Issue: Winter 2014

New Politics Vol. XIV No. 4, Whole Number 56

End of a Cycle and a New Beginning

Some Thoughts on Today’s Italy

In March 2010, a few months before his death, Mario Monicelli, the unforgettable director of the 1958 caper film Big Deal on Madonna Street (I soliti ignoti), was interviewed live on Michele Santoro’s program “Rai per una notte.”2 Disillusioned, Monicelli sketched the portrait of a subdued country, an Italy overcome with fear, which he then followed with expressing the hope of “a real blow [to the system], a revolution, something Italy has never experienced,” because, according to him, redemption only comes from sacrifice and

From the Editors

Accounts of the great Chicago Teamster strike of 1905 tell us that when the employers attempted to move the wagons driven by non-union workers through the streets of the city, working class women went to their windows and threw garbage, boiling water, and whatever else was available on the heads of the scabs below.

Amy Pryor

With this issue of New Politics, “Words & Pictures” marks its tenth anniversary. From the outset, NP’s editors hoped that this back-of-the-book feature could showcase the work of interesting political cartoonists, past and present, and add a touch of visual interest to the magazine. The feature was introduced just as the magazine itself was undergoing a comprehensive makeover, starting with cover art by Bob Gill and, more recently, Lisa Lyons. 


Double Secret Privatization

I remember as a freshman in college making a boneheaded move. I didn’t feel like I had enough stuff. I was broke, and I had enough stuff to keep me alive and entertained, but I could never say no to acquiring more of it. I was fortunate enough that one day while exiting my dorm’s food court, some guy I never met—who looked like he was in his late 20s—offered me stuff and this of course piqued my interest. 

This tale is not salacious. The “stuff” was not anything illegal or even unethical. 


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.


The Leninist Model

The dramatic implosion of the Socialist Workers Party (U.K.) has provoked an outpouring of analysis, debate, and sectarian invective, most of which has appeared online rather than in print. Socialist Unity, Weekly Worker, Soviet Goon Boy, and Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal have all published exposés and polemics on the party’s shameful mishandling of accusations of rape and sexual predation on the part of a leading member, who is referred to as “Comrade Delta” in party documents.


Bolshevism in Yiddish

For most Jews in the United States, the legacy of the Soviet Union is linked to anti-Semitism. This is understandable, given not only the targeting of Jewish writers, doctors, and others by Stalin’s terror but also the quotas and petty persecution of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev years. Some people remember that the Russian Revolution freed Jews from the pogroms and segregation of czarism. But few have any conception of the extraordinary flourishing of Yiddish-language culture under the Bolsheviks in the 1920s. 


The Arab Revolutions

The Game’s Not Over Yet

Long-time revolutionary activist, historian, and analyst Gilbert Achcar has produced a provocative assessment of the Arab Spring. In The People Want, Achcar develops a Marxist analysis of the roots of the Arab revolutions, traces their trajectories since December 2010, and draws a tentative balance sheet of what progress has been made and what possibilities remain.


Pussy Riot

Traditional book publishing does not lend itself well to current events. However, the introduction of self and independent book publications, as well as the e-book, has vastly changed this landscape. Today, books can reach a wide audience almost immediately after they are written. A perfect example of this is Stephen Morgan’s recent book, Pussy Riot vs. Putin: Revolutionary Russia that chronicles the events relating to the arrest, trial, and sentencing of the Russian feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot in Moscow last year. 

Deutscher and the Jews

On the Non-Jewish Jew—An Analysis and Personal Reflection

Isaac Deutscher’s concept of the “The Non-Jewish Jew”1 has been adopted by many secular leftist Jewish intellectuals as a badge of identity. Defined by a universal and humanist outlook that is rooted in Jewish thought, his is a construct that draws inspiration from Jewish thinkers such as Baruch Spinoza, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx,2 Rosa Luxemburg, Sigmund Freud, and Leon Trotsky whom he sees as revolutionaries of modern thought who went beyond the boundaries of their Jewish background.

“Nothing is Too Good for the Working Class”

Classical Music, the High Arts, and Workers’ Culture

Last season’s announcement of the New York Philharmonic’s Henry Kravis Award, financed by a seven figure withdrawal from the ten figure bank account of one of America’s more notorious financers, is one of many indications that while its influence has waned, classical music still has friends in high places. These connections tend to accrue mainly to high profile conductors, opera stars, and virtuoso soloists.

Women and Austerity in Britain

Since the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition came into power in Britain in 2010, there has been a vicious attack on both the public sector and the social welfare state that is being justified as a response to the “high deficit.” Austerity is being introduced for two related reasons. First, the low profitability and resulting stagnation following the economic crisis of 2008 led employers to squeeze wages in order to keep profits up.

In the Shadow of the Manhattan Project

ImageEach August 6 in Hiroshima, speakers reiterate familiar statistics, such as how the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombs tragically slaughtered 140,000 people. Many evoke J.

Economic and Ecological Crisis 
in Greece

The Global Context and Syriza’s Solution

Many misconceptions still exist in the mainstream about the ongoing economic crisis in Southern Europe. First, the crisis is often considered a direct result of the 2008 banking sector collapse in the United States, but it is becoming abundantly clear that it is a by-product, an expected outcome, of the current economic system, capitalism, which relies on continuing growth and competition, profit maximization, power and wealth accumulation by the oligarchy, commodification of public goods and resources, and the voracious exploitation of the environment.

The Left and the Environment

ImageI am especially excited about the theme of this year’s conference because it represents what I think is a historic advance in left thinking. In all the years of the Left Forum, not to mention the Socialist Scholars Conference before it, plenary speakers have addressed a huge range of left topics from a variety of perspectives. Certainly the ongoing economic crisis has received a great deal of our attention and must continue to.

An Open Letter to the 
Climate Justice Movement

November 4, 2013

Dear fellow fighters in
the Climate Justice Movement:

I am a long-time advocate of both climate justice and fundamental system change. I am writing to you with whom I share these central political commitments because I believe you are making a serious strategic mistake by categorically rejecting international carbon trading.

Ecosocialism: Putting on the Brakes Before Going Over the Cliff

ImageEcosocialism is an attempt to provide a radical, civilizational alternative to capitalism, rooted in the basic arguments of the ecological movement, and in the Marxist critique of political economy. It opposes to capitalism’s destructive progress (Marx) an economic policy founded on non-monetary and extra-economic criteria: social needs and ecological equilibrium.

The Myths of “Green Capitalism”

Today environmental politics in the U.S. appears hopelessly polarized. Liberals and progressives try to sustain and occasionally strengthen environmental legislation, while those on the right are inalterably opposed, even seeking to defund core institutions such as the EPA. This extreme polarization, where anti-environmentalism has become part of the cultural as well as the political apparatus of the right, is a recent, and hopefully short-lived, phenomenon.1

Rethinking the State

Shadow Socialism in the Age of Environmental Crisis

I am going to discuss the political implications of climate change as regards the role of the state. The punch line is this: climate change means that the state is coming back. The choice is whether the state’s return will be violent and repressive or whether its return can involve a renovation and transformation that enhances the state’s progressive and democratic features. 

Economic & Ecologic Transformation—There Is No Alternative

And we have the power to make it happen

It’s very humbling to be in this room, not to mention on this stage, with all the vision and dedication that’s packed within these four walls. Thanks to the board and Seth Adler, the volunteers, and all of you here tonight for making this conference happen.

Women in Erdoğan’s Turkey

ImageDuring the last ten years, a new Turkey has been created. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has begun the establishment of an authoritarian regime built upon Sunni Islamic principles and neoliberal economics. We are in an era where the two have combined to create the worst of all worlds for women.