Issue number: 60

Whole Number: 60


Happiness Is Political

William Thompson’s Utilitarian Argument for Democratic Work

”Happiness is political,” is the opening line of Kaswan’s provocative book on William Thompson’s theory on the social nature of happiness and its ramification for organizing a just society. Kaswan introduces the reader to Thompson (1775-1833) as “perhaps the paradigmatic case of a traitor to his class.” Thompson was the only son of a wealthy merchant in Cork, Ireland; however as a political theorist, he developed ideas of the Enlightenment in a liberatory direction, calling for the elimination of subordination in all its manifestations.


A Bottom-Up History, Not a Comfortable Reinforcement

Agustín Guillamón is a dedicated anarcho-syndicalist activist whose partisanship has not affected his critical sensitivities nor prevented him from graphically outlining what he regards as the errors and inconsistencies of the Spanish libertarian left.


The Party of “Peace and Justice”

First, full disclosure: I read most of Jack Ross’s The Socialist Party of America in draft. Although it is normally not good policy to then review the book, I felt I could express my respect for what Jack Ross is attempting and share my concerns in a way that could serve a useful purpose.


The Intelligent Human’s Guide to Socialism

This is the book many socialists have been waiting for, although we probably didn’t know it. In just over 150 pages it describes the core socialist ideas in a clear, highly accessible way. The fact that the book is frequently laugh-out-loud funny makes it even better. Socialism … Seriously is written for people who are new to socialism and want to find out what it’s all about.

The first question about a book that sets out to explain socialism is, of course, what the author means by socialism.


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).

Radical Art: Art Young and the Cartoons of American Socialism

ImageArthur Henry Young (1866-1943), known to the world as Art, was arguably the most widely recognized and beloved cartoonist in the history of American radicalism. A working cartoonist for sixty years, Art Young drew thousands of simple black-line drawings with biting captions that appeared in big-city newspapers, liberal magazines, and, most importantly, in the socialist, labor, and radical press of the early twentieth century.

Podemos and the 15M Language Community

ImageThe Indignados (in English, the “outraged”), protagonists of what is called the Spanish May 15, or 15M, Revolution (2011-2013), concentrated a great deal of their political action on the construction of a shared conceptual and emotional understanding of the political reality around them.


An Insider’s Look at What it Takes 
to Get By

In 2001, Professor Danny Dorling wrote an essay entitled “Anecdote Is the Singular of Data.” In it he explored how, during his teenage years, he grasped the idea that the places people live impact the lives they lead. Dorling opens the essay by describing a pedestrianized subway near his childhood home. The subway had four entrances, each leading from a different housing development.


Social Capital and Class

The American Dream, that fantasy of growth that has long girded the ideology of entrepreneurship and a better future, is in crisis. Many haven’t felt the dream for decades, some never having experienced it at all. Robert Putnam, in his latest work, Our Kids, seeks to confront this stagnation in our economic dreams by interrogating the forces that have taken hold of communities across the United States.

The Class Basis of the Race Question in the United States

ImageNow as usual, ten past nine; I certainly will not go on beyond ten past ten. And I would like to say at once that this is the task. It is so difficult that it is as well to say at the beginning that it can be done. Five hundred and eighty-three pages [Oliver Cox’s Caste, Class and Race: A Study in Social Dynamics].


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.

The Roots of the Modern Housing Crisis

ImageAmericans today face a dual crisis: rising rents and increasingly unaffordable housing markets. The housing crisis, far from being over, has metastasized.

Debt, Underemployment, and Capitalism

The Rise of Twenty-First-Century Serfdom

ImageSystemic contradictions of capitalism have only intensified in the neoliberal era. Structural unemployment, a phenomenon directly related to capitalist modes of production, has continued unabated, creating a massive and ever-growing “reserve army of labor” that has been disenfranchised on an unprecedented scale. 

The Rise of the Servant Society

ImageWe are witnessing a grand shift in the nature of capitalist society. It is not to be found simply in the expanding chasms of economic inequality, nor in the rapid social and cultural transformations shaped by globalization. Of course, economic inequality raises concern among liberals, social democrats, and socialists alike. For all see in it an ethical problem, one of unfairness, of greed, of unequal control and power.

The Systemic Edge

An Interview with Saskia Sassen

ImageSASKIA SASSEN is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University ( She was interviewed for New Politics by editors Riad Azar and Saulo Colón about her new book, Expulsions: When Complexity Produces Elementary Brutalities (Harvard University Press, 2014). 


Inequality has become a defining issue of our time, with political commentators of all stripes discussing its causes, effects, and possible solutions. Thomas Piketty’s 2013 work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, set off a chain reaction of books, journal articles, conferences, and debates focusing on questions of inequality. We intend to push this critique further. 

Wealth Extraction, Governmental Servitude, and Social Disintegration in Colonial Puerto Rico

ImageAfter ten years of economic contraction, many of the citizens of Puerto Rico find themselves watching the secular decomposition of a reality that in its heyday was painted by many as one of relative socio-economic welfare.

Who Wins From “Climate Apartheid”?

African Climate Justice Narratives About the Paris COP21

ImageThe billion residents of Africa are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change in coming decades, and of special concern are high-density sites of geopolitical and resource-related conflicts: the copper belt of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and mineral-rich African Great Lakes stretching into northern Uganda, western Ethiopia (bordering the Sudanese war zone), Madagascar and s

The Kurds, Bookchin, and the Need to Reinvent Revolution

ImageToday, a year after the heroic resistance of Kobani made it to the world news, it is hardly necessary to give an introduction to the Kurdish struggle, which has now taken a central place in the imagination of the international left, both vanguardist and anti-authoritarian.

A Commune in Rojava?

ImageThe siege of Kobani by Islamic State (ISIS) brought worldwide attention to the Syrian Kurdish PYD (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, Democratic Union Party), the leading force in the Kurdish-majority areas in northern Syria. The PYD calls this region Rojava—literally meaning “land of the sunset” but also translated as “West Kurdistan.”