Pick of the quarter

Issue: 105
Posted: 9 January 05

Our choice of the best articles from other journals

This year?s Socialist Register is particularly interesting. It has broken from its old format of a wide range of quite different articles (which meant you always had to decide whether it was worth paying for the one article which interested you) and instead takes up the single theme of the impact of US imperialism across the world. The underlying message is (correctly) that it is aggressive, barbaric and trying to expand its power. As such it provides a mass of valuable information. But it also (in my view incorrectly) sees the US ruling class as well able to handle its problems by forcing the burden onto others. This is spelt out in a keynote article on ?Finance and the American Empire? by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, who rule out the possibility of great economic crisis inside the US. Most other writers extend the pessimism to other parts of the world, seeing the other advanced countries as completely subservient to the US (despite the rows over the Iraq war) and most Third World states as ever-pliant neo-colonies. Boris Kagarlitsky comes close to applying this view to Russia.

Three articles do, however, stand out. In ?Bandung Redux? Gerard Greenfield shows how Third World bourgeoisies use nationalist ideology to push their own agenda, while in some cases building up their own multinationals. Paul Cammack looks at the role of the European Union in particular in promoting an ?internal bourgeoisie? in Latin America, even though this sometimes runs counter to the interests of the US. And Vivek Chibber presents in a shortened form some of the arguments from his acclaimed book on the Indian economy, Locked in Place.

This book will itself be reviewed in the next issue of this journal, but those interested can read an excellent and accessible review by Achin Vanaik in the September/October issue of New Left Review.

The formation in the last three years of reformist governments in Latin America has caused confusion among parts of the left. An article by Argentinian ?economists of the left? in the September issue of Monthly Review analyses the deficiencies of the policy of their president, Kirchner, often seen as the second most left wing in the continent after Venezuela?s Ch?z. The November issue of the same journal contains a long piece by Marta Harnecker on Venezuela, sympathetic to Ch?z from a reformist point of view which sees the main job as being to placate the middle classes, but also containing a lot of interesting information.

The web journal of the Argentinian party MAS is again worth looking at for Spanish language readers. It contains information on the interesting revival of struggle among employed workers (especially metro workers, who have won the six-hour day) and an article by Isidoro Cruz Bernal, which challenges the way in which much of the European left refuse to confront the racist oppression of Muslim workers, and supports the formation of Respect.

The two most recent issues of Historical Materialism do not seem to have arrived in London yet, but two long reviews in the autumn issue, by Sumit Sakar on Indian workers and by myself on Hilferding, might interest readers.