For a Left With No Future
An epistle to capitalism’s immobilized opponents from the author of Farewell to an Idea. Drawing on sources from Bruegel to Nietzsche, Hazlitt to Benjamin, T. J. Clark supplies notes for a rethinking of left politics that would recognize the impasses of the present and the horrific legacies of the past, while abandoning the mirages of futurity.
The Crises of Democratic Capitalism
The roots of today’s Great Recession are usually located in the financial excesses of the 1990s. Wolfgang Streeck traces a much longer arc, from 1945 onwards, of tensions between the logic of markets and the wishes of voters—culminating, he argues, in the international tempest of debt that now threatens to submerge democratic accountability altogether beneath the storm-waves of capital.
Red Bengal’s Rise and Fall
After the CPM’s ejection from office in Calcutta, how to explain the remarkable longevity of its rule and causes of its eventual downfall? Kheya Bag surveys the record of its three decades in power, and the mechanisms that sustained—and subverted—the party’s hold on the state.
Achin Vanaik explores the specificities of India’s social formation and its lefts, in the only country where both Stalinism and Maoism remain significant political actors. In the wake of recent electoral reverses, what are the prospects for radical renewal?
Beyond existing arguments about equality, might the praxes of permanent and passive revolution offer a way to conceptualize a more expansionary levelling? Drawing on motifs from Nietzsche, Babeuf, Marx and Gramsci, Malcolm Bull traces the contours and consequences of extra-egalitarianism.
On the Concatenation in the Arab World
From Tunis to Manama, 2011 has brought a chain-reaction of popular upheavals, in a region where imperial domination and domestic despotism have long been entwined. A call for political liberty to reconnect with social equality and Arab fraternity, in a radical new internationalism.
Decisions and Indecisions
Where liberal thought has tried to quarantine the ‘dangerous mind’ of Carl Schmitt, recent revisions have found portents of contemporary imperial hubris in his analysis of victors’ justice. Warning against such 'rehabilitations', Benno Teschke detects a unifying set of preoccupations that render the thinker's transition from hyper-authoritarianism to fascism logical.
Uncertainty in the Enclave
Portrait of Hong Kong’s contested political scene. With democratizing reforms blocked by an entrenched alliance of CCP and local magnates, an increasingly radical populace seeks to break the deadlock. Might the PRC’s hyper-capitalist region be its weakest link?
How to Begin from the Beginning
Mountaineering lessons from the Bolsheviks’ master strategist provide a metaphor for regroupment in hard times. Slavoj Žižek identifies the principal antagonisms within contemporary capitalism, as the basis for positing anew the ‘communist hypothesis’.
Reviving its classical definition, ‘rule of the propertyless’, Luciano Canfora recasts the story of democracy in Europe as one of successive defeats, with lessons from Louis Napoleon on the use of suffrage as legitimation for oligarchic rule. Dylan Riley assesses a remarkable historical polemic from the Italian philologist.
Obama at Manassas
Does Obama’s victory signal a political turning point comparable to 1980 or 1932? Mike Davis maps county-level changes, from below—minority-majority demographics, subprime suburbs, white-collar financial worries—catalysed by the 2008 campaign. From above, realignment of American capital behind the Silicon President.
The Weakest Link? Neoliberalism in Latin America
The continent that once served as laboratory for the Washington Consensus now represents the most substantial challenge to its prescriptions. A survey of left strategies, from Buenos Aires to Mexico City, and prospects for counter-hegemonic regional integration.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Repeatedly invoked to choke off emergent nuclear powers in East Asia and the Middle East, the NPT’s actual content has remained largely undiscussed. Norman Dombey itemizes the Treaty’s provisions, and the asymmetrical burdens imposed on signatories, the better to gauge its successes and limitations.
Jottings on the Conjuncture
A reckoning of global shifts in political and economic relations, with China emerging as new workshop of the world and US power, rationally applied elsewhere, skewed by Israeli interests in the Middle East. Oppositions to it gauged, along with theoretical visions that offer exits from the perpetual free-market present.
Structure vs Conjuncture
Robert Brenner reads the US mid-term results against deeper structural shifts in the American polity. The rise of the Republican right seen in the context of the long downturn and dismantling of the liberal compact: from New Deal and Great Society to the capitalist offensive under Reagan, Clinton and Bush.
The Democrats After November
With anti-war sentiment growing—if still passive—in the US, how will Democrats use their recapture of Congress? Mike Davis analyses likely outcomes on the questions—Iraq, corruption, economic insecurity—that confront a Party leadership hooked on corporate dollars, and myopically gazing towards 2008.
Ruling the Void
The hollowing of democracies, as ruling elites retreat and voters abstain from mass electoral politics. Peter Mair on the paradoxes of its ‘third wave’ triumph and emergence of a governing class bereft of legitimacy, as parties become appendages of the state.
Depoliticized Politics, From East to West
Reflections on China’s ‘revolutionary century’, and roots of its state-party rigidification in the failures of the Cultural Revolution. What deeper dynamics of capitalist restoration link the contemporary neutralization of politics, east and west?
States of Failure
The question of agency remains the central lacuna in the construction of systemic alternatives. Building on ‘The Limits of Multitude’ in NLR 35, Malcolm Bull proposes a reconceptualization of the relation between collective will and invisible hand. Can bearings drawn from Hegel, Gramsci, Sartre indicate the route to a new global order through dissolution of the Western imperial state?
The Landslide in Bolivia
The Left owes its December victory in Bolivia to the popular movements that have stymied water and gas privatizations since 2000. Forrest Hylton surveys the landscape ahead, and the militant formation of Morales’s running mate Álvaro García Linera.
Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World
Theorists of political justice have long taken the nation-state to be the relevant unit for their proposals. Nancy Fraser argues that the time for this is past. The necessary interconnection between struggles for economic redistribution and social recognition now requires that issues of political representation be re-tabled at a global rather than national level—where decisions affecting the fate of all are increasingly taken, or not taken.
The Limits of Multitude
What, if any, agencies of political change exist today—and how should they be conceived? Tracing the long tradition of contrasts between a ‘people’ and a ‘multitude’, Malcolm Bull argues that the differing resolutions of them by Hobbes and Spinoza have descended to the twenty-first century, issuing into a contemporary stand-off between market globalization and populist reactions to it.
Against Human Rights
Alibi for militarist interventions, sacralization for the tyranny of the market, ideological foundation for the fundamentalism of the politically correct: can the ‘symbolic fiction’ of universal rights be recuperated for the progressive politicization of actual socio-economic relations?
The Ramallah doctor and activist, general secretary of the Al Mubadara coalition, on struggles against the Israeli Occupation, from the popular movement of the first Intifada to the tactical errors of the second, via the disaster of Oslo. As Abu Mazen is levered into place, what alternatives can combat both IDF stranglehold and the flyblown Palestinian Authority?
Future Unknown: Machiavelli for the 21st Century
To which thinkers should we turn in a bid to ground a new conceptualization of political agency—or to determine whether such a move has been nullified by the transformations of the last decades? Gopal Balakrishnan on Machiavelli’s parables of innovation and readings of him from Rousseau to Schmitt, Strauss to Gramsci. The Florentine as strategist of beginning anew, in the context of historic defeat.
The editor of Italy’s leading monthly of the Left explains, in a balance-sheet of the opening years of the century, why the journal is closing. As the Italian opposition gears up for resuming power next year, tactical manoeuvre replaces substantive debate, and ethical repentance disavows solidarity with political resistance. Electoralism and neo-Quakerism in the land of Garibaldi and Gramsci.
Arms and Rights
In an era of serial war, Rawls, Habermas and Bobbio as theorists of a perpetual peace. Jurisprudence and force in three parallel philosophical constructions of the present international order, and the unsettled afterthoughts—American, German, Italian—that accompanied them.