Two issues of New Left Review have appeared since this journal was last published. In NLR 72, which came out just before Christmas, the gloom that normally surrounds the Review was briefly dispersed. Stathis Kouvelakis’s incisive and passionate analysis of the Greek crisis1 was preceded by Mike Davis’s reflections on 2011. The tone is one of what Terry Eagleton recently called “conditional hope”. Mike’s concluding paragraph is worth quoting in full:
Western post-Marxists—living in countries where the absolute or relative size of the manufacturing workforce has shrunk dramatically in the last generation—lazily ruminate on whether or not ‘proletarian agency’ is now obsolete, obliging us to think in terms of ‘multitudes’, horizontal spontaneities, whatever. But this is not a debate in the great industrialising society that Das Kapital describes even more accurately than Victorian Britain or New Deal America. Two hundred million Chinese factory workers, miners and construction labourers are the most dangerous class on the planet. (Just ask the State Council in Beijing.) Their full awakening from the bubble may yet determine whether or not a socialist Earth is still possible.2
In the latest issue, NLR 73, normal services are resumed. Alan Carfuny’s and Timothy Lehmann’s opening editorial assures us that all is hunky-dory for the US in Iraq. They cite impressive evidence of Exxon-Mobil’s “commanding position” in the Iraqi oil industry, but ignore the Maliki government’s alignment with Iran. It’s a funny kind of client regime that backs Assad in Syria. A more nuanced analysis
Both issues bear witness to the Review’s longstanding involvement with the Italian left. NLR 72 carries Perry Anderson’s obituary of Lucio Magri,3 one of the leading intellectuals associated with Il Manifesto, while NLR 73 includes an interesting memoir by Mario Tronti, a founding figure of the “workerist” current. It also has a piece by Anderson in which he gives a characteristically sharp analysis of the eurozone crisis and quotes a leading German intellectual who argues that Germany should play the kind of hegemonic role in the European Union that Prussia did in the German empire of 1871-1918!
Elsewhere our own theoretical tradition has been under scrutiny. The February issue of Capital & Class carries an important article by Ralph Darlington and Martin Upchurch, which defends the Marxist analysis of the conflict between trade union bureaucracy and rank and file workers from the criticisms of a former supporter, Richard Hyman.
Meanwhile, the Australian online Marxist journal Links has been running an interesting debate about Tony Cliff’s biography of Lenin. Contributors include noted authorities on Lenin such as
Paul Le Blanc and Lars Lih.4
The January 2012 edition of Rethinking Marxism is a special issue on “Marxism and Nationalism” and includes, among other pieces, an article on “The Necessity of Multiple Nation States for Capital” by regular International Socialism contributor Neil Davidson.
Historical Materialism 19.4 is largely devoted to an impressive symposium on Marx and the American Civil War, with contributions by John Ashworth, Robin Blackburn, Neil Davidson, Eric Foner, August Nimtz and Charlie Post.
Finally, the first issue of the Irish Marxist Review, edited by long-standing International Socialism board member John Molyneux, was released just as we went to press. The inaugural edition features a number of interesting pieces, including an article by Andy Durgan and Joel Sans that updates their analysis of the 15-M movement in the Spanish state from a previous issue of this journal.5
AC & JJ