Saturday, October 09, 2004

Monthly Review

Unfortunately, I've not had time to write a detailed blogpost in the past couple of days and I don't today either. So instead, I'll just point towards a few articles on the current internet edition of Monthly Review . This US-based Marxist journal is always worth a look, is highly readable, and each edition usually contains a couple of absolute gems. In some ways the politics of MR are not quite to my liking. The journal (or at least the views of some key commentators) tends towards 'Guevara-ist', perhaps even Maoist views in its position on Third World 'liberation movements' and seems to have more faith in the ability of peasant/non-proletarian movements to fight for socialist change than perhaps it should. Indeed the Journal is highly sympathetic towards Cuba and it sometimes displays a (fiercely critical) sympathy for China (or at least for the aims and revolutionary practices of Maoist China). I don't have any sympathy at all for authoriatarian China and the position of some MR contributors on China, I think, are completely wrong and, indeed, damage the credibility of the journal. I'm a lot less hostile towards Cuba, which although far from a democratic socialist state, has done remarkably well for an isolated, economically backward and poor Carribean Island. No-one could expect an island like Cuba to build socialism on its own. Nevertheless, I think MR should be a lot more critical of the shortcomings of Cuba which are plain to see.

The current edition of MR contains a fascinating overview of the life and work of the socialist economist Paul Sweezy (a founder of the journal) who died earlier this year. There's also a detailed analysis of the aims driving the US war on Iraq and an account of the way in which the US ruling class and its overseas allies attempted to obscure the grubby motives behind the war. Perhaps the comrades at Socialists for the New American Century might learn something from this (though I doubt it).

Finally, there's a well-written and thorough (though perhaps rather pedestrian) restatement of the need for, and possibility of, socialist transformation. This article runs through all the familiar shortcomings, failures and inadequacies of capitalism, before showing that the organised urban proletariat remains the only class capable of bringing down this unstable, unjust and inefficient politico-economic system and building socialism in its place. As you might imagine the views of modern day ultra-leftists such Hardt and Negri are given short shrift here.

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