This quarter’s selection

Issue: 140

The new issue of Historical Materialism (21.2) contains much of interest to readers of International Socialism. Two articles in particular emphasise the actuality of Marx’s Capital. In his 2012 Deutscher Memorial Lecture, Jairus Banaji weaves together Marx’s analysis of financial markets in Volume III, the role of City merchants in the opium trade with China, and the credit derivatives that nearly broke the banks in 2008. Meanwhile Lucia Pradella argues persuasively that in Capital, Volume I, we find a theory of capitalism as a global system that necessarily gives rise to imperialism.

Derivatives also figure in an article by Tony Norfield, which defends his analysis of these financial instruments against the criticisms of Dick Bryan and Michael Rafferty. Elsewhere Paul Le Blanc examines Georg Lukács’s version of Leninism and Massimiliano Tomba rereads Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

The latest number of New Left Review (II/82) is, by comparison, a less riveting read. But Marco D’Eramo explores why neoliberals describe anything they dislike politically as “populism”. And Victor Serge’s notebooks from his final Mexican exile (1940-7) offer a sparkling, if depressing, postscript to his great Memoirs of a Revolutionary. Serge’s comment on Trotsky in his own last years in Mexico—“terrible to be so strong, so great and so alone”—is particularly moving for anyone who has visited Trotsky’s house in Coyoacán.

It’s worth watching out for the new journal Critical and Radical Social Work.1 Edited by Michael Lavalette and Iain Ferguson, it has emerged from the Social Work Action Network, which, though originating in Britain, now has extensive international connections. With the welfare state in the firing line, its importance can only grow.