• The “R” Word

    With the exception of Marxism, republicanism might be the most abused, misused, and misunderstood of all the political traditions produced by the West.  In recent decades, the concept has been selectively appropriated by ideologists from across the political spectrum in service of whatever dismal policy agenda they happen to be flogging at the moment — […]

  • Cuomo’s Class Mobilization

    Many of the most interesting — and from a left perspective, most disturbing — developments in U.S. politics today are occurring at the state level.  As the excellent Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has documented, the aftermath of the recession wrought by the financial crisis has plunged virtually every U.S. state into a deep […]

  • The Twilight of Capitalism?

    In recent years, radical geographer David Harvey has emerged as one of the leading theorists and popularizers of Marxian political economy in the English-speaking world.  In books such as The New Imperialism and A Brief History of Neoliberalism, as well as his popular online courses in Volume I of Marx’s Capital, Harvey has articulated a […]

  • Where’s the Legitimacy Crisis?

    In her excellent 2003 book Forces of Labor, Beverly Silver discerns within the history of capitalism an ongoing tension between the system’s simultaneous need for both profitability and legitimacy.  That is, it needs to ensure that capital can squeeze as much value as possible out of the workers while making sure that it doesn’t exploit […]

  • Ideology Über Alles

    An interesting study on Americans’ attitudes regarding inequality and wealth distribution has been making the rounds recently.  It highlights once again the ideology problem that plagues any attempt to reconstruct left/social democratic/socialist/whatever politics in the U.S. The researchers asked survey respondents to choose between three unlabeled pie charts representing the social structures of three different […]

  • Chinese Workers Rising

    The next time someone tells you that Marx or Marxism is outdated because capitalism is not as exploitative as it was in the 19th century, just crack open your copy of Capital, turn to the chapter on the working day, and compare its vivid depiction of the brutalization of the British working class to the […]

  • Kalecki Again

    Not very long ago, one of the main concerns of the U.S. labor movement and left-liberals was winning the passage of a full employment policy at the federal level.  In fact, this goal was attained in 1978 when Congress passed and President Carter signed the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, which ostensibly committed the federal government […]

  • Chomsky and the Teabaggers

    Do the teabaggers represent the vanguard of fascism in the United States?  Noam Chomsky seems to think so. As The Progressive recently reported, Chomsky is rather frightened by the people who apparently think Lipton is the name of a headwear designer rather than a brand of tea: “I’m just old enough to have heard a […]

  • Tony Judt and the Limits of Social Democracy

    Tony Judt.  Ill Fares the Land.  The Penguin Press, 2010.  237 pp.  $25.95. In December, the New York Review of Books transcribed an October 2009 speech delivered by the eminent historian Tony Judt at New York University under the title “What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy?”  A major address by Judt […]

  • Home “Truths”

    Rand Paul, son of Texas libertarian Ron Paul and Republican candidate for Senate in Kentucky, was interviewed for New York Times Magazine on Sunday.  When the interviewer cheekily asked whether or not Paul the Father let Paul the Son do whatever he wanted as a child, Rand gave an interesting response: “The kind of funny […]

  • A Cloward-Piven Strategy for Single Payer?

    With the passage in the House of the Obama administration’s health care reform bill, it would seem at first glance that the movement for national, single-payer health insurance has been seriously derailed.  After all, if all of the hype and adulation surrounding the bill’s passage is to be believed, the fight for universal health care […]

  • Misreading the Tea Leaves

    Analyzing the burgeoning Tea Party movement has become something of an obsession on the left, but unfortunately I think that many of us are misreading the nature of the movement.  At the Young Democratic Socialists conference in New York, numerous speakers made reference to the teabaggers, usually to either denounce them as a nascent fascist […]

  • Public to Unions: Drop Dead

    For years, the AFL-CIO has touted a 2006 survey in which almost 60 million unorganized workers said they would join a union if they could.  These positive numbers were supported by other polls that showed that solid majorities of the U.S. population had a favorable view of labor unions and saw them as necessary to […]

  • Austerity Now

    A couple months ago, I wrote a post titled “The Coming Liberal Austerity Program.”  Well, it’s not just coming anymore.  It’s here. In response to the Republican victory in the special election in Massachusetts and the deficit paranoia that has gripped the right-wing and orthodox economists, President Obama announced that he will pursue a three-year […]

  • The Left against Progress?

    Because it traces its origins to the Enlightenment tradition, the left has tended to conceive of itself as a “progressive” force, steering the course of History toward a more or less inevitable higher stage of development as the right tries to conserve traditional society from the onslaught of modernity.  Today, the term “progressive” is applied […]

  • The Coming Liberal Austerity Program

    State and local government budgets for the upcoming fiscal year are a mess.  Most states are constitutionally required to balance their budgets every year no matter the economic climate, so a budgetary process that resembles a kabuki dance in fatter years will probably be more like a mosh pit this time around, as legislators and […]