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Venezuela, the Present as Struggle: Voices from the Bolivarian Revolution

Venezuela, the Present as Struggle: Voices from the Bolivarian Revolution

Venezuela has been the stuff of frontpage news extravaganzas, especially since the death of Hugo Chávez. With predictable bias, mainstream media focus on violent clashes between opposition and government, coup attempts, hyperinflation, U.S. sanctions, and massive immigration. What is less known, however, is the story of what the Venezuelan people—especially the Chavista masses—do and think in these times of social emergency. Denying us their stories comes at a high price to people everywhere, because the Chavista bases are the real motors of the Bolivarian revolution. This revolutionary grassroots movement still aspires to the communal path to socialism that Chávez refined in his last years. Venezuela, the Present as Struggle is an eloquent testament to their lives. | more…

First climate demonstration in East Timor, in front of the government palace

The Renewal of the Socialist Ideal

Any serious treatment of the renewal of socialism today must begin with capitalism’s creative destruction of the bases of all social existence. Since the late 1980s, the world has been engulfed in an epoch of catastrophe capitalism, manifested today in the convergence of (1) the planetary ecological crisis, (2) the global epidemiological crisis, and (3) the unending world economic crisis. Added to this are the main features of today’s “empire of chaos,” including the extreme system of imperialist exploitation unleashed by global commodity chains; the demise of the relatively stable liberal-democratic state with the rise of neoliberalism and neofascism; and the emergence of a new age of global hegemonic instability accompanied by increased dangers of unlimited war. | more…

Rice fields in Jiande city, Zhejiang province, Sept 17, 2020

Tracing a Trajectory of Hope in Rural Communities in China

Survival Bricolage of Zhoujiazhuang and Puhan Rural Community

Zhoujiazhuang and the Puhan Rural Community offer contrasting experiences of how communities in different parts of China have responded to, negotiated, and undergone extensive changes during the last forty years since the reform policy was implemented in the country in 1979. | more…

A farmer operates a harvester to reap rice in a field at Xiaogang Village in Fengyang County, east China's Anhui Province, on Sept. 27, 2018

Revisiting Collectivism and Rural Governance in China

The Singularity of the Zhoujiazhuang People's Commune

Zhoujiazhuang is singular, being the only de facto people’s commune in China today. At present, Zhoujiazhuang still maintains the political, economic, and social structure that has been essentially in place since 1956. For over sixty years—since ten years before the Cultural Revolution and thirty-eight years after the dismantling of almost all people’s communes in 1982—Zhoujiazhuang has survived as an organizational unit over the same territory comprising the same six natural villages. | more…

Local staff members of Puhan cooperatives in the field

Negotiating Debt

The Making of Puhan Rural Community in North China

Originally set up in 1998 in China, the Puhan Rural Community was the first peasant-initiated, cross-village organization established after the collapse of the top-down people’s communes and the implementation of the household responsibility system. Puhan learned a lesson about the exploitation of usurious microfinance and decided that it was capable of establishing a system of mutual aid credit by itself, changing the cultural emphasis on money. Its story of struggling with rural financial organizations opens up a debate on the trap of marketization and monetization, the root causes of loans and debts, the negotiating power of collectives, the production mode of ecological agriculture, and the redefinition of the commonwealth. | more…

Marriott strike in San Francisco, CA, October 2018

The Mexican and Latino Question

What Is to Be Done?

In his book Chicano Communists and the Struggle for Social Justice, Enrique M. Buelna examines the life of Ralph Cuarón, a Mexican-American or Chicano seaman, furniture maker, father, husband, and lifelong activist who joined the Communist Party at age 19 during the Second World War. The Communist Party, however, largely ignored Mexican workers and local members were not pleased with his organizing of that segment of the working class. In the early twenty-first century, the Mexican question remained, although it became known as the “Latino question” after considerable immigration from Central America in the 1980s and ’90s. In their book The Latino Question: Politics, Labouring Classes, and the Next Left, Armando Ibarra, Alfredo Carlos, and Rodolfo D. Torres deconstruct the word Latino, arguing that it homogenizes an extremely diverse population. | more…

How to Read Marx's "Capital"

How to Read Marx’s “Capital”: Commentary and Explanations on the Beginning Chapters

Forthcoming in August 2021

With the recent revival of Karl Marx’s theory, a general interest in reading Capital has also increased. But Capital—Marx’s foundational nineteenth-century work on political economy—is by no means considered an easily understood text. Central concepts, such as abstract labor, the value-form, or the fetishism of commodities, can seem opaque to us as first-time readers, and the prospect of comprehending Marx’s thought can be truly daunting. Until, that is, we pick up Michael Heinrich’s How to Read Marx’s Capital. | more…

Extraordinary Threat: The U.S. Empire, the Media, and Twenty Years of Coup Attempts in Venezuela

Forthcoming in June 2021

In March 2015, President Obama initiated sanctions against Venezuela, declaring a “national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” Each year, the U.S. administration has repeated this claim. But, as Joe Emersberger and Justin Podur ague in their timely book, Extraordinary Threat, the opposite is true: It is the U.S. policy of regime change in Venezuela that constitutes an “extraordinary threat” to Venezuelans. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans continue to die because of these ever-tightening U.S. sanctions, denying people daily food, medicine, and fuel. On top of this, Venezuela has, since 2002, been subjected to repeated coup attempts by U.S.-backed forces. In Extraordinary Threat, Emersberger and Podur tell the story of six coup attempts against Venezuela. | more…

Leo Panitch

Renewing Socialism

Does it make any sense to speak in terms of socialist renewal at the beginning of the twenty-first century? The massive anti-capitalist protests from Seattle to Prague to Quebec that captured the world’s attention at the beginning of the new millennium attest to the fact that the spirit of revolution, one of the central facets of political life over the previous centuries, is hardly a thing of the past. If “the revolutionary spirit of the last centuries, that is, the eagerness to liberate and to build a new house where freedom can dwell, [which] is unprecedented and unequaled in all prior history” properly begins with the bourgeois revolutions of the late eighteenth century, few would dispute that this eagerness for fundamental social transformation was in very large part carried into the world of the twentieth century by socialism’s revolutionary aspirations to transcend the capitalist order itself. | more…

Red Star: The First Bolshevik Utopia by Alexander Bogdanov

Red Star

Coexistence in Alexander Bogdanov's Utopia

Alexander Bogdanov’s Red Star, published in 1908, was an attempt to reenergize the dejected revolutionaries whose efforts had been crushed during the 1905 Russian Revolution. The protagonist, Leonid, is a Russian revolutionary chosen, in the midst of the revolution, by the Martian expedition to visit their planet and learn about the centuries-old advanced form of communism there. Since the triumph of communism in Russia was the cause to which Leonid had decided to devote his life, he agrees to visit Mars so that he can absorb their ideas and principles. | more…

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