Issue number: 61

Whole Number: 61

“The Hammer Blow of the Revolution”

Rosa Luxemburg’s Critique of Bourgeois Democracy

ImageRosa Luxemburg’s defense of socialist democracy and her critique of the Bolsheviks in her pamphlet The Russian Revolution (1918) are well known. Less well known and often forgotten is her critique of bourgeois democracy, its limits, its contradictions, and its narrow and partial character. We propose to examine this critical line of thought in some of her political writings without any pretentions to completeness.

review

Workers’ Stories of their Strikes in China

ImageChina has the world’s largest population, about 1.4 billion people, with a working age population of about 950 million, hundreds of millions of them wage laborers. Most of us know little about the Chinese workers or the recent workers’ movement that has developed so rapidly, especially since the 1990s.

review

Radical America

ImageThe American left is today confronted with a situation it has not dealt with in some time—something approaching broader political relevance. From the rise of Occupy to Black Lives Matter to the Bernie Sanders campaign, movements of the left are having a sustained impact on American politics that they have not had for decades.

review

Democracy, from King Hammurabi’s Time to Tomorrow

ImageTemma Kaplan’s Democracy: A World History arrives at a timely moment. With presidential candidates and U.S. officials alike evoking the term “democracy” as a justification for political movements or a pretense for extraterritorial violence, Kaplan’s history of democracy offers a sorely needed study at an opportune time.

review

Homage to E.P. Thompson

ImageE.P. Thompson (1924–1993) wore several hats during his life. His magnum opus as a historian was The Making of the English Working Class, one of the greatest history books written in the twentieth century in any language. He fought tirelessly for nuclear disarmament in the 1980s, which almost surely took years off his life.

review

Memory and the Movies

This book is a fascinating incursion into the multiple oppositional uses of memory in world cinema. It shows, in a lively and insightful way, how movies bring the memory of past struggles forward into the present, to serve as an inspiration for the future. 

Inez Hedges distinguishes eight types of cultural cinematographic memory, which correspond to the eight chapters of the book:

review

Secular Stagnation and Rosa Luxemburg’s Breakdown Theory

ImageThe editors of these volumes have provided an invaluable service, bringing renewed attention to the highly original and enduringly contentious critique of Capital that arose from one of the most universally revered figures of the revolutionary movement.

review

Syria Is Burning, But What Fuels the Fire?

Syria is the focus of the world’s attention. However, the closer the lens is focused, the more the picture seems obscured. Is what we are seeing a revolution? Is it a proxy war by international forces? Or, especially now with the emergence of the Islamic State, is this Islamic authoritarianism asserting itself? These questions are vital for anyone trying to piece together a picture of what is happening and especially for activists trying to understand what is at stake in Syria and what attitude to take toward events as they unfold. 

review

Blueprints for the Future

Designing Socialism is a complete reprint, as an e-book, of the special April 2012 issue of the American academic Marxist journal Science & Society. It continues that publication’s tradition of providing, as stated by its usual editor David Laibman, “a major worldwide pulse-taking of the state of play in theoretical socialism” every April of the years ending in “2” in every decade (Campbell, ed., 7).

review

Death, Politics, and the Anthropocene

ImageRather than start his book about climate change with a solitary man contemplating a streambed run dry or taking in the eternal wonders of an old-growth forest, Roy Scranton begins Learning to Die in the Anthropocene in occupied Iraq in 2003, where Scranton served as a private in the U.S. Army.

review

After Bernie—Party Time?

ImageBernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has rocketed across the political landscape in this most abnormal of election seasons—an independent, self-defined democratic socialist running in the Democratic primary contest.

Donald Rooum

ImageEnglish anarchism has produced a number of fine cartoonists, including Clifford Harper, John Olday, Paul Petard, and, arguably, the artist Hunt Emerson and the writer Alan Moore.

Art Lipow

ImageThe democratic left is poorer today for the loss of a longtime active comrade. Arthur Lipow, a former member of the editorial board of New Politics, died this year on January 6, aged 81, his wife Gretchen by his side. Arthur grew up in Southern California and attended high school in Pasadena. He received his BA in sociology from UCLA in 1955.

Food Justice + Food Sovereignty

Can the U.S. Food Justice Movement Join the Global Movement?

In the United States today, there is a fresh opening for progressive alliances. The various movements—Black Lives Matter, the Fight for $15, climate change, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, Bernie—have different roots, structures, and foci, but they share a recognition that we are being crushed by the newest form of capitalism—as they call it in Latin America, “capitalismo salvaje”1 (savage capitalism)—and that we must stand up to it with all our might, with all our people. 

Theses on Saving the Planet

ImageI don’t need to tell you we face an existential threat. Scientists tell us we face a “climate emergency.” Last year was the hottest year ever recorded, beating 2014, which beat 2012. We break new records every year. The fourteen hottest years ever recorded have been recorded since 2000. January and February temperatures were torrid.

My Experience with C.L.R. James 
and Correspondence

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Feminisms of the Left

ImageThis essay was originally a talk at the conference held at the New School for Social Research on April 21-22, 2016.

The Struggle Against Syriza’s 
Austerity Program

ImageThe month of May witnessed the second round of massive general strikes to hit Greece in 2016. Mobilizations on May Day were followed by four days of strikes in the lead-up to the Syriza government passing its austerity pension bill.

The Neo-colonization of Central America

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The colonization of Latin America never ended, it merely changed forms. Today this conquest continues, with transnational companies driving neo-colonization grounded in the continued exploitation of natural resources. This is nowhere more true than in Central America. The force of neo-colonization is strengthened by free-trade agreements and development plans that guarantee a company’s right to investment above the rights of the citizenry. Meanwhile, the indigenous populations face renewed dispossession and eviction to make way for global capital’s conquest.

Kiddin’ on the Square

The Politics and Poetics of Mose Allison’s Blues

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In October 1969, pianist/ singer/composer Mose Allison recorded “Monsters of the Id.” At a time when recent history had witnessed a police riot at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention, the police crackdown on protesters at Berkeley’s People’s Park, and popular backlash against anti-war, New Left, counter-culture, and Black Power sentiment, Allison began by warning that the title characters no longer remain hidden, but have come out in full view. To the accompaniment of a slightly discordant horn section, Allison—singing in his characteristic style, with its idiosyncratic pauses and accents—spins a variety of often ghoulish metaphors that remain just as timely in today’s era of Tea Party, torture reports, Stand Your Ground, and Donald Trump: “They’re sprouting through the cracks … They’re deputizing maniacs / Creatures from the swamp rewrite their own Mein Kampf.”

Welfare Reform and the 
Ghost of the “Welfare Queen”

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Like a spectral apparition from a Shakespeare play or an M. Night Shyamalan film, the dreaded ghost of welfare reform is making a ghoulish comeback on Capitol Hill just in time for its twentieth anniversary. 

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