New Left Review has produced an excellent spring number (II/74). The lead is a very timely and informative article on contemporary Russia by Tony Woods.1 He emphasises the extent to which the new regime continues to be shaped by the old Stalinist system. Not only does “the new class of post-Soviet owners” display substantial “continuities with the Soviet-era political and managerial elite”, but the pains of the economic transition have been cushioned by the survival of social institutions and attitudes formed under Stalinism. So it is surprising that Woods still believes that pre-1991 Russia was dominated by “non-capitalist economic relations”.
Among other highlights is an exchange between the situationist art historian TJ Clark and Susan Watkins, the editor of NLR.2 Clark damns the left for failing to have had an impact on the crisis, concluding, “There will be no future…without war, poverty, Malthusian panic, tyranny, cruelty, classes, dead time, and all the ills the flesh is heir to.” Watkins carefully picks apart Clark’s eloquent but ill-focused pronouncements and flailing references (from Friedrich Nietzsche to Eduard Bernstein), and insists (maybe more strongly than NLR has been wont of late) that “to jettison the intellectual legacy of historical materialism would be no advance”.
Anyone interested in understanding what’s happening to global capitalism should try out Michael Roberts’s blog.3 Here they will find first-rate Marxist political economy, deployed for both analysis and polemic, lucidly explained and supported by illuminating graphs and tables.
The second issue of the Irish Marxist Review contains a number of articles on the impact of austerity in Ireland and the resistance it has provoked. Alongside these are a number of more general pieces, including one by Gareth Edwards, who interviewed Dave Zirin for this issue of International Socialism, on the history and politics of the Olympic Games. All the articles can be found on their new website, which also archives the first issue.4
Finally, International Socialism hosted a very successful one-day conference on “Crisis, Class and Resistance” on 12 May in central London. At our website you can find videos of all the presentations from the speakers (Jane Hardy, Alex Callinicos, Robin Blackburn, Guglielmo Carchedi, Joseph Choonara, Kevin Doogan, Esme Choonara and Guy Standing).5
AC & JJ