This quarter’s selection

Issue: 128

The latest issue of New Left Review (II, 64) has some interesting pieces. In a careful analysis, Peter Nolan and Jin Zhang show what a high mountain China must climb, even though it has overtaken Japan as the second largest economy in the world. They argue that, during the era of globalisation, “well-known firms with superior technologies and powerful brands have emerged as ‘system integrators’” that dominate individual sectors. These firms are based very largely in the North. Following the financial crisis, “there is deep uncertainty about the future structure of the global political economy”, say Nolan and Zhang. But in the short term, and despite all the boosterism about the BRICs, the process of Northern-dominated concentration and centralisation of capital has continued.

Slavoj _i_ek offers his own take on the eurozone crisis, in the course of which he makes some good theoretical and political points. And there is a fascinating interview with Adolfo Gilly—historian of the Mexican Revolution, veteran of many great Latin American movements, and onetime follower of the weirdest of all orthodox Trotskyists, J Posadas.

The new issue of Historical Materialism (18.2) leads with Kees Van Der Pijl’s Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Prize Lecture, in which he outlines his attempt to extend historical materialism to embrace international relations. Ben Fine has an important article, “Locating Financialisation”. It is dense and difficult, but it offers a far-reaching critique of Costas Lapavitsas’s argument that contemporary finance has developed an independent base of exploitation, as well as Fine’s own analysis of financialisation. His arguments largely dovetail with those put forward in this journal

In a timely piece of publishing, September’s Monthly Review contains an article called “Chemical Catastrophe: From Bhopal to BP Texas City” by Tomás Mac Sheoin.1 Comparing the deadly accidents at Bhopal in India and the Texas City refinery, Mac Sheoin exposes the extent to which cost-cutting and the drive for profits caused both disasters. His conclusion, that we are likely to see more such incidents in the future, is hard to argue with in the wake of the BP oil spill.

Andrew Kliman’s “Lies, Damned Lies, and Underconsumptionist Statistics” is a spirited polemic against underconsumptionist theories of the present economic crisis. It is available for free from the Marxist-Humanist Initiative website.2

Finally, the July issue of Socialism and Democracy contains an article by Paul Blackledge entitled “Marxism, Nihilism and the Problem of Ethical Politics Today”. The article picks up many of the ideas discussed in his articles “Marxism and Ethics” and “Marxism and Anarchism” in previous issues of this journal.