Saturday, 12 November 2011

International Socialism 132

I've not long finished reading the latest issue of the International Socialism Journal.

There highlight in this issue, for me at least, was the reviews of Ian Birchall's new bibliography of Tony Cliff; maybe it's just me reliving my youth. I heard Cliff speak a few times but never had the chance to speak to him. Christian Høgsbjerg's review is complementary but I found that of Nigel Harris most interesting. Curiously, in a footnote, Harris says he's refused permission for his book on China – Mandate of Heaven – to be republished; this is sad as I still think it's one of the best books on China ever written.

The paperback edition of Birchall's biography has just been issued and I already have my copy.

The fightback and rebellion against the cuts and crisis has taken a number of forms; some politicly focused and others chaotic. The exact trajectory has depended on a countries tradition of rebellion and also on the nature those groups who have been first drawn into protest. In this ISJ issue Andy Durgan and Joel Sans describe the events of the 15 May movement in the Spain. Then Jonny Jones describes the recent riots here in Britain. The real problem for socialists is how to provide these protests with the focus to win without stifling the creativity of those newly drawn into struggle. This must be a two way process where the old revolutionaries learn new forms; but also one where revolutionaries are able to point to past struggles and draw on lessons of history. Anti-capitalism, after all, has a long history; almost as long as the history of capitalism itself.

There's a solid chunk within this quarters ISJ discussing the current state world economy. Mike Haynes gives a largely factual account of global mega cities. Along the way he looks a population and class trends within the world poor. There is much interesting detail presented here. This is useful as the facts alone help dispel many of the cruder media myths about many areas of the world.

Guglielmo Carchedi looks at some of the key aspects of the world economy. The most important part of the essay is an examination of the trend of the Rate of Profit for the world economy since the late 1940s. A difficult thing to do as governments tend not to produce statistics that easily map onto Marxist economic categories. This measure is importance; the lower the Rate of Profit the more difficult it is for the capitalist system to extricate itself from or avoid cyclical crisis or other shocks to the system. Carchedi's data shows that trend for the Rate of Profit fell from the late 1940s through to the mid 1980s. It then fluctuated or even rose somewhat – but did not return to, say, 1950s levels. Interestingly Carchedi also shows that most of this later rise was a result of the increasing exploitation of workers. In other words even in this period the underlying Rate of Profit fell. And this is the root cause of the growing financialization the economy. This is an important, if necessarily technical, discussion.

The next piece on the economy is a somewhat petulant book review by Joseph Choonara. Not having read Tom McNally's book I cannot say if he is deserving of such petulance. If you look past Choonara's tone then there appears some valid points. Even if his accusations of exaggeration, while technically correct, do seem a little… well… exaggerated. In the final paragraph of the review Choonara seems to recognise his bad tempered tone and offer a few conciliatory words. But by then, of course, it's too late. In many ways the previous article by Carchedi is a better answer to Tom McNally.

Colin Wilson looks at Queer Theory. This is a current fad among some radical elements in the LGBT movement. Wilson seems to offer a somewhat inconclusive assessment of this theory; or maybe I should read the essay again – it could well be this. For a more general history of the LGBT movement see Wilson's earlier interesting essay. And Wilson provides some background to Foucault see here.

The long history of blacks in Britain is often undervalued. Even more so those, like Robert Wedderburn, who rebelled or had radical ideas. Wedderburn (1762-1835/6) grew up at a time when such radicalism was expressed through non-conformist religious ideas; though he took these seriously enough to be jailed for his actions. Michael Morris introduces us to this fascinating person and his essay is a useful debunking of many stupid myths about 'Britishness'.

You should order your copy of the ISJ now. But if you really want blurry eyes and are a cheapskate then you can read it all nailed to your computer; and all for free, you reckless cheapskate you:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.