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Engels’s Second Theory
The author of Buying Time detects a state-political supplement to Marxian social theory in Engels’s analyses of 19th-century militarism. The interplay of modes of production and destruction, class struggle and international warfare, from the Crimea to the War on Terror.
Automation and the Future of Work—2
Concluding his two-part analysis of technological development and global labour-market dysfunction, Aaron Benanav rebuts the automation theorists’ call for Universal Basic Income with a counter-proposal. Can we invent the future by working backwards from the world we want to build?
Snipers in the Kitchen
Amid ongoing political turbulence in Latin America, Juan Carlos Monedero mobilizes the resources of state theory, from Gramsci to Poulantzas, to provide a comparative critical analysis of the cycle of left governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil.
Notes for a Feminist Manifesto
Opposed to ‘lean in’ liberal iterations, three activist-scholars premise a militant feminism for the many, inspired by La huelga feminista of 8 March. The politics of social reproduction and the imperative of wider solidarities: the women’s struggle retooled for the multiple crises of late capitalism.
The Heirs of Gramsci
Transformations of the Prison Notebooks’ fertile problematic of hegemony by a quartet of thinkers—Hall, Laclau, Guha, Arrighi—from Jamaica, Buenos Aires, Bengal, Milan. Coercion and persuasion, ideology and economic interest, national and inter-state systems as means for thinking Thatcherism’s ascendancy, populist strategies, peasant rebellion, post-colonial rule and the geo-political logics of American power.
Softening Up the State
What advice might Machiavelli offer critics of the contemporary market nation-state? In this striking reconstruction, lessons on corruption, inequality, immigration, mobilization—from Rome and Sparta, Florence and the Venetian Republic—yield proposals for open borders and universal basic income.
Socialism as a Regulative Idea?
In The Structure of World History, Kōjin Karatani attempts a radical reconstruction of historical materialism, from early nomadism to post-capitalist society. Mauss, Hobbes and Marx mobilized as companion thinkers of exchange; Kant as ethico-political prophet. Rob Lucas queries the speculative history of one of Japan’s leading public intellectuals.
The general secretary of Spain’s new anti-austerity party sets out the strategic thinking behind its bid to become a national force. Incipient crisis of the post-Franco regime, mired in corruption and economic collapse, and opportunities for a popular-political formation, mobilizing the social discontent of the indignados.
Spain On Edge
Responding to NLR’s questions, Pablo Iglesias discusses the regime’s counter-attack, the example of Syriza and the political geography of austerity in Spain. After May 2015’s regional elections, can Podemos forge a coalition strategy to navigate between marginalization and the lethal consequences of a PSOE embrace?
Grandeur and Misery of the Social State
Kafka’s day job, defending injured factory workers, as starting point for an illuminating study of the West’s social-protection mechanisms. Mixed legacies and uncertain future of a system built to mitigate the tensions of industrialization.
Populism and the New Oligarchy
Tracking the terms ‘populism’ and ‘the people’ from the 19th century, Marco D’Eramo offers a striking new interpretation of their current applications—the first levelled indiscriminately at any political force that steps outside the bounds of convention, the second banished from the scene.
Political Cultures of South Korea
The presidential victory of Park Geun-Hye, the dictator’s daughter, as bid for a refurbished conservative hegemony in the ROK. Origins of the elite in colonial collaboration and anti-Communist modernization, and its attempts to re-hegemonize the country’s historical trajectory.
The Last White Election?
Panoramic survey of America’s political landscape as revealed by November’s vote, with age, gender, ethnicity and geography the volatile determinants of Obama’s victory. Within an increasingly polarized ideological force field, how will the coming struggles unfold between Democratic President and Senate and a Republican House, itself consumed by turmoil?
Order Reigns in The Hague
Daniel Finn reports on September’s Dutch election, where the Liberal and Labour parties rallied to prevent Holland following the Greek example. Origins and orientations of the Socialist Party that briefly threatened the Pax Bruxelliana, and strategic lessons for the left from its campaign.
The Andean republic’s president discusses his formation and his government’s record in office, across a range of spheres: economy, environment, education, freedom of the press. How would he respond to critics, and what are the main challenges the country faces?
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’.
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.
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.
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.
The Parallax View
The philosophical basis for social action, as recast in Kojin Karatani’s striking Transcritique. On Kant and Marx. Slavoj Žižek investigates the irreducible antinomies of production and circulation—or economics and politics—as envisioned from the gap in between.
How the Indian version of the Three Gorges Dam—the great series of barrages planned by state governments and international financial institutions in the Narmada Valley—was fought to a provisional halt by village resistance, in a popular campaign with lessons for every society in the Third World.
On the Attack
The founder of the single most successful movement against neoliberal globalization, and architect of the World Social Forum, discusses the French origins and international growth of ATTAC. Its connexions with Le Monde diplomatique and vision of the battles against financial markets and privatization to come.
Replying to Michael Hardt with an alternative look at Porto Alegre, Tom Mertes argues that while the variety of movements and forces in the WSF is not to be reduced to a single scale, the differences between them are less to do with organization than strategy.
Beyond Civil Society
A Brazilian view of the World Social Forum, in its regional and international context. How the landscape of the world’s Left has changed, and whether the ideologies of non-governmental organization and civil society are capable of resisting what they criticize.
The Filipino analyst and organizer of Focus on the Global South, veteran of the years of Allende and Marcos, discusses the prospects for the World Social Forum after September 11, arguing for the need to link protests against the IMF and WTO to campaigns against US military expansion.
Porto Alegre: Today’s Bandung?
The World Social Forum at Porto Alegre has become symbolic of the forces beginning to shape a front of common resistance to the pattern of imperial globalization. Yet its character and composition remain little understood. Michael Hardt analyses the debates within it, and their political potential.
Barring the Doors
Jacob Stevens on Jeremy Harding, The Uninvited; Michael Dummett, On Immigration and Refugees; and Teresa Hayter, Open Borders. The blockading of Europe’s frontiers against the arrival of those in fear or need, and the reasons why ‘aliens’ should be welcomed.
A Farmers' International?
The demolisher of McDonald’s explains his personal background, the history of the Peasants’ Confederation in France, and the international objectives of Via Campesina. Struggles in the countryside of the Massif Central or Karnataka as spear-points in the anti-globalization movement.