Letter from the editors

AS ERIC Ruder and Phil Gasper note in their respective articles (“What is socialism” and “Reviving socialism from below”), socialist ideas—however confused and distorted—have found their way into mainstream discussion in a way that would have been hard to imagine before the right wing started accusing Obama last summer of being a follower of Karl Marx.

This new opening allows those of us with a commitment to a radical transformation of society to shed our ingrained defensiveness after years of being told that socialism was passé, and to come out swinging. Ruder and Gasper begin by analyzing the distorted definitions of socialism, and finish by reviving the much more attractive vision of socialism as fought for by workers’ movements of the past and given theoretical expression by its most famous proponents, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

David Barsamian’s interview with Howard Zinn takes a look at the economic crisis and the Obama election and compares and contrasts them with the era of the 1930s, concluding forcefully that it’s not so much who’s on top as who is struggling from below that will determine what happens in this new liberal era.

John D’Emilio, famous for his seminal writings on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history and politics, talks to Sherry Wolf about what has changed and what hasn’t for LBGT people, and how another broad-based social and economic movement will have to be built to take things further.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. Climate and Capitalism editor, Ian Angus, reveals the connections between Darwin’s evolutionary breakthrough and Marx’s revolutionary ideas.

Moshé Machover, a founding member of the Israeli Socialist Organization, Matzpen, in the 1960s, offers his staunchly anti-Zionist analysis of the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the road to its resolution.

As part of our ongoing coverage of the economic crisis, three articles are noteworthy. Claudio Katz, an Argentine Marxist economist, analyzes the contours of the current world crisis, arguing that this is both a crisis of the financial system as well as a crisis of global overproduction. Without denying the reality of a wave of worldwide growth preceding the latest collapse, Katz argues that the contradictions that gave rise to the present crisis predated the latest financial bubble.

Deborah Goldsmith, who teaches economics and women’s studies at City College of San Francisco, dissects the role of the Federal Reserve System in propping up U.S. and global capitalism. Adam Turl, in the reports pages, looks at the human impact of the collapse of the job market in the United States.

There are two economics-related reviews that deserve mention. David Whitehouse reviews the new edition of Paul Krugman’s Return of Depression Economics, and Ashley Smith takes a critical look at David Harvey’s Brief History of Neoliberalism.

We have a number of interesting reports, from the strikes in Guadeloupe and Martinique to an interview with Anand Gopal, a progressive reporter who spent some time in Afghanistan. Dana Cloud’s piece highlights the assault on academic freedom. The revival of campus activism we’ve seen over the past months does not mean the right wing has slinked away. As Cloud notes in her article on academic freedom, the fight against maneuvers by right-wingers like David Horowitz, along with university administrations, to shut down freedom of expression and the right to protest on college campuses will have to become a new front of student and faculty activism in the coming years.

The revival of the labor movement is long overdue, and though the crisis may at first discourage workers from fighting back, it is also creating a higher level of class consciousness and greater openings for future struggles. Sydney Lens’s 1973 book, Labor Wars, republished by Haymarket Books and reviewed by Joe Allen, provides the historical lessons necessary for today’s budding working-class radicals.

Issue #102

Fall 2016

World economy

The return of crisis
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