This quarter’s selection

Issue: 159

The latest issue of Irish Marxist Review (number 21) features Kieran Allen on the recent campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment and an interview with People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, a long-standing activist for abortion rights and prominent supporter of the campaign in the Irish Dáil (parliament). For Allen, this victory is not simply a case of the country “catching up” to the rest of Europe as part of an inevitable march towards progress; instead, it is a manifestation of huge social upheavals that are rapidly changing the role of women in Ireland. But the Yes vote was not inevitable. As Smith argues, many leading politicians including Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar would have, until recently, described themselves as pro-life until “they saw which way the wind was blowing”. And throughout the campaign there were ongoing debates around whether to emphasise a woman’s right to choose or to appeal to the middle ground with softer slogans around “care and compassion”.

This issue of the IMR also features John Molyneux on 1968, Oscar Simon on Catalonia, Memet Uludag on Assad’s Syria (and the debates on the left over what position to take on Western intervention) and Dave O’Farrell on the Anthropocene. Book reviews include a thoughtful take on Tithi Bhattacharya’s edited collection on social reproduction theory by Marnie Holborow.

Economist Michael Roberts’s blog features much of interest. In a post on “Trump’s Tantrums and the World Economy” (, Roberts reflects on the recent G7 meeting and the risk of Donald Trump starting a trade war with his series of protectionist tariffs aimed at the other G7 states. According to Roberts:

What all these Trumpist antics revealed is that the period of the Great Moderation and globalisation, from the 1980s to 2007, when all major capitalist states worked together to benefit capital in all countries (to varying degrees) is over. The Great Recession of 2007-8 and the ensuing Long Depression since 2009 has changed the economic picture. In a stagnating world capitalist economy, where productivity growth is low, world trade growth has subsided and the profitability of capital has not recovered, cooperation has been replaced by increasingly vicious competition—the thieves have fallen out.

Roberts also discusses the effect of a trade war on so-called emerging economies such as South Africa and Brazil (in the latter, forthcoming elections in October are overshadowed by corruption allegations—former president Lula is the most popular candidate in polls but is unlikely to be able to stand as he is still in prison). US trade policies will hit these economies hard. But, as Roberts also shows, Brazil’s economy has failed to recover from its slump in 2010. This is a symptom of a recurring crisis in the capitalist sector, the cost of which is being pushed onto ordinary Brazilians in the form of austerity measures, rather than a result of “excessive” government spending. Go to

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of May 1968, the London Review of Books (24 May) carried a lengthy and vivid interview of Tariq Ali by the left wing playwright David Edgar— Ali is an excellent storyteller. Best new anecdotes—an ancestor being decapitated on horseback by his half-brother and a man on a train in Belgium hiding his face from Ali. He turned out to be an ex-Trotskyist now serving as bourgeois health minister. Alas, Tariq didn’t use his ancestral sword skills and sweep off his head in a “single superbly executed blow”.