London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2020. 188 pp., £76.50 hb
Reviewed by Iaan Reynolds
In Adorno and Neoliberalism: The Critique of Exchange Society, Charles A. Prusik argues that Adorno’s critical theory can provide crucial resources for an understanding of neoliberal political economy and the forms of thought it generates, weaving an impressive knowledge of Adorno’s works and their reception with deep familiarity with Marxist and classical political economy, neoclassical and neoliberal economics, and political history. Prusik’s book is valuable for the way it works against the customary interpretation of the early Frankfurt School as a group of theorists departing from – rather than deepening – Marxist social theory. The Adorno of these pages is not so much an elitist forebear of apolitical aesthetics as a critic of capitalist society.Read More »
Leo Panitch and Greg Albo (eds)
Socialist Register 2021, The Merlin Press, London, 2020. 324 pp., $24.00 pb
Completed ‘under the difficult conditions created by the pandemic’ (xiii) the 2020 edition of the Socialist Register seeks to ‘analyze the nature of digital capitalism and its contradictions’ (ix), doing so ‘within the history of technological change’ (x). In selecting this topic, the late Leo Panitch and Greg Albo’s goal was to highlight the extent to which ‘digital technology has become integral to capitalist market dystopia’ (ix), a necessary task given the prevalence of ‘cyber-utopian’ (ix) and ‘techno determinist’ (x) thought in the public and private realms. This kind of ‘celebrant’ ideology, which Robert McChesney (2013) outlined so well recently, provides a social license for centi-billionaires like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos to continue to have a disproportionate say in directing investments, allocating resources and setting the terms of production. In laying out this agenda, Panitch and Albo rightly place greater emphasis on ‘capitalism’ than the adjectival ‘digital’, effectively suggesting that regardless of the various affordances platforms, algorithms and code may provide, in the first instance they are shaped by the imperatives of capital. Theirs is a welcome addition of materialist and class analysis to the general literature within Science and Technology Studies through demonstrating how digitalization is used to expand and deepen capitalist social relations.Read More »
Workers worldwide against authoritarianism, fascism and dictatorship
A publication by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
248 pages | 2021 | EUR 16.80
Short text: Encouragement in the face of global disorder: Examples from numerous countries on different continents show the central role of the organized working population in the struggle against authoritarianism, fascism and dictatorship.
An English-language edition will be published in May 2021 with the title If Not Us, Who?Read More »
Can ‘ethical investing’ save the world?
reviewed by Michael Roberts
Canadian born Mark Carney was formerly the governor of the Bank of England – the best paid governor ever at £680,000 a year plus £250,000 housing expenses. Carney recently commented that “You don’t get rich in public service”!
Before that Carney was governor of the Bank of Canada, becoming the youngest central bank governor in the G20 nations. And before that he was 13 years at, guess where, Goldman Sachs, where he played a prominent role in advising the black majority government of South Africa on issuing international bonds and he was active for the company during the Russian debt crisis of 1998. Goldman Sachs made billions from these activities as the South African and Russian economies dived. And Carney made a fortune at Goldman Sachs.Read More »
The Letters Of Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg occupies a complex place in our history partly because there are several different Rosa’s one can find scattered across the world; the feminist activist, revolutionary Marxist, economist, journalist, essayist literary and critic all have been picked up in coopted by different movements at different times. While this speaks to her versatility as a thinker, writer and person, it also reflects the fragmented way in which her writing has been collected, edited, translated and published. A pamphlet here, an essay there, a book or 2 and several collections of letters but little effort has been made to present her in a thorough, well organized format. Luckily that is changing with the ongoing efforts to publish the entirety of her output in English translation, the vast majority of it being translated now for the first time by Verso. Read More »
WRITING SOCIAL – DEMOCRACY
The main title for my Drums of Armageddon came from an article in the Clarion by its editor Robert Blatchford soon after the start of the the 1914 war. In a way the book was a piece of opportunism. The Sussex University library had the three longest established socialist papers of the period – Justice. The Clarion, and Labour Leader -on microfilm at least up to the end of the fateful year when war broke out. So the book was to some extent just taking advantage of this for a relatively straightforward bit of research which unlike my ILP book did not involve any travelling – apart from to the university. That’s not to say that I don’t think the book is a useful addition to our knowledge of attitudes on the Left to the outbreak of the war. I certainly do.
I decided to begin by writing about the final peacetime month –July 1914 – to bring out the way the war was a disaster that set everything back – especially for those on the Left – and then the remaining months of the fateful year of 1914. I set out to examine attitudes and actions it in some detail through the prism of the three papers.Read More »