Apologists for imperialism have virtually stopped mentioning Iraq. They keep as quiet as they can about the horrors produced by the US and British sponsored Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. But they crow openly about the Boy’s Own derring-do of our Nato troops in Afghanistan. This, supposedly, is the good war, not merely for George Bush and Gordon Brown, but also for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the other side of the Atlantic and Guardian liberals on this side. This gives particular importance to Tariq Ali’s piece “Afghanistan: Mirage of Good War” in the most recent New Left Review to arrive (the March-April issue). The article is online at www.newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2713
In the same issue is a piece by Robin Blackburn on the absurdities and obscenities of finance that culminated in the sub-prime mortage crisis: www.newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2715
A wider view of what is happening to world capitalism is provided by an interesting article by Minqi Li in April’s Monthly Review. It looks at the development of the world system over the past eight years, bringing together rates of growth, the imbalances in the relation between the US and China, the potential impact if oil production has passed its peak, and climate change.
It ends by suggesting that the world-systems theorist Immanuel Wallerstein is right to predict “the end of neoliberalism” as a way of managing capitalism. “In the coming years”, it predicts, “we are likely to witness a major realignment of global political and economic forces with an upsurge in the global class struggle over the direction of the global social transformation… We probably will observe a return to the dominance of Keynesian or state capitalist policies and institutions throughout the world. However, too much damage has been done.” It is an interesting, accessible and thought provoking analysis. www.monthlyreview.org/080401li.php
Another stimulating analysis, of “Accumulation and Crisis in the Contemporary US Economy” is provided by David M Kotz in the spring issue of the Review of Radical Political Economy. This is available here: http://people.umass.edu/dmkotz/Contradictions_07_05.pdf
The rapid development of capitalism’s other crisis, the food crisis, is forcing Marxists to go through the same learning curve over agriculture as over finance last autumn. Fred Magdoff provides some insights in May’s Monthly Review: www.monthlyreview.org/080501magdoff.php
This quarter’s antidote to miserabilism must come from the strike at the American Axle & Manufacturing plants in Michigan and New York, which supply General Motors (GM). It has stopped production at GM plants employing 40,000 workers and cost GM some $2 billion (yes, $2 billion—that’s not a misprint). There is an excellent account of the strike in the May-June issue of Against the Current, including a description of how the workers called the management’s bluff on its threat to move production to Mexico, knowing that the costs of transporting the axles across the US would outweigh any gains the firm made by paying lower wages on the other side of the border. Read it online:
Two rather different pieces in Historial Materialism’s first issue for the year are of interest. Two German Marxists, who share many of the analyses of this journal, Oliver Nachtwey and Tobias Ten Brink, excavate a nearly forgotten but important debate on the role of the world market and the state that took place in the 1970s. And Chris Harman uses a review article on two books on the transition from feudalism to capitalism to develop further some of the arguments over this.
Finally, Tom Behan, who has written on Italian history and politics for International Socialism, has a piece entitled “Gillo Pontecorvo: Partisan Film-Maker” in the current issue of Film International. It deals with Pontecorvo’s experiences as an anti-fascist partisan in the Second World War, and how this fed into his films.
CH and JC