Archive | Monthly Review Essays

  • Louis Althusser and Henri Lefebvre

    Lefebvre and Althusser: Reinterpreting Marxist Humanism and Anti-Humanism

    Since the October Revolution, Marxism has experienced almost as many crises as capitalism itself. Meltdowns of capitalism usually come as little surprise to savvy Marxist theorists but economic crises are one thing; economic crisis plus a global pandemic is something else again, beyond an everyday capitalist norm, more akin to the political-economy of wartime. Pandemic, like war, threatens not only life and limb, but also solidarity and tender acts of human togetherness.

  • Real England by Paul Kingsnorth

    On Paul Kingsnorth and Unruly Nature

    Myth, an early and enduring human technology, will always be with us, in both unconscious and conscious forms. As we now face the slow-motion collapse of the biosphere, the call for new myths is not so much an escapist alternative to concrete analysis and action as a starting point.

  • The Revolutionary Meaning of the George Floyd Uprising Shemon Salam & Arturo Castillon

    The Revolutionary Meaning of the George Floyd Uprising

    At least 28 people died in the wave of social unrest that rocked the United States from late May until late July in 2020. In this 10-week period, there were 574 riots; 624 arsons; 2,382 incidents of looting; 97 police vehicles set on fire; and 16,241 people arrested for protest-related activities.

  • Henri Lefebvre, Urban Revolution (1970 edition)

    Lefebvre in the Age of COVID

    COVID has upended urban life as we once knew it. But it intensified already existing pathologies, those contaminating “normal,” pre-pandemic life. Our present urban reality is one of the de-encounter, a thinning down rather than thickening up, the dispersion and dilution of city life, its fear and loathing.

  • István Mészáros

    The Historical Challenges Facing the Socialist Movement

    The ‘crisis of politics,’ which cannot be denied today even by the system’s worst apologists represents a profound crisis of legitimacy of the established social metabolic mode of reproduction and its overall framework of political control. This is what has brought about the historical actuality of the socialist offensive, although the pursuit of its own “line of least resistance” by labor continues to favor for the moment the maintenance of the existing order, despite the increasingly obvious inability of that order to “deliver the goods” as the once overwhelmingly accepted foundation of its legitimacy.

  • Comic on "The Opium Ban in China" from the weekly De Amsterdammer, December 2 1906

    Beyond the Sprouts of Capitalism

    The contemporary political economy of the People’s Republic of China, the nature of the Chinese system, has been the subject of much discussion and debate in mainstream academic, media, and political circles, as well as on the left. Yet one can only make sense of contemporary China with a clear understanding of the country’s economic history.

  • Poverty is the ultimate denial of human rights

    U.S. Exceptionalism Surges Again. Will It Fly?

    In a statement marking the “return” of the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken disclosed that the Biden Administration is placing democracy and human rights at the centre of American foreign policy. 

  • Class, gender, race & colonialism: The ‘intersectionality’ of Marx by Kevin B. Anderson

    Class, Gender, Race & Colonialism: The ‘Intersectionality’ of Marx

    It is important to see both Marx’s brilliant generalisations about capitalist society and the very concrete ways in which he examined not only class, but also gender, race, and colonialism, and what today would be called the intersectionality of all of these. His underlying revolutionary humanism was the enemy of all forms of abstraction that denied the variety and multiplicity of human experience. For these reasons, no thinker speaks to us today with such force and clarity.

  • Matrix control technology (Science and Technology) (Photo: Pixy)

    Philosophy and Technology: A Perspective from Health Care and Law

    The philosophical understanding of technology historically presents a pendular characteristic, swinging between enthusiasm and fear. The control of nature, the creation of artifacts that substitute what is naturally given, and the liberating while subjugating power of technology all give rise to enchantment and apprehension, which impact the philosophical horizon.

  • Closed businesses on Broadway, NYC

    Beyond Plague Urbanism

    Over the centuries, humans have survived tragedy through the incredible stoicism of not moving, of standing one’s ground, of resisting, of engaging in tremendous creativity. Perhaps we can use the time alone to think collectively, to reflect together on how we might reconstruct the public realm of our cities.

  • My Mis-Education in 3 Graphics

    “Your Economics Professor Is Almost Certainly a Charlatan”

    Mary Filippo began in 2004 to audit economics classes in the hope that she could “learn something about globalization. Does it really help people in developing countries? What are its downsides?” She did not learn these things.

  • A tiny part of the enormous pile of plastic bags containing nuclear from Fukushima. 9 million have been filled to date.

    Tokyo Olympics and Fukushima “Revival”

    At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics a young man born on the day of Hiroshima nuclear bombing was selected to be the last torch bearer on the relay, to signify that Japan had stood up from nuclear ruin. In an attempt to replicate the 1964 Olympic theme, the Abe government has constructed the idea of a Fukushima “revival,” a returned to normal. Exposing this illusion is an important cultural war.

  • Struggling to Improve Our Key Problems by Confronting and Moving Beyond Capitalism

    Rinky-Dink Revolution

    During this fierce period of history, many people want clarity and leadership in suggesting concrete steps toward ending the daily oppressions of capitalism. We seek a path leading to a post-capitalist society that aims not to destroy mother earth, humanity, and other life forms. If that doesn’t happen, we face an ongoing transition to fascism and an accelerating environmental catastrophe.

  • Museum of American History - Smithsonian Institution Intron A; Interferon Alfa-2B Recombinant, 5 million IU | National ...

    Can We Simultaneously Oppose Bayer/Monsanto’s Biotechnology and Support Cuba’s Interferon Alpha 2B?

    Technology reflects social factors throughout its development and use. Genetically engineered crops allow mega-corporations to patent seeds, lure farmers into buying them with visions of high yields, and then destroy small farmers. Cuba’s drugs are shared throughout the world. Making a distinction between the biotechnology of agro-industry and Cuba requires understanding the difference between bioimperialism and biosolidarity.

  • End Deadly U.S. Sanctions

    United States Imposed Economic Sanctions: The Big Heist

    The money trail of U.S. Sanctions leads to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which—behind the shadow of secrecy laws that effectively prohibit any form of public accountability—facilitates the theft of public wealth from targeted countries on a scale only previously accomplished through military invasion and occupation.

  • October 2, 2011, the day 700 people were arrested on Brooklyn Bridge

    Beyond the Permanent State of Emergency 

    Not long before the Twin Towers fell, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben resurrected a concept anathema to the liberal notion of progress—the idea that unrelenting crisis is not necessarily exceptional. Agamben employed the image of “the Camp” to describe the space and time “when the state of exception begins to become the rule.”

  • Karl Marx

    Misrepresenting Marx’s Ecology: A Response to Daniel Tanuro’s “Was Marx an Ecosocialist?”

    Daniel Tanuro is an agricultural engineer and leading socialist activist who has made numerous contributions to ecosocialist thought and practice, most notably, in his book Green Capitalism: Why It Can’t Work. Yet, this has been coupled with persistent claims that there are “fundamental flaws” in Karl Marx’s ecological critique of capitalism.

  • Climate Change

    Culturalism, Naturalism, and Social Metabolism

    The alternative to the social and ecological pathology which is becoming all-pervasive in the socioinstitutional and economic fabric of modern capitalist society is to be found in the development of an appropriate, harmonious relationship between humanity, their productive powers, and nature.

  • K Hemalata, President of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), addressing the March to Parliament by Child Care Workers organised by the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH). New Delhi, February 2019. Photo credits: CITU Archives

    Navigating Educational Empowerment Through Life Conditions: A Study of Rural Women in Indian Punjab

    Though the voices of rural women in India are some of the least heard, they are not mere passive victims. Many rural women strongly condemn their marginalization and pauperization—highlighting the flawed and biased developmental polices of the state, which they hold largely responsible for their hardships.

  • British Museum (Stop W), London

    Marx in the Museum

    One of Marx’s brightest concepts, perhaps his profoundest dialectical construct in Capital, is the “fetishism of commodities.” It emphasizes something very important about the foggy world of appearances and how can forget what lies within, behind what is immediately apparent. We can read it as a parable in which Marx tries to bring to life (and light) the “secret” of the ostensibly trivial commodity, the genie that exists within the magic bottle.