During the 1970s the Soviet Union experienced rising infant mortality rates and a corresponding levelling off of earlier increases in life expectancy. Several Western critics have misrepresented or exaggerated these statistics, suggesting that these trends indicate a general breakdown in the Soviet health care system as well as the failure of the Soviet form of socialism. This paper examines life expectancy and infant mortality data by Soviet republic, showing that rates are not uniform throughout the U.S.S.R. and in many cases compare favorably with those in Western European countries and the United States. It is suggested that the infant mortality problem in the U.S.S.R. is a temporary negative consequence of rapid progress in the areas of industrialization, employment of women, and socialization of child care. It is concluded that improvements in public health education, the quality of child care facilities, and the manufacture and distribution of infant formula will contribute to the rapid resolution of this problem.
China's rising importance in the capitalist world economy raises questions of world-historic significance. How is China's internal social structure likely to evolve as China assumes different positions in the existing world system? Will China's current regime of accumulation survive the potential pressures arising out of the transformation? How will other peripheral and semi-peripheral states be affected? Can the reemerging China centered civilization provide solutions to the problems left behind by U. S. hegemony? If not, how will the rise of China affect the underlying dynamics of the existing world system? The existing world system may have entered into a structural crisis. Can the system survive the rise of China? In the age of transition, instead of expecting the same pattern of systemic dynamics with which we have become familiar, it may be more appropriate to expect bifurcation, chaos, transformations, and the 'turns' and 'tricks' of history. Journal Article
The paper offers a new theoretical framework for linking inflation and accumulation, with the Israeli experience as a case study. The focal point is the process of differential accumulation by the largest core firms. The theory of differential accumulation suggests that the relative power of these firms can be augmented either through ‘breadth’ (relative employment) or ‘depth’ (relative profit per employee). In the Israeli case, inflation accelerated since the 1970s when the large core firm began shifting their emphasis from breadth to depth. The paper examines the political economic conditions typical to each of these regimes, why these conditions changed in Israel, and how the distributive gains of the core firms pushed the country onto the brink of hyperinflation. It then articulates the inherent limits of a ‘depth’ regime, why Israel reached those limits during the early 1980s, and how this brought the inflation spiral to an end.
Rockefeller’s global reach -- from the University of Chicago to the Holy Land. FROM THE ARTICLE: John D. Rockefeller knew a thing or two about power. His Standard Oil of New Jersey became a blueprint for corporate centralization. He pioneered new methods of stock rigging and financial mischief. He destroyed competition wherever he could and set new standards for industrial sabotage and union busting. He manipulated the tastes of “rational consumers” and made “policymakers” dance to his tune. He used violence to expropriate from indigenous Americans their resource-rich lands, and religion to pacify their resistance. He harnessed the U. S. military to impose American “free trade” on the rest of the world. Raw power made Rockefeller and his family enormously rich. And yet, to the end of his life, John D. insisted that his best investment ever was the $45 million he donated to rebuild the Baptist University of Chicago. Rockefeller saw Chicago as a religious asset. The philanthropy helped silence his critics in this world and pave his way to heaven in the next. It bought him the loyalty of spiritual shepherds and academic retainers, all eager to sing the praise of Standard Oil and glorify its devout owner. But in the long run the biggest yield came from the university’s department of economics. [. . .] A FEW WORDS ON THE HISTORY OF THIS ARTICLE: The paper was originally commissioned in August 2003 by the Journal of Cold War Studies. Following our explicit inquiry, the journal confirmed that our text would be published “as is.” With this assurance, we submitted the paper in January 2004. The paper was longer than the journal’s standard review. We explicitly drew attention to the extra length and explained why a longer article was necessary given the subject matter. The journal accepted the review and scheduled its publication to the Fall of 2004. But then the editor, Mark Kramer, had a change of heart. Having read our paper, he must have realized he had made a big mistake. This type of criticism had no place in his respectable journal. He began evasive actions. Without notice, our paper was postponed to the next issue, and then to the following one. We protested the censorship. Kramer assured us there was none. There was simply a long backlog of reviews, he said. Our paper would be published as is and without editorial intervention. Finally, in April 2005, the truth came out. We were notified that the paper would not be published at all. It was simply . . . too long. We could, if we wanted to, cut the article in half. Or, alternatively, we could enlarge it into a review essay and re-submit it to the journal’s referees. But then the Journal would have to re-consider it. . . .
Henryk Grossmann radically changed the course of Marxist economics with his 1929 adaptation of Marx's law of the falling rate of profit. By a simple extension of Otto Bauer's simulation of Marx's reproduction schema, Grossmann demonstrates that accumulation leads to a shrinking pool of surplus value and eventual economic breakdown. It can, however, be argued that once the role of money is taken seriously in Marx's reproduction schema it is no longer possible for accumulation to swallow up all the available surplus value. By identifying the role of the Kalecki principle in Marx's schema, that capitalists earn what they spend, a modified simulation of the Bauer/Grossmann model is developed in which there is no precise mechanical breakdown. This approach leads to a focus, in interpreting Marx's law of the falling rate of profit, on problems of realization associated with an increasing mass of surplus value.
An unexpected confrontation involving Ernesto Laclau, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, and Herbert Marcuse serves as a testing ground for one of political theory’s most basic tasks: to determine the concepts that are used to theorize politics. Laclau claims that by relying on a concept of immanence, Hardt and Negri cannot account for the relational nature of politics. Defending Hardt and Negri by turning their work against itself reveals unacknowledged and unintended affinities with Marcuse’s critical theory. Disclosing these affinities rescues a productive understanding of immanence from Laclau’s critique. Moreover, the dialectical logic employed by Marcuse is notable for its ability to make sense of and articulate the politics of Empire and multitude. Following from Marcuse, the significant dialectical roots of Hardt and Negri’s work display how a dialectical approach to contemporary politics can give an account of far more than just the labor movement.
Catherine MacKinnon, perhaps the dominant voice of North American feminist legal theory over the last two decades, developed her feminist theory of law through an extended metaphor with Marxism. Marxist thought thus became thoroughly intertwined with MacKinnon’s particular brand of radical feminism in the minds of many feminist legal scholars and activists. As MacKinnon’s work has fallen out of favor in recent years, largely as a result of criticisms leveled against it from postmodern and critical race feminist perspectives, so too has the work of Marx. Setting MacKinnon’s Towards a Feminist Theory of the State side by side with Volume I of Capital, and offering a critique of the use she made of Marx’s work, reveals the continued relevance of Marxism to feminist legal scholarship and activism.
The paper summarises the definitions of productive labour derived from Smith and Marx. It attempts to develop a more general definition deriving from the theory of relative surplus value. The im- plications of the new definition for the examination of highly socialised capitalist economies like Sweden are examined. The crew was complete: it included a Boots A maker of Bonnets and Hoods A Barrister brought to arrange their disputes And a Broker to value their goods (Lewis Caroll, Hunting of the Snark)
Marx's theory of value can be used to provide a rich account of capitalist degradation of the environment and depletion of natural resources. Natural aspects are among the regulating conditions of production that determine the value of commodities. The use of better natural conditions and resources than those used by regulating capitals results in superprofits, appropriated as rents in the case of landed property. Depletion of natural resources and increased pollution result, as part of the regulating conditions of production, ceteris paribus, in an increase in the value of commodities. This increase impacts upon cost of production, profits, rents and wages, and gives rise to various tensions, conflicts and struggles that reshape the appropriation of nature. This dialectic does not allow us to argue for a generic tendency in capitalism towards a "stationary state" or an ecological catastrophe; the possibility of social change and revolution is grounded instead in the many contradictions and undesirable effects of capitalism, including the ecological ones, and in the struggles waged over them.
Progressive and Communist Jewish identity in Argentina flourished between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Cold War. In 1937, during the Popular Front period, Jewish Communist intellectuals organized an International Congress of Yiddish Culture in Paris. Twenty-three countries were represented, and the Congress formed the Yiddisher Kultur Farband (YKUF). In 1941, this Congress was replicated in Argentina, where the YKUF sponsored an important network of schools, clubs, theaters, socio-cultural centers, and libraries created by Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The Ykufist or Progressive Jewish identity reflects a particular construction that is as ethnic as it is political. As “Jewish,” it aimed to transmit the secular heritage of the Yiddishkeit devastated in Europe during World War II, but as “progressive,” “radical” or “Communist,” it postulated its yearning for integration into a universal socialism led by the Soviet model. Progressive Jewish identity was shaped in the antifascist culture and by permanent tensions between Jewish ethnicity and the guidelines of the Communist Party. Above all, it was framed by a fervent aspiration of the immigrants and their children to integrate into their Argentine society.
For nearly a decade American Communists generally ignored the problems of African Americans, much as Socialists had done. The Comintern's involvement with national liberation movements and the activism of some "new Negro" militants put some pressure on the American Party to move into this area. But this did not challenge the Party's basic focus on the working class, against which all else was seen as a diversion. In 1928 the 6th Congress of the Comintern resolved that the Negro population of the "black belt" was a subject nation, thus capable of engendering a "national revolutionary movement," and ordered the American Party to give work on the Negro question high priority. The Party eventually found in the "Scottsboro Case" an issue that made the situation of African Americans a matter of international concern for the first time since the Civil War, and locked it into the American radical/liberal political agenda. The first part of this article (S&S, Winter 1999-2000) dealt with the situation before the 6th Congress; the present part examines the Resolution and its consequences.
The glamour of the silver screen has obscured the Hollywood left's commitment to economic democracy. When Hollywood talent examined the world through the lenses of labor conflict and capitalist production, they began to see themselves as exploited workers, not as privileged middle-class artists. That consciousness of a new class identity propelled them to engage in something more than noblesse oblige or class paternalism. Out of the alchemy of economic upheaval, political ferment, and professional self-interest, Hollywood's creative class provided leadership in a coherent social movement that placed the emancipation of labor at the center of its worldview. Through labor-oriented political activism, they opened vistas on a national organization that could function as an independent instrument of political action. More than just celebrity sponsors of liberal causes, Hollywood activists functioned as public intellectuals for democratic socialism. They pointed toward the possibilities of a progressive movement that united professionals, white-collar workers, and industrial laborers.
The outbreak of the Second World War found U. S. Trotskyism divided into two organizations: the Socialist Workers Party led by James Cannon, and the Workers Party led by Max Shachtman. The downfall of Mussolini on July 24, 1943 led to the appearance of a third current: a minority within the SWP led by Felix Morrow, Jean van Heijenoort and Albert Goldman. Confronting the SWP leaders' line, according to which U. S. imperialism would operate in Europe through "Franco-type governments," the minority argued that it would rely on democratic regimes to stem the advance of the revolution, propping them up with economic aid, and that it would be helped in this task by the Socialist and Communist Parties, which would revive the policy of class collaboration known as Popular Front. The task of the European Trotskyists was therefore to wrest control of the masses from those parties through democratic and transitional demands (a Democratic Republic, a Constituent Assembly, etc.) which would help the workers discover the anti-socialist agenda of their mass organizations through their own experience. The Morrow Goldman Heijenoort tendency's inglorious ending precluded any serious analysis of the dire consequences of the policies pursued by the SWP leadership.
A key point in the history of the Communist Party USA occurred in events surrounding the 16th National Convention, in 1957 and 1958. During this period a struggle over the political and organizational direction of the Party erupted, resulting in a reduced and weakened organization. Most historians give priority to the split between the right and left wings led by Johnny Gates and William Z. Foster, respectively. This overlooks the importance of the center reform forces, who constituted the majority at the 16th Convention and advocated building a mass socialist party based on an indigenous Marxist analysis. This history can be recovered, and the historiography of the CPUSA in the Cold War years enriched, through analysis of previously unpublished correspondence among national leaders of the center trend.
The popular view that the number of unnatural deaths in China during the Difficult Three Year Period (1959-1961) amounted to some 30 million is false, as shown by careful analysis. Taking the average death toll from 1955 to 1957 as the base number, and combining this with unreported deaths from 1953 to 1964 and subsequent corrections, it may be estimated that approximately four to five million people suffered unnatural deaths during the Difficult Three Year Period. These deaths had a complex series of causes. Starvation-caused deaths were the primary type, followed by weak disaster relief, and then by mistakes of local government in disaster relief. While the millions of unnatural deaths represent a lesson that needs to be reflected upon, the efforts which the Chinese government undertook to deal with the famine, as well as the results achieved, should not be forgotten.
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) emerged from the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) in 1949 after Western trade union affiliates in the latter organization expressed major policy differences over the Marshall Plan. For its first 20 years, the ICFTU refused all forms of collaboration with the WFTU, contending that the Federation advocated a politically monolithic Communism with its primary function being the promotion of Soviet policy. The ICF-TU's position was disingenuous, given the WFTU's polycentric nature encompassing variants of Communist theory and practice dating back at least to October 1965. Moreover, even when the WFTU Secretariat condemned the August 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the ICFTU still refused cooperation. While a minor thaw between the ICFTU and the WFTU occurred during the early through the late 1970s, it was, at best, tentative, minimal and inconsequential.
Karl Marx’s revolutionary socialism, Karl Polanyi’s observation of the “planned” nature of market economies, and Claude Meillassoux’s Marxist approach to economic anthropology form the basis for a historical review of labor market evolution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for the period from the 1970s to the early 2000s. The so-called “socialist market economy” in the PRC implies above all the state’s strong intervention in the labor market, which has not worked in the spirit of restriction (i.e., reducing working hours, increasing social welfare and leisure time, and so forth), but as an enabler of labor commodification, for the purpose of boosting the economy. The notion of “liberating the productive forces,” a “Chinese interpretation” of Karl Marx’s fight for human emancipation, provides insights on the relationship between economic development and labor market evolution, and thus contributes to the literature on China’s ascent.
Through their struggles for better services, grassroots movements played a large role in the process of democratization and construction of social citizenship in the Dominican Republic. The modern grassroots movement, especially in relation to the uprising of April 1984, challenged the government's neoliberal policies and opened the way for the emergence of an independent movement that confronted both left-wing parties and organized labor. However, because the gains from expanding social citizenship remained limited in the face of the Dominican state's inability to formulate socio-economic policies, the movements at best posed a worthwhile goal that Dominican society may revisit in the near future.
The social explosion of December 2008 in Greece represented a postscript from the future. In a country where the consequences of the global economic crisis had already begun to make themselves felt — in conjunction with the collapse of a specific model for integration into the global division of labor — it had become evident that the younger generations were destined to experience a much worse future than preceding generations. The realization that unemployment, flexible working hours and hyper-exploitation would be the norm, in combination with other conjunctural questions (an exacerbation of repression, political scandals, sharpening of the migration question), resulted in the situation whereby the country with the richest leftist traditions in Western Europe witnessed an explosion of the greatest youth revolt of the last 30 years. It would mark a turning point for the development of new outbreaks of social upheaval that would bring to the fore the contradictions in management of the global capitalist crisis.
In the light of the great capitalist failures over the past two decades, it is necessary to reevaluate both the historical performance of, and historical justification for, socialism. Even if one follows the logic of mainstream economic theory, there is no clear theoretical case why socialism is necessarily inferior to capitalism. There is no clear evidence that the socialist economies performed worse than the capitalist economies in term of economic growth. But there is evidence that the socialist economies met the population's basic needs better than the capitalist economies, especially with countries in the periphery and semi-periphery included in the comparison. In the 21st century, the historical task of socialism is no longer about how to successfully compete against capitalism in the capitalist world system. Instead, as capitalism ceases to be a viable historical system, socialism may prove to be the only viable solution to the fundamental crisis confronting humanity.