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Political Economy

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…

Inside a Haier Pakistan factory

The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor

Beyond the Rule of Capital?

Three hundred years after what became known in the nineteenth century as the Great Game—a struggle for regional hegemony between the British and Russian Empires—Southwest Asia remains an imperial staging ground. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in September 2001 signaled Washington’s desire to cement its hegemonic position, but seventeen years later it is mired in an unwinnable war, even as the U.S. economy—and that of much of the Western world—endures the “endless crisis” of contemporary capitalism. | more…

Protest against worker precariousness

The New Service Proletariat

From call centers to fast-food restaurants, the future of service work is one of precarious employment, with no stable schedules, wages, benefits, or union representation. Should these workers be considered part of a new service proletariat, or treated as a new class altogether, the “precariat”? | more…

Section of the Diego Rivera's mural "From the conquest to 1930" focusing on Marx and the class struggle

The Multiple Meanings of Marx’s Value Theory

The Marxian critique of political economy is inseparable from the “labor theory of value.” But what exactly does this theory mean? This article considers Marx’s value theory from five perspectives: as a monetary value theory, a theory of exploitation, a macro-monetary theory of capitalist production, a theory of individual prices, and a theory of crises. | more…

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx's Law of Value: Monopoly Capital and Marx's Law of Value

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx’s Law of Value

Unlike such obvious forms of oppression as feudalism or slavery, capitalism has been able to survive through its genius for disguising corporate profit imperatives as opportunities for individual human equality and advancement. But it was the genius of Karl Marx, in his masterwork, Capital, to discover the converse law of surplus value: behind the illusion of the democratic, supply-and-demand marketplace, lies the workplace, where people trying to earn a living are required to work way beyond the time it takes to pay their wages. Leave it to the genius of Samir Amin to advance Marx’s theories—adding to them the work of radical economists such as Michal Kalecki, Josef Steindl, Paul Baran, and Paul Sweezy—to show how Marxian theory can be adapted to modern economic conditions. | more…

The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in Seventeenth-Century North America and the Caribbean

The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in Seventeenth-Century North America and the Caribbean

Virtually no part of the modern United States—the economy, education, constitutional law, religious institutions, sports, literature, economics, even protest movements—can be understood without first understanding the slavery and dispossession that laid its foundation. To that end, historian Gerald Horne digs deeply into Europe’s colonization of Africa and the New World, when, from Columbus’s arrival until the Civil War, some 13 million Africans and some 5 million Native Americans were forced to build and cultivate a society extolling “liberty and justice for all.” | more…

Monthly Review Volume 69, Number 9 (February 2018)

February 2018 (Volume 69, Number 9)

A recent article by the economist Riccardo Bellofiore includes a significant treatment of Paul Sweezy’s dynamic theory of monopoly capital. But the essay’s most noteworthy contributions, in our view, relate to Harry Magdoff and Sweezy’s role in the 1970s and ’80s in developing a theory of financialization, and what their analysis can tell us about our current situation. | more…

Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power

Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power

Forthcoming in September 2018

“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…

Rethinking Democracy: Socialist Register 2018

Socialist Register 2018: Rethinking Democracy

For years, intellectuals have argued that, with the triumph of capitalist, liberal democracy, the Western World has reached “the end of history.” Recently, however, there has been a rise of authoritarian politics in many countries. Concepts of post-democracy, anti-politics, and the like are gaining currency in theoretical and political debate. Now that capitalist democracies are facing seismic and systemic challenges, it becomes increasingly important to investigate not only the inherent antagonism between liberalism and the democratic process, but also socialism. Is socialism an enemy of democracy? Could socialism develop, expand, even enhance democracy? | more…