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We encourage our readers to submit book reviews for our Book Review page and possible publication in our magazine Relay – info@socialistproject.ca.

Latest Reviews

  • August 4, 2015 – Slaves to the machine: Cyber-Proletariat
    In the red corner: the latter-day apostles of the church of Ned Ludd who denounce cyberculture as a vampiric organism that has sucked the lifeblood out of the film industry, the music business and publishing, and who contend that the internet has shredded our attention spans, decimated local trade and rendered us susceptible to corporate and state surveillance. In the blue corner....
    — review by Peter Murphy.



  • August 1, 2015 – Marxism and Feminism
    'We only want women's rights’ was the slogan on a placard carried by a striking woman worker in a photo from the early 1970s. Nearly fifty years on from the birth of the Women's Liberation Movement, that apparently only too reasonable demand has proved to be much more intractable than many people had thought.
    — review by Lindsey German.



  • July 29, 2015 – Challenges Facing the Latin American Left
    In this work, the prolific Chilean Marxist writer Marta Harnecker applies Marx's and Lenin's theories on socialist construction to twenty-first century Latin American left governments and at the same time points to the original aspects of the lessons drawn from those experiences. The book is divided into three parts: past developments such as the anti-neoliberal protests of the 1990s that helped change the political map in Latin America; the transition to socialism in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador...
    — review by Steve Ellner.



  • April 23, 2015 – Why Everything Sucks
    If a Canadian from the 'Just Society' era of the Pierre Trudeau-led Liberals in the late 1960s was magically transported to present day they might not recognize their country. Since that halcyon period of counter-culture ferment, there’s been a huge shift to neoliberalism, an economic system that puts the economy before everything else.
    — review by Gregory Beatty.



  • March 14, 2015 – The class dimension of the new resistance
    Back in 2008, Wall Street banks triggered an international economic crisis that nearly brought down the entire system. The world's governments bailed out the banks and saved the system by running up massive public debts. In turn, capitalists and national governments have used the debt crisis to justify a further assault on the living standards of workers and the poor. And Wall Street moguls are now rewarding themselves with record bonuses all over again.
    — review by Kyle Brown.



Book reviews archive: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 ► Canadian Politics ◄
  • Work Life: Cities and Civic Workers
    Although Carlo Fanelli’s book Megacity Malaise: Neoliberalism, Public Services and Labour in Toronto is not about Winnipeg, it offers many insights applicable to Winnipeg and to other Canadian cities. Fanelli is a former Toronto civic employee who looks at civic issues from the point of view of city employees and their unions. His central argument is that the fiscal problems confronting Toronto and all major Canadian cities are not caused by over-spending on civic services nor by excessive union wage demands, although this is what is typically claimed.
    — review by Jim Silver.



  • After the Sands: Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians
    Perhaps able to foresee that even the longest federal election campaign in Canadian history would fail to prioritize the serious consequences of climate change, University of Alberta professor emeritus Gordon Laxer has gone ahead and done the hard work for us. With After the Sands, he's produced a detailed analysis of the Alberta tar sands – the largest source of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
    — review by Matthew Behrens.



  • Why Everything Sucks
    If a Canadian from the 'Just Society' era of the Pierre Trudeau-led Liberals in the late 1960s was magically transported to present day they might not recognize their country. Since that halcyon period of counter-culture ferment, there’s been a huge shift to neoliberalism, an economic system that puts the economy before everything else.
    — review by Gregory Beatty.



  • Languages of the Unheard: Why Militant Protest is Good for Democracy
    Since 2011 swathes of protest, rebellion, and rioting have covered the globe. Challenging us to consider arson attacks against empty buildings, Black Bloc streetfighting tactics and industrial sabotage, amongst an array of other militant action, Stephen D'Arcy aims to show a crucial contrast between democratic and undemocratic action, rather than violence and non-violence.
    — review by Carl J. Griffin.



  • Unions Matter
    This excellent book on why unions and a strong labour movement are essential building blocks of a sound economy and of a just and democratic society deserves to be widely circulated. It is accessible to individual labour activists who wish to deepen their understanding of the role of unions -- both inside and outside the workplace -- and should be widely adopted for use in post-secondary labour studies courses and union educational programs.
    — review by Andrew Jackson.



  • The Neoliberal Undead
    Mass upheavals of this decade now include Occupy, and the Squares movement in Europe. Such sustained radicalisation will eventually influence spheres, including art, distant from the putatively 'proper' site of politics. Canadian critic Marc James Léger's recent contribution to these developing debates is The Neoliberal Undead: Essays on Contemporary Art and Politics.
    — review by Paul Mullan.



  • New Book Links Climate Activism and Socialism
    An outstanding book by Umair Muhammad, Confronting Injustice, presents a strong case for the necessity of socialism to counter the impending calamity of global warming. Muhammad, an MA student at York University in Toronto, ends his 174-page text by quoting anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin: "The bold thought first, and the bold deed will not fail to follow."
    — review by John Riddell.



  • Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s
    European Trotskyists writing recently about this movement tend to give short shrift to Trotskyism in North America, in the U.S. and Canada. An example is An Impatient Life by French leader Daniel Bensaid, who died this year. While the U.S. Socialist Workers Party has been covered in books published by the SWP before its degeneration, and more recently in my own political memoir about my time in the SWP from 1960 through 1988, the Canadian movement has not received the attention it deserves.
    — review by Barry Sheppard.



  • Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s
    The years I write about in these pages were indeed heady and optimistic times for socialists, especially as we neared the latter part of the Sixties. Many of us even began to toss around the idea of "socialism in our time" because the political conditions seemed to be very promising as the ruling classes in many countries appeared to be losing whatever little moral authority they possessed over people.
    — review by Ernest Tate.



  • Clearing the Indigenous Plains Today
    Official bicentennial celebrations of the "affable drunk" who founded Canada will likely mask John A. Macdonald's history of racism and deliberate starvation of First Nations, and similar policies continue today with the tar sands and fracking expansion. Author James Daschuk addresses Canada's history of disease, deliberate starvation, ethnic cleansing, tar sands expansion, neglect of treaties and a legacy of colonialism that continues today.
    — review by Matthew Brett.



  • Empire's Ally: What Happened to Canada?
    Sure there might be a bit of a muddle over there in Afghanistan, an American might reason, but like the well-intentioned Dudley Do Right, the Canadians are just trying to develop and tidy up the place. Not in the opinion of co-editors Jerome Klassen and Greg Albo, and the formidable array of academics, researchers, journalists, and peace activists whose essays appear in Empire's Ally: Canada and the War in Afghanistan.
    — review by Conn Hallinan.



  • Shameful history backed by evidence
    While reading James Daschuk's meticulous account of the Canadian government's policy to clear the plains of First Nations people to make way for the railway and for white settlement, I was reminded of a 1997 essay by Adam Hochschild in The New Yorker. Hochschild is writing about the Kurtz character in Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the murderous means by which he amassed huge amounts of ivory.




  • Saskatchewan As a Mineral State
    In a new book on the mining industry in Canada, Alain Deneault and William Sacher conclude that the province of Quebec is the top "mineral state" in Canada. They argue that the mining sector in Quebec "stands totally outside the logic and effective mechanisms of democratic oversight." An analogy is made with known narco-states, where the governments are effectively controlled by drug cartels, and law enforcement "is effectively non-existent." My immediate response to reading this analysis was what about Saskatchewan?
    — review by John W. Warnock.



  • Review: Thieves of Bay Street
    The title of this new book by Bruce Livesey pretty much sums it up. And in case there should be any misunderstanding, the title is not referring to "rogue traders" or "bad apples" in the bank towers and stock trading rooms of Canada's financial strip. No, it's the whole financial edifice that is examined.
    — review by Roger Annis.



  • Review: Working Without Commitments
    Free-Fall Employment - the definition of a full-time job is changing radically in Canada. For those aged 40 and under, breaking into a profession today usually requires shouldering significant debt in education or skills development, then undergoing a grim cycle of unpaid or low-paid internships, leading to a cycle of underpaid or insecure contract positions.
    — review by Rachel Pulfer.



  • Review: Reasoning Otherwise
    Reasoning Otherwise is part of something that aims to be both sweeping and grand: a massive, multi-volume history of Canada's socialist left that seeks to stitch together new understandings and new visions of the historical landscape and turn the assumptions of previous efforts on their ears.
    — review by Scott Neigh.



  • Review: Black Bloc, White Riot
    Reading AK Thompson's book Black Bloc, White Riot kept bringing to mind one particular memory from the Summit of the Americas protests in Quebec City a decade ago. On April 20, the first day of the demonstrations, we marched in our thousands towards the fence, behind which 34 heads of state had gathered to hammer out a hemispheric trade deal.
    — review by Dave Mitchell.



  • Review: Seeing Reds
    We need more books like this -- histories of social change in Canadian contexts written for lay audiences and with an eye to contemporary relevance. Smooth, lively writing and a good eye for the right level of detail and the right kind of illustrative digression make the book a pleasant, easy read.
    — review by Scott Neigh.



  • Review: Rebels, Reds, Radicals
    I ordered this book expecting a work of history, but I believe it is more appropriately labelled historiography -- it is a book about the study of history, not so much about the facts of the past themselves. Given my current work, it is a very useful read, and it has been very thought provoking.
    — review by Scott Neigh.



  • At Home and Abroad, Canada Is Imperialist
    Todd Gordon's new book provides a compelling case that Canada is an imperialist country in its own right. His factual presentation of the matter will reinforce what is already a growing perception among Canadians.
    — review by Bill Burgess.



  • Review: Anti-Semitism Real and Imagined
    Michael Keefer has compiled a timely and effective handbook for all those resisting attacks on free speech regarding the Israeli government's crimes against Palestine. Anti-Semitism Real and Imagined, contains contributions from 11 committed campaigners in the fight for freedom of expression, as well as position papers from seven well-respected Canadian social organizations.
    — review by Suzanne Weiss.



  • Review: Alliances: Re/Envisioning Indigenous-non-Indigenous Relationships
    Lynne Davis's anthology, Alliances, brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists, scholars and community leaders to reflect on relationship-building/alliance-making in struggle and how such work impacts both the personal and political.
    — review by Zainab Amadahy.



  • Review: Tortured People
    I believe that the point of reading is the transformation of the reader. There are other kinds of experience that are more powerfully transformative, certainly, but few that give as useful a window into what is not here, what is not now. This means that there are ways you can be changed by a good book that nothing else could offer; however, it also means that reading in ways to resist or undermine that potential for liberatory movement in self in that "self + text" moment is really, really easy.
    — review by Scott Neigh.



  • Review: Prison of Grass
    This book is an anti-colonial classic. Written by radical Métis scholar and Red Power movement veteran Howard Adams, its politics and writing place it in the tradition of the great national liberation texts of the mid-20th century authored by the likes of Fanon and Memmi. Like other authors in that tradition, Adams roots his analysis in accounts of brutally painful personal experiences of living as a colonized individual in the context of colonial social relations.
    — review by Scott Neigh.



  • Canada's 1960s
    Canada in the 1960s was deeply affected by the civil rights and anti-war struggles in the United States. It was likewise caught up in the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements that swept the world.
    — review by Henry Heller.



  • Review of 'Real' Nurses and 'Others': Racism in Nursing
    Racism is intensifying for nurses of colour in the decreasingly universal Canadian health care system, subjected as it has been to creeping privatization and corporatization since the late 1970s. Even with official recognition by the Ontario Human Rights Commission that systemic racism comes in complex and subtle forms.
    — review by Sheila Wilmot.



► Economy ◄
  • Against Austerity
    It's easy to be against austerity and neoliberalism; it is less easy to say something meaningful about it, and to take stock of the Western situation in a sober and critical way. To do this is the purpose of Against Austerity, the most recent work of the hand of Richard Seymour, blogger at Lenin's Tomb and (ex-)member of various radical groups in the UK.
    — review by Matthijs Krul.



  • Economics of The 1%: How Mainstream Economics
    Voltaire, a well-known social critic and philosopher of the eighteenth century, who reportedly had also a cordial meeting with Adam Smith, once said "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord! make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."
    — review by Cyrus Bina.



  • Review: The Making of Global Capitalism
    The start of the current wave of left-wing theorizing about imperialism was marked by the turn-of-the-century publication of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire, which re-described the dynamics of what had until then mostly been known as "globalization" in terms of the imperial logic of network power. In their review of that work, Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin expressed a mixture of admiration and frustration.
    — review by Martijn Konings.



  • Book review: Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth
    The year 2012 didn't bring us the end of the world, nor the end of capitalism and Coca-Cola that Evo Morales promised last summer. It still remains to be seen whether or not it will have ushered in the resurgence of indigenous resistance that was proclaimed by the more than 40,000 Zapatistas who marched in Chiapas last December 21st. But whatever new political developments the coming years may or may not bring upon us, it's clear that we haven't seen the end of the apocalyptic outlook that 2012 came to represent.
    — review by Brian Tokar.



  • Beyond Capitalism?
    There could hardly be a more timely book for the socialist left, facing in most countries a dual crisis. On the one hand since 2008 the working class has faced a brutal austerity offensive which has not been thrown back. On the other, partially as a result of the austerity offensive and working class defeats, the socialist left has suffered a series of political defeats which have seen organisations in several countries decay, split or go into crisis.
    — review by Phil Hearse.



  • Review: An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx's Capital
    Michael Heinrich is a leading exponent of what is known as the New German Reading of Marx which interprets the theory of value that Marx presents in Capital as a socially specific theory of impersonal social domination. He is a collaborator on the MEGA edition of Marx and Engel's complete works and has published several philological studies of Capital. He has also authored a major theoretical work on Marx's theory of value, The Science of Value.
    — review by Chris O'Kane.



  • Review: Thieves of Bay Street
    The title of this new book by Bruce Livesey pretty much sums it up. And in case there should be any misunderstanding, the title is not referring to "rogue traders" or "bad apples" in the bank towers and stock trading rooms of Canada's financial strip. No, it's the whole financial edifice that is examined.
    — review by Roger Annis.



  • Review: Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires, and Global Capitalism
    The Guardian recently reported that "By 2007, the international financial system was trading derivatives valued at one quadrillion dollars per year. This is 10 times the total worth, adjusted for inflation, of all products made by the world's manufacturing industries over the last century." David McNally's new book Monsters of the Market will be of great interest to those struggling to make sense of an economic system that has assumed otherworldly proportions.
    — review by Mark Worrell.



  • Review: The Birth of Capitalism: A Twenty-First-Century Perspective
    Henry Heller's Birth of Capitalism is a lucid and comprehensive introduction to a range of central debates concerning Marxist arguments and interpretations of recent history. The origins of the capitalist system in a series of revolutionary transformations, political, industrial and even scientific was once broadly accepted, sometimes celebrated, by mainstream history.
    — review by Dominic Alexander.



  • Review: The Crisis and the Left: Socialist Register 2012
    This collection covers the economic crisis. It focuses mainly on the USA but includes pieces on Latin America, Eastern Europe, China and the Eurozone. Inevitably given the spread of authors, and with contributions ranging from carbon trading to auto bail-outs, the overriding theme is not always clear.
    — review by Bill Jefferies.



  • Review: Capital and Its Discontents
    In their interview with Sasha Lilley, Leo Panitch and Doug Henwood argue that the Left must seriously reflect on the workings of the global economy if it is to effect change. This call is heeded in Lilley's Capital and Its Discontents: Conversations with Radical Thinkers in a Time of Tumult, a collection of interviews with leading academics, economists, activists, and artists emerging from Lilley's work on KPFA public radio's program Against the Grain.
    — review by Kate Drabinski.



  • Review: Economic Democracy: The Working Class Alternative to Capitalism
    In this world of highly specialized academic discourse, the art of writing a manifesto has all but disappeared. A good manifesto should be short, concise and all-encompassing. Through sharp language it should cut to the core. In this sense, Allan Engler's short book, Economic Democracy, should be seen as a contribution to the revival of the manifesto in confronting neoliberalism in Canada and around the world.
    — review by Chris Hurl.



  • Review: In Place of Austerity
    Understanding the real reasons for the assault on public sector workers is a first crucial step in calibrating our best response, especially if we hope to win some battles in this prolonged war. Dexter Whitfield systematically aids our task in this essential handbook for all those engaged in resistance from within unions as well as community and national coalitions.
    — review by Nick Grant.



  • Roots of U.S. Capitalism
    This is a thoughtful, learned, stimulating, challenging and altogether valuable volume. It reprints a series of reflections by the Marxist sociologist Charles Post on various aspects of the rise and evolution of capitalism in North America between the colonial era and the late 19th century.
    — review by Bruce Levine.



  • Review: The Crisis This Time
    The various papers in the present volume of the Socialist Register are united in one respect -- they show how capitalist crises are not simply problems of positive economics and neutral economic management. The neutrality is exposed once you try to unbundle the ceteris paribus and the various assumptions that are made in modelling the economy. The realities of class, state, power and conflict provide the socio-historical matrix that configures the economy and its problems.
    — review by Pratyush Chandra.



  • Review: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
    The popular neo-Keynesian Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang is a clever man who might do well to think and/or care more about the ecological catastrophe that the modern disaster called capitalism has all too characteristically cooked up for humanity - and a few other things about that system along the way. Don't get me wrong. Chang's recent bestselling book deserves some success.
    — review by Paul Street.



  • Review: Global Slump
    In late 2007, over twenty years of global economic growth came to a screeching halt. A financial panic began in the sub-prime mortgage market, leading to the bankruptcy (Goldman Sachs) and near bankruptcy (AIG, GM) of major financial and industrial cor-porations.
    — review by Charlie Post.



  • Review: The Trouble with Billionaires
    How much is a billion dollars? For most of us, that number is more than we can imagine, so Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks have made it simple. If you were given a dollar every second, it would take almost 32 YEARS to become a billionaire.
    — review by Peter G. Prontos.



  • Review: Another World is Possible
    I read books written by world's greatest authors, met some of the left revolutionaries, and from my day to day experiences I concluded that capitalism is bad, globalization is bad and that we need to change these for a better world. However, I was confused about the path to reach there. David McNally's Another World is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism has shown the way forward.
    — review by Kanchan Sarker.



  • Review of Economic Democracy
    There is a certain genre of book with which anyone who has spent time in community trade union offices will be familiar: the slender, pamphlet-style manifesto that presents basic socialist ideas in clean, accessible prose.
    — review by Konrad Read.



  • NLR Debate on Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics
    This debate points to the need for further investigation of the rural-urban relationship and the nature of China's shift to capitalism. What is undeniable is that as China has joined with global capitalism inequality has risen...
    — review by Lang Yan.



  • Arguing Socialism
    The economic crisis beginning in 2007 punctured the dominance of neoliberal ideology, without completely overturning it. To accomplish that, and force socialism back on the agenda, is the urgent political job of the left, as the establishment's relative disarray will not last for the long term.
    — review by Dominic Alexander.



  • Review of Crack Capitalism
    I'm pretty sure I've observed before that it makes me wary when I like a book of political theory -- not just agree with it or find it interesting, but like it. "Like" can mean a bunch of different things, I suppose, but in this case it means that there is significant resonance between major elements of this book's approach and my own political sensibility.
    — review by Scott Neigh.



  • go to publisher's website Review of: The Great Financial Crisis by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff
    EVERYONE NOW recognizes that we are in the most severe crisis to hit the capitalist system in generations. The chief of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, recently declared that we are already in a depression. The so-called "maestro" of markets, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, warns that we have been hit by a "once-in-a-century credit tsunami."
    — review by Ashley Smith.




► Environment ◄
  • After the Sands: Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians
    Perhaps able to foresee that even the longest federal election campaign in Canadian history would fail to prioritize the serious consequences of climate change, University of Alberta professor emeritus Gordon Laxer has gone ahead and done the hard work for us. With After the Sands, he's produced a detailed analysis of the Alberta tar sands – the largest source of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
    — review by Matthew Behrens.



  • Why we need to win the battle over the tar sands
    As our governments willingly unleash unprecedented destruction upon the earth through the promotion of extractive industries, and growing mobilizations of climate activists challenge climate emergency, I am reminded of a cautionary warning: "the Owl of Minerva takes flight at dusk."
    — review by Brad Hornick.



  • What Would an "Eco-Socialist" Politics Look Like?
    As many Americans prepare to observe Earth Day this year, democratic socialists who are paying attention might want to contemplate two possibly disagreeable questions. The first is: what if anything can we contribute to the understanding of climate change and other urgent environmental problems that countless green activists haven't already discovered themselves -- and long before us? The second is: what unique contribution can socialists make, if any, toward fixing what's wrong?
    — review by Andy Feeney.



  • A differing shade of green
    This book is a welcome addition to the spate of recent books on the ecological and resource calamities currently facing the planet. Unlike so many others -- one thinks in this context of authors as disparate as Bill McKibben and Richard Heinberg -- Parr analyses the crisis in the context of global inequality and social injustice.
    — review by Allan Stoekl.



  • Saskatchewan As a Mineral State
    In a new book on the mining industry in Canada, Alain Deneault and William Sacher conclude that the province of Quebec is the top "mineral state" in Canada. They argue that the mining sector in Quebec "stands totally outside the logic and effective mechanisms of democratic oversight." An analogy is made with known narco-states, where the governments are effectively controlled by drug cartels, and law enforcement "is effectively non-existent." My immediate response to reading this analysis was what about Saskatchewan?
    — review by John W. Warnock.



  • No better model
    This morning, in the most important newspaper in Africa, Johannesburg's Business Day, I come across this remark in the publisher's weekly column: "The thing is that Americans, in a way none of the rest of us fully appreciate, are driven by an unshakeable conviction that if they work together they can do almost anything better than anyone else. That sort of conviction only occurs in democracies and the more pure the democracy, the stronger the consensus in society."
    — review by Patrick Bond.



  • Review: No Local
    Sprawling three and a half million square feet, the Packard plant on Detroit's East Grand Boulevard boasted the world's largest building when it was erected in 1903. The now-abandoned factory was issued a demolition order in May 2011, decades after it ceased churning out America's leading luxury car, joining over 10,000 buildings scheduled to be razed in a deindustrialized Detroit.
    — review by Valerie Zink.



  • Review of Green Gone Wrong
    FROM WALMART'S recent campaign to call our attention to their eco-friendly practices to the good folks trying to sell us 'clean coal,' corporations the world over have begun marketing themselves as crusaders for environmental sustainability.
    — review by John McDonald.



  • The Global Fight for Climate Justice
    The latest dire warning about global warning was buried in the bottom corner of page A9 of Canada's 'newspaper of record.' The front cover of that day's paper featured a 30cm, full colour head-to-toe photograph of the First Lady with the accompanying headline, "Michelle Obama's style secret sets its sights on Canada." Just another day in the myopic world of this country's mainstream media, which, like the rest of the globe's political and economic elite, fiddles while the world burns.
    — review by Derrick O'Keefe.



  • Marxism and Ecological Economics Review of: Marxism and Ecological Economics: Toward a Red and Green Political Economy

    This paperback edition of Paul Burkett's valiant but flawed attempt (originally published in 2005) to persuade academics of the value of Marx and Marxism to the newly integrated discipline of ecological economics deserves a broad measure of attention, applause and support.

    Rooting itself in Marx's critique of the physiocrats, the book includes a systematic dissection and demolition of the many flavours and varieties of attempts by the high and low priests of capitalist economics to incorporate ecological thinking into their benighted paradigm, as one by one the proponents of Natural Capital try to put a price on Nature. — review by Gerry Gold and Steven Harris.



  • Socialist Register 2007 Review of: Coming to Terms with Nature - Socialist Register 2007
    IN THEIR PREFACE to the 43rd volume of the Socialist Register, Coming to Terms with Nature, editors Leo Panitch and Colin Leys admit that this edition “has been one of the most challenging to put together.”
    While socialist activism has a deep and heroic tradition of theorizing and organizing against many of the deadly contradictions of capitalism – from the daily exploitation of the working class to imperialist wars – the present generation is faced with a global environmental crisis “so severe as to potentially threaten the continuation of anything that might be considered tolerable human life.” — review by John McGough.



  • Review of: Coming to Terms with Nature - Socialist Register 2007
    The Socialist Register founded in 1964 by Ralph Miliband and John Saville has acquired a unique place in progressive literature in the English language by bringing out an annual issue focused on one theme. The 2007 issue deals with the challenge of ecology to socialist theory and practice. The current global discourse around the climate change summit at Copenhagen highlights the contemporary importance of the theme chosen by the editors of the 2007 issue. — review by Pritam Singh.



  • go to publisher's website Review of: Water, Inc. by Varda Burstyn
    Water, Inc. is the first novel by Canadian writer and activist Varda Burstyn (Women Against Censorship; The Rites of Men). The initial premise of this work of fiction is an awful truth: the world is really running out of fresh water. Recently, the UN Millennium Task Force on Water and Sanitation warned that 60 percent of the world's ecological services are stressed beyond the level of replenishment. Of these resources, water fares worst of all. — review by Matt Fodor and Samantha Fodor (Relay #7). (Preview on Google books.)

  • Review of: Hydro: The Decline and Fall of Ontario's Electric Empire by Keith Stewart and Jamie Swift
    Informative, critical and daring, Hydro: The Decline and Fall of Ontario's Electric Empire offers readers an in depth analysis of one of this provinces most contentious policy issues. The authors, Jamie Swift and Keith Stewart limit themselves to no small task, “...the need to produce a volume that, we hope, will inform a democratic debate and help strive after an electricity that will not poison the planet”. — review by Sheldon Macgillivray (Relay #5).



► Feminism ◄
  • Marxism and Feminism
    'We only want women's rights’ was the slogan on a placard carried by a striking woman worker in a photo from the early 1970s. Nearly fifty years on from the birth of the Women's Liberation Movement, that apparently only too reasonable demand has proved to be much more intractable than many people had thought.
    — review by Lindsey German.



  • Back to the Fragments
    Beyond the Fragments began life in 1979, as a pamphlet, and soon became the classic statement of socialist feminism in the form it took in Britain following the political explosion of May 1968. Its three authors -- Sheila Rowbotham, Lynne Segal, and Hilary Wainwright -- had spent much of the decade as members of organizations of the "libertarian" left such as the International Socialists, which in 1977 became the Socialist Workers Party.
    — review by Nina Power.



  • Beyond the Fragments
    Beyond the Fragments, first published in 1979, was an iconic book that took a feminist approach to the problem of how to resolve the tensions fracturing the left, and prod its diverse parties, tendencies, groups and non-joiners towards productive dialogue and greater unity. The refreshed BTF was launched on 3 May at a packed-out gathering where we heard the three justly-respected authors, Sheila Rowbotham, Lynne Segal and Hilary Wainwright, tell us why their feminist formula for bringing together a divided left is still relevant in 2013.
    — review by Cynthia Cockburn.



  • Book Review: Capitalism, for and Against: A Feminist Debate
    Authors Ann Cudd and Nancy Holmstrom stage a fully developed debate about the state of capitalism today, and whether or not it is good for women. The book begins with Cudd's defense of capitalism as an economic system that is both practically and ideally good for women, increasing life expectancy, lowering infant mortality and birth rates, and increasing the quality of life for everyone by maximizing efficiencies in production, innovation, and, most importantly, freedom.
    — review by Kate Drabinski.



  • The revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg
    The writer and activist Rosa Luxemburg spent years in prison because of her opposition to the first world war, and was an outspoken critic of Marxism. Sheila Rowbotham finds the woman behind the mystique.
    — review by Sheila Rowbotham.



  • Review: States of Race
    When faced with the awful, violent, oppressive social world that produces each and every one of us, the basic question is, "What do I do?" That gets asked and answered in different ways depending on your particular experience of social relations -- the variant that sounds like "What issues should I get involved with?" is usually a product of privilege, whereas "How can I best engage in this fight that I've been forced into since birth?" is more a consequence of oppression.
    — review by Scott Neigh.



  • New book: Women's Liberation and Socialist Revolution
    Women's Liberation and Socialist Revolution is the title of the latest book from Socialist resistance, co-published with the IIRE's Notebooks for Study and Research. Its subtitle, Documents of the Fourth International, places it in our 'documents and debates' series, which aim to collect documents and articles around a particular question. Edited and introduced by Penelope Duggan.




  • Free-Market Feminism
    Feminism Seduced, written for a general audience, presents a powerful, historically grounded critique of liberal feminism. Drawing on three decades of writing by socialist/Marxist feminists and women-of-color feminists, Eisenstein weaves a compelling account of how the central ideas of 'hegemonic feminism' have legitimized the corporate capitalist assault on the working class.
    — review by Johanna Brenner.



  • Economic thought from a feminist
    This book has a slightly racy title (at least for an economics book) and my initial reaction was that the 'lust' focus was a bit forced. Greed and gender are associated easily with economic ideas, but lust? Nor was I assuaged by the assertion in the introduction that 'lust is to feminist theory what greed is to economic theory -- a marker of contested moral boundaries,' an assertion that seemed too convenient and probably not true.
    — review by Marjorie Griffin Cohen.



  • Review of Feminism Seduced
    The 20th century is often called the American century because of the US's advance during that time to become the single greatest power in the world - economically, industrially and militarily. The century's story covers its rise and the beginning of its long slow and brutal decline. However, the 20th century could also be called the women's century.
    — review by Lindsey German.



  • Two book reviews on the Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir
    One of the many problems of writing about Beauvoir, for both author and reviewer, is the question of the boundaries and the meanings of academic disciplines. Everyone who has read anything by (or about) Beauvoir knows of the infamous ranking of their respective abilities in their final examinations: Sartre in first place, Beauvoir second.
    — review by Mary Evans.





► International ◄
  • Capitalism in the Web of Life
    Jason W. Moore’s Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital (2015) offers a new perspective on capitalism and its current systemic crisis by developing an ecologically centered theory of capital accumulation. This essay first presents a concise account of Moore’s theory.
    — review by Kamran Nayeri.



  • Marxism and LGBT politics: a new wave of discussion
    The last few years have seen a thoroughly welcome trend: the publication of a series of academic books which aim to bring together radical LGBT politics - often in the form of queer theory - and Marxism. It's a development that began, perhaps, in 2009 with Kevin Floyd's The Reification of Desire: Toward a Queer Marxism, and continued in 2012 when the queer studies journal GLQ produced a special issue on Queer Studies and the Crises of Capitalism with an image of Marx on their front cover.
    — review by Colin Wilson.



  • We can dream, or we can organize
    The swift rise, and swift crumbling, of the Occupy movement brings to the surface the question of organization. Demonstrating our anger, and doing so with thousands of others in the streets, gives us energy and brings issues to wider audiences. Yes spontaneity, as necessary as it is, is far from sufficient in itself. For all the weeks and sometimes months that Occupy encampments lasted, little in the way of lasting organization was created.
    — review by Systemic Disorder.



  • Review of Socialist Register 2016
    The nineteen essays contained in Socialist Register 2016 are essential reference points for anyone actively engaged in progressive, radical or socialist political activity. International in scope, scholarly yet accessible, "The Politics of the Right" analyses the emergence of contemporary right-wing movements, parties and ideas from Japan to Brazil, India to Israel.
    — review by Tom Unterrainer.



  • Challenges Facing the Latin American Left
    In this work, the prolific Chilean Marxist writer Marta Harnecker applies Marx's and Lenin's theories on socialist construction to twenty-first century Latin American left governments and at the same time points to the original aspects of the lessons drawn from those experiences. The book is divided into three parts: past developments such as the anti-neoliberal protests of the 1990s that helped change the political map in Latin America; the transition to socialism in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador...
    — review by Steve Ellner.



  • Revolutionaries in a Time of Retreat
    When the Communist International was founded in March 1919, the world was in a time of revolutionary ferment. Three and a half years after the capitulation to imperialist jingoism by the leaders of the Second International, the Russian Revolution had given a new impetus to the left wing of the international socialist movement, as the Bolsheviks demonstrated a revolutionary means to end imperialist war.
    — review by Ted M. McTaggart.



  • Socialist Register 2014: Registering Class -- the ruling class
    This year's Socialist Register, marking fifty years of the intellectual journal, is about class. Overall its mission is to restate the relevance of class -- in an intellectual and political climate that rejects class as reductionist, antiquated or irrelevant -- and to creatively apply class analysis to contemporary reality. It is a big, ambitious project.
    — review by Alex Snowdon.



  • Against Austerity
    It's easy to be against austerity and neoliberalism; it is less easy to say something meaningful about it, and to take stock of the Western situation in a sober and critical way. To do this is the purpose of Against Austerity, the most recent work of the hand of Richard Seymour, blogger at Lenin's Tomb and (ex-)member of various radical groups in the UK.
    — review by Matthijs Krul.



  • Economics of The 1%: How Mainstream Economics
    Voltaire, a well-known social critic and philosopher of the eighteenth century, who reportedly had also a cordial meeting with Adam Smith, once said "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord! make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."
    — review by Cyrus Bina.



  • The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism
    To what can we attribute the modern-day failures of communism? Can this ideology ever be dissociated from the associations which classically torpedo it, such as authoritarianism on the one hand and pro-capitalist propaganda on the other? The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism -- a majestic 600-page collection of essays that examine the impact of communism upon the 20th century -- arrives at a timely moment when these questions are being taken seriously in many circles around the world.
    — review by Luke Davies.



  • Review: After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine
    This is an anthology of essays published in the latter half of 2012, when, as contributor Saree Makdisi writes, the Palestinian struggle seemed to be "reinventing itself" away from its long-time aim of a Palestinian state and more toward a South African-style rights-based struggle. Underlying this shift has been a growing disconnection between the official Palestinian leadership, who continue to play the game of international diplomacy and cling to the vanishing hope of an autonomous Palestinian state, and Palestinian civil society, who in Madkdisi's words have shifted the "struggle from the plane of state diplomacy to the plane of the symbolic and the imaginary."
    — review by Jason Kunin.



  • Visions of a New World
    I read Gar Alperovitz's What Then Must We Do? with a level of skepticism. He set out to make an argument as to what can be done right now to demonstrate to a growing population weary of neoliberal capitalism that another world is not only necessary and possible, but that one can already see the first glimmers of that new world.
    — review by Bill Fletcher Jr..



  • Latin America's Turbulent Transitions
    Latin America was the first region targeted by the neoliberal phase of capitalism, and it suffered some of its worst consequences. But it is in Latin America that neoliberalism has been most contested in recent years by new social movements of landless peasants, indigenous communities and urban unemployed.
    — review by Richard Fidler.



  • Contrarian Counterrevolutionary
    Richard Seymour's Unhitched, a slim and scathing denunciation of turncoat scoundrel Christopher Hitchens is a thoroughly satisfying and politically important book by one of the few remaining great radical left journalists. I have to hand it to Seymour -- this book was a cathartic read. No one uses words like "yawp," let alone carefully modulated jazz-like prose, end a subsection with a cacophony of righteous snark, veer over to an allegory, and then back to yawping. No one that is, but Richard "Lenin's Tomb" Seymour.
    — review by Jordy Cummings.



  • Vanguard and self-organisation
    If you don't know where you want to go, suggests Lebowitz, then no road will take you there. Our class cannot overthrow the rule of capital unless we have some idea of what we want to replace it with. But therein lies a problem. When workers think of 'socialism' they usually picture the 'real' socialism of the 20th Century; most assume therefore that socialism is a totalitarian nightmare best avoided. Those of us who share Marx's vision of socialism as a society of freely associated producers therefore have a responsibility to understand and explain what went wrong with 20th Century socialism, why it went wrong, and how we would avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.
    — review by Roy Wilkes.



  • Lessons of the American Revolutionary Left of the 1970s
    Michael Staudenmaier's Truth and Revolution: A History of the Sojourner Truth Organization, recently published by the radical AK Press, is a thoroughly engaging critical history of one of the most interesting revolutionary socialist groups that emerged from the radical upsurge of the 1960s and 1970s. While Staudenmaier clearly admires STO, many of whose members he knew and several of whom were his friends, this is far from being a hagiographic work.
    — review by Dan La Botz.



  • The Contradictions of Real Socialism
    Several months ago the Crooked Timber blog held a seminar on Francis Spufford's Red Plenty, a novel that was widely embraced as a kind of postmortem on the USSR. The title refers to the apparently foolish beliefs of Soviet leaders, scientists and economists in the 1950s and 60s that 'plenty' -- in other words, consumer goods -- could be achieved through central planning based on advanced computing technology.
    — review by Louis Proyect.



  • Book review: Toward the United Front
    Why, 90 years on, study the detailed proceedings of the Communist International. Many years ago, when I was young, it was common to find orthodox Trotskyists who claimed they based their politics on "the first four congresses of the Comintern." A position that made some sense in the 1930s, when Trotskyists were insisting that there was a clear break between Lenin and Stalin, became less and less relevant as both capitalism and the working class went through enormous changes.
    — review by Ian Birchall.



  • Review: The U.S. SWP attempts an outward turn (1976-83)
    The second volume of Barry Sheppard's history of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party (SWP) provides us at last with a foundation of fact and analysis for discussion of the party's unexpected and deep decline in the 1980s and after. The SWP, the main expression of Trotskyism in the U.S. since 1928, grew in the 1960s and 1970s to become the country's most vigorous and effective Marxist organization. Subsequently, it withdrew from the stage of working-class politics and dwindled to a small, self-absorbed remnant with a harsh, undemocratic political culture.
    — review by John Riddell.



  • Gregory Zinoviev at his best
    The Thrilla in Halle! A ringside seat, just for you, as Gregory Zinoviev (in the red trunks) and Julius Martov (his are pale pink) duke it out before delegates of the 700,000-member Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany (USPD). The stakes: should the USPD join the Communist International (Comintern)? Here at last, after 92 years, the full text of their historic speeches to the October 1920 USPD congress in Halle, Germany, translated and edited by Ben Lewis and Lars Lih.
    — review by John Riddell.



  • Review: Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires, and Global Capitalism
    The Guardian recently reported that "By 2007, the international financial system was trading derivatives valued at one quadrillion dollars per year. This is 10 times the total worth, adjusted for inflation, of all products made by the world's manufacturing industries over the last century." David McNally's new book Monsters of the Market will be of great interest to those struggling to make sense of an economic system that has assumed otherworldly proportions.
    — review by Mark Worrell.



  • Review: Toward the United Front
    John Riddell here begins bringing to a close an epic project of over ten years duration - the publication in English of the entire proceedings of the Third International, or Comintern, in Lenin's time. The very expansion of the Comintern itself is reflected in the increasing scale of each volume in this series.
    — review by Alexander Marshall.



  • Review: Citizens to Lords
    A brilliant Marxist historian, Ellen Meiksins Wood is able to tread a fine line between the particular and the universal, the subject and society, making sure the one is not annulled by the other, and remaining alive to the tension which exists between them. In her latest work - Citizens to Lords - she examines the most important political theorists of the 'western' canon in and through the social relations and conflicts which underpinned their epochs.
    — review by Tony Mckenna.



  • Retracing a Century
    The title of Magri's book takes its inspiration from Bertolt Brecht's poem about an 18th century German tailor in the city of Ulm, who thought he could fly, but jumping off the local church spire he ended up like a shot bird, dead on the town square. Brecht's point was that even if we fail at something once, history can make it possible in the long term.




  • Hothouse capitalism in the Gulf Arab states
    Much has been made of the massive transformations taking place in the Gulf Arab states. Over the last two decades, vast oil profits have led to the construction of the world's tallest buildings, an artificial island, and malls so large that they sport a dinosaur theme park and an indoor ski slope. Yet study of the political economies of these states and how they are situated within a regional and international context has been sparse. Nevertheless, such an analysis is critical to understanding the revolutionary process unfolding in the Middle East, as well as the internationalization and financialization of the current economic crisis.
    — review by Hadas Thier.



  • The Civil Wars in the U.S. Labor Movement
    When I went to the 2009 Labor Notes 'Trouble Makers' conference in Dearborn Michigan I never expected to be thrown into the middle -- quite literally -- of a dispute between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the California Nurses Association (CNA). But this is exactly what happened when I helped fellow conference participants push SEIU members and staff out of the banquet hall in which CNA president, Ross Ann DeMoro, was to address conference attendees.
    — review by Peter Brogan.



  • Review: No Debate: The Israel Lobby and Free Speech at Canadian Universities
    Academic conferences don't usually muster public attention, but in 2009 the organizers of the blandly titled Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace found themselves at the center of a media shit storm fuelled by the hysterical rhetoric of pro-Israel community groups and their supporters in the media.
    — review by Jason Kunin.



  • Khaleeji Capital, Not Just about the Oil
    Adam Hanieh's Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States is an indispensable text for anyone interested in the Middle East. This groundbreaking study traces the historical trajectory of capital, class and state formation in the Gulf and its role in shaping global capitalism since WWII.
    — review by Konstantin Kilibarda.



  • A revolt the world over
    There is no doubt that historians will be studying the events of 2011 for years to come. Paul Mason offers a more immediate take--"don't file it under social science: it's journalism"--on this momentous year in Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions.
    — review by Leela Yellesetty.



  • The Workers' Festival: A History of Labour Day in Canada
    For most Canadians today, Labour Day is the last gasp of summer fun: the final long weekend before returning to the everyday routine of work or school. But over its century-long history, there was much more to the September holiday than just having a day off.




  • Review: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
    After racing through Manning Marable's nearly 500-page biography of Malcolm X, recently released, I realized that I hadn't learned anything significant, more than that which I already knew, except that Malcolm was not very happy in his marriage and that he may have cheated on Betty a few times near the end of his life, just as she may have cheated on him.
    — review by Noaman Ali.



  • Review: Lenin by Lars T. Lih
    The Critical lives series format has allowed Lars T. Lih to produce a remarkable book. It is an outline sketch of Lenin's life and ideas, which also proposes what is in some respects a new interpretation of both and of their relationship. The book is both highly readable -- one could almost say a 'gripping story' -- and highly thought-provoking.
    — review by Mike Macnair.



  • Manning Marable and the Malcolm X biography controversy
    On the day of Manning Marable's death, April 1, 2011, I received an additional piece of disturbing information. A friend of mine informed me of a discussion he had just had with a Black activist-writer who, in hearing about Marable's passing, went into what could only be described as a rant against Marable.
    — review by Bill Fletcher, Jr..



  • Review: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
    The rich repertoire of songs and music that African-Americans have produced over the last century has to a large extent been recorded. Its value is recognized all over the world. The same cannot be said for black oratory, which shared the same roots and reflected similar emotions: slavery, segregation and imprisonment produced resistance, anger, bitterness and, often, resignation.
    — review by Tariq Ali.



  • Review: The Crisis This Time
    The various papers in the present volume of the Socialist Register are united in one respect -- they show how capitalist crises are not simply problems of positive economics and neutral economic management. The neutrality is exposed once you try to unbundle the ceteris paribus and the various assumptions that are made in modelling the economy. The realities of class, state, power and conflict provide the socio-historical matrix that configures the economy and its problems.
    — review by Pratyush Chandra.



  • Review: Eurocentrism
    Due to the influence of Edward Said's Orientalism, and the subsequent rise of postcolonial theory, Marxist analyses of culture were often dismissed a priori as eurocentric and totalizing. Karl Marx, the narrative went, was a consummate European chauvinist who cared little for the struggles of non-European peoples; the Marxist tradition was further flawed because it proposed a homogeneous European discourse.
    — review by Joshua Moufawad-Paul.



  • Review: Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development
    Michael Lebowitz's important book portrays a vision of the socialist alternative to capitalism through a synthesis of some of Marx's most important philosophical arguments concerning human development, revolutionary practice and radical democracy.
    — review by John Gregson.



  • Hypocrisy-seeking missile
    "Our South Africa moment has finally arrived," said Palestinian author-activist Omar Barghouti in a series of speeches delivered in 2010. With the publication of BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, the first book dedicated to the game-changing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement -- known by the initials BDS -- has itself finally arrived.
    — review by Abraham Greenhouse.



  • Reading Gramsci Anew
    What makes Peter D. Thomas's book an important one is, first and foremost, the fact that it takes Gramsci's thought beyond Italy and makes it accessible to a global audience, and in particular to an Anglophone one. Thomas's work explicitly aims to open the debate on Gramsci within Anglo-Saxon Marxism, which is today a key site for the elaboration of Marxist philosophy.
    — review by Toni Negri.



  • Review: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
    Black power hero Malcolm X held bizarre and contradictory beliefs -- yet his popular legacy is greater than Martin Luther King's. Here at last is the meticulous portrait he deserves.
    — review by Andrew Anthony.



  • Review: The Communist Hypothesis
    Nietzsche's adage that philosophy is disguised biography is not a neat fit with Badiou, only because there is very little of disguise in Badiou's philosophy. The core of his philosophical project (and of his political activism) has been an attempt to understand what it means to be faithful to the great revolutionary events of the previous two centuries.
    — review by David Morgan.



  • The revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg
    The writer and activist Rosa Luxemburg spent years in prison because of her opposition to the first world war, and was an outspoken critic of Marxism. Sheila Rowbotham finds the woman behind the mystique.
    — review by Sheila Rowbotham.



  • Review: Global Slump
    In late 2007, over twenty years of global economic growth came to a screeching halt. A financial panic began in the sub-prime mortgage market, leading to the bankruptcy (Goldman Sachs) and near bankruptcy (AIG, GM) of major financial and industrial cor-porations.
    — review by Charlie Post.



  • Review: Barack Obama and Twenty-First Century Politics
    Horace Campbell has produced a rigorous, thought-provoking look at the political moment in which we find ourselves. Barack Obama and Twenty-first Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA presents challenges to a reviewer because it is three books in one. This is not to be taken literally.
    — review by Bill Fletcher, Jr..



  • A Commune in Sichuan? Reflections on Endicott's Red Earth
    Stephen Endicott's Red Earth: Revolution in a Sichuan Village is one of the few enjoyable village studies that provide carefully documented, detailed accounts of the system of agrarian 'people's communes' that dramatically transformed rural and urban China from the late 1950s to the early 1980s.
    — review by Husunzi.



  • Review: Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
    The revolutions of 1848 in Europe are a forgotten episode in radical history, particularly in the United States. While revolutionary turning points such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, or even the Paris Commune of 1871 retain some place in popular consciousness, the same cannot be said of the events of 1848-50.
    — review by James Illingworth.



  • Review: Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World
    The emergence of China as the world's economic powerhouse has shifted the centre of the global market eastwards. The People's Republic of China's growth rates are the envy of elites everywhere, its commodities circulating even in the tiniest Andean street markets, its leaders courted by governments strong and weak.
    — review by Tariq Ali.



  • New book: Women's Liberation and Socialist Revolution
    Women's Liberation and Socialist Revolution is the title of the latest book from Socialist resistance, co-published with the IIRE's Notebooks for Study and Research. Its subtitle, Documents of the Fourth International, places it in our 'documents and debates' series, which aim to collect documents and articles around a particular question. Edited and introduced by Penelope Duggan.




  • Excerpt: Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs
    Lukacs became a revolutionary and a Marxist during the greatest wave of working class struggle in history, unleashed by the Russian revolution at the end of the First World War. Already a well known intellectual in Hungary, months after joining the newly-formed Hungarian Communist party in December 1918 he found himself a leader in the events which led to the brief Hungarian soviet republic in 1919.




  • Review: Another World is Possible
    I read books written by world's greatest authors, met some of the left revolutionaries, and from my day to day experiences I concluded that capitalism is bad, globalization is bad and that we need to change these for a better world. However, I was confused about the path to reach there. David McNally's Another World is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism has shown the way forward.
    — review by Kanchan Sarker.



  • Book Review: The Hidden History of the Korean War
    This controversial book by I. F. Stone was originally published in 1952 during the Korean War (1950-1953) and republished in 1970 during the Vietnam War (1960-1975). It raised questions about the origin of the Korean War, made a case that the United States government manipulated the United Nations, and gave evidence that the U.S. military and South Korean oligarchy dragged out the war by sabotaging the peace talks.




  • Putting humans back into socialism
    The onset of the global economic crisis in mid 2008, symbolised by the collapse of some of Wall Street's most iconic companies, led to soaring sales of Karl Marx's seminal work Das Kapital, as many sought explanations to the tumultuous events unfolding. Michael Lebowitz's latest book, The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development says it is essential also to investigate the important insights Marx made regarding the alternative.
    — review by Federico Fuentes.



  • Review: Marx at the Margins
    Rudyard Kipling's 1899 poem 'The White Man's Burden' staunchly articulated the Victorian self-image of the civilizing mission of Empire. The nation's sons would go to far-flung shores to "serve your captives' need." Not that the "sullen peoples" on the receiving end might appreciate it, given that were "half-devil and half-child."
    — review by Barry Healy.



  • Review: The Political Economy of Israel's Occupation: Repression Beyond Exploitation
    Shir Hever's analysis attempts to answer important questions such as why the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories live in poverty, and whether Israel benefits from their condition.
    — review by Alex Snowdon.



  • From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada's Siberian Expedition, 1917-19
    This ground-breaking book brings to life a forgotten chapter in the history of Canada and Russia - the journey of 4,200 Canadian soldiers from Victoria to Vladivostok in 1918 to help defeat Bolshevism.




  • Arab Responses to Nazism
    Since 9/11, the term "the Arab street" has been used in the United States to caricature opinions across the Arab world, mashing together the thoughts of tens of millions as if they have one mind with a common worldview. This funhouse mirror image of a complex tableau of opinions among a huge swath of humanity has been further distorted in the bigoted clamoring against the proposed "Ground Zero mosque" in lower Manhattan.
    — review by Sherry Wolf.



  • Obama: the man who couldn't
    A couple of years ago, the Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek made a modest proposal to Americans regarding the improvement of their political life: "Let everybody in the world except U.S. citizens be allowed to vote and elect the American government. I think it would have been much better for you, even, because we all outside the United States would project our desires into how you should be."
    — review by Scott McLemee.



  • NLR Debate on Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics
    This debate points to the need for further investigation of the rural-urban relationship and the nature of China's shift to capitalism. What is undeniable is that as China has joined with global capitalism inequality has risen...
    — review by Lang Yan.



  • Socialism's vision of the future
    The Idea of Communism by Tariq Ali is the first book in a five-part series edited by Ali that will examine "What Was Communism?" The aim of the series is to investigate why communism failed in the 20th century: What went wrong, was its collapse inevitable, what can we learn from it, and what parts of the experience should we rehabilitate?
    — review by Shaun Harkin.



  • Review: The Socialist Alternative
    It is probably fair to say that revolutionary socialism does not come naturally to everyone. Some of the young and curious pick up a grimy, twenty-page manifesto in a second-hand bookstore and never look back, but for myself it was a long, grueling process full of twists and hesitations.
    — review by Konrad Read.



  • The Global Fight for Climate Justice
    The latest dire warning about global warning was buried in the bottom corner of page A9 of Canada's 'newspaper of record.' The front cover of that day's paper featured a 30cm, full colour head-to-toe photograph of the First Lady with the accompanying headline, "Michelle Obama's style secret sets its sights on Canada." Just another day in the myopic world of this country's mainstream media, which, like the rest of the globe's political and economic elite, fiddles while the world burns.
    — review by Derrick O'Keefe.



  • Arguing Socialism
    The economic crisis beginning in 2007 punctured the dominance of neoliberal ideology, without completely overturning it. To accomplish that, and force socialism back on the agenda, is the urgent political job of the left, as the establishment's relative disarray will not last for the long term.
    — review by Dominic Alexander.



  • Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics
    Even though the discourse of security in the 'war on terror' has come to naturalize otherwise unacceptable violations, for a segment of people, of even the most basic civil rights in law, policy and political practice, the speed and political ease with which liberal democracies have been able to introduce, accept and live with these violations should trouble anyone who would want to prevent future holocausts.
    — review by Sedef Arat-Koç.



  • How Bruce Springsteen Helped Make Being a Working Class Rebel Cool Again
    An excerpt from author Cowie's new book, Stayin' Alive reveals the tussle between right and left to claim Springsteen as one of their own.




  • Bramall on The Battle for China's Past
    I just ran across Chris Bramall's 2008 review of The Battle for China's Past by Mobo Gao, called 'Reversing the Verdict on Maoism?' Mobo is a friend whose work I deeply respect, and - like Bramall - I consider Battle a much-needed intervention into the discussions about what happened during the Mao era and after.
    — review by Husunzi.



  • Detailing The Unspoken Truths Of A Deadly Relationship
    I could hardly contain my excitement after reading Sasha Polakow-Suransky's The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. So, I got on the phone and called a long-time friend who had been active in the solidarity movements against white colonial/minority rule in Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.
    — review by Bill Fletcher Jr..



  • go to publisher's website Review of: The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James
    This year marks the seventieth anniversary of C.L.R. James's The Black Jacobins: Touissaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. This classic account of the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803 is one of the greatest books in the twentieth century. Its title refers to the Jacobins, the most radical element within the French Revolution who propagated, says the Oxford English Dictionary, "extreme democracy and absolute equality" – principles fully embraced by the slaves who made history's first and only successful slave revolution in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which afterwards they renamed Haiti.
    — review by Manuel Yang.


  • go to publisher's website Review of: Rebuilding The Left by Marta Harnecker
    "THE left's strategic task is to unite the growing but scattered social opposition into one vast column, one torrent, and to transform it into a force able to deal a decisive blow to the ruling system." How often have you heard words to that effect? It's pretty much all we talk about in the Star office. But is it possible?
    Marta Harnecker, who has closely observed democratic revolutions from Chile to Venezuela, shows the way in this DIY-guide to movement-building.
    — review by Charley Allan (Morning Star website). (Preview on Google books.)




  • go to publisher's website Review of: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic lllusion of an Islamic State by Tarek Fatah
    Tarek personally asked me to review his book, Chasing a Mirage: the tragic illusion of an Islamic State (CM). It has been reviewed very favorably indeed in the Canadian media, especially the Asper-family owned newspapers. The right-wing National Post published long excerpts from the book in serial form, and frequently runs op-eds by Tarek. His basic thesis is that religion and politics should be separated in Islam. Although it has major flaws, it also has many attributes of interest and will be thought-provoking on the relationship between religion and politics, and between Islam and the West.
    — review by Justin Podur.



  • go to publisher's website Review of: Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment by Peter Hallward
    Peter Hallward meticulously explains how, on February 29 of 2004, the U.S. managed to "topple one of the most popular governments in Latin America but it managed to topple it in a manner that wasn't widely criticized or even recognized as a coup at all." Imperial powers do not reinvent the wheel when it comes to undermining democracy in poor countries. Hallward identifies valuable lessons for people who wish to limit the damage that powerful countries inflict on the weak. — review by Joe Emersberger (MR Zine).



  • go to publisher's website Review of: Latin America at the Crossroads by Roberto Regalado
    This compact book by Roberto Regalado, a veteran member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, strongly reaffirms the need for revolution in Latin America and beyond.
    Regalado, a section chief in the Cuban CP's Department of International Relations, is anything but dogmatic. He is attentive to recent new trends in Latin American economics and politics and respectful toward the diverse currents of socialist opinion. He stresses the importance of the new features of Latin American social struggles: the role of peasants, the landless, indigenous peoples, women, environmentalists, and others. — review by John Riddell (Socialist Voice).



  • go to publisher's website Review of: An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President by Randall Robinson
    Randall Robinson has written the story of a great tragedy of recent times – the violent overthrow of Haiti's elected president and government on February 29, 2004. An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President gives a blow by blow account of the events surrounding that tragedy. — review by Roger Annis (Socialist Voice).




  • go to publisher's website Review of: Development After Globalization: Theory and Practice for the Embattled South in a New Imperial Age by John S. Saul
    One thing that distinguishes good scholars from exceptional ones is an ability to raise penetrating questions that not only force a reader to take serious pause and reflect on the rationale for complex global problems and inequities, but more importantly to raise questions that directly challenge readers to confront their own personal biases and assumptions. — review by Christopher Gore (Relay #17).



  • go to publisher's website Review of: The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Sourthern Africa by John Saul
    While we were subjected to the lackluster debate of the federal election of 2006, I remembered the exhilaration of when Nelson Mandela first came to Canada in the early 1990s after his release from Robben Island and he gave a speech at Queen's Park in Toronto. The lawn was covered with people and the mood was full of celebration for what had been accomplished in the fight against apartheid and what was possible in the future when the African National Congress (ANC) would come to power in South Africa. — review by David Kidd (Relay #10).


  • go to publisher's website Review of: Locked in Place: State-Building and Late Industrialization in India by Vivek Chibber
    Given the dominance of neoliberalism today, it is an assumption in most quarters that state intervention in the economies of the post-war era was an utter fiasco. This argument is taken as even more self-evident in the case of the countries of the capitalist periphery or “Third World”.
    — review by Raghu Krishnan (Relay #6). (Preview on Google books.)

  • Review of: Incoherent Empire by Michael Mann and The New Imperialism by David Harvey
    'Empire' is once again on the lips of its supporters and remains a sour taste in the mouth of its opponents. Vaulted from academic obscurity to the front page of London and New York's book reviews, historian Niall Ferguson has made an industry out of empire, as the Empire makes industry out of the world. — review by Simon J. Black (Relay #11).

  • go to publisher's website Review of: The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa by Sasha Polakow-Suransky
    I could hardly contain my excitement after reading Sasha Polakow-Suransky's The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. So, I got on the phone and called a long-time friend who had been active in the solidarity movements against white colonial/minority rule in Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. He responded: “Well, didn't we already know about the connection between apartheid South Africa and Israel?”

    What is striking about The Unspoken Alliance is not that it contains the revelation of a complete secret. My friend was correct. Bits and pieces of this story had been public for years, at least in some circles. What makes this book different is both the level of detail and factual disclosure combined with its blunt recognition of a strategic unity between Israel and apartheid South Africa based on a common colonial/settler framework.
    — review by Bill Fletcher Jr.




► Labour ◄
  • go to publisher's website Review of: Solidarity Divided by Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Fernando Gapasin
    Provoked by the continuing crisis of organized labor after the departure of the Change to Win coalition of unions from the AFL-CIO in 2005, Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Fernando Gapasin have produced a new book, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and A New Path toward Social Justice. Hopefully the text will inspire debate, both within the labor movement and the Left. Solidarity Divided compliments Kim Moody's US Labor in Trouble and Transition, also produced after the split. — review by Steven Sherman.


    Interview with Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Fernando Gapasin (mp3 audio)



  • go to publisher's website Dec 17: Solidarity Divided by Bill Fletcher Jr. and Fernando Gapasin
    The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice
    A NEW DIRECTION FOR LABOR BY TWO OF ITS LEADING ACTIVIST INTELLECTUALS

    Candid, incisive, and accessible, Solidarity Divided is a critical examination of labor's current crisis and a plan for a bold new way forward into the twenty-first century. Bill Fletcher and Fernando Gapasin offer a remarkable mix of vivid history and probing analysis. They chart changes in U.S. manufacturing, examine the onslaught of globalization, consider the influence of the environment on labor, and provide the first broad analysis of the fallout from the 2000 and 2004 elections on the U.S. labor movement.


  • Resuscitating the U.S. Labor Movement
    A long-term left activist and scholar, Stanley Aronowitz has made outstanding contributions to the analysis of the American labor movement throughout his career. Author of dozens of books, and tons of articles, he has been able to combine academic work with political activism. His book The Death and Life of American Labor touches on issues that warrant serious debate among the Left in the USA.
    — review by Juan Cruz Ferre.



  • Slaves to the machine: Cyber-Proletariat
    In the red corner: the latter-day apostles of the church of Ned Ludd who denounce cyberculture as a vampiric organism that has sucked the lifeblood out of the film industry, the music business and publishing, and who contend that the internet has shredded our attention spans, decimated local trade and rendered us susceptible to corporate and state surveillance. In the blue corner....
    — review by Peter Murphy.



  • Unions Matter
    This excellent book on why unions and a strong labour movement are essential building blocks of a sound economy and of a just and democratic society deserves to be widely circulated. It is accessible to individual labour activists who wish to deepen their understanding of the role of unions -- both inside and outside the workplace -- and should be widely adopted for use in post-secondary labour studies courses and union educational programs.
    — review by Andrew Jackson.



  • Book review: From Demonized to Organized
    Nora Loreto's newly published book should be added to the toolkit of any educator interested in collective consciousness raising in the 21st century. The book's last few chapters serve as valuable reading material for Canada's current union leadership, who need to come to terms with the new economic and political climate that is increasingly hostile to organized labour and workers.
    — review by Samantha Ponting.



  • Visions of a New World
    I read Gar Alperovitz's What Then Must We Do? with a level of skepticism. He set out to make an argument as to what can be done right now to demonstrate to a growing population weary of neoliberal capitalism that another world is not only necessary and possible, but that one can already see the first glimmers of that new world.
    — review by Bill Fletcher Jr..



  • Workers in the Global North: A Labour Aristocracy?
    A specter has haunted anti-capitalist radicals and revolutionaries for more than 150 years -- the specter of working-class reformism and conservatism in the global North of the capitalist world economy. Why have those who Marx called the "grave-diggers of capitalism," the wage-earning majority of the industrialized societies, embraced politics that either seek to "balance" the interests of capital and labour (reformism) or blame other workers for falling living standards and working conditions (conservatism)?
    — review by Charlie Post.



  • Review: They're Bankrupting Us! and 20 Other Myths about Unions
    I started reading Bill Fletcher's They're Bankrupting Us! on my way to Miami to sign up new members for the union. Florida is a right-to-work state and I was looking to recruit members in a largely conservative workforce in a big public hospital. I was inclined to believe I was in a scorched-earth situation. As a union organizer, I'd heard these myths before. I had traumatic flashbacks with practically every page, and I started guessing which myths I'd hear from the workers first.
    — review by Michelle Crentsil.



  • The Civil Wars in the U.S. Labor Movement
    When I went to the 2009 Labor Notes 'Trouble Makers' conference in Dearborn Michigan I never expected to be thrown into the middle -- quite literally -- of a dispute between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the California Nurses Association (CNA). But this is exactly what happened when I helped fellow conference participants push SEIU members and staff out of the banquet hall in which CNA president, Ross Ann DeMoro, was to address conference attendees.
    — review by Peter Brogan.



  • The Workers' Festival: A History of Labour Day in Canada
    For most Canadians today, Labour Day is the last gasp of summer fun: the final long weekend before returning to the everyday routine of work or school. But over its century-long history, there was much more to the September holiday than just having a day off.




  • Review: Working Without Commitments
    Free-Fall Employment - the definition of a full-time job is changing radically in Canada. For those aged 40 and under, breaking into a profession today usually requires shouldering significant debt in education or skills development, then undergoing a grim cycle of unpaid or low-paid internships, leading to a cycle of underpaid or insecure contract positions.
    — review by Rachel Pulfer.



  • Review: Cultures of Darkness
    Bryan Palmer is a Canadian Marxist historian who has done much, in the tradition of E.P. Thompson, to recover and analyze the cultures of resistance that working people developed in the course of practicing class struggle from below. His work is shaped by a particular sympathy for the kind of class struggle that transgresses the existing social order.
    — review by Leo Panitch.



  • Review of If You're in My Way, I'm Walking
    Jean Chrétien explained his throttling of protester Bill Clennett on 'Flag Day' in 1996 with the simple statement: 'I had to go, so if you're in my way, I'm walking.' Not only is the incident one politician's knee-jerk reaction when faced with popular resistance to neoliberal policies, it is an apt description of the steamrolling central logic of neoliberalism.
    — review by Govind Rao.






► Marxist Theory ◄
  • The Socialist Imperative
    Those who open Michael Lebowitz's new book, The Socialist Imperative, will find something far different and refreshing than the old apologetic Soviet manuals on the smooth workings of a planned economy. What they will discover is a collection of writings inspired by Lebowitz's lifetime of activism and profound solidarity with the oppressed and exploited under capitalism and his revolutionary vision of how to build a socialist alternative.
    — review by Doug Enaa Greene.



  • The class dimension of the new resistance
    Back in 2008, Wall Street banks triggered an international economic crisis that nearly brought down the entire system. The world's governments bailed out the banks and saved the system by running up massive public debts. In turn, capitalists and national governments have used the debt crisis to justify a further assault on the living standards of workers and the poor. And Wall Street moguls are now rewarding themselves with record bonuses all over again.
    — review by Kyle Brown.



  • Naomi Klein: "Only mass social movements can save us"
    Despite endless conferences, treaties and solemn promises, greenhouse gas emissions have risen 61 per cent since 1990, and the rate of increase is accelerating. As Naomi Klein tells us in her new book, This Changes Everything, we are now experiencing an "early twenty-first century emissions explosion."
    — review by John Riddell.



  • Marxism and "Subaltern Studies"
    Several years ago in a seminar on social theory packed with left-wing graduate students from around NYU, I had the misfortune of being assigned Dipesh Chakrabarty's Provincializing Europe. The book, which impugns not only Marxism's incorrigible European-ness, but also the very possibility of making arguments that traverse the East-West divide, struck me immediately as antithetical to the 'universalizing' project that is radical social science.
    — review by Adaner Usmani.



  • Provincializing Marxism: Vivek Chibber and the Specter of Subaltern Studies
    Vivek Chibber's trenchant criticisms of the Subaltern Studies school of Indian historiography in Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital have justifiably attracted considerable attention. Marxist critiques of postcolonial theory have a long pedigree, but at least since the 1990s they have been somewhat defensive in orientation. Buoyed by the emergence of mass movements in North Africa and in the West, Chibber seeks to present his contribution as a decisive blow.
    — review by Noaman G. Ali.



  • The Question of Strategy: Part 2
    Barbara Epstein's "Occupy Oakland: the question of violence" has relevance way beyond Oakland, and the question of violence is only one of a number explored here. She focuses on a number of issues arising from Occupy Oakland, which was one of the most high-profile parts of the movement: "the balance between non-violent tactics and militancy, between a focus on tactics and internal processes on the one hand, and on goals and strategy on the other, and the question of how to respond to police violence."




  • Review: Socialist Register 2013: The Question of Strategy
    What is to be done? The question posed by the title of Lenin's short book over a century ago is always demanding an answer. For socialist activists, seeking not only to understand the world but to change it, this is a matter of the greatest importance. It is, as the title of this volume puts it, the question of strategy. Fundamentally this means considering: who has the capacity to change the world, and how can they do so?
    — review by Alex Snowdon.



  • Reading CAPITAL
    The global rediscovery of Marx's economic writings in the past five years should come as no surprise. The financial meltdown that heralded the beginning of a new global slump in capital accumulation struck a fatal blow to the neoliberal fantasy of continuous economic growth without bothersome business cycles or long-term recessions. After several decades of condescending dismissal by academics, media commentators and politicians on both the left and right, we have seen a "return of Marx."
    — review by Charlie Post.



  • Beyond Capitalism, under Trotsky's Shadow
    Beyond Capitalism by Simon Hardy and Luke Cooper is an ambitious attempt to contextualize the crisis of the international left, a left that has proved unable to stop austerity. Following Mark Fisher, author of Capitalist Realism, Hardy and Cooper lay heavy emphasis on socialism no longer being viewed as a credible alternative. They argue that Margaret Thatcher's "there is no alternative" mantra has infected the outlook of Britain's Labour Party and union leaders to such an extent that these forces continually capitulate to neoliberalism rather than act as bulwarks of resistance.
    — review by Pham Binh.



  • Doves Devoured, The Serpent Remains
    When it comes to morality, "the silence of Marx, and most Marxisms, is so loud as to be deafening." So said E. P. Thompson. Although he overstated his case, since that time there has emerged a "Marxism and Morality" industry that has nevertheless been met with -- outside of certain academic circles -- near total silence. While this is due in part to the marginalization of workers' power and socialist critique in recent decades, it is also due to the inadequate character of these interventions. Indeed, the scientific critique of ethics remains in its embryonic form.
    — review by Paul Christopher Gray.



  • Vanguard and self-organisation
    If you don't know where you want to go, suggests Lebowitz, then no road will take you there. Our class cannot overthrow the rule of capital unless we have some idea of what we want to replace it with. But therein lies a problem. When workers think of 'socialism' they usually picture the 'real' socialism of the 20th Century; most assume therefore that socialism is a totalitarian nightmare best avoided. Those of us who share Marx's vision of socialism as a society of freely associated producers therefore have a responsibility to understand and explain what went wrong with 20th Century socialism, why it went wrong, and how we would avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.
    — review by Roy Wilkes.



  • The Communist Horizon
    This pocket book (by Jodi Dean) is a contemporary attempt to update the original Communist Manifesto. An odd crossbreed between academic treatise and popular political pamphlet, its regular references to the thought of philosophers like Lacan, Zizek and Ranciere will undoubtedly deter those looking for a straightforward argument. But it shouldn't, as there are gems of original thinking to be found among the esoteric philosophical discourse.
    — review by John Green.



  • The Contradictions of Real Socialism
    Several months ago the Crooked Timber blog held a seminar on Francis Spufford's Red Plenty, a novel that was widely embraced as a kind of postmortem on the USSR. The title refers to the apparently foolish beliefs of Soviet leaders, scientists and economists in the 1950s and 60s that 'plenty' -- in other words, consumer goods -- could be achieved through central planning based on advanced computing technology.
    — review by Louis Proyect.



  • Review: Following Marx: Method, Critique and Crisis
    In the history books Lenin is usually portrayed as a pragmatist of a particularly vulpine type - using the chaos and confusion of events to further his ruthless, revolutionary agenda whatever the cost. And yet in 1915, as Europe was shaken to its foundations by the violence of world war, our 'revolutionary pragmatist' did something really rather odd. He took a year out in order to pore over the magnum opus of nineteenth century German philosopher G.W.F Hegel.
    — review by Tony Mckenna.



  • Review: Theory as History
    Spanning thirty-odd years of academic endeavour, Jairus Banaji's Theory as History is a collection of essays exploring the role of labour and exploitation within the wider research programme of historical materialism. Having become the latest recipient of the prestigious Isaac Deustcher Prize, this ambitious and rich monograph has already made a splash in the seemingly never ending debates surrounding the historical transition to capitalism, as well as crucial Marxist concepts such as 'mode of production' and 'relations of production'.
    — review by Kerem Nisancioglu.



  • Review: Deleuze and Marx
    Deleuze and Marx, a 2009 supplement to Volume 3 of the journal Deleuze Studies, gathers together essays by Simon Choat, Aidan Tynan, Aldo Pardi, Jason Read, and others. These pieces, along with Dhruv Jain's introduction, are available in paperback form. The dominant academic reception of Deleuze's work subsumed it under the headings of 'postmodernism', 'poststructuralism', and 'continental philosophy'. But Deleuze employed a very different set of categories to characterize his work, most notably, 'philosophy', 'empiricism', and 'vitalism'.
    — review by Jay Conway.



  • Review: The idea of communism
    In the aftermath of the financial crisis, in the public exposure of the inherent failings and the inadequacies of late capitalism to deal with the economic situation in which it finds itself, amid strikes, riots, occupations and revolutions, it seems apt to re-examine the alternative: the Idea of Communism.
    — review by Alasdair.



  • The Ideal in Human Activity
    The Ideal in Human Activity by E. V. Ilyenkov is a substantial tome consisting of two complete books and three articles, which offers for the first time in the form of a single volume the majority of this renowned Soviet philosopher's work currently available in English translation. This publication constitutes an important intervention in the problem of consciousness, which has figured prominently in the canon of Western social and political thought from Plato to the present.
    — review by Alex Levant.



  • The Red Flag: Communism and the Making of the Modern World
    The author, David Priestland, sets out to solve a conundrum which first worried him during his initial visit to Russia in 1984 and only deepened when he spent the academic year of 1987-1988 as an exchange student at Moscow State University; a question which only became more pertinent, with the collapse of 'really existing socialism' shortly thereafter: what was the true face of communism?
    — review by Matthew Morgan.



  • Review: The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development: The Theory of Permanent Revolution
    Of the many issues raised within orthodox Marxism since Marx's own death, few have had the longevity, or produced as many arguments and internal divisions, as Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution. Michael Lowy's short book, an abridged version of an original text from 1981, gives an admirably concise, if partisan, overview of the emergence of the theory.
    — review by Alexander Marshall.



  • Review: How to Change the World
    Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to read Marx! Eric Hobsbawm's new book How to Change the World attempts to help remedy this problem through a curious, specialized, at times awkward, and yet insightful examination of the history of Marx and Marxism from 1840 to the present.
    — review by Sean Carleton.



  • Review: Envisioning Real Utopias
    For twenty years now Erik Olin Wright and his colleagues have been involved in the 'Real Utopias' project whose work Verso published in a series of six books. Envisioning Real Utopias is the seventh in the series and attempts to develop a distinct theory of socialist transition, which makes it unique on the international level.
    — review by Michael Brie.



  • Review: Marx's Capital: An Introductory Reader
    There is a tremendous renewal of interest in Marxism throughout the globe today, especially for the explanation of the economic crisis that has hit capitalism recently. It was quite natural that the only well-organised segment of India's left intellectuals committed to theoretical endeavours in political economy sensed the need to popularise Marx's Capital.
    — review by Pratyush Chandra.



  • Review: Lenin by Lars T. Lih
    The Critical lives series format has allowed Lars T. Lih to produce a remarkable book. It is an outline sketch of Lenin's life and ideas, which also proposes what is in some respects a new interpretation of both and of their relationship. The book is both highly readable -- one could almost say a 'gripping story' -- and highly thought-provoking.
    — review by Mike Macnair.



  • Review: Reason, Truth, and Reality
    Textbooks that look at seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophy tend to leave the impression that Immanuel Kant's response to David Hume's skepticism was unrivaled in its time. This perhaps explains the historical neglect of Thomas Brown's response to his fellow Scot. Brown, a figure in the Common Sense School of Philosophy, advanced an ad hominem argument using Hume's practical confidence in inductive reasoning to ascribe to Hume a belief that such reasoning is able to generate truths.
    — review by Glen Melanson.



  • Review: Gramsci, Language, and Translation
    Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was a prominent Italian Marxist philosopher and politician, co-founder of the Italian Communist Party, an influential thinker and critic of contemporary society and culture. His studies on social theory and culture include very important texts and comments on language, translation and translatability. However, this aspect of the Italian philosopher's work is relatively less known, and many ideas remain yet to be discovered and reinterpreted.
    — review by Piotr Stalmaszczyk.



  • Review: Representing Capital
    It is impossible not to compare Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One with last year's The Hegel Variations: in each case it is a rather succinct reflection, a meditation on one book by a central figure for Jameson's thought. This book too has a pedagogical quality, which is not to say that it is pedantic at all, just that it is easy to imagine the book as stemming from a seminar.
    — review by Jason Read.



  • Review: Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development
    Michael Lebowitz's important book portrays a vision of the socialist alternative to capitalism through a synthesis of some of Marx's most important philosophical arguments concerning human development, revolutionary practice and radical democracy.
    — review by John Gregson.



  • Review: Why Marx Was Right
    Marx and Lenin both liked a joke. So they would have appreciated the irony that, since the ongoing financial crisis began, their analyses of unstable, destructive capitalism has been spectacularly confirmed at the same time that the movement they ostensibly inspired (and for a time, involuntarily gave their names to) lies powerless and moribund.
    — review by Owen Hatherley.



  • Salvaging the socialist cause
    Eric Hobsbawm, known widely as Britain's pre-eminent Marxist historian, has also made more of a mark on the British political landscape than perhaps most are aware. As a former Communist Party intellectual, he has provided an ideological rationale and direction for left practice that has been influential well beyond the party itself.
    — review by Richard Seymour.



  • Review: Re-reading Marx: New Perspectives after the Critical Edition
    This book brings together a number of prominent contemporary Marx scholars and is the result of a conference in Bergamo, Italy 2006, organised by the International Symposium on Marxian Theory. Each of the contributions seeks to reassess the Marxian project of critique of political economy.
    — review by Nick Gray.



  • Reading Gramsci Anew
    What makes Peter D. Thomas's book an important one is, first and foremost, the fact that it takes Gramsci's thought beyond Italy and makes it accessible to a global audience, and in particular to an Anglophone one. Thomas's work explicitly aims to open the debate on Gramsci within Anglo-Saxon Marxism, which is today a key site for the elaboration of Marxist philosophy.
    — review by Toni Negri.



  • Review: Capital and Its Discontents
    If the North American left is good at anything, it's being discontented. And if the collapse of the left as an effective political force over recent decades has amplified our discontent, it's also forced some radical thinkers to dig in and do the hard work of analyzing society.
    — review by Scott Borchert.



  • Review: Making of a Transnational Capitalist Class
    Over the last 30 years the concept of the globalisation of capitalism has been the focus of great debate. For those, like Wallerstein, Arrighi, Franck and me, who have long argued that historical capitalism has always been globalised, at each stage of its development the sole question to ask is whether the latest stage of globalisation presents us with important new characteristics that constitute a qualitative change in the nature of capitalism.
    — review by Samir Amin.



  • Review: Antonio Gramsci
    Who was Antonio Gramsci? How do we know him? Many know of Gramsci through a plethora of disciplinary culture industries with their particular definitions of concepts such as hegemony, historical bloc, organic intellectuals, war of position, etc. Then there are his Prison Notebooks with their rich and consistent gems of intellectual enlightenment, and his pre-prison writings too.
    — review by Dylan Kerrigan.



  • Talking About the Market
    Every honest economics teacher absolutely must make the book written by Rod Hill and Tony Myatt (The Economics Anti-Textbook) compulsory reading for their students, fed almost exclusively on the conventional textbooks that are prescribed reading.
    — review by Samir Amin.



  • Review: The Communist Hypothesis
    Nietzsche's adage that philosophy is disguised biography is not a neat fit with Badiou, only because there is very little of disguise in Badiou's philosophy. The core of his philosophical project (and of his political activism) has been an attempt to understand what it means to be faithful to the great revolutionary events of the previous two centuries.
    — review by David Morgan.



  • Review: In and Out of Crisis
    Among the many books on the contemporary economic crisis, In and Out of Crisis is in a class of its own. Three prominent scholar-activists have teamed up to provide an insightful and provocative analysis of the crisis and its implications for the future of neoliberalism, the American empire and the North American Left.
    — review by Kanchan Sarker.



  • Party and Class in Revolutionary Crises
    The Russian Revolution of October 1917, the first successful revolution made by and for workers in world history, posed an immense paradox for revolutionary socialists. On the one hand, the combination of the most advanced forms of industrial capitalist development with a largely non-capitalist countryside and autocratic-absolutist state institutions made Russia 'the weak link' in world capitalism, the society where a workers' revolution could first succeed.
    — review by Charlie Post.



  • Review: Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
    The revolutions of 1848 in Europe are a forgotten episode in radical history, particularly in the United States. While revolutionary turning points such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, or even the Paris Commune of 1871 retain some place in popular consciousness, the same cannot be said of the events of 1848-50.
    — review by James Illingworth.



  • Excerpt: Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs
    Lukacs became a revolutionary and a Marxist during the greatest wave of working class struggle in history, unleashed by the Russian revolution at the end of the First World War. Already a well known intellectual in Hungary, months after joining the newly-formed Hungarian Communist party in December 1918 he found himself a leader in the events which led to the brief Hungarian soviet republic in 1919.




  • Launch of the Communist Manifesto ILLUSTRATED - A four part series
    After almost two years of development, the Editorial Collective of Red Quill Books is pleased to release a comic-book style version of the Communist Manifesto in four languages (English, French, Spanish and German). The first part of the series, "Historical Materialism," is now available in English.




  • Putting humans back into socialism
    The onset of the global economic crisis in mid 2008, symbolised by the collapse of some of Wall Street's most iconic companies, led to soaring sales of Karl Marx's seminal work Das Kapital, as many sought explanations to the tumultuous events unfolding. Michael Lebowitz's latest book, The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development says it is essential also to investigate the important insights Marx made regarding the alternative.
    — review by Federico Fuentes.



  • Review: Marx at the Margins
    Rudyard Kipling's 1899 poem 'The White Man's Burden' staunchly articulated the Victorian self-image of the civilizing mission of Empire. The nation's sons would go to far-flung shores to "serve your captives' need." Not that the "sullen peoples" on the receiving end might appreciate it, given that were "half-devil and half-child."
    — review by Barry Healy.



  • Socialism's vision of the future
    The Idea of Communism by Tariq Ali is the first book in a five-part series edited by Ali that will examine "What Was Communism?" The aim of the series is to investigate why communism failed in the 20th century: What went wrong, was its collapse inevitable, what can we learn from it, and what parts of the experience should we rehabilitate?
    — review by Shaun Harkin.



  • Review of Capitalism and the Dialectic
    Until the late 1970s, the writings of Kozo Uno had no real impact on the western debates on Marxist economics. In 1980 the first English translation of the Principles of Political Economy became available to us. He did not base his new method of analysis on the usual textual authority of Marx, but attempted to improve the scientific project of Capital as a whole.
    — review by Jelle Versieren.



  • go to publisher's website Review of: After Socialism: Reconstructing Critical Social Thought by Gabriel Kolko
    Radical critics of United States imperialism owe Gabriel Kolko a considerable debt. Of the 'revisionist' historians that emerged in North America in the second half of the 20th century, Kolko produced one of the most sustained and coherent accounts of the material basis of America's dash to globalism, and indeed explained why the 20th century was the 'century of war'.
    — review by Phil Hearse.



  • go to publisher's website Review of: Build it Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century by Michael A. Lebowitz
    The crisis of capitalism could not be more overt and exposed, but the instruments of survival at its disposal - both material and ideological - are also very effective with growing financialisation, commodification and consumerism. There are stark similarities in the way the welfarist face of the State has been on wane, along with its increased instrumentalisation in favour of global capital, in the so-called developed world and the inappropriately coined euphemistic developing world. At the level of movements too, if at one moment and place we hear sagas of popular and sustained confrontation against the global capital, the next we see a fragmented and weakened struggle against capital. — review by Ravi Kumar (Radical Notes website).



  • Review of: Build it Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century by Michael A. Lebowitz
    One of the political highlights of summer, 2007 in Toronto, was the visit to the city by author Michael Lebowitz. His packed out talk introduced a Toronto audience not just to recent developments in the revolutionary process underway in Venezuela, but to the rethinking of socialism accompanying that process. — review by Paul Kellogg (Socialist Voice website).



  • go to publisher's website Review of: Canadian Marxists and the Search for a Third Way by Peter Campbell
    The impasse of socialist politics across the West has yielded a number of important reflections on the course of working class politics over the 20th century. The most notable of these, Donald Sassoon's One Hundred Years of Socialism, Leo Panitch and Colin Leys's The End of Parliamentary Socialism, and Gerassimos Moschonas's In the Name of Social Democracy, have each had their own take on the end of the Leninism of the communist movement and the accommodation of the parliamentarism of the social democratic movement to neoliberalism and globalization. — review by Gregory Albo.


  • go to publisher's website Review of: Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday
    I have always considered Mao Zedong's statement, “To be attacked by the enemy is not a bad thing but a good thing,” to be among his most valuable. Not only did it alter my conception of struggle, but it encapsulated perhaps more succinctly than any other of his sayings, the dialectical character of his thinking and strategy. It was this quality that allowed Mao to exploit the contradictions among the enemy, to “overcome all difficulties,” and to repeatedly turn defeat into victory.
    — review by Robert Weil (SD Online).


  • go to publisher's website Review of: Paradigm Shift: Globalization and the Canadian State by Stephen McBride
    Neoliberalism came on to the political scene as a project of the New Right and major corporate interests with the crisis of Keynesianism in the 1970s. Neoliberalism today represents an ideological discourse, administrative and regulatory practices, a system of inter-state relations, and social form of political power across the advanced capitalist countries and, indeed, the vast majority of the world.
    — review by Gregory Albo.


  • go to publisher's website Review of: Renewing Socialism by Leo Panitch
    Leo Panitch has stood out in recent years as one of the socialist intellectuals most fully engaged with political questions, analysing the problems faced by left-wing parties, trade unions and other social movements with great clarity. The Canadian academic has followed in the tradition of Ralph Miliband, whose work made the case for a non-Communist radical left that would avoid the mistakes of social democracy. Panitch and Colin Leys took over as editors of the Socialist Register after Miliband's death, and extended his critique of the British Labour Party in an essential book, The End of Parliamentary Socialism (published in the immediate wake of Blair's 1997 triumph, it should be the first port of call for anyone bewildered by the collapse of the New Labour project).
    — review by Ed Walsh. (Preview on Google books.)


  • Review of: Ruling Canada: Corporate Cohesion and Democracy by Jamie Brownlee
    For a discipline explicitly engaged in the study of power, particularly as exercised in liberal democracies, it is striking how little Canadian political science has actually examined the concentration of private economic power, the political organization of the business classes and the extension of that power into the political realm. Indeed, Canadian political science has been principally pre-occupied with power insofar as it pertains to the constitutional distribution of power and the relative access to political power of the multinational and multicultural constituent groups comprising Canada.
    — review by Greg Albo (Relay #15).

  • go to publisher's website Review of: The Soviet Century by Moshe Lewin
    Moshe Lewin has contributed much to the understanding of the experience of the Soviet period in Russian history. Taking a critical approach to traditional ways of looking at the USSR and basing himself on detailed social-historical research, his work has helped to place the period of communism in historical perspective.
    — review by Herman Rosenfeld (Relay #20). (Preview on Google books.)




  • go to publisher's website Review of: Teaching against Global Capitalism and the New Imperialism: A Critical Pedagogy by Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur
    We develop critical understandings of the world through teachers and their teachings. A radical consciousness, which is to say, a working knowledge of the disconcerting machinations of global capitalism and a never-ending drive to understand the roots of this system is not simply derived from thin air. — review by Andrew Michael Lee (Relay #12).


  • Review of two books: The Marxism of Leon Trotsky by Kunal Chattopadhyay; Western Marxism and the Soviet Union by Marcel van der Linden
    KARL MARX AND his comrades deemed their own approach “scientific,” as compared to “utopian” intellectual efforts on behalf of socialism, because they believed that practical efforts to challenge and ultimately replace capitalism with something better must be grounded in a serious study of economic, political, social, historical realities and dynamics. — review by Paul Le Blanc.



► Media ◄
  • go to publisher's website Review of: The Age of Oprah, Cultural Icon For the Neoliberal Era by Janice Peck
    If you work hard enough, if you prepare long enough, if you visualize astutely and pray on it resolutely, it really can happen for you. At least that's the way it works in the world of Oprah Winfrey. In the Age of Oprah, author Janice Peck explains, there's no such thing as collective problem-solving; there are only individual, market-driven and spirit-centered solutions. Water polluted? Buy it bottled. Dissatisfied with your kids' school? Find a private one or home school. Dead-end job with no respect and no benefits? Polish that resume and assume an attitude of gratitude, or get ready to start your own business. House falling down? Maybe you can qualify for an extreme makeover. Is the world view of Oprah really uplifting after all? Or does it disempower individuals and disarm communities?
    — Bruce Dixon interviews Janice Peck.



  • Problem of the Media Review of: The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the 21st Century by Robert McChesney.
    That the major U.S. news media uncritically reproduced the Bush Administration's ideological rationale for the invasion and occupation of Iraq (Saddam has and is ready to deploy deadly 'weapons of mass destruction', thus, we must defend our national security with a 'preemptive' strike; — review by Tanner Mirrlees (Relay #2).



► Urbanism ◄
  • go to publisher's website Review of: Planet of Slums by Mike Davis.
    The persistent spread of slums over the last two decades has forced both policy makers and academics to address the causes and factors underlying this expansion. Explanations for slums have often framed the problem in terms of uncontrolled demographic increases, rural-urban migration, the absence of private property rights and wrong government policies. — review by Angela Joya (Relay #13). (Preview on Google books.)


  • Review of: Planet of Slums by Mike Davis.
    If read from a place of willingness to hear its message, Planet of Slums will inflame a fierce hatred of capitalism in your heart. It is an analysis of neoliberalism through the prism of urban space around the globe, and it is a relentless, pounding indictment of the organizing of billions of lives into poverty and suffering by capital. — review by Scott Neigh.


  • go to publisher's website Review of: uTOpia: Towards A New Toronto edited by Jason McBride and Alana Wilcox.
    Over the past several years, Toronto has been undergoing a revitalization – a new opera house, the never-ending development of condos and lofts, and new innovative architecture, including the new OCAD building and additions to the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum. — review by Yen Chu (Relay #11).



► Resources ◄
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