Archive | Commentary

  • Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Its Uses and Limits

    Thomas Piketty.  Capital in the Twenty-First Century.  Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014.  $39.95. Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty has caused a stir, which it deserves.  Capital 21, as we will abbreviate the title, grapples with a prominent current issue: outrageously unequal incomes and wealth.  It is a data-rich, […]

  • “Deglobalization” Versus “Inclusive Growth”

    The race of globalization is leaving the majority of the world’s population far behind.  According to UNICEF, the richest 20% of the population gets 83% of global income, while the poorest quintile has just 1%.1  This trend is getting worse.  A new UNDP report called “Humanity Divided” estimates that 75% of the world’s population lives […]

  • Don’t Pray for Venezuela: The Struggle Against Contemporary Fascism

    The progressivist view of history often goes hand in hand with the faith that a new class — sometimes the proletariat, at other times “the people” — has a privileged perspective or consciousness.  If scientific (as opposed to vulgar) Marxism debunks this idea on a theoretical level — showing how commodity and money fetishism’s inversions […]

  • Ukraine Between “Popular Uprising for Democracy” and “Fascist Putsch”

      Let’s begin with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s version.  One can think what one likes about deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, but his election in 2012 was recognized as legitimate by international observers and, after a certain hesitation, by the defeated candidate, Yulia Timoshenko.  In fact, relatively honest elections were just about the only positive […]

  • Regarding Barnard Administration’s SJP Banner Removal

    On March 10th, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine hung a banner on Barnard Hall. The banner was placed after members of C-SJP went through the required bureaucratic channels and processes in order to give voice and presence to our week-long events as part of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), a global period of action and awareness-raising that has been occurring throughout the world for the past ten years.

  • The Dead and the Quick: Hugo Chávez and His Project

    Praise, especially when empty, is often a way of dismissing a revolutionary historical figure more than preserving his legacy.  That is what Lenin said about Marx: by making Marx into an icon, people had castrated and corrupted his thought. The late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has also fallen prey to this common practice that polishes […]

  • Open Letter to the New York Times About Its Venezuela Coverage

    To the editors: On this one-year anniversary of the death of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, we call on the editors of the New York Times to rectify its coverage of Venezuela and to present a more honest and accurate picture of what is happening in that country. In the past few weeks the New […]

  • Rendszerváltás? (A Nagy Csalódás) / System Change? (The Great Disappointment)

      Over twenty some years now We’ve been waiting for the good life For the average citizen Instead of wealth we have poverty Unrestrained exploitation So this is the big system change So this is what you waited for No housing, no food, no work But that’s what was assured wouldn’t happen Those on top […]

  • Jesus Quits as Evangelical Savior: My Biggest Scoop Ever!

    (New York, NY)  At 11:00 EST last night, Jesus H. Christ interrupted regularly scheduled programs on every TV channel across the Western Hemisphere with a stunning simulcast announcement.  Effective immediately, Jesus stated, “I resign My post as Lord and Savior at every evangelical church or Christian organization that sponsors antigay legislation or seeks to deny […]

  • The Baran Marcuse Correspondence

    Paul A. Baran and Herbert Marcuse were close, life-long friends, both of whom had been attached to the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt in pre-Hitler Germany, and both of whom later emigrated to the United States—Marcuse to become a professor of philosophy at Brandeis University and Baran to become a professor of economics at Stanford. They corresponded frequently and met with each other when possible until Baran’s death in March 1964.
  • Explaining Stagnation: Why It Matters

    Larry Summers and Paul Krugman have recently identified the phenomenon of stagnation.  Given that they are giants in today’s economic policy conversation, their views have naturally received enormous attention.  That attention is very welcome because the issue is so important.  However, there is also a danger that their dominance risks crowding out other explanations of […]

  • Venezuela: Socialism Is Still a Real and Inspiring Possibility

    In one of his last important public discourses, popularly known as the Golpe de Timón speech, the late President Hugo Chávez told a joke about an indigenous tribe and a priest.  The priest baptized the indigenous people giving them Christian names, held communion, and told them not to eat meat on Friday but rather fish […]

  • National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Venezuela

    As protests have been taking place in Venezuela for the last couple of weeks, it is good to check on the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Empire’s “stealth” destabilizer.  What has the NED been up to in Venezuela? Before going into details, it is important to note what the NED is and is […]

  • Violent Protests in Venezuela Fit a Pattern

    Venezuela’s latest round of violent protests appears to fit a pattern and represents the tug-and-pull nature of the country’s divided opposition.  Several times over the past 15 years since the late, former president Hugo Chávez took office in 1999, the political opposition has launched violent protests aimed at forcing the current president out of office. […]

  • Come Together: Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Solidarity March

    All the leaders and many of the active members of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) — arbitrarily held responsible for the violent 18 July 2012 incident in the Manesar works of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd in the province of Haryana — 148 of them, repeatedly denied bail, are in jail since August of that […]

  • As a Class for Itself

      Numsa General Secretary’s Presentation to the Cape Town Press Club, February 11, 2014 I speak to you today with a powerful and united mandate from 341,150 metalworkers. They made their views extremely clear in our workers’ parliament in December last year — the parliament we called the Numsa Special National Congress.  In that parliament […]

  • Michał Kalecki and Oskar Lange in the 21st Century

    Jan Toporowski: It is . . . possible to identify in The General Theory and Kalecki‘s work key ideas that they had in common.  The first is that in a capitalist economy output and employment are determined by business investment, so unless investment is high enough the economy is unlikely to be at full employment.  […]

  • Private Prisons Are Unconstitutional

    A new report by In the Public Interest, available at www.inthepublicinterest.org/article/criminal-how-lockup-quotas-and-low-crime-taxes-guarantee-profits-private-prison-corporations, documents the increased use of private prisons to house the large and growing population of incarcerated Americans.  We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, five to seven times that of comparable countries.  See my article “Lawyers, Jails, and the Law’s Fake Bargains,” […]

  • Treme Rewrites Post-Katrina History. And That’s a Good Thing.

    After three and a half seasons, HBO’s Treme concluded in December, and last week the entire series became available as a box set.  The show started with low ratings that got lower as time went on, never won many awards, and divided critics.  But as time passes and more audiences discover the show, it may […]

  • Tarek Mehanna: His Tragic Immoderation

    I have become a card-carrying, tax-paying moderate, thanks to a study I found in Politico.com.  In this study, psychologists Kaitlin Toner and Mark Leary discovered that the more extreme politicians’ views are, the more they think they’re right.  In fact, politicians’ “belief superiority” — the certainty that their own viewpoints are correct — was linked […]