This quarter’s selection

Issue: 120

This has been a bumper quarter for Marxist analysis that complements articles which have recently appeared in this journal.

The July-August Monthly Review was a special issue on capitalism’s ecological crises. John W Farley spells out in detail the scientific case over climate change, while Minqi Li argues that its effects are likely to be more rapid than is suggested even by the books of George Monbiot. Fred Magdoff shows how dishonest and dangerous is the agenda pushing biofuels as an answer and John Bellamy Foster draws together the most recent evidence on “peak oil”—the point at which oil output worldwide will stop rising. The articles are available online at

Coming to very much the same conclusions as Monthly Review is a recent piece by Mike Davis, “Living on the Ice Shelf: Humanity’s Meltdown”. This article is available at

Readers will find Tsering Shakya’s “Tibetan Questions” in the May-June New Left Review (which arrived in early July) a very useful supplement to Charlie Hore’s piece for International Socialism 119 on a question which is contentious among some on the left (blank”> Also in the same issue is a critical but favourable review of Chris Wickham’s book on the _European Early Middle Ages. The book was hailed as a major breakthrough in Marxist history when it came out two years ago. Wickham himself writes on the logic of the feudal mode of production in Historical Materialism 16.2_, in the process replying to points made in the review of his book (by Chris Harman) in _International Socialism 109. In the same issue of Historical Materialism Jeffrey R Webber provides the first part of a fascinating account of Bolivian society and politics; Alex Callinicos looks at the different approaches of Marxists in Britain and France towards Muslims, questioning some of the formulations of Daniel Bensaid; Alexander Anievas criticises the notion of a new transnational ruling class; and Lise Vogel provides a succinct summary of the 30 year old discussion within Marxist political economy of domestic labour.

Events in Venezuela are of immense interest to socialists everywhere in the world. The summer issue of the Review of Radical Political Economics contains an informative article on structural change and planning in its economy by Paulo Nakatani and Rémy Herrera.

The Olympic games focused attention on Chinese nationalism. Au Long Yu, writing in the September issue of Against the Current, analyses the impact of this, including its impact on what is often called the “Chinese new left” (

International Socialism contributor Mike Haynes has written a fascinating piece in the History Teaching Review Year Book on attempts to calculate the numbers killed in wars. He points to the hypocrisy involved in lots of pro-Western or pro_colonial estimates, before finishing with a summation of the appalling toll of Iraqi dead as a result of war, sanctions and occupation.

You would not normally expect us to refer to the British Journal of Dermatology. But it recently contained a fascinating article on something often used to make fun of Karl Marx—his notorious carbuncles. The article suggests, in fact, that they were the product of a discomforting and debilitating disease, hydradenitis suppurativa, which caused pain around his groin and posterior more or less continually from 1862 to 1874 with “only a few periods of freedom in between”. These were, of course, the years when Marx completed volume one of Capital, wrote The Civil War in France and was at the centre of the First International. But they were also the years in which he failed to turn his manuscripts for volumes two and three of Capital into finished works (a task which Engels had to take up after Marx’s death). The clinical diagnosis suggests this is not something for enemies of Marxism to mock at, but an effect of an ailment which would have prevented most other people from doing anything.

JC and CH