their immiseration without a fight.… | more…

The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould

The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould was not only a leading paleontologist and evolutionary theorist, he was also a humanist with an enduring interest in the history and philosophy of science. The extraordinary range of Gould’s work was underpinned by a richly nuanced and deeply insightful worldview. Richard York and Brett Clark engage Gould’s science and humanism to illustrate and develop the intellectual power of Gould’s worldview, particularly with regard to the philosophy of science. They demonstrate how the Gouldian perspective sheds light on many of the key debates occurring not only in the natural sciences, but in the social sciences as well. They engage the themes that unified Gould’s work and drove his inquires throughout his intellectual career, such as the nature of history, both natural and social, particularly the profound importance of contingency and the uneven tempo of change. They also assess Gould’s views on structuralism, highlighting the importance of the dialectical interaction of structural forces with everyday demands for function, and his views on the hierarchical ordering of causal forces, with some forces operating at large scales and/or over long spans of time, while others are operating on small scales and/or occur frequently or rapidly.… | more…

Marx, Freud, and the Critique of Everyday Life: Toward a Permanent Cultural Revolution

Marx, Freud, and the Critique of Everyday Life: Toward a Permanent Cultural Revolution

The theory and practice of revolutionary social transformation, Bruce Brown argues, cannot rest content with the exclusive emphasis of traditional Marxism on world-historic processes and the struggle of the working classes for their collective emancipation. He views the experience both of the backsliding of revolution in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and of the manipulative integration of the population of the West into consumer capitalism, as seen at the turning point years of the early 1970s. Brown argues that Marxism needs to rediscover the specifically subjective, psychological dimensions of the revolutionary process in their relation to the objective patterns in history.… | more…

The Alienation of Modern Man

The Alienation of Modern Man

This intriguing work deals with the plight of the alienated individual, estranged from humanity and the surrounding world. It examines such questions as: Why do writers like Kafka, Thomas Wolfe, Rilke, and the existential philosophers, who portray man as a stranger in the world, have such a strong appeal? Is estrangement limited to individual cases or has it become a universal fate? Is alienation a consequence of the triumph of the machine? Is it caused by the increasing complication of our political life and by the growing separation between leaders and masses? Is it characteristic of the human condition, or is it a specific development of modern society? Should mankind resign itself to alienation, or can it be overcome, conquered?… | 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…

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…

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