Bristol, Bristol University Press, 2021. x+230 pp., € 26.10 pb. ISBN 978-1529211672
Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer
Carl Rhodes’ latest book about ‘Woke Capitalism’ is asking us to ‘be alert’, i.e., woke to capitalism. The title of the book is transferring the African-American term ‘woke’ meaning to be alert about racism and racial prejudice – to capitalism. Yet, woke capitalism is a particular form of capitalism. To illuminate this and how woke capitalism sets up corporate morality – a contradictory term or tautology – is indeed ‘sabotaging democracy’ (the book’s sub-title), Rhodes offers thirteen highly readable and often rather entertaining chapters. The book begins with ‘The Problem of Woke Capitalism’ and ends with ‘Getting Woke about Woke Capitalism’.
Princeton University Press, 2021, 248pp., £25.00 hb, £17.99 pb ISBN9780691241753
Reviewed by Steph Marston
Mary Wollstonecraft has the perfect biography for an enduring feminist heroine: an independent woman earning her living through combative political writings, whose work was alternately praised or denigrated, depending on whether her gender was evident; a passionate woman disregarding social conventions in her relationships with men and steadfast in her friendships with other women; an adventurous woman who went to live in France during the revolution and who travelled in Scandinavia, subsequently publishing a collection of letters so eloquent that they inspired the Romantic poets. Her professional activities and personal choices may appear to cast her as a woman ahead of her times, as familiar to twenty-first century readers as our contemporaries.
The Communist Women’s Movement (CWM), virtually unknown today, was the world’s first international revolutionary organisation of women. Formed in 1920, the CWM mapped out a programme for women’s emancipation; participated in struggles for women’s rights; and worked to advance women’s participation in the Communist movement.
The present volume, part of a series on the Communist International in Lenin’s time, contains proceedings and resolutions of CWM conferences, along with reports on its work around the world. Most of the contents here are published in English for the first time, with almost half appearing for the first time in any language.
EDITED BY LORENZO FUSARO AND LEINAD JOHAN ALCALÁ SANDOVAL – CONTRIBUTIONS BY ROSSANA CILLO; LUIS FELIPE DOCOA; ROBERTO FINESCHI; ABELARDO MARIÑA FLORES; LORENZO FUSARO; CARLOS ALBERTO DUQUE GARCÍA; SERGIO CÁMARA IZQUIERDO; MATARI PIERRE MANIGAT; LUCIA PRADELLA; WILLIAM I. ROBINSON; SIBYL ITALIA PINEDA SALAZAR AND LEINAD JOHAN ALCALÁ SANDOVAL
This edited collection engages with Marx’s General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, examining the relevance and actuality of Marx’s propositions for the analysis of contemporary capitalism in Latin America and beyond. The contributors offer an original and updated interpretation of Marx while also examining important topics in political economy. The contributors bring critical insights into scholarly debates on imperialism, exploitation, labor, and development.
The mythology surrounding the so-called Holodomor, the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933, is exposed in a concise 78-pages book edited by Nikos Mottas and published in Greek language by Atexnos Publishing House.
For many decades, the issue of the Ukrainian famine in 1932-33, the famous Holodomor, occupies a prominent place in the arsenal of anti-communism. Especially after the counter-revolutionary overthrows in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, the Holodomor is at the forefront of a systematic and persistent attempt to vilify socialism of the 20th century and present it as an evil, inhumane system which is supposedly responsible for millions of deaths.
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, leftist writers Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy offer a deeply informed, and eminently enjoyable, imagined history of what might have been if Karl Marx and his eldest daughter, Jenny, had travelled to Paris during the heady weeks of April 1871. In disguise, employing imperfect but serviceable French, Karl and Jenny encounter and debate many important figures of the movement, including Leó Frankel, Eugène Varlin, Charles Longuet, Elisabeth Dmitrieff, and Louise Michel, eventually returning to England with a profoundly changed sense of political possibility.
This is the story of the decline and fall of an empire, a region devastated by war, and a world stage fundamentally transformed by the Russian Revolution. Bauer’s magisterial work — available in English for the first time in full — charts the evolution of three simultaneous, overlapping revolutionary waves: a national revolution for self-determination, which brought down imperial Austro-Hungary; a bourgeois revolution for parliamentary republics and universal suffrage; and a social revolution for workers’ control, factory councils, and industrial democracy.
The brief but crowning achievement of Red Vienna, alongside Bauer’s unique theorization of an “integral socialism” — an attempted synthesis of revolutionary communism and social democracy — is a vital part of the left’s intellectual and historical heritage. Today, as movements once again struggle with questions of reform or revolution, political strategy, and state power, this is a crucial resource. Bauer tells the story of the Austrian Revolution with all the immediacy of a central participant, and all the insight of a brilliant and original theorist.
This volume within the series Selected Writings of Stuart Hall, which Duke University Press has published over the last years, is a much needed and welcoming addition to the already existing volumes that include editions on the popular arts, media, politics, race and difference, identity and diaspora, the foundations of cultural studies, as well as on Hall’s auto-biography Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands, in which Hall describes his life and ‘diasporic self’ as ‘inserted into history’ somewhere between the Caribbean and Great Britain. The published volumes present Hall as one of the most important and brilliant left intellectuals of the last 50 years, especially as his work comprises a broad range and mixture of general cultural and societal issues, compelling interventions into politics and extremely careful abstract theoretical reflections. In addition, the series reveals the intellectual unity and development of a fascinating writer and mind who, throughout his lifetime, stayed uncannily close to the intellectual heartbeats of his time, society and historical conjunctures. Undoubtedly, this was at least in part due both to his influential editorial work for The New Left Review and to his involvement in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham. Hall’s position between structuralist Marxism and cultural studies, which is the focus of this volume, makes him interesting (again) for our contemporary debates, since we can learn from Hall how to avoid the pitfalls of either doing too much Marxist theorizing or doing too much cultural interpretation. In the spirit of Kant’s dictum that concepts without intuitions remain empty and intuitions without concepts remain blind, we might say that a critical theory of society without cultural studies remains empty, and cultural studies without a Marxist theory of society remains blind.
For a decade now Maurizio Lazzarato’s analyses have been swiftly translated into English after a period of relative lag in uptake in the anglophone world, a case of missed connection in the flurry of importing French and Italian radical thought. His reception has picked up speed because he writes passionately in a polemical tenor that makes for quick and punchy reading, although much of the analysis relies on technical terminology from contemporary European philosophy that renders accessibility elusive at times. The rapidity of translation via the Semiotex(e) Intervention Series has resonated with the conjunctural nature of Lazzarato’s writing, as he has moved swiftly to make sense of a shifting political terrain in theory and providing assessments of radical political movements. Capital Hates Everyone: Fascism or Revolution offers a political intervention in the sense of taking stock of contemporary tendencies and putting forth a set of strategic concerns animating a politics for the moment of its writing. As such, Capital Hates Everyone might be best read as a historical appraisal of a particular conjuncture in which the threat of ascendent fascist tendencies in global politics meets the continuing dominance of neoliberalism, while protest movements like the Gilets jaunes in France struggle to find a footing. In the book’s introduction, the ‘yellow vests’ movement roiling France at the time of the book’s writing is instructive in multiple ways. First, far from being a model of future organization, the yellow vests movement demonstrates some of the weaknesses and temptations found in what Lazzarato describes as ‘68 thought’, the proliferation of leftist political theories and organizational models in Western Europe since the failed pre-revolutionary moment of 1968. More than this, however, the response of the French state to these protests has laid bare the depth of ‘class hatred’, the affective revulsion of capitalism’s managers for any insurgent activity, along with the strategic lengths they will go to erase political possibilities beyond the neoliberal consensus (9-10). Hence the title, Capital Hates Everyone. For Lazzarato, anti-capitalists must reckon with the intensity of reaction that capitalists can rouse among themselves and in new fascist movements that seek nothing less than the liquidation of dissent.
“There can be only one accurate description of the situation: out of control.”
Andreas Malm’s book How to Blow Up a Pipeline, with its call for the environmental movement to start sabotaging fossil fuel infrastructure to save our planet, has sparked a vibrant discussion on the left about direct action tactics and eco-sabotage to address the climate crisis.
Verso has put together a free, downloadable ebook, Property Will Cost Us the Earth, of essays from activists and writers around the world grappling with the idea of direct action and eco-sabotage, survey climate activism around the world, and argue for the necessity of building a fighting global movement against capitalism and its fossil fuel regime.
Moving from Mozambique, the Niger Delta, and the coal mines of India to the forests of Ecuador and the watersheds of North America, Property Will Cost Us the Earth details the global scale of climate devastation as well as active struggles around the world to halt further extraction. From this come tactical and strategic questions: how can local direct actions relate to political work forcing states to end reliance on oil, coal, and gas? What kind of protest movement can we build that reflects the urgency of our moment? What does a direct action–based movement require from those on the frontlines of struggle?
With contributions from: Alyssa Battistoni, James Butler, João Camargo, Jen Deerinwater, Ben Ehrenreich, Madeline ffitch, Frente Nacional Anti-Minero (Ecuador), Bue Rübner Hansen, Siihasin Hope, Tara Houska, Jessie Kindig, Benjamin Kunkel, Anabela Lemos and Erika Mendes from Justiça Ambiental! (Mozambique), Andreas Malm, M.O.T.H. Collective, Vanessa Nakate and Amy Goodman, Brototi Roy, Andrea Sempértegui, Richard Seymour, and Adam Tooze.