Archive | Commentary

  • “The Death of Social Democracy in the Age of Global Monopoly-Finance Capital”: An Interview with John Bellamy Foster

    Tassos Tsakiroglou: How urgent do you consider the necessity to develop an understanding of the interconnections between the deepening impasse of the capitalist economy and the rapidly accelerating ecological threat? John Bellamy Foster: The urgency of understanding the interconnections between the economic impassse and the ecological emergency derives from the combined threats they pose to […]

  • Guerrilla Girls of the FARC-EP: Making War, Peace, and History

    If regular armies are generally a man’s world, guerrillas and insurgent forces are just the contrary.  There women have always had a central role.  Think of Agustina of Aragon, Olga Benário, Tania Bunke, Maria Grajales, and Celia Sánchez, or even (stretching a bit) the legendary Amazons.  It is not for nothing that Liberté — the […]

  • A Call for Justice — Free the Cuban 5: An Interview with Netfa Freeman

    Netfa Freeman is a longtime activist/organizer who has worked on Cuba solidarity issues for several years.  A frequent traveler to Cuba, Netfa talks about his visit last November in support of the Cuban 5. Gregory Elich: You’ve recently returned from Cuba, where you attended the Ninth International Colloquium to Free the Cuban 5.  In 1998, […]

  • GroKo Politics: No Change of Key in Germany

    Some suggested the German “Word of the Year” should be “whistleblower” — in the Denglish language here breezily called “Neu-Deutsch” (“New German”).  But chosen instead was “GroKo,” headline shorthand for “Grosse Koalition,” a term used constantly during three months of wrangling between Germany’s two biggest parties, once seen as “irreconcilable foes,” to form a nice […]

  • Two Transitions in Brazil: Dilemmas of a Neoliberal Democracy

    This article reviews the background and the implications of two transitions in Brazil: the political transition from a military regime (1964-85) to democracy (1985-present), and the economic transition from import-substituting industrialization (ISI, 1930-80) to neoliberalism (1990-present). It subsequently examines how neoliberal economic policies were implemented in a democracy, under the centre-right administrations led by Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-98, 1998-2002), and the centre-left administrations led by Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula, 2003-06, 2007-10) and Dilma Rousseff (2011-present). The article concludes with a reflection about the limitations of these policies and of neoliberal democracy more generally.

  • Barbarism on the Horizon: An Interview With István Mészáros

    Mr. István Mészáros, you are coming to visit Brazil to talk about György Lukács.  As a profound expert of the work of the philosopher, how do you evaluate the importance of his ideas today? György Lukács was my great teacher and friend for twenty-two years, until he died in 1971.  He started publishing as a […]

  • Rehabilitation of Liberation Theology

      Christmas has just gone by, and we’ll soon be ringing in the New Year, a time when a “profound feeling of consolation and peace” overwhelms the faithful.  But the buzz, created by Pope Francis’ “apostolic exhortation”, Evangelii Gaudium (EG, translated as “The Joy of the Gospel”), issued in late November, and the subsequent clarificatory […]

  • What Is Political Will?

      Samuel Grove [SG]: For a while now you’ve been working on and defending the old idea of ‘the will of the people’, and you’ve described it in terms of a ‘dialectical voluntarism’; what do you mean by this? Peter Hallward [PH]: I’m not stuck on the terminology, and I’m leery of the way these […]

  • To Struggle With Hindutva Fascists Among the Adivasi Community

      Samir Amin in “The Democratic Fraud and the Universalist Alternative” in our issue of October 2011 sets out the fundamental process of the “democratic” fraud: [A]ll hitherto existing societies have been based on a dual system of exploitation of labor (in various forms) and of concentration of the state’s powers on behalf of the […]

  • Climate Change and Socialism: An interview with John Bellamy Foster

    Steve da Silva (SD): Over the last decade you have emerged as a leading thinker in synthesizing radical ecology with the Marxist tradition.  From Marx’s Ecology (2000) to The Ecological Rift (2010) and everything in between, you’ve carried out the much needed intellectual work of recovering the overlooked ecological content of Marx’s original thought, presenting […]

  • Germany: Fast Food, Slow Decisions

    Let me begin with food — fast food.  Let me invite you in.  Looking around, there’s no denying it: this is Burger King.  It could be in Augusta, ME, or Anaheim, CA, and the fatty Whoppers taste the same.  But it’s not — most customers here speak German, some maybe Turkish (the biggest minority).  For […]

  • South Africa Under the ANC: A Flawed Freedom

    Has the time come when it might be possible to move past the well-deserved praise-song phase of the marking of Nelson Mandela’s death in order to strike a more careful balance sheet on the meaning for present-day South Africa of his storied career? Of course, it remains extremely difficult to speak dispassionately on such matters […]

  • Mandela Was Not a Hallmark Card

    Long-time South African educator and President of the New Unity Movement, R. O. Dudley had a quote that he used when speaking of various iconic South African struggle leaders: He “had arms, not wings.”  It is a phrase that we should remember when speaking of the late Nelson Mandela, but unfortunately, press coverage in the United States as well as throughout the world has turned Madiba into a Hallmark greeting card figure.  And while Mandela’s role as a freedom fighter and the major force for reconciliation in the new democratic South Africa should be honored and celebrated, we must remember that we are talking about a complex revolutionary, and also a complex politician.

  • Will the ANC Sell-out Workers?

      “ANC President, Nelson Mandela delivered an opening address to the September COSATU Special Congress.  Having completed his prepared speech, comrade Mandela put aside his notes and spoke directly and spontaneously to the 1 700 worker delegates.  He asked a question that was uppermost in the minds of many.” — The African Communist (1993) COMRADES, […]

  • We Don’t Need Permission to Protest

    To You at Whose Side We Struggle: November 26, 2013, we saw the first implementation of a new Egyptian law effectively banning any and all protest not approved and regulated by the Ministry of Interior.  This is the same Interior Ministry whose soldiers have killed thousands of protesters, maimed tens of thousands and tortured unknown […]

  • A Critique of Heinrich’s, ‘Crisis Theory, the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall, and Marx’s Studies in the 1870s’

    Michael Heinrich’s article is really a continuation of the argument by Monthly Review that Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (LTRPF) is not the main cause of economic crises.… Heinrich makes the following points: 1) Marx’s law is indeterminate; 2) it is empirically unproven and even unjustifiable on any measure of verification; 3) Engels edited Marx’s works badly, distorting his views about the law in Capital Vol. 3; 4) Marx himself, in writings during the 1870s, began to have doubts about the law as the cause of crises and started to abandon it in favour of some theory that took into account credit, interest rates and the problem of realisation (similar to Keynesian theory); 5) Marx died before he could present these revisions of his crisis theory, so there is no coherent Marxist theory of crisis.

  • Response to Heinrich—In Defense of Marx’s Law

    It was Marx’s ultimate purpose, as stated in the preface to the first edition of Das Kapital, “to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society.” It is clear that Marx regarded as his central achievement in this regard the “Law of the Falling Tendency of the Rate of Profit.” In vol.3, (p.303) he declares that: “The barrier of the capitalist mode of production becomes apparent

  • Critique of Heinrich: Marx did not Abandon the Logical Structure

    Heinrich’s article is mainly about the falling rate of profit and crisis theory, but another important point has to do with Marx’s logical method in Capital, and in particular with the levels of abstraction of capital in general and competition. Heinrich argues that Marx encountered difficulties in the Manuscript of 1861-63 concerning this logical structure, and as a result of these difficulties, Marx abandoned this logical structure in the final versions of Capital.

  • Heinrich Answers Critics

    For Marx, is a rising rate of surplus value (s/v) a part of the law itself (as it is presented in chapter 13 of vol. III of Capital) or is it a counteracting factor (dealt with in chapter 14)? There is an easy way to check: we just have to read chapter 13. Marx starts his presentation with a constant rate of surplus value and shows that a rising organic composition of capital leads to a falling rate of profit (pp. 317-18, all pages from the Penguin edition of Capital). Then very quickly he includes a rising rate of surplus value in his considerations (see pp. 319, 322, 326, 327, 333, 337). At pages 333 and 337 Marx even realizes the possibility of a profit rate rising with a rising rate of surplus value, but excludes such a possibility as an “isolated case” or not realistic without going into details. It is clear that he maintains the “law itself” not only with a constant rate of surplus value but also with a rising rate of surplus value!

  • Challenging Harper’s Imperialist Agenda

    It has become commonplace to observe that the Conservative government of Stephen Harper has been re-making the symbols and practices of the Canadian state.  Canada, in this view, was once the social democratic heartland of North America.  But under Harper, Canada has been transformed into a hyper-regime of neoliberal market fundamentalism.  Nowhere, it is argued, […]