Category: Intellectual History

What Is This Thing Called Leninism?

First, allow me to come clean: I count Paul Le Blanc as a friend and comrade and am in his debt—along with Peter Hudis, author of Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism (Haymarket, 2013)—for inviting me to join the editorial board of the Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg being published by Verso Books. And I am in agreement with many of the positions on politics and historical matters that Le Blanc expresses in Unfinished Leninism.


Who’s in Charge?

The Power Structure and Foreign Policy

The godfather of macro-level power structure research in the United States was the sociologist C. Wright Mills, author of The Power Elite (1956).


In 1971 the Institute of the Black World (IBW) was at a crossroads. Founded in 1969 by historian Vincent Harding, literary scholar Stephen Henderson, and other scholars in the colleges that comprised the Atlanta University Center (AUC), as well as with the support of leading national researchers of the African American experience, the IBW served as the intellectual wing of the Martin Luther King Center.

Socialist History

Grace Lee Boggs: the life of an American r/evolutionary

ImageNew Politics shares this post, written in June 2015 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Grace Lee Boggs, who passed away Monday Oct 5, 2015. See a film about her:


The Frankfurt School and the Jews

ImageJacobs’ The Frankfurt School is an outstanding piece of scholarship.


The Anti-Nationalist Legacy of Rudolf Rocker

“On the banner of the International was not written ‘Proletarians of all
lands, kill each other!’ but ‘Proletarians of all lands, unite!’”
– Rudolf Rocker, “War: A Study in Fact”


Bookchin’s Political Vision

ImageMurray Bookchin was one of the most prolific, original, and influential thinkers on the libertarian left. He was a major theoretician of anarchism and a passionate historian of cities and of popular uprisings and movements.

Socialism from below

ImageDan Swain discusses the contested ambitions and leaderships within our movements. This article was originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of the rs21 magazine.

Throughout the history of socialist movements and ideas, the fundamental divide is between Socialism-from-Above and Socialism-from-Below

Neoliberalism, Austerity, and Authoritarianism

ImageAsk anyone what neoliberalism means and they’ll tell you it’s an economic system that corresponds to a particular economic philosophy. But any real-world economic system has a corresponding political system to promote and sustain it.

Eduardo Galeano – ¡Presente!


Eduardo Galeano, the world-renowned leftist Uruguayan journalist and writer made famous with the publication in 1971 of his book The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, died today at the age of 74 in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he lived. Long admired as a journalist, with his three-volume Memory of Fire in 1982, Galeano also became known as a writer of non-fiction prose who might be compared to writers of fiction such as Gabriel García Márquez, author of the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude or Isabel Allende who wrote House of the Spirits. Like their novels, his trilogy captures the real spirit of Latin America’s magical history.

Connecting the Dots

The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office

ImageIn the first days of August 2014, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office brought together one hundred influential leftists from across the United States, Canada, and Europe for an “un-conference” on socialist strategies. The retreat was held at the Edith Macy Center, located in Westchester County about an hour north of New York City.

An Early Activist Critiques Stalin’s 1934 Antihomosexual Law

[This article, titled “A Chapter of Russian Reaction,” translated into English here for the first time, was written in German by longtime homosexual activist Kurt Hiller (1885–1972) from London and published in the Swiss gay journal Der Kreis in 1946. Hiller had been active in Germany’s first homosexual-rights organization, the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre Komitee (Scientific Humanitarian Committee), headed by Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935). Founded in 1897, the committee was Germany’s most prominent gay group.

Rosa Luxemburg for Today

Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy
Edited by Jason Schulman
Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 214 pp.

The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg: 
Volume I: Economic Writings 1
Edited by Peter Hudis
Verso, 2013, 596 pp.

Rosa Luxemburg: Economics 
for a New Socialist Project

Right-wing militias killed Rosa Luxemburg and dumped her dead body into the Landwehr Canal after the Spartacus uprising in Berlin. Social democrats and communists finished off her intellectual and political legacy by putting her on their respective pedestals. She became a principal witness against Bolshevik organizing practices for the former and was praised as a co-founder of the German Communist Party and a revolutionary martyr by the latter.


Renegades and Castaways

For many years the dominant trend in scholarship on C.L.R. James has been to emphasize his cultural and literary writings. Arguably the most popular way to frame his legacy has been to situate him as a forerunner to cultural studies, post-colonial studies, and identity politics. Grant Farred, for example, has criticized “earlier modes of James studies” that addressed “debates that occupied sectarian James scholars” and welcomed “the centrality of cultural studies within James scholarship,” while Brett St. Louis has argued that the “march of identity politics and post-modernism” is “irresistible,” and that James’s work is of value precisely because it “grapples with a proto-post-marxist problematic.” 

Rosa Luxemburg—a revolutionary for our time, or a liberal?

ImageReview of Jason Schulman (ed.), Rosa Luxemburg — Her Life and Legacy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 214 pp.

A Rejoinder to Greco on Chomsky

Anthony Greco, in his book Chomsky’s Challenge to American Power, charged Noam Chomsky with too often failing to meet “minimal standards of intellectual honesty” (p. 229). To prove his point he provided instances of things Chomsky wrote over the course of some fifty years that were inaccurate.

Noam Chomsky on American Power: A Reply to Shalom

I conclude my book, Chomsky’s Challenge to American Power (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014), by describing Noam Chomsky as a contradictory figure.

Lemisch's On Active Service Now Available Online

Online Free Availability of Lemisch's, On Active Service In War and Peace: Politics and Ideology in the American Historical Profession (1969, 1975)

Starring: Samuel Eliot Morison, Oscar Handlin, Richard Hofstadter, McGeorge Bundy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, Daniel Boorstin (including HUAC testimony), Allen Nevins, William Hardy McNeill, Eric Hoffer, John Blum, Stanley Elkins, and others. With 305 fact-filled footnotes!

Greco on Chomsky

ImageAnthony F. Greco. Chomsky’s Challenge to American Power. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2013. Hardcover $69.95, paper $29.95, e-book $14.99.


Getting Marx Backwards

ImageFor the last twenty-five years, it would be safe to say that Marx’s thought seemed very distant to all but a minority of scholars and leftists. Despite ever increasing economic inequality and the extreme concentration of wealth at levels not seen since before the Great Depression, the collapse of the Soviet Union and economic prosperity were said to have relegated Marx to the past. Marxists were at the bottom of a daunting uphill public relations battle.