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Political Economy

A Note on Du Boff and Herman

I’m taking the liberty of appending this note because, though Du Boff and Herman’s article is directed mainly at Bill Tabb, it refers to some of the things I’ve written about globalization.…Recently, I got a letter from Bill Doyle, who wrote, “After reading Ed Herman’s comments in Z (magazine), I re-read your article and couldn’t see why Ed was so exercised. I’d be interested to know if you see a substantial difference between the two of you, and, if so, what it is.” Here, with some minor changes and additions, is what I wrote back. | more…

Socialist Register 2002: A World of Contradictions

Socialist Register 2002: A World of Contradictions

Radical politics have been defined in modern times—and distinguished from earlier traditions of protest—by the idea that economic, social and political structures are contradictory. Systems of exploitation creates not only wealth and prosperity for the powerful, but at the same time bring into being the forces which ensure their own eventual downfall. But it is a large step from the general assertion that social forms contain their own contradictions to analysis of the specific contradictions which occur in a given historical context, their interaction and movement, and their possible historical outcomes. | more…

October 1997 (Volume 49, Number 5)

Notes from the Editors

We are writing at the end of August. The two main events of the summer have been (1) the apparent ending of the long stock-market boom of the last few years, and (2) the successful strike of the teamsters against UPS. Neither can be said to have been anticipated and together they point to the emergence of new trends in the period ahead. | more…

Labor Pains: Inside America's New Union Movement

Labor Pains: Inside America’s New Union Movement

Labor Pains is an insider’s account of the struggle to rebuild a vibrant and powerful trade union movement in the United States. It takes as its starting point the daily experience of a union organizer, and brings that experience to life. It enables us to grasp how the conflicting demands of race, class, and gender are lived in the new union movement. | more…

More (or Less) on Globalization

Much has been written about “globalization” in the last few years. It is not my intention to add to this literature but only to put the topic into the context of my own understanding of the history of capitalism.…Globalization is not a condition or a phenomenon: it is a process that has been going on for a long time, in fact ever since capitalism came into the world as a viable form of society four or five centuries ago; (dating the birth of capitalism is an interesting problem but not relevant for present purposes). What is relevant and important, is to understand that capitalism is in its innermost essence an expanding system both internally and externally. Once rooted, it both grows and spreads. The classic analysis of this double movement is of course Marx’s Capital. | more…

July-August 1997 (Volume 49, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

As of early summer the economic outlook for the rest of 1997, as portrayed in the major media, could hardly be brighter. “Strong growth with little unemployment and low inflation doesn’t have to peter out….Could it possibly get any better than this?” exults Business Week (January).…Up to a point this is clearly a case of déjà vu all over again. A “new era” was widely and enthusiastically proclaimed by professors, pundits, and plain people as the stock market boom of the 1920s neared its peak. A few months later the market collapsed, and the greatest depression in U.S. history began. The big question now is whether the rest of the scenario of the 1920s and the 1930s is likely to repeat itself. The answer of the media and Wall Street and probably of plenty of plain people too is a resounding NO. | more…

A History of Capitalism, 1500–1980

A History of Capitalism, 1500–2000

The conquest of the Americas inaugurated the slow accumulation of resources and the imperceptible structural transformations that culminated in the Industrial Revolution. From that moment on, capitalism grew and expanded with a dynamism and adaptability that are now all too familiar, profiting from wars and even managing to rebound after a series of devastating economic crises.… In this highly-anticipated updated edition, Beaud extends one of the major strengths of the original: the interweaving of social, political, and economic factors in the context of history. At the same time, Beaud's analysis provides a realistic and thorough examination of the developments of capitalism in the last twenty years, including globalization, the accelerating speed of capital transfer, and the collapse of the Soviet empire and the subsequent absorption of its population into the world market. This new edition also offers a completely revised format that integrates diagrams and flow-charts not previously available in the English-language edition. | more…

The Amoral Elephant: Globalization and the Struggle for Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century

The Amoral Elephant: Globalization and the Struggle for Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century

In November 1999, when more than forty thousand demonstrators in Seattle effectively shut down a World Trade Organization (WTO) conference, we saw what may well have been this country’s largest popular protest of the last twenty years or more. In April 2000, thousands converged on Washington D.C. to express opposition to the IMF and the World Bank, and more recently, massive demonstrations in Geneva, Melbourne and Prague succeeded in bringing international attention to the issues surrounding globalization. Against the backdrop of these historic events, William K. Tabb issues a comprehensive examination of the world capitalist system at the start of the twenty-first century. He confronts the prevailing view of globalization as the steamroller against which even the most powerful nations are helpless and explains the role of the state in creating the conditions necessary for capital’s dominance. | more…

Socialist Register 2001: Working Classes, Global Realities

Socialist Register 2001: Working Classes, Global Realities

Socialist Register 2001 examines the challenges faced by workers and the labor movement under global capitalism in the new century. This collection of twenty timely and original essays lay the groundwork for a much-needed revival of class analysis. A broad range of working-class issues are addressed including knowledge work and the “cybertariat” in the new economy, feminism and unions, migrant labor, peasant struggles, internationalism, and the impact of unstable, casual, and contingent employment. Other essays examine critically important regional experiences in India, Iran, Russia, Brazil, Southern Africa, and East Asia, as well as Europe and North America. Contributors to this volume reveal new and exciting possibilities for change that transcend the limits of old forms of class organization and politics. | more…

November 1996 (Volume 48, Number 6)

The September 30th issue of the New Yorker carried profiles of two long-time contributors to Monthly Review—lyricist E. Y. Harburg and lawyer Michael Tigar—evoking considerable pride among MR staffers. “Yip” Harburg, who died in 1986, wrote more than one hundred songs including “Over The Rainbow,” and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime.” Writer John Lahr notes that throughout his long career on Broadway and in Hollywood all of his work evinced powerful social concerns and themes of freedom. Yip, of course, was a socialist of the MR variety. He valued the analysis and insight of this publication, as the verse printed on page 63. | more…

Honest, Able, and Fearless

Victor Rabinowitz, Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer’s Memoir (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 352 pp., $29.95, cloth.

Among the questions that divide my friends is whether it is possible that widespread revolutionary organization may someday occur even in the United States, the Belly of the Beast as goes a phrase all my fellow 68ers will recall. If you think the question deserves to be asked, then the history of the repression of the U.S. Left after the Second World War (and of what survived the storm) is worth your attention. After all, if this history is forgotten then the question is indeed not worth asking. How the ruling class of the United States manages its domestic repression is, in any event, of general relevance in many other places as well. Victor Rabinowitz at age eighty five offers a sharp, fascinating, and superbly written report on this question from inside that structured but flexible Great Intestine of the United States, its legal system. | more…

Walter Reuther, “Social Unionist”

Nelson Lichtenstein, The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor (New York: and Chicago: Basic Books, 1995), 575 pp., $35.00, cloth.

A New York Times obituary for Sophie Reuther on February 23, 1996, declared her husband, Victor, a co-founder of the United Auto Workers. So now the myth that Walter Reuther founded the UAW is extended to include his brother. Unfortunately, the new biography of Walter Reuther by Nelson Lichtenstein will do very little to squelch the myth; this despite the fact that the book documents Reuther’s career, warts and all. | more…

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