Letter from the editors

THIS ISSUE’S cover story is the second part of a two-part article on the causes and consequences of global climate change. (The first part can be found in ISR 62, November-December 2008). In the first installment, Chris Williams concluded that neither individual nor free-market solutions can solve the crisis, since they are respectively either insufficient to challenge the scale of the problem, or are in large part responsible for causing it. Here, he continues his analysis of dubious proposals to deal with climate change, such as nuclear power, and advances a Marxist analysis of what must be done to move toward real solutions to the crisis.

Israel’s onslaught on the tiny, crowded strip of land know as Gaza broke out after the last ISR issue had already gone to press. The most intensive phase of what is an ongoing Israeli campaign to destroy the Palestinian people’s will to resist has ended, but the war did not begin with Operation Cast Lead and it will not end with it—nor will Palestinians relinquish their struggle for their national rights. We have a number of articles that examine the latest attack and explore the larger context in which it took place.

Toufic Haddad notes that Operation Cast Lead was “entirely premeditated, planned, and organized months in advance, and with explicit U.S approval.” The derisory Hamas rocket attacks—which could easily have been stopped if Israel had abided by the terms of the truce—were merely a pretext used to justify Israel’s assault.

Deepa Kumar offers a brief history of Hamas and explains how disillusionment with the Palestinian Authority has fueled its rise. “When we separate propaganda from reality,” she writes, “what we find is a group that has taken on the mantle of national resistance against Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.” Phil Gasper looks at the growing revival of the idea of a one-state solution among Palestinians as the two-state solution more and more appears to be a cover for Israeli-style apartheid. Finally, Paul D’Amato revisits the close affinity and strong relationship that developed between racist apartheid South Africa and Israel.

We had originally planned to do a special issue on the economic crisis. Other events have intervened and instead we are running a special section on the crisis in this and coming issues. Here, we have four articles on the topic. Labor scholar Kim Moody, author of U.S. Labor in Trouble and Transition, discusses the changes that the economic crisis and the Obama election might have on the prospects for rebuilding the labor movement in the United States.

Fred Moseley, a Marxist economist at Mount Holyoke College, offers a lucid analysis of the origins of the current economic crisis in the United States. “The situation suggests,” writes Moseley, “that the capitalist financial system, left on its own, is inherently unstable, and can only ‘avoid’ crises by being bailed out by the government, at the taxpayers’ expense. There is a double indictment here: the capitalist financial system is inherently unstable and the necessary bailouts are economically unjust.”

London-based Marxist economist Ben Fine argues that “Marx’s theory of finance and of capital in exchange more generally is of paramount importance in addressing” issues raised by the current economic crisis.

Tom Bramble, professor of labor relations at the University of Queensland, discusses the ways in which Australia, which had managed to avoid economic crisis for longer than most states, is now feeling the effects of the current meltdown. We plan to have several more articles on different aspects of the crisis in the next issue.

Petrino DiLeo, author of an article on the return of Keynes in the lastISR, reviews one of the many books that were quickly published as the economy tanked last year, Robert J. Shiller’s The Subprime Solution. DiLeo can’t help noticing that Schiller’s analysis, while now dated, is useful if somewhat shallow, and that Schiller’s proposals to get out of the crisis are intended to “avert greater explosions of class struggle—what Shiller calls ‘social change.’”

The election of Barack Obama amid the worst economic crisis of the post-Second World War era has prompted some commentators to make comparisons of his presidency to that of Roosevelt in the 1930s Depression era. In an excerpt from his book, The Democrats: A Critical History, Lance Selfa delves into the history of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Selfa also has a review in this issue of Robert Kuttner’s new book,Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency.

Our featured review is of Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor takes issue with Perlstein’s overriding assumption that America remains fractured around a “red-blue” divide that began in the late 1960s. “Though the characterization of all whites as conservative and hostile to changes brought about by the civil rights movement and other social protests began narrowly as a Nixon campaign strategy in 1968,” writes Taylor, “it later became widely accepted as the central divide in American politics. Rick Perlstein…fully embraces this assumption.”

Another notable review is Nicole Colson’s on Raj Patel’s Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Patel, Colson summarizes, “dissects the global contradictions of this for-profit system, explaining why, for example, millions go hungry in the developing world while there is an epidemic of obesity in industrialized nations—disproportionately affecting the urban poor.”


Issue #102

Fall 2016

World economy

The return of crisis
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