BOOK REVIEW

Adorno and Neoliberalism: The Critique of Exchange Society

London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2020. 188 pp., £76.50 hb
ISBN9781350103245

Reviewed by Iaan Reynolds

Marx and Philosophy Review of Books | May 28, 2021

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 »

BOOK REVIEW

Leo Panitch and Greg Albo (eds)

Beyond Digital Capitalism: New Ways of Living

Socialist Register 2021, The Merlin Press, London, 2020. 324 pp., $24.00 pb
ISBN 9781583678831

Reviewed by Scott Timcke

      Marx and Philosophy Review of Books | May 10, 2021

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 »

NEW BOOK 

Dario Azzellini (Ed.)

More than a labor dispute!

Workers worldwide against authoritarianism, fascism and dictatorship
A publication by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

248 pages | 2021 | EUR 16.80
ISBN 978-3-96488-081-9

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 »

BOOK REVIEW 

Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb

Epidemic Empire: Colonialism, Contagion, and Terror 1817-2020

University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2021, 412 pp., $35.00 pb
ISBN 9780226739359

Reviewed by Joshua Moufawad-Paul

Marx and Philosophy Review of Books | April 27, 2021

A poetics of contagion flourished throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Language regarding literal epidemic measures (quarantine, isolation, personal protective equipment, hygiene, vaccines, etc.) intermingled with figurative language about nations and populations: orientalist claims regarding the source of the virus, migrants as vectors of transmission, quasi-Nietzschean interpretations of ‘herd immunity’. Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb’s Epidemic Empire demonstrates that this ‘disease poetics’ has been part of global capitalism since its emergence. The thinking of contagion is bound up with how a global imperialism in development imagined insurgency alongside epidemics, how the study of counter-insurgency and the study of epidemiology were entangled. Hence, it is difficult to separate the political figuration of contagion from medical discourse.

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BOOK REVIEW 

Reviewed by Chris James Newlove

Marx and Philosophy Review of Books | April 01, 2021

The Communist Movement at a Crossroads documents discussion of the fundamental issues of revolutionary strategy and tactics, many of which are still relevant today including the question of the United Front, Workers Governments and the fight against fascism. The plenums documented in the book are meetings of an enlarged executive committee of the Communist International that were held between the main World Congresses, the first four of which (when V. I. Lenin was alive) have been documented in English in John Riddell’s series. The plenums described by Grigorri Zinoviev as ‘small world congresses’ are of equal interest to the main congresses predominantly organised by the Russian Communist Party, debating and taking important decisions that directly shaped the practice of Communist Parties (and other forces) around the world.

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BOOK REVIEW 

Can ‘ethical investing’ save the world?

Mark Carney
VALUE(S): Building a Better World for All
Penguin Random House, 2021

reviewed by Michael Roberts

Climate and Capitalism | March 15, 2021

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 »

REMEMBERING ROSA

The Letters Of Rosa Luxemburg

VERSO 2013

New Books Network | March 09, 2021

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 »

BOOK REVIEW

WRITING SOCIAL – DEMOCRACY

Ian Bullock

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 »

BOOK REVIEW 

Nietzsche, the Aristocratic Rebel: Intellectual Biography and Critical Balance-Sheet

Translated by Gregor Benton, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2020. 1054pp., £25.99 pb
ISBN 9781642593402

Reviewed by Matt Sharpe

Marx and Philosophy Review of Books | March 04, 2021

The extraordinary wealth and density of historical, philosophical, and political trees that thicken the 1000 pages of Domenico Losurdo’s Friedrich Nietzsche: Aristocratic Rebel (hereafter Nietzsche) make the task of any reviewer of the book extremely difficult. The significance of this book as a systematic, copiously documented challenge to the postwar, post-Kaufmanian and post-Deleuzian receptions of Nietzsche as the playful, experimental, fragmentary, anti-foundationalist, aesthetic individualist or deconstructionist, apolitical (or liberal) critic of power and challenger of grand narratives can hardly be overstated. Losurdo’s big book on Nietzsche is the heftiest counterweight against selective, contentiously unpolitical readings of the German philosopher for undergraduate students to encounter, in any course on his thought. For Losurdo, Nietzsche is a philosopher totus politicus (28.1, hereafter as here, Losurdo’s book will be cited by chapter, then section number. With direct quotes, exact pagination is added in brackets). Nietzsche’s ability to discern “slave morality” in everything from the Socratic syllogism, via the Paris commune, to the universal laws of the natural sciences outbids even Marx, albeit from the reactionary Right. He is politically an aristocratic rebel, as Georges Brandes identified, horrified by the progress being made in his time by the feminist, abolitionist, and socialist movements, “whose opponent I am […] The great laments about human misery do not move me, they do not induce me to participate in that lament” (Nietzsche 1999a, 294; at 10.2 (330)). 

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