The latest issue of Critical and Radical Social Work (volume 6, number 2) celebrates the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth—as the editors suspect, it is possibly the only professional social work journal to mark the occasion. Contributors include Lindsey German on Marxism and women’s oppression, Ken Olende on anti-racism, Elaine Behring on the influence of Marxist ideas on social work in Brazil and Henry Maitles on Palestine and antisemitism. In their own article, editors Iain Ferguson and Michael Lavalette creatively apply Marx’s understanding of alienation and commodity fetishism to social work today. Defining alienation as the “lack of control over our lives and creative activity”, they argue that this approach leads to a sophisticated understanding of “the terrible toll that that lack of control and greatly increased commodification is having on our health and relationships” and that this understanding can also point the way to a radical social work practice. Go to https://tinyurl.com/y95hesoa
Science for the People has recently been relaunched. Originally published between 1970 and 1989, the magazine was associated with the organisation of the same name, a group of radical scientists and science educators. The new issue focusses on a critique of geoengineering—the various high-tech proposals deliberately to manipulate the planet’s climate, for example by fertilising the ocean with iron to try to grow more algae and absorb carbon dioxide. John Bellamy Foster outlines the dangers of these schemes, explaining how they are designed to keep the current fossil fuelled capitalist system intact, rather than to address the roots of the climate change problem. Linda Schneider (although covering some of the same ground as Foster) further uncovers the corporate interests in geoengineering as well as the disturbing possibility of military use. For the current issue and a selection from the archives of the original magazine go to https://magazine.scienceforthepeople.org/
Another new publication, The Journal of Riot and Protest Studies, is looking for contributions in the form of blogs/comment pieces as well as longer articles. It welcomes work from activists as well as academics from a range of related fields.
As the editors point out, riot and protest are themes of growing significance for contemporary social science. From a historical perspective, reports and accounts of riots, together with records of interrogations, can reveal much about the popular reaction to important shifts such as the rise of a market economy and proletarianisation, forces that still resonate in the modern world. In the 21st century, there has been an explosion of riots and protests across the globe. Some are organised, with a definite socio-political agenda, such as the anti-globalisation movement initiated at Seattle in 1999, while others are more spontaneous and informal. The ensuing economic crisis has only intensified this process, with new social movements emerging that contest the austerity paradigm. For more information go to https://journalriotprotest.com/
Writing in Economic and Political Weekly (8 September), Benjamin Selwyn offers a manifesto for socialist development. As Selwyn argues, pro-capitalist development theories treat capital accumulation, and therefore exploitation of workers, as prior conditions for development. Any resistance on the part of the working class is treated as irrelevant or even as a hindrance. Therefore, an alternative model built on the agency of workers and the poor needs to be advanced. Selwyn offers a “10-point plan” for the type of measures socialists in power in a poor country might put in place, including investing in renewables, controls to prevent capital flight and greater representation of women. Some measures would be difficult to put in practice—it is hard to see how richer countries might be convinced to support the new state financially by paying their climate debts or even be prevented from trying to overthrow the embryonic socialist regime. However, the article offers much food for thought.