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Political Economy

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, joined by the Presidential Cabinet members, pose for a Cabinet portrait Thursday, April 1, 2021, in the Grand Foyer of the White House

The Council on Foreign Relations, the Biden Team, and Key Policy Outcomes

Climate and China

We can analyze the new Biden administration, its personnel, and the policies it is likely to follow, especially on the all-important questions of the climate crisis and U.S. grand strategy toward China, by looking at the Council on Foreign Relations. | more…

The Foreign Minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño, participated in the commemoration of the death of Commander Hugo Chávez Frías

Socialist Practice and Transition

In Socialist Practice, a collection of essays on leftist theory and experiences, Victor Wallis adheres to the view that the achievement of socialism is a drawn out, nonlinear process consisting of episodes that in many cases have a mixed impact on the revolutionary cause. He analyzes several, ranging from the seven decades of Soviet rule to the New Left of the 1960s. His main thesis is that over the last century pure socialism has never existed and that on all fronts socialist movements and governments have contained elements of the old—namely, capitalism. | more…

Capital and Imperialism: Theory, History, and the Present

Those who control the world’s commanding economic heights, buttressed by the theories of mainstream economists, presume that capitalism is a self-contained and self-generating system. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this pathbreaking book—winner of the Paul A. Baran-Paul M. Sweezy Memorial Award—radical political economists Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik argue that the accumulation of capital has always required the taking of land, raw materials, and bodies from noncapitalist modes of production. They begin with a thorough debunking of mainstream economics. Then, looking at the history of capitalism, from the beginnings of colonialism half a millennium ago to today’s neoliberal regimes, they discover that, over the long haul, capitalism, in order to exist, must metastasize itself in the practice of imperialism and the immiseration of countless people. | more…

Paramedics take a patient into emergency center at Maimonides Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, April 7, 2020

Racial Capitalism and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp relief the deep structural problems affecting nonwhite racialized workers in the core and periphery. Yet, many social scientific analyses of the global political economy, at least in the pre-COVID era, are race neutral or willfully indifferent to the persistent racial pattern of global inequalities. Even if they do address legacies of colonialism, they ignore the ongoing racial logics of oppression embedded therein. | more…

Capital, Science, Technology

The Development of Productive Forces in Contemporary Capitalism

Capitalist modernity not only contains profound contradictions, but is also undergoing a significant transformation. Far from acting as a driving force for the development of social productive forces, it has become a parasitic entity with an essentially rentier and speculative function. Underlying this is an institutional framework that favors the private appropriation and the concentration of the products of general intellect. | more…

Isabel Crook and Harry Magdoff

Whither China?

An Exchange from 2002–⁠03

In December 2002, Isabel Crook, a Canadian anthropologist who had spent most of her life in China and a longtime friend and supporter of Monthly Review, wrote a letter to the MR editors questioning the critical nature of coverage of China’s capitalist road to socialism since the ascendance of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. This short exchange with Harry Magdoff reflects the complex ways in which dedicated socialists sought to address changes in China and the clarity of the ideas expressed. | more…

Bend of Jinsha River at Shigu village, Yulong Naxi autonomous county in Lijiang, Southwest China's Yunnan province

The Ecological State

Although natural constraints on supply are important, most economic scarcities that rule our lives are actually social and artificial. Supply and demand are not natural forces drifting through the air; they are contrived realities established by an interactive social environment involving governments, corporations, institutions, and classes. Supply and demand cycles are social constructs designed to answer a basic question: Who gets what? | more…

Drivers United

Manipulations of Freedom

The Dirty Fight for Prop 22 and the Gig Economy

On California’s November 2020 ballot were some contentious and important issues, including Proposition 22, classifying rideshare drivers and app-based delivery workers as independent contractors. Gig economy giants Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and others spent a whopping $111 million on Prop 22. Of course, the companies had a lot to lose. If they were made to treat their drivers or delivery people as employees and compensate them accordingly, they would be bankrupted, they claimed. | more…

The Ecological Revolution

Preface to the Persian Edition of The Ecological Revolution

The Ecological Revolution was first published a little more than ten years ago in April 2009, at a time when climate change had already been recognized as a pressing global issue for over two decades, but when there was still hardly any realistic discussion of its connection to capitalism or of the immense ecological and social revolution that would be required to overcome the Earth System crisis. Let us look back to understand the historical gulf separating that time from our own. | more…

A Peoples History of Detroit

On Creative Destruction, Myths, and Revolution

It is a testament to the clarity and scope of Mark Jay and Philip Conklin’s vision that A People’s History of Detroit is replete with insights for those trying to make sense of these deeply uncertain and troubling times. In it, Jay and Conklin show that “in order to give a true ‘people’s history,’ one must do more than condemn the malevolence of those in power and celebrate the activists who have struggled for justice; one must also come to terms with the social system in which these people lived. In our case, this means confronting the logic of capital.” | more…

Between Capitalism and Community

Between Capitalism and Community

Karl Marx, in Capital, focused on capital and the capitalist class that is its embodiment. It is the endless accumulation of capital, its causes and consequences that are central to Marx’s analysis. In taking this approach, Marx tended to obscure not only the centrality of capital’s “immanent drive” and “constant tendency” to divide the working class but also the political economy of the working class (“social production controlled by social foresight”). In Between Capitalism and Community, Lebowitz demonstrates that capitalism contains within itself elements of a different society, one of community. If we are to escape the ultimate barbarism portended by the existing crisis of the earth system, the subordination of the system of capitalism by that of community is essential. | more…

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