|Amy Littlefield||Winter 2012|
My friend, a young, radical woman of color, is frustrated. She has been participating in our local contingent of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and has been accused of perpetrating "hate speech" for gently reminding white men in the group that they should share space with women. She has watched women and people of color leave meetings after being silenced. She can’t decide whether to keep fighting or quit. Across the country, in spaces occupied by "the 99%," women are finding themselves marginalized or harassed.
|by Herman Benson||Winter 2017|
When the Stalin-Hitler pact triggered World War II in 1939, and Soviet troops occupied half of Poland and then invaded Finland, the Socialist Workers Party in the United States was plunged into crisis.
|by Martin Comack||Winter 2016|
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.
|by David Finkel||Winter 2015|
Norman Finkelstein has made his career taking the nasty assignments. It’s been dirty work, but presumably someone had to do it: plowing through the works of Joan Peters, Daniel Goldhagen, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, and a small army of official and unofficial Israeli state propagandists.
|Michael Wreszin||Winter 2012|
This biography suffers from extreme hagiography and fanatical sycophantry. Norman Podhoretz is a notoriously opinionated ideologue (always denied) who expressed the most provocative statements on a world of ideas and issues. For more than fifty years there was a steady stream of books, three memoirs or autobiographies, and an endless list of articles from the early 1950s through the first decade of the 21st century.
|Stephen R. Shalom||Winter 2006|
Robin Hahnel has written an important book that will be of real value to all libertarian socialists (a term he uses very broadly to cover anyone who wants to replace capitalism with a system characterized by the direct control of workers and consumers over their own economic activities).
The New Left Organizes the Neighborhood
|Manfred McDowell||Winter 2013|
In June 1966, protesting the shooting of James Meredith, the solo freedom marcher, Peggy Terry was among the crowds in Greenwood Mississippi who, in response to Stokely Carmichael’s question "What do you want?," had roared "Black Power! Black Power!" While others were bewildered, Terry recalls "there was never any rift in my mind or my heart. I just felt Black people were doing what they should be doing.
|by David Finkel||Summer 2016|
Bernie 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.
|Vera Pavone and Norman Scott||Summer 2008|
WITH PUBLIC EDUCATION, teacher unions and classroom teachers under one of the most severe attacks in history by corporate funded think tanks, education profiteers, self-proclaimed pundits, and politicians from both parties, along comes a hagiography of Albert Shanker by Richard Kahlenberg, to add to the drumbeat.
|Victor Osprey||Winter 2013|
It’s unsurprising why Trotskyists were annoyed by this book. In one section it depicts a bearded and bespectacled leftist intellectual, in an impeccable illustration, lecturing protesters who are engaged in a confrontation with police that: "I’ve come to show you how to fight capitalism." Under his arm, is a book with "Trotsky" emblazoned across the front.
|by Tom Peters||Winter 2016|
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.
|Stephen R. Shalom||Summer 2012|
Various realist political pundits have suggested — only half-jokingly — that the Nobel Peace Prize should be given to the atomic bomb, since in their view it was nuclear deterrence that prevented the Cold War from turning into a world war. But historian Lawrence S.
|Michael Wreszin||Winter 2011|
"The Eisenhower years have been years of flabbiness and self satisfaction and gross materialism . .. . The loudest sound has been the oink and grunt of private hoggishness. . . . It has been the age of the slob."
William Shannon, New York Times writer quoted by
Richard Rovere in The American Scholar, Spring, 1962
|Marvin Mandell||Summer 2009|
WAYNE PRICE’S THE ABOLITION OF THE STATE is a well considered, well researched, and well written book. I shall try to summarize his major points in the first several chapters. Chapters 9, 10, and 11 deal with the failure of revolutions in Russia and Spain and the success of the counter-revolution in Germany, and I shall discuss them as well.
|George Fish||Winter 2013|
With the emergence of anarchism as a significant ideology on the contemporary left, the idea of socialist-anarchist dialogue on political issues and socialist-anarchist alliance and cooperation on issues of mutual concern has gained significant currency on the socialist left. Socialist-anarchist alliance was raised rather gushingly by Ursula McTaggart in her article, "Can We Build Socialist-Anarchist Alliances?
|by Ali Shehzad Zaidi||Winter 2015|
Three photographs in particular have come to define the decade-and-a-half-long U.S. military intervention in Vietnam. They show the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk, burnt children in tears as they flee an aerial napalm attack, and the Saigon police chief executing a captive in the street.
The “Justice” System and the Murders of the Civil Rights Era
|by Martin Oppenheimer||Summer 2015|
Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot by an Alabama State Trooper in Marion, Ala., on Feb. 26, 1965, following a civil rights march. He died two days later. This killing sparked the Selma marches depicted in the now-famous film (the Jackson shooting is shown with a slight change in locale).
|Amy Littlefield||Winter 2010|
Janet Afary is hopeful about the future of women's rights in Iran. And she identifies many reasons to be so, from secret individual acts of resistance by women against husbands, fathers, and dictators to collective feminist struggle and today's One Million Signatures Campaign for equal rights. But Sexual Politics in Modern Iran also reveals the full force of the cultural and political systems that the Iranian movement for gender equality confronts.
|Robin Ganev||Winter 2004|
Among the great British Marxist historians Eric Hobsbawm is the only one to remain in the Communist Party until the late 1980s. His decision to do so has never fully been explained. Thus the publication of his autobiography, Interesting Times, is an exciting event, as it has the potential of addressing this question. How did Hobsbawm manage to reconcile himself, for example, to 1956? Did he not at least feel disillusioned when he learned about Stalinist atrocities?
|by Jason Schulman||Summer 2016|
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).
The ‘Lost Decades’ of a Moribund Capitalism
|by Philip Louro||Summer 2013|
The financial collapse of 2008 was a sudden, shrill alarm that abruptly exposed neo-liberalism to be nothing more than a fool’s paradise. For decades, many Americans marched to the hypnotic music of free market fantasy and willfully ignored the low, droning crescendo of social decay. The hypnotic melody of constant growth, full employment, low taxation, and rugged entrepreneurialism muffled the warning sirens that had gone off around them.
|by Peter Drucker||Winter 2014|
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.
|by Stephen R. Shalom||Summer 2015|
Murray 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.
|Kent Worcester||Winter 2012|
A fair number of New Politics readers will have read one or more of Tony Cliff’s books, or perhaps even seen him deliver one of his stem-winding speeches. For more than half a century, Tony Cliff (1917-2000) played a leading role in the movement to rebuild the international far left in the wake of Stalinism and fascism. He was a proponent of the theory of Soviet state-capitalism, a biographer of Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky, and a central figure in the development of the International Socialist tendency.
A Personal View
|by Sid Shniad||Winter 2014|
I emigrated from the United States to Canada in 1974, in the aftermath of the period covered by Benjamin Isitt’s Militant Minority, becoming actively involved in British Columbia’s (BC) social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) as well as its labor movement. Isitt’s work deepened my understanding of both.
|George Fish||Summer 2010|
For several years I worked closely with an anarchist youth collective in Indianapolis that ran a left-wing bookstore. While they were a bold, feisty group of determined activists (a welcome change from the timid and hidebound peace church "progressives" that dominate the left in Indianapolis) with whom I very much enjoyed working, I did find their anti-intellectualism disquieting.
|by Jamie Munro||Summer 2016|
Rather 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.
|by Stephanie J. Smith||Summer 2016|
Temma 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.
|by Kenzo Shibata||Winter 2014|
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.
|by Laurie Calhoun|
I admire Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the activist group CODE PINK, which has staged anti-war protests and promoted victims’ rights all over the world. Her recently published book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, focuses specifically on the relatively new phenomenon in military history of weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, the most common of which is the Predator drone. Having conducted a thorough—and dangerous—fact-finding mission to learn how U.S.
Reflections on an Updated Socialist-Feminist Classic
|by Johanna Brenner||Summer 2015|
Originally published in 1979, Beyond the Fragments (BTF) was an intervention in the left by three British socialist-feminist activists who offered a thoroughgoing critique of democratic centralism and the vanguard party ideal as it was then practiced on the revolutionary left.
|Betty Reid Mandell||Summer 2008|
THE COUNTRIES THAT CLAIMED TO BE Communist also claimed to meet the needs of their families. What happened to those claims when the countries became capitalist? The fall 2007 issue of Social Politics seeks to answer that question. It analyzes family policies of Russia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Moldova, and Armenia. Some social welfare scholars have created a typology of welfare states in relation to the "family wage" ideology, i.e., male breadwinner and woman homemaker.
|Reginald Wilson||Winter 2011|
It used to be said that if you walked down any street in a black neighborhood during a Joe Louis fight you would not miss a word of the broadcast because every radio in every house would be tuned to the same station … and turned up loud. A few years later, the same thing could be said about a Sugar Ray Robinson fight. Sugar Ray and Joe Louis dominated their respective divisions for nearly three decades.
|Betty Reid Mandell||Winter 2012|
This is a study of two French welfare offices, done in six months in 1995. Dubois says that it is the first study of French welfare offices ever done. He calls it a "critical policy ethnography." Dubois observed interactions between workers and clients, mostly at the reception desk. He is a political scientist/sociologist (he says that political science in France was redefined on a sociological basis in the 1980s). He was not a specialist in welfare policy, which he claims as an advantage as it left him free of preconceptions.
The Irish Green Party in Government
|by Lily Murphy||Summer 2013|
It was supposed to mark the beginning of a new era in Irish politics. The Green Party entered into a coalition government with Fianna Fail in 2007 bringing with it the ideas of a new greener economy and all the hopes and aspirations of environmentalists, but instead their time in power turned out like a comedic tragedy.
|G. M. Goshgarian||Winter 2011|
In a sober, balanced sketch of the history and historiography of the 1915 Armenian genocide included in a two-part article on Turkey published in the London Review of Books in September 2008, Perry Anderson notes that the perpetrators’ academic defenders have largely abandoned a discredited strategy of blanket denial for one of minimization or relativization, now increasingly discredited in its turn.
|Horst Brand||Winter 2012|
The book’s title translates a term, "Rote Kapelle," that the Gestapo applied to a relatively small circle of men and women in Berlin, active in seeking to weaken the political authority of the Hitler regime during the 1930s and early 1940s. The term, however, was meant to convey the notion that the group was involved in a Soviet conspiracy — a notion that survived the war and was perpetuated in the ensuing climate of a public opinion shaped by the cold war and hostility to the Soviet Union.
|by Kyle Stanton||Winter 2017|
At the heart of Jeff Halper’s War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification is the question “How does Israel get away with it?” In other words, how is Israel able to continually occupy Palestinian territory in contravention of international law?
|by Gregory Smulewicz-Zucker||Winter 2014|
For 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.
William Thompson’s Utilitarian Argument for Democratic Work
|by John W. Lawrence||Winter 2016|
”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.
|Jerold Touger||Winter 2009|
IN 1996, THE ACADEMIC JOURNAL Social Text, self-described as “a daring and controversial leader in the field of cultural studies,” published an article by physicist Alan Sokal in which Sokal argued that in quantum gravity, “the foundational conceptual categories of prior science — among them, existence itself — become problematized and relativized.” What did Sokal mean by this? In Sokal’s own words, “This . . .
|by Joseph White||Summer 2016|
E.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.
|Au Loong Yu||Summer 2011|
The publisher of Wang Hui’s book described it as follows: "arguing that China’s revolutionary history and its current liberalization are part of the same discourse of modernity, Wang Hui calls for alternatives to both its capitalist trajectory and its authoritarian past."
What follows is our review of the book in the light of this description: how far this assessment is correct, and how relevant it is for those social activists who are pursuing just such an alternative in China.
|Gene Carroll||Winter 2005|
While the labor movement in the United States is a beacon for democracy, too often it fails as a beacon of democracy. Herman Benson makes this clear in his remarkable personal memoir, Rebels, Reformers and Racketeers: How Insurgents Transformed the Labor Movement.
|Steven Colatrella||Winter 2011|
Let me begin with a confession: While the 1980s are a blur to me, I recall the 1970s with a crispness and precision that has led me ever since to replaying the mental tape of those years, trying to understand how things ended up as they did.
Since the 1930s, most of the international left has defined their "socialism" not as the uncompromising defense of working class self-organization and self-activity, but as the uncritical support of one or another regime that claimed to be "socialist." Whether they idealized the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Albania, or North Korea, most socialists have placed the defense of their particular "socialist fatherland" above the needs of working people at home and abroad.
|Bhaskar Sunkara||Winter 2013|
Amid twinkling fingers and Guy Fawkes masks, few were pining for central committees. Occupy’s emergence was welcomed. The movement galvanized radicals, bringing the language of class and economic justice into view. Yet an unwarranted arrogance underlined the protests. Occupy, in part a media event that mobilized relatively few, was quick to assert its novelty and earth-shattering significance.
|Dan La Botz||Summer 2012|
While most English speakers don’t know him, the Peruvian José Carlos Mariátegui ranks as one of the great Marxists of the twentieth century. It was Mariátegui who originally asked the question which seems so relevant today: How does one make socialism in Latin America with Indians? He answered by turning the question around in the other direction: Indians in Latin America will be at the center of the fight for socialism in Latin America.
|Herman Benson||Summer 2011|
The "civil wars" that Steve Early mentions in his new book are not about the class war between labor and capital, nor any war between a conservative right and a radical left in unions. It is the war that split labor’s progressive left, and Early is an apt author to tell us about it.
The Hidden Story of Wonder Woman
|by Kent Worcester||Summer 2015|
Wonder Woman was not the first female superhero, but she is the best known of the modern-day costumed heroines. Armed with indestructible bracelets, her Amazonian heritage, and a “magic lasso,” the character’s inaugural debut came in the pages of All Star Comics #8 in December 1941; a month later she was showcased on the cover of Sensation Comics #1.
|by Michael J. Thompson||Summer 2014|
Inequality is the theme of our time. It should perhaps be said that it has always been so. But after the surge of globalization since the 1990s, the decreasing fortunes of the middle class, and the more recent shock of the 2008 financial crisis, it has come more sharply into focus. It is within this context that Thomas Piketty has published Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a book that is exhaustively researched and brimming with empirical data and interpretation.
|Michael Löwy||Winter 2011|
This truly path-breaking book goes against the grain of the conventional wisdom which reduces Marx to an Eurocentric and economistic thinker; as Douglas Kellner comments, Kevin Anderson shows that Marx “is the sophisticated and original theorist of history some might not have ever expected him to be.” Analyzing a variety of Marx’s writings, including his journalistic work written for the New York Daily Tribune as well as unpublished material on non-European societies, it brings to the fore a global theorist whose soci
|Sherry Gorelick||Summer 2007|
HOW HAVE MARXIST THEORISTS and activists, Socialist parties and Communist States understood Anti-Semitism? How did they confront the rise of fascism in Germany? Spanning the period between The Communist Manifesto and the fall of the Berlin Wall, German historian Mario Kessler's On Anti-Semitism and Socialism examines the relationship to Jews, and to anti-Semitism, of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Leon Trotsky, other individual Marxists, and various political parties in Germany and the Soviet Union.
|by George Fish||Summer 2013|
The continuing world recession that has now dragged on since late 2007, with no sign of abating, has renewed interest in Marx’s critique of capitalism. So much so that even respectably “mainstream” TIME.com now writes:
"Karl Marx was supposed to be dead and buried. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s Great Leap Forward into capitalism, communism faded into the quaint backdrop of James Bond movies or the deviant mantra of Kim Jong Un….
by Michael Löwy Summer 2016
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:
Julia Wrigley Summer 2005
In their edited collection, Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy, Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Hochschild write that Third World women are on the move as never before, filling jobs in the "homes, nurseries, and brothels of the First World" (2002). The rushed and materialistic societies of the First World leave working parents little time to look after their children or their own parents. Women migrating from poor countries fill the gap.
by Reginald Wilson Summer 2015
Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change by Barbara Winslow brings back to our attention one of the most notable and esteemed African-American women of the 1960s and 1970s. Winslow reports that “a 1974 Gallup Poll listed her as one of the top-ten most admired women in America.” She was the first black woman elected to Congress.
Mel Bienenfeld Summer 2004
Multiculturalism has become mainstream. Across North America and Europe, school curricula are checked for accurate representation of non-Western and non-white cultures. Research examining the culturally conditioned character of all aspects of knowledge has not only gained a hearing in academic journals, but has sometimes been integrated into popular textbooks from kindergarten on up.
Laurie Calhoun Summer 2011
IN 1961, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWERwarned about the dangers of capitalized war, how the military-industrial complex was already taking on a life all its own, and the single-minded quest for profit—a virtue under capitalism — would continue to drive weapons companies to exert an untold influence upon politicians. Since that time, the war-making apparatus has expanded both in size and in kind, with ever more partners joining in on the enterprise.
by Martin Oppenheimer Summer 2014
Sit-ins at lunch counters by black students began in Greensboro, North Carolina, on February 1, 1960. Blacks had traditionally not been served there or anywhere in the South at that time. Within a week the sit-ins spread to Durham and Winston-Salem. Eleven of the first sit-ins were within 100 miles of Greensboro. After many arrests, and assaults by white hoodlums, on July 25 all Greensboro stores targeted by the sit-ins agreed to serve blacks on an equal basis.
by Kenzo Shibata Summer 2013
Most of the current literature on the international education crisis gives little to no big-picture context for planning a fight back. Given the parochial view of most popular education authors, many earnest, well-intentioned proposals for fight back are written within parameters the ruling class tolerates.
by Kent Worcester Winter 2015
The cartoonist Will Eisner used to say that there are two kinds of comics, entertaining and instructional. Over time, he speculated, instructional comics would become the more popular of the two, as teachers and everyone else finally figured out that comics convey information more efficiently than ordinary prose. Eisner passed away in 2005 but presumably would have regarded the past decade’s outpouring of graphic nonfiction as confirming his thesis.
Reginald Wilson Summer 2006
The first thing that strikes me about this book is the irony of the title: When was affirmative action not white? As Mark Nathan Cohen states in his book, Culture of Intolerence (Yale University Press, 1998), "Affluent white males themselves have always received the most affirmative action, some by law, some by custom and practice, and some by factors so subtle and so deeply ingrained in our cultural training that we generally don't consciously recognize them." He goes on to say, "Critics tend to find affirm
Peter Drucker Summer 2012
The economic crisis and the rise of Occupy have given fresh urgency to the question: is there an alternative to capitalism? And if so, what? For almost a century now the failure of the Russian Revolution has provided capitalism’s defenders with a boogeyman, an argument that any attempt to get rid of the existing system will lead to something even worse.
Dan Steinberg Winter 2012
Radical planning theorists have long held that one of the defining activities of municipal government historically has been to physically shape the city in order to facilitate the circulation and accumulation of capital.
Betty Reid Mandell Summer 2005
I have seen the welfare system first hand as a volunteer outreach worker at a Boston welfare office (Department of Transitional Assistance). The other day I walked into the office to see a distraught woman sobbing disconsolately on the floor. She had unknowingly parked in the parking lot of the Burger King next door. She moaned, "I begged him not to tow me. I told him that I am homeless and don't have any money to feed my children, but he didn't listen.
by Karie A. Gubbins Winter 2014
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.
by Paul Heideman Summer 2016
The 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.
Michael Wreszin Summer 2011
I found this volume of edited letters disappointing, particularly so since I agree with the critics, that Saul Bellow was a great writer, one of very best in the second half of the 20th century. Alfred Kazin compared him to Melville, and Norman Podhoretz declared that Bellow was "a stylist of the first order, perhaps the greatest virtuoso of language the novel has seen since Joyce."
George Fish Summer 2011
The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg is the first volume in a projected 14-volume set, The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, of all the extant writings of this great revolutionary socialist in English—all available newspaper articles and speeches, significant polemical and Marxist theoretical writings, and her letters and telegrams, prepared collaboratively by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Karl Dietz Veralg, and Verso Books.
by Donald Hanover Winter 2015
“My baby saw the future; she doesn’t want to live here anymore. It’s lousy science fiction, gets on your skin and seeps into your bones…”
David Byrne, Dance on Vaseline
Greece and the Syriza Experience
by Aaron Amaral Winter 2017
In very different ways, Helena Sheehan’s The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left and Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges by Jack Rasmus look back over the period of the Greek debt crisis, and the parallel rise and fall of Syriza, and try to take stock.
Lynn Chancer Summer 2005
While I was in the process of reviewing this volume, I took it to a party in Brooklyn attended by varied-and-sundry aging baby boomers, early 40s through 50-something types who are generally progressive, educated and (in tripartite terms of classification) middle-to-upper-middle class.
by Peter Bratsis Summer 2013
Costas Panayotakis’ Remaking Scarcity is a bold attempt to combine the analysis of the ecological limits of capitalism with the call for “economic democracy.” A work that is both topical (with frequent discussion of contemporary developments such as the Arab Spring and the crisis in Greece) and scholarly, the book unfolds as a series of overlapping discussions on four key themes: scarcity, inequality, democracy, and ecological crisis.
Michael Hirsch Winter 2011
If the purpose of a memoir is to tell the story of a life or the evolution of an individual’s thinking, this one by Christopher Hitchens, the jowly, balding erstwhile enfant terrible doesn’t ring true. There’s no metamorphosis in thinking here — it’s more a whipsawing of opinion if not a trading up. And despite a heavy lathering of opinions, there’s precious little of his adult life as lived.
by Kent Worcester Summer 2014
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.”
Reginald Wilson Summer 2008
RANDALL ROBINSON HAS WRITTEN a searing, unforgiving expose of the forcible abduction, in February, 2004, of the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the consequent deepening wretchedness of its citizens. But he does more than that. In just 270 pages of text, he depicts Haiti from the triumph of the slave revolution in 1804 to the installation of Rene Garcia Preval as president in May, 2006, while thousands of the dissident black population shouted their displeasure and could be heard outside the gates of the presidential palace during the inauguration.
Michael Hirsch Summer 2009
The odd disconnect between theorists of ‘difference’ and struggles for social solidarity
IT’S TRAINED ELEPHANTS linked tail to snout contending with accursed builders of The Tower of Babel. That's pretty much how defenders of discourse on class and identity caricature their opposite theoretical numbers. Not so Joseph Schwartz, who shows why such binary thinking is dangerous. Schwartz instead places economic inequality and politics back into discussions of identity and difference. It’s about time.
by Dan La Botz Winter 2017
For some time now, many of us have wondered how it is that a number of left-wing writers and some political organizations could support Vladimir Putin and the Russian government’s role in international affairs.
Dan La Botz Summer 2011
In the late 1960s it seemed to many almost certain that Jean-Paul Sartre would be remembered as the most important philosopher of the twentieth century and the most important public intellectual on the left of that era. Certainly it seemed so to me at the time. Sartre had in the 1930s taken Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time and its reactionary and religious version of phenomenology and transformed them in Being and Nothingness into his new humanist philosophy of existentialism, a leftwing philosophy of freedom.
by Peter Drucker Winter 2015
In the mostly forgotten history of early twentieth-century movements for sexual freedom, Magnus Hirschfeld’s name is one of the most familiar—and one of the most contested. As a Jewish scientist who championed sexual deviants, he made a perfect target for the Nazis, who were tragically successful in extirpating much of his life’s work.
by Barry Finger Summer 2016
The 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.
by Jamie Munro Summer 2015
Lynn Chancer Winter 2012
Carol Giardina’s Freedom for Women, a study of the development of American second wave feminism from1953 through 1970, is a well-documented, thorough, and often fascinating history of a period of intense social movement activism: the exhilarating and intensive early days of the women’s movement. Giardina’s book vividly depicts the passionate radicalism of feminists during these too easily forgotten years.
Michael Löwy Summer 2012
This remarkable piece of militant history, based on interviews, as well as leaflets, letters, manifestos, dug out of public archives and private collections, from the heights of La Paz to the outskirts of Paris, deals with the Bolivian labor movement, the most persistent and combative in the Western Hemisphere. Bolivia is one of the very poorest countries of the Americas, and also the most Indian: 2/3 of the population describes itself as indigenous.
Manfred McDowell Summer 2011
Ngo Van’s memoir of "those other movements and revolts caught in the crossfire between the French and the Stalinists" in the years before the American commitment in Vietnam reminded me, painfully, of an "editorial" I wrote on the fall of Saigon.
by Linda Braune Summer 2015
In his newest book, historian Greg Grandin provides background to Herman Melville’s classic Benito Cereno, an 1855 short novel about a slave rebellion. Reflecting on this story written almost two centuries ago, Grandin opens up space for further research by those investigating the Black Atlantic.
by Michael Hirsch Summer 2014
The mainstream media was never true to its pretension of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable—which was Gilded Age humorist Finley Peter Dunne’s point—but there were exceptions, and exceptional practices. “Accountability reporting,” or investigative reporting, is one of them.
by Riad Azar Winter 2016
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.
Stephen Steinberg Winter 2008
VILLA VICTORIA—a great title. As with other legendary ethnographies—Street Corner Society, Urban Villagers, Tally's Corner, All Our Kin, and Sidewalk, Villa Victoria projects images of Gemeinschaft, of that quintessential social bond that survives even in the city that notoriously eviscerates the social bond. Although the contents of these books often contradict expectations, the romantic impulse excited by the titles is not so easily rebuffed by cold facts.
Charles Post Winter 2013
Teachers and teacher unions have been under neoliberal attack since the Carnegie Foundation’s 1983 Nation At Risk. However, since the appointment of Arne Duncan as Obama’s Secretary of Education they have been on the sharp-end of the neoliberal attack on working people. Teachers are routinely demonized as ineffective, privileged public employees who are virtually unaccountable.
by Mike Noonan Summer 2016
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.
by Nathan J. Robinson Summer 2015
“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”
The Game’s Not Over Yet
by Kit Wainer Winter 2014
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.
Michael Wreszin Winter 2012
Anyone walking about in a large urban city today cannot help but see the overwhelming signs of the importance of race in our daily lives. Neighborhoods are segregated into black and white areas. The former are invariably blighted and unattended. The schools are almost totally segregated, black in the inner cities and white in the suburbs. The New York Times almost daily has a story on the impact of race on employment. Black resumes are often simply rejected without being read.
Betty Reid Mandell Winter 2011
Loïc Wacquant has expanded the theory of the neoliberal state beyond the usual economic definition. He has linked the criminal justice system with the welfare system as two parts of the same policy of enforcing conformity to an unstable job market of temporary, part-time, low-paid, and flexible employment. Other criminal justice scholars and welfare scholars have analyzed these as separate spheres. While they have seen both as repressive, they have not seen them as interconnected.
by Bill Crane Summer 2013
The financial crisis that began in 2008 has accelerated many economic trends already at work in the neoliberal period of capitalist development. Wages continue to decline, the class struggle bursts out in contradictory fits and starts at the same time as the societal value of work, and therefore the people who do it, continues to depreciate.
Phil Gasper Winter 2012
It has been almost 10 years since the death of the Harvard paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould at the relatively early age of 60. Gould was not only a major figure in the life sciences, he was also one of the great popularizers of science. He wrote a monthly column for Natural History magazine from 1974 to 2001, generating exactly 300 essays that explained complex scientific ideas without oversimplifying them.
Michael Wreszin Summer 2011
Anyone interested in intellectual history from the great depression of the thirties to the post war 1980s will be familiar with the impact of Arthur Koestler, whose famous assault on Stalinism and the Soviet Union in his novel Darkness at Noon was a widely praised international bestseller. There was a vehemently critical biography written by David Cesurani, Arthur Koestler—The Homeless Mind published in London in 1998. It was an opinionated attack on Koestler’s personality and moral stature.
Gregory Smithsimon Winter 2012
On December 3, 1967, Regina and Charles Schneibel were trapped by fire in their Lower East Side apartment. Charles was unable to open the wooden shutters he’d installed in their home after one of their children had fallen from the window and died. In the blaze, Charles, Regina, and their two oldest children suffered severe burns. Their three youngest children died of smoke inhalation. Incredibly, the death of the three children didn’t even merit its own headline, because it wasn’t the biggest fire tragedy to report.
by Michael Löwy Summer 2015
Jacobs’ The Frankfurt School is an outstanding piece of scholarship.
Michael Hirsch Summer 2012
A sociologist tired of—if not ill-suited for—academic life and one of that generation of proper New Leftists committed to organizing or reorganizing the industrial proletariat as a necessary prelude to the much anticipated Red revolution, I hired in at a Midwestern steel mill in late summer of 1977.
Paul Buhle Winter 2011
Labor’s Civil War in California
Oakland: PM Press, 2010, 115pp, $12
Shades of Justice: A Memoir
Altadena, CA: Autumn Leaf Press,
2008, 422pp, $19.95
Sam Kradel Summer 2011
The United States’ status as some form of imperial power is scarcely disputed on the Left. Richard Immerman’s Empire for Liberty: A History of America from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz is not a book written particularly for or from the Left, yet in some respects it goes further in defense of this idea than many leftists have allowed.
Mark P. Worrell Winter 2012
In March 2010, Žižek reviewed Avatar for the New Statesman; his conclusion was that, at its core, the film duplicates a time-honored "reactionary myth" that perpetuates "vampiric exploitation" in the guise of "compassion for the poor." In short, Avatar is racist and brutal in its implications.
by Sandy Boyer Winter 2016
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.
by Kent Worcester Winter 2014
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.
Michael Wreszin Summer 2012
Charles J. Shield’s biography offers a detailed life of the writer, his strengths and weaknesses, both as an author and a person. The major thrust of the Shields biography is to present Kurt Vonnegut as two different people, the writer and the private person. A nephew told the biographer:
Literature and Revolution in Latin America
by Dan La Botz Winter 2013
In Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America, Enrique Krauze is interested in all of the most romantic figures of the modern left in Latin America, those who lived as militant missionaries, often died as martyrs, and were canonized by the left as saints, men like José Martí, Che Guevara, Subcomandante Marcos, and Hugo Chávez.
Milan Rai Winter 2009
REAL UTOPIA IS A WIDE-RANGING BOOK that can deliver for the open-minded reader. It relates ideas and actions that develop naturally out of commonly held values, but that can still bring surprise, the shock of revelation, the rearrangement of familiar territory, and a different framework for us to see ourselves within. Who is the “us”? People who subscribe to the cry of the World Social Forum: “Another World Is Possible!” The questions many of us urgently want answers to are: What is this “other world”? What does it look like?
by Dan La Botz Winter 2015
The “Russian question,” that is, the question of the nature of the Soviet Union, dominated much of Marxist debate throughout the twentieth century as first anarchists and Leninists, and later Trotskyists and Stalinists, and then Maoists argued about the economic, social, and political character of Soviet Russia (and then also of Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea).
by Frank E. Warren Winter 2016
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.
Betty Reid Mandell Winter 2012
Most people never heard of ACORN (Association of Community Organization for Reform Now) until the conservatives attacked it. The media does not follow long and complicated organizing campaigns. It prefers more time limited dramatic news such as lawsuits or demonstrations. But even when ACORN organized large demonstrations, the media was not likely to credit ACORN.
Dan La Botz Winter 2012
Most of us, if we know anything at all about the Situationist International, know Guy Debord’s brilliant and famous pamphlet The Society of the Spectacle and, if we are old enough, perhaps remember the striking cover of its English language edition showing rows of moviegoers sitting passively and expectantly in a theater wearing 3-D glasses.
Barry Finger Summer 2010
This recent work by the late Chris Harman is an application of the “permanent arms economy” theory, a hallmark of the British Socialist Workers Party, to the current economic crisis. This analysis is borrowed in part from the American writer T.N. Vance who argued in the presses of the Independent Socialist League of the early 1950s that the much anticipated reversion to the “unliquidated” crisis conditions of the 1930s was averted at the close of World War II through an application of military Keynesianism.
Dan La Botz Summer 2011
During the 1970s, Michael Löwy, a leading intellectual of the Trotskyist Fourth International, attempted to generalize Leon Trotsky’s "theory of permanent revolution" into a general theory that could explain not only the Russian, but also the Yugoslavian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cuban revolutions. He believed his version of the theory could explain recent and still unfolding events in the colonies and developing nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Reginald Wilson Winter 2005
Books reviewed in this essay
After Brown: The Rise and Retreat of School Desegregation
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004
216 pp. $24.95
The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class are Undermining the American Dream
New York: Public Affairs, 2004
320 pp. $26
by Jason Schulman Winter 2016
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.
by Riad Azar Winter 2015
The idea of “voting with your pocketbook” is giving rise to a new global movement of ethical consumption. Industrial capitalism and its ills, it is thought, can be redeemed through personal consumer choices. “If only I bought the biodegradable bag of potato chips,” one may think to oneself watching a column of waste management vehicles pass on their way to the dump.
by E. Haberkern Summer 2014
The labor- and third-party movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been studied and written about extensively by academics and writers on the left. Most readers of this journal are probably familiar with much of this material. This book, however, is of particular interest today for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the author concentrates on the South and emphasizes the biracial nature of the movement.
The Power Structure and Foreign Policy
by Martin Oppenheimer Winter 2016
The godfather of macro-level power structure research in the United States was the sociologist C. Wright Mills, author of The Power Elite (1956).
Amy Littlefield Winter 2008
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES it will be led by women in aprons, women with their rubber-gloved hands on their hips. Or so the cover of Dorothy Sue Cobble's new anthology, The Sex of Class: Women Transforming American Labor might suggest. The anthology includes a wide array of primarily women's voices, ranging from university professors to labor activists, all engaged in debate and discussion about the changing face of the labor movement.
by Dan La Botz Summer 2016
China 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.