The Capitalist Coup Called Neoliberalism: How and Why It Went Down | Colin Jenkins

Commentary | June 27th, 2019

In order to maintain control, the rich have learned over time that minimal concessions must be given to the working class to avoid societal unrest. Marxist theorists like Antonio Gramsci and Nicos Poulantzas described this process as using the state to steady the "unstable equilibrium." This instability is produced by capitalism's tendency to pool wealth at the top while dispossessing the majority. For much of the 20th century, capitalists in the US were successful in maintaining an internal equilibrium, mainly due to their ravaging of the so-called "third world" through colonialism and imperialism. With this massive theft of resources throughout the global South (Africa and Latin America), a robust "middle class" was carved out from a mostly white sector of the US working class. This "middle class" consisted of workers who were provided a greater share of the stolen loot than their class peers, and thus awarded the "American Dream" that was widely advertised..

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The Historical Shifts in the Ideology of Work | Valerie Reynoso

Theory | June 13th, 2019

The ideology of work has shifted through time by material changes imposed by capitalism-imperialism, an ongoing process that forms the condition of the working class and the social order that indoctrinates them. James R. Farr, Catherine W. Bishir, Karl Marx, John Ruskin, William Morris and Erin O'Connor are authors who have explored the relationships between work, history, and people. The historical shifts in the ideology of work are rooted in class struggle, in the synthesis of the thesis and antithesis of the proletariat (working class) and the bourgeoisie (capitalists), reminiscent of the former synthesis between the serf and feudal lord. Work becomes a practice of resistance when the proletariat realizes its socioeconomic value and moves toward seizing the means of production from the bourgeoisie. But before this can happen, workers must experience an ideology awakening of sorts - something that creates the realization that our constant struggle to survive under a system of wage labor is not only unnatural, but is an artificial arrangement made by a very small percentage of people who seek to make a perpetual fortune from our exploitation.

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On Historical Materialism: A Theoretical Revival | Charles Wofford

Theory | May 30th, 2019

What is the responsibility of the historian? Historians show how those things often taken for granted, taken as a fact of life, are relatively recent developments. Alternately, they show how those things one may assume to be strange and unusual have, in fact, been present for a long time. That approach fits neatly into the broader critique of ideology, and there is a reason Marx was so invested in history and historical method. He revealed the historicity of "nature" in, among other places, his 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, which were not brought to public light until the mid-20th century, well after the developments of "orthodox" Marxisms and Marxism-Leninism (Claeys, 2018). The effort was to expose Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and the other political economists of the eighteenth century for treating historical developments (from which they had conveniently benefited) as though they were eternal nature. Writes Marx, "Political economy starts with the fact of private property; it does not explain it to us. It expresses in general, abstract formulas the material process through which private property actually passes, and these formulas it then takes for laws" (Marx, 1844). If something is historical, that means it had a beginning. If it had a beginning, it can therefore have an end. Historical materialism - the exposure of capital's historical conditions of existence - was a sword forged to slay Mammon.

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How Did We Get So Rich?: On the Marriage Between Capitalism and Government | James Leach

Commentary | April 20th, 2019

It is difficult to know what to say to the smug self-satisfaction of the business class who gaze upon the enormous wealth of their country, and then pat their back for the capitalist utopia they have built. In critical analyses of capitalism, considerable weight is put on examining the contradictions in the modes of exchange, the formation of crises, and the tension between labour and capital. But I want to address how capitalism developed, and how the considerable wealth of developed nations was produced, as well as how it became so acutely concentrated within a few pockets. As Marx asks in Wages, Prices and Profit, "how does this strange phenomenon arise, that we find on the market a set of buyers, possessed of land, machinery, raw material, and the means of subsistence… and on the other hand, a set of sellers who have nothing to sell except their labouring power, their working arms and brains?"

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The Immiseration of Labor: Capitalism, Poverty, and Inequality in Philadelphia | Arturo Castillon

Analysis | March 20th, 2019

The concept of immiseration is usually associated with Karl Marx, as he insisted that the nature of capitalist production resulted in the devaluation of labor, specifically the decline of wages relative to the total value created in the economy. For Marx, this meant that the proletarian class, or working class, was fundamentally defined by precariousness, i.e. material instability, uncertainty, insecurity, and dependency. This theory stems from Marx's analysis of the changing organic composition of capitalist production and the reduced demand for labor that emerges as technology develops and labor becomes more productive. With increasingly productive machines, less labor produces more commodities at a faster rate, leading to the gradual replacement of labor by machines. Marx observed that the realities of capitalist competition necessitated this tendency towards mechanization and rising productivity. If a factory in the South restructures production to raise its productivity - allowing it to sell more commodities, at a faster rate, and at a cheaper price, while employing less labor-while a rival factory in Philadelphia does not, then after a while the factory in the South will run the factory in Philadelphia out of business. In order to protect their market from more productive competitors, therefore, capitalists must reinvest part of their capital into increasing productivity, or perish in the long run.

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From Cruze to Cruise: False Consciousness and Dialectical Conflict in the GM Paradigm Shift | Werner Lange

Theory | December 6th, 2018

On Monday, November 26, General Motors publicly announced its decision to shut down all production at five major plants in 2019, including the sprawling Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio's Mahoning Valley, home of the Cruze model, and shift major investment to mass production of all-electric autonomous vehicles through its Cruise subsidiary, headquartered in California's Silicon Valley. This grand paradigm shift from traditional cars to autonomous ones marks a major change in GM operations, ones which will leave abandoned communities economically devastated and thousands of terminated workers financially paralyzed, while simultaneously paving a path toward zero-emission cars. Yet the resultant communal and private havoc imposed upon victimized communities will likely not lead, as it should, to a workers' revolt and political uprising; at least not in northeast Ohio. That disappointing but realistic projection is based upon the potency of widespread false consciousness among the masses, the seductive temptation of subscribing to false hopes, and the emergence of a new dialectical conflict uniting labor and management in an existential struggle against climate change.

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The Social Economy of Rojava: A Primer on the Co-op Model | Thomas Sullivan

Analysis | November 15th, 2018

To best examine how the co-operatives of Rojava may thrive, we would need to look at past examples as a basis for future predictions. One of the most cited examples of a successful cooperative is the Spanish Mondragon Co-operative Corporation. The organization, which dates to 1956, was founded from several co-operative organizations that joined together in 1991 to form the international corporation it is today. The co-ops showed remarkable staying power, with most of the 100 original co-ops surviving to form the united corporation. Employing upwards of 3% of the Basque region's workforce over multiple industries, the co-operatives showed that alternative corporate models could be successful when they were previously untested on a large scale (Harding 1998, 61).

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Peter Kropotkin's Anarchist Critique of Capitalism | Jon Bekken

Analysis | July 30th, 2018

Rather than engage in the abstract theorizing that dominated, then as now, the field, he carried out detailed studies of the agricultural and industrial techniques practical in his day (whether they were in general use or not) and their capacity to meet human needs. Unlike most economists, Kropotkin insisted on subjecting economic theories to the same rigorous inquiry he would apply to any "scientific" theory: "When certain economists tell us that "in a perfectly free market the price of commodities is measured by the amount of labor socially necessary for their production," we do not take this assertion on faith …. We not only find most of these so-called laws grossly erroneous, but maintain also that those who believe in them will themselves become convinced of their error as soon as they come to see the necessity of verifying the[m] … by quantitative investigation."

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Protectionism and Globalization Have the Same Mother: The Crisis of Capital | Celso Beltrami

Analysis | July 2nd, 2018

Beyond the metaphors, Trump's protectionist turn, which is carried out in a threatening manner and not just aimed at China, constitutes another turbulent factor, both from an economic point of view and that of imperialist relations on a world scale. These two aspects reflect two sides of the same coin, as Trump's economic measures serve an imperialist strategy aimed at both declared rivals and allies who are applying the brakes and who would like the embrace of the stars and stripes, which they have suffered for more than seventy years with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to be less suffocating. In fact, it is very doubtful that the custom duties will really be able to protect the entire US economy from foreign competition. Perhaps they will give a bit of respite to certain sectors of US manufacturing, like steel or aluminum, but many more will be hit and the retaliation will fall upon the workforce (but not just on them), who will probably be the victims of redundancies and worsening working conditions.

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Contrived Connections of Capital | Steven L. Foster

Analysis | April 24th, 2018

Modern humans have hypothetically labelled things in the world not made by us as part of nature. A tree is natural. The wood from it making a press board book shelf isn't. It's made by a human culture. The cultural worlds of people somehow became separated from a "natural" world comprised of nonhuman things: wild forests and jungles, oceans and reefs, and all the animals and strange stuff in them we study and use for our purposes. We moderns think of ourselves as minds living in bodies that we steer and engineer like a space craft from another world fashioned from material that's alien to the aliens.

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The Multiple Meanings of Marx's Value Theory | Riccardo Bellofiore

Theory | April 24th, 2018

Karl Marx's "critique of political economy" is grounded in his value theory. "Critique" has to be distinguished from criticism: Marx aimed not only to point out the errors of political economy, but also to learn from its scientific results. Here the key names are François Quesnay, Adam Smith, and David Ricardo. Marx was also interested in assessing the conditions and the limits of the knowledge provided by classical political economy. At the same time, he saw the critique of the "science" of political economy as the means to develop a critique of capitalist social relations.

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The White Noise of Forgetfulness: How Imperialism and Racism Remain Central to Capitalism | Steven L. Foster

Analysis | March 29th, 2018

The west has forgotten important details of an inordinately violent imperialist past supporting capitalism and central for making formerly marginal world cultures fabulously rich and globally dominating to this day. When the topic of imperialism is discussed, it's often treated as an artifact from an unfortunate past. Or, it recasts itself as the beneficent patron without which all of humanity would be in a far worse place had it not arrived. It's been deemed as socially evolutionary. My purpose in taking us on a very short not so magical history tour is for clearing away the white noise of the west's forgetful self-deception about capitalist imperialism and the necessary racism accompanying it. My claim: capitalism has been devolutionary to human flourishing and not evolutionary as claimed by many supporters. I want to show that my Godfather illustration is more than mere metaphor.

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An Economic Theory of Law Enforcement | Edward Lawson

Theory | March 29th, 2018

Law enforcement is a necessary endeavor in society. Government makes laws, but someone must enforce those laws, through violent coercion if necessary. The American ideal is that the people elect the government and the government serves the people, so naturally the police serve the people as well. However, the actual activities of the police call this normative account into question. I argue that government--the state--serves the will of anonymous, extraordinarily wealthy oligarchs, and it passes laws that benefit them at the expense of the rest of society. In addition, I argue that the police are the primary tool of enforcing compliance with the wishes of oligarchs among society, and that they alter their behavior based on the socioeconomic conditions of the area in which they operate.

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The Class Politics Behind Last Week's Market "Correction" | Ben Luongo

Analysis | February 12th, 2018

Markets plunged into correction territory last week after losing 10% from record highs. Economists continue to reassure the public that market corrections are a normal part of a cycle that peaks and troughs over time. The term itself implies that the precipitous drops are temporary adjustments that put the markets back on track. This is certainly how investors look at it. Ron Kruszewski, Stifel Financial Corporation CEO, told reporters that "people just need to relax. Just relax. It's a healthy correction to a market that has gone almost straight up since the election over a year ago." However, framing the recent market drops as transient and remedial fails to recognize the larger structural problems boiling under the surface. Indeed, this week's market sell-offs reflect issues of class and inequality - in particular it is a direct response to reports of modest increases in American wages.

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Revolution and Black Struggle: Marxism as a Weapon Against Racism and Capitalism | Marcello Pablito

Analysis | February 8th, 2018

In his most important work, Marx states that "Labour in a white skin cannot emancipate itself where it is branded in a black skin."1 Despite attempts by political and intellectual groups to deny Marx and Engels' (and, by extension, revolutionary Marxism's) uncompromising stance against racism, the founders of scientific socialism thoroughly understood that racist oppression served as a tool for the capitalist exploitation of all workers. The relationship between capitalism and racism has only grown stronger in subsequent generations. There have been cases in which the falsification of Marx and Engels' positions and the conscious attempts to equate Marxism with Stalinism have led to generalized attacks on Marxism.This brief article will describe how the leadership of the Russian Revolution understood the fight against racism.

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Nike: Understanding How Wealth and Poverty are Created in the Global Capitalist System | Jeremy Cloward

Analysis | January 18th, 2018

Though news to some commentators and scholars, wealth and poverty are natural consequences of global capitalism functioning exactly as it is designed to do. The more the owners of the commanding heights of the economy take for themselves, the less there is for everyone else. Though poorly understood or even discussed throughout much of US society, this planetary-wide system generates two basic classes: the owning class and the working class. Either you own the productive forces of the economy or you work for someone that does. And, the relationship between the two classes is exploitative by nature as the owning class lives off the surplus value (or profit) created by the working class. Indeed, though almost never acknowledged in the media or even at the university the wealth of capitalist society is produced by working people.

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Capitalism and White Supremacy: The Two-Headed Dragon that Must Be Slain | Matthew Dolezal

Analysis | November 2nd, 2017

Generic, theoretical capitalism is inseparable from our current paradigm of advanced, hyper-consumerist, job-shipping, union-busting, soul-crushing neoliberalism. Prominent capitalists have fought desperately to achieve this sadistic system, which is the culmination of an evolutionary history of laissez-faire. One day, long ago, Adam Smith planted roses, and all that remain are the thorns. To quote King again, "today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness." But capitalism is not an equal-opportunity destroyer. These social tragedies demonstrably and empirically affect folks of color at vastly disproportional rates. For instance, the average net worth of black households is $6,314, compared to $110,500 for the average white household. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to be poor, and a white male with a criminal record is more likely to get a job than an equally qualified person of color with a clean record.

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Marx's Capital for the 21st Century | Susan Williams

Analysis | August 9th, 2017

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Volume I of Marx's Capital, a book with the most profound impact on human society of any political work in history. Marxist economic analysis has inspired the freedom struggles of billions of people. By the 1990s, however, the profit system was staging a comeback in the USSR and China, thanks to decades of Western hostility from the outside and bureaucratic repression and betrayal from within. Socialism was passé; capitalism was the pinnacle of human development. As the world continued to change rapidly - with computers, robotics, the World Bank, hedge funds - Karl Marx seemed even more anachronistic.

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Explaining the Dollar: How it Became the Global Currency and What it Means For You | Megan Cornish

Commentary | June 8th, 2017

Most working people think of the buck as the way they pay their bills. But its use goes far beyond the USA's borders. The greenback is the major world currency for trade and finance. This international role bestows vast power on the U.S. government and the rich. But its status doesn't help ordinary people much. Fundamentally, the exchange of commodities and investments under global capitalism requires generally accepted forms of money to buy and sell them with. And the notes issued by the largest and richest economies tend to be employed the most. Today, the dollar is the most widely used, followed by the euro, the British pound, the Japanese yen, and since 2015, the Chinese yuan.

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A Brief Inquiry into the History, Logic, and Spatiality of Financial Derivatives | Jacob Ertel

Analysis | March 9th, 2017

Capitalism, at its most elemental, is a system of inherent volatility. The character of this volatility is contingent on how a state's political-economic institutions are able to mitigate risk by facilitating the movement of capital. How and where this capital moves is paramount in crisis obviation. Capitalism tends towards a range of interrelated crises-democratic, economic, political, social-but central to them all is the ongoing accumulation of surplus-value. The central risk here is that competition will result in an excess of capital relative to available opportunities to reinvest it. This excess can take a range of forms, from commodities, to money, to labor power (i.e., unemployment).

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Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: Bracing for Trump's Anti-Worker Corporate Agenda | Colin Jenkins

Commentary | February 2nd, 2017

In a February speech on his campaign trail, then-candidate Donald Trump lambasted his opponents for their cozy relationships with Wall Street bankers. "I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over [Cruz]," Trump said. "Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton." Trump's campaigns for both the Republican candidacy and the US Presidency were heavily themed on this inside-out approach to posing as a whistleblower of the elite, a billionaire businessman gone rogue, eager to feed other members of his exclusive club to the lions. Americans by the tens of millions-ravaged by decades of predatory loan schemes, joblessness, and unfathomable debt-gathered in the den, fevered by this angst-ridden anti-establishment message, thirsting for the flesh he was to heave from the castle on the hill.

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Deconstructing Hierarchies: On the Paradox of Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power | Colin Jenkins

Theory | January 12th, 2017

Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions of power within organizational hierarchies. They possess no natural or learned talents, and they are not tried and tested through any type of meritocratic system. Rather, they gravitate to these positions of authority by consciously exhibiting attributes that make them both controllable and controlling - being punctual, highly conformist, placing a premium on appearance, knowing how to talk sternly without saying much of anything, blessed with the ability to bullshit.

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Democracy, Higher Education, and the Ivory Tower Critique of Neoliberalism | Jacob Ertel

Analysis | December 20th, 2016

Few dedicated to any semblance of left politics are celebrating the state of higher education in the United States today. From unprecedented student indebtedness to budget cuts to attacks on tenure, the future of academia looks bleak. Yet for the general concurrence on the symptoms resulting from the neoliberalization of the university, it is less established how this process of neoliberalization is best conceptualized. Analyses of neoliberalism tend to fall largely into two camps: one that describes a series of economic policy moves with varying degrees of deliberation or foresight, and one that describes a markedly new form of governmentality. These critiques are not mutually exclusive, but they often do diverge in their understanding of capitalism's historical progression, its underlying logic, and its most pronounced effects. In particular, the latter camp (largely comprised of cultural theorists) that evaluates neoliberalism as a paradigm shift in governmentality risks romanticizing the Fordist-Keynesian regime of publicly financed mass production and consumption, and the nominal freedoms typically associated with post-war governance.

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The Science of Corrosive Inequality | Nicholas Partyka

Analysis | July 26th, 2016

As the Presidential campaign season begins to get into full-swing, inequality will become a prominent topic, and misleading conventional narratives will abound. Both the presumptive nominees of the two major political parties have addressed this topic at length already, and will certainly have much more to say as the general election phase kicks-off. Inequality is a prominent topic because we are still dealing with the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis that spawned the Occupy Wall-Street movement, which did much to put the issue of economic and political inequality back on the table for discussion. This is why the topic came up in the 2012 Presidential election cycle, and why during this election cycle one candidate in the Democratic Party's primary was able to attract a very large following by focusing predominantly on this issue.

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Expropriation or Bust: On the Illegitimacy of Wealth and Why It Must Be Recuperated | Colin Jenkins

Analysis | June 22nd, 2016

Beneath all of the political discussions lies an uncomfortable and overwhelming truth: Nearly all of our problems are rooted in the massively unequal ownership of land, wealth, and power that exists among the over-7 billion human beings on earth. More specifically, these problems are rooted in the majority of the planet's population being stripped of its ability to satisfy the most basic of human needs. This predicament did not happen overnight, and it is far from natural. Rather, it is the product of centuries of immoral, illegitimate, and unwarranted human activity carried out by a miniscule section of the world's people.

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Gordon Gekko's America | Sean Posey

Commentary | June 9th, 2016

On October 19, 1987, a worldwide stock market crash-dubbed Black Monday in the States-interrupted the go-go 1980s. Only weeks after that panic-filled day, Oliver Stone's meditation on the decade of greed, Wall Street, hit the theaters. The story of Bud Fox, a wannabe master of the universe, and his Machiavellian mentor Gordon Gekko, served as a morality tale that America did not want to hear at the time. (The film proved to be far more popular in later years than it was in 1987.) And many who did see the film deeply misunderstood its central lessons.

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Brazil's Gramscian Moment: On Cultural Hegemony and Crisis | Jacques Simon

Analysis | May 20th, 2016

With the Brazilian senate confirming Dilma Rousseff's impeachment procedure, it seems increasingly likely that Brazil could soon see the long-loved Workers Party (PT) out of office. Given the seemingly unshakable support that the party had up until a few years ago, the deep political crisis that Brazil faces today may seem a bit surprising. How is it that, after winning four consecutive elections, three by a landslide, the PT's Dilma Rousseff is now facing impeachment charges, and people are in the streets by millions? Why have Brazilians completely turned their backs on the PT, despite it having enjoyed fourteen years of political hegemony?

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Capitalism and Obamacare: The Neoliberal Model Comes Home to Roost in the United States - If We Let It | Howard Waitzkin and Ida Hellander

Policy & Research | May 20th, 2016

As the Affordable Care Act (ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare) continues along a very bumpy road, it is worth asking where it came from and what comes next. Officially, Obamacare represents the latest in more than a century of efforts in the United States to achieve universal access to health care. In reality, Obamacare has strengthened the for-profit insurance industry by transferring public, tax-generated revenues to the private sector. It has done and will do little to improve the problem of uninsurance in the United States; in fact, it has already begun to worsen the problem of underinsurance. Obamacare is also financially unsustainable because it has no effective way to control costs. Meanwhile, despite benefits for some of the richest corporations and executives, and adverse or mixed effects for the non-rich, a remarkable manipulation of political symbolism has conveyed the notion that Obamacare is a creation of the left, warranting strenuous opposition from the right.

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Panama Papers: Capitalism Working Well for Obscenely Rich | John Passant

Commentary | April 27th, 2016

The Panama Papers show us, once again, that capitalism is a system of absolute greed. It is a system where capitalist governments help their mates to hide their income and wealth while all the time businesses pretend they are paying their "fair share" of tax. The 11.5 million leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca contain details of the 14,000 clients of the Panama headquartered company and the 220,000 shell companies it has set up for them in tax havens around the globe. Why tax havens? Not only do these countries have no or low tax rates they also have secrecy provisions which protect the income and assets of wealthy individuals and companies from the prying eyes of state bodies like tax offices and company regulators.

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Capitalism's Depleted Reserves: Recognizing and Preparing for Systemic Breakdown | Ben Peck

Analysis | April 27th, 2016

The capitalist crisis of 2008 was rescued by an enormous transfusion of public money into the banks. The system has been on life-support ever since. Despite this, the bourgeois see little prospects of a recovery for their system. Rather, they wring their hands and impotently grimace in anticipation of another slump. Many consider this now a question of "when", not "if". An organism in crisis will begin to burn off its reserves of fat in order to survive. Austerity has been capitalism's economic equivalent of this process. The system has eaten deeply into its reserves, particularly in the advanced capitalist countries. All the accumulated reforms conquered by the working class in the preceding historical period; relatively decent wages, the welfare state, pensions, etc; in order to pay for a system in crisis have been, or are in the process of being, burned away.

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Debt, Underemployment, and Capitalism: The Rise of Twenty-First-Century Serfdom | Cherise Charleswell and Colin Jenkins

Analysis | February 26th, 2016

Systemic contradictions of capitalism have only intensified in the neoliberal era. Structural unemployment, a phenomenon directly related to capitalist modes of production, has continued unabated, creating a massive and ever-growing "reserve army of labor" that has been disenfranchised on an unprecedented scale. Working classes, en masse, have been corralled into legalized systems of education debt with false promises of "middle-class" lifestyles, only to be tossed into a job market that can no longer keep up with the system's inherent deficits and inability to provide a living wage to the masses. Massive inequality and unprecedented wealth accumulation and concentration have paralleled uncontrollable costs of living and widespread housing insecurity for the working-class majority.

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Looking Beyond Capitalism: A Case for Parecon (Participatory Economics) | Michael Albert

Commentary | February 15th, 2016

People now fighting economic injustice have no right to decide how future people should live. But we do have a responsibility to provide an institutional setting that facilitates future people deciding for themselves their own conditions of life and work. To this end, participatory economics, or parecon, describes the core institutions required to generate solidarity, equity, self-management, and an ecologically sound and classless economy. Parecon first advocates self-management by workers' and consumers' councils federated by industry and region as society's primary venues of economic decision making. "Self-management" means people and groups have decision making influence in proportion to the extent to which they are affected by the decision in question.

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Radical Economics, Marxist Economics, and Marx's Economics | Jane Hardy

Theory | February 2nd, 2016

The major global crises of the mid-1970s and 2008-9 provoked debates among the ruling class about the best economic policies to manage capitalism. For socialists and activists the question was different, and debates about whether and to what extent capitalism could be reformed to avert crisis and instil a more humane and fair system became even sharper. By the mid-1970s the end of the (not so) long boom of the 1950s and 1960s seemed to sound the death knell of Keynesian economics; in 2008 the shock of the near meltdown of global capitalism led commentators from a broad political spectrum to question the efficacy of neoliberal policies, particularly in relation to deregulated finance. Since 2008 it is hardly surprising that there has been a revival of radical economics and a proliferation of books and articles criticising neoliberal capitalism reflected, for example, in the popularity of the huge tomeCapital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty.

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Overdrawn and Overworked: The Problems of Overdraft Fees | Devon Douglas-Bowers

Commentary | January 11th, 2016

We have all been shafted by overdraft fees from our bank at some time or another. It's an annoyance and frustration, especially to those of us who already don't have much money as well as a constant puzzle: If one doesn't have $5, how are they going to pay an extra $35? Yet banks continue to do this and rake in money, as can be seen by them having made $35 billion in overdraft fees in 2014. In order to get a better handle on the problem of overdrafts, we need to understand the history of such fees as well as reframe how we look at the situation, changing our perspective to see overdraft fees as a sort of loan rather than a fee.

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Bank Crimes Pay: Under the Thumb of the Global Financial Mafiocracy | Andrew Gavin Marshall

Analysis | December 7th, 2015

On Nov. 13, the United Kingdom's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced it was charging 10 individual bankers, working for two separate banks, Deutsche Bank and Barclays, with fraud over their rigging of the Euribor rates. The latest announcement shines the spotlight once again on the scandals and criminal behavior that have come to define the world of global banking. To date, only a handful of the world's largest banks have been repeatedly investigated, charged, fined or settled in relation to a succession of large financial scams, starting with mortgage fraud and the Libor scandal in 2012, the Euribor scandal and the Forex (foreign exchange) rate rigging. At the heart of these scandals, which involve the manipulation of interest rates on trillions of dollars in transactions, lie a handful of banks that collectively form a cartel in control of global financial markets - and the source of worldwide economic and financial crises.

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A Special Kind of Humanity in Dark Times: How Students at the University of Missouri Are Bringing the Neoliberal Power Structure to its Knees | Jim Burns

Analysis | November 10th, 2015

The ineffectual institutional response, or perhaps non-response, to the hostile climate at the University of Missouri throughout the fall: racial slurs shouted at the student body president and the Legion of Black Collegians; human feces smeared in the shape of a Swastika in a dorm; racist messages delivered through anonymity's best friend Yik-Yak; ideologically-fueled attacks by the state legislature targeting women's health services and scholarships for undocumented students; has claimed University System President Tim Wolfe and R. Bowen Loftin, Chancellor of the flagship campus. Under mounting pressure from students, the bad press generated by hunger-striking graduate student Jonathan Butler, and a threatened boycott by Black football players, Wolfe resigned on November 9, and Loftin will step down in January.

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We Are More Than Commodities: 'False Consciousness' and Why It's Still Relevant | Colin Jenkins

Theory | October 22nd, 2015

Anyone who has ever taken part in a similar conversation with fellow workers knows that this fictional account couldn't be any more real, even over a century later. While it occurred in an imaginary, 1900-ish English setting, it surely resonates in a 21st-century American reality where collective working-class dissonance - what is referred to in Marxist circles as "false consciousness" - remains ignorant to the casual effects of capitalism. The conversation is packed with the typically tragic ironies of impoverished, insecure workers searching for any reason to explain their collective plight absent of blaming a system, let alone the faces of that system, which uses and discards them as it pleases. The lone conscious worker, Owen, does his best to enlighten the bunch. The main opposition comes from Crass, a character who symbolizes the epitome of false consciousness, not only in his ignorance of the system but perhaps even more so in his ill-informed, emotional pushback, which echoes the misleading narrative so often presented through mainstream channels.

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Capitalism, Exploitation, and Degradation | Dr. Nicholas Partyka

Analysis | October 8th, 2015

Our main question here will be, Is there morally bad exploitation in capitalist employment relationships? To begin I will examine Ruth Sample's excellent account of moral exploitation, and contrasting it at points with the earlier view of Alan Wertheimer. The subtitle of Sample's book offers us an interesting way to approach the explication of her view, and so I will in turn address the questions, What is exploitation, and Why is it wrong? Briefly, Sample's view is that exploitation involves taking advantage for private gain of vulnerability in another, or ignoring their needs in the transaction. This kind of behavior is morally wrong, as Sample suggests, because it fails to show respect for the exploited party.

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Neoliberalism, Austerity, and Authoritarianism | Riad Azar

Theory | July 24th, 2015

Ask anyone what neoliberalism means and they'll tell you it's an economic system that corresponds to a particular economic philosophy. But any real-world economic system has a corresponding political system to promote and sustain it. Milton Friedman, who has become known as the father of neoliberal thinking, claims in his text Capitalism and Freedom that "the role of the government … is to do something that the market cannot do for itself, namely, to determine, arbitrate, and enforce the rules of the game."* While neoliberalism's advocates like to claim that the political system that corresponds to their economic preference is a democratic, minimal state, in practice, the neoliberal state has demonstrated quite the opposite tendency.

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"Thuggin" in Baltimore City: Capitalism and the Political Economy of "Breaking Slaves" | Asha Layne

Analysis | July 21st, 2015

As violence hit the streets of Baltimore City following the funeral services of Freddie Gray it became impossible to ignore the barrage of media coverage. From local Baltimore news outlets like Channel 13 and FOX 45 to eponymous CNN, the world saw protests and riots throughout West Baltimore as citizens responded to the racial and social injustices that are too common for American cities. At the forefront were the voices and actions of young individuals who showed the world through action that they were going to be heard by any means - love it or hate it. In the wake of these riots, many interpretations circulated of these actions and were condensed into one word: 'thugs.' By definition, a thug is a violent criminal, and when used as a form of action, 'thuggin' becomes a behavior that mimics a criminal lifestyle.

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Monopoly Capitalism in the 21st Century: Neoliberalism, Monetarism, and the Pervasion of Finance | Colin Jenkins

Theory | June 30th, 2015

With industrial or "competitive capitalism," it was the "separation and dispossession of the direct producers (the working class) from their means of production" which created this multi-layered, class-based societal structure. Globalization has resulted in a massive shift of national economies. Former industrialized nations are now considered "post-industrial" due to the ability of large production-based manufacturers to move their operations into "cheaper" labor markets. International and regional trade agreements have facilitated this shift. With post-industrial capitalism and the widespread destruction of "productive labor," or labor that produces a tangible product and is thus exploited through the creation of surplus value, it is the complete reliance on a service economy which produces no tangible value that allows for strict control through wage manipulation. The ways in which the working class interacts with the owning class has changed significantly, if only in regards to their physical worlds.

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That Poverty Which is Deep: Recent Statistics on the Children of the Poor | Jeremy Brunger

Analysis | June 30th, 2015

Aristotle wrote in The Politics that "poverty is the parent of revolution and of crime." He was not writing in support of the poor and dispossessed, but rather argued in favor of keeping the poor in check. He might have gone on to recognize that there is poverty, and then there is deep poverty. The confluence of the negative effects of growing up in poverty, and around it, prove virtually boundless when explored by the sciences. Social science and neurology suggest a profoundly disturbing relationship between childhood development, the enduring lack of education to resources, chaos at home, and the cognitive limitations instilled into children who grow up knowing little else beyond urban decay or rural want. It is a problem little discussed in formal politics because formal politics is not for the poor; those unlucky enough to draw the long straws in the lottery of birth have no more advocacy than they have agency, and are often treated as so much disposable matter by the political and economic machinery only nominally designed to represent them.

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Causing a Scene: Neoliberal Urbanism and Spatial Production in Post-Recession New York City | Jacob Ertel

Analysis | June 9th, 2015

In the opening pages of Discipline and Punish, Foucault depicts the brutal public torture and execution of Robert-Francois Damiens in 1757 for attempted regicide. Damiens' execution was intended as more than a spectator ceremony or an expression of sovereign power: it represented a mode of discipline and a practice of social learning. Such rituals were soon outlived, however, as the unintended heroization of the victim through the displacement of shame to the executioner proved politically ineffective. Torture as a public spectacle, according to Foucault, had mostly died out by the beginning of the 19th century in lieu of more generalized forms of control such as prisons and asylums: "the tortured body was avoided; the theatrical representation of pain was excluded from punishment."

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The Poverty Machine: Student Debt, Class Society, and Securing Bonded Labor | Jeremy Brunger

Analysis | May 15th, 2015

At the dawn of the 20th century, very few American students attended high school, as the demands of the heavy-industrial and the agricultural economies of that period were ill-suited to an extended education beyond the family sphere. In the middle of the 20th century, most Americans who either aspired to or had to work entered the full-time workforce immediately after high school, for such a postwar economy featured plenty of growth and comparably fair wage-compensation for the average worker. As the economy became more complex in its labor needs, its extending length of education complemented these requirements. The transformation of the agricultural economy into the technological economy after World War II, in turn, transformed the university, once the commune of the well-to-do, into a center for job training, an adjunct to industry, and one which continued to increase in enrollment as the technological necessities of an increasingly complex economy required further education.

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Why Comparisons Between the Boston Tea Party and Baltimore Riots are Wrong | Colin Jenkins

Commentary | May 5th, 2015

In 1767, British Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, which included a tax on the American colonies for tea imports from Britain. For the next six years, in order to avoid paying this tax, colonists established a significant smuggling ring with the Dutch, which amounted to approximately 900,000 pounds of tea being shipped into the American colonies per year. This was viewed as a crime by British authorities. So, in 1773, British Parliament passed the Tea Act. Contrary to a popular misconception, the Tea Act did not create a new royal tax on the American colonists. Rather, it was implemented for three reasons: (1) to help boost the East India Company, which had fallen on hard times, by granting them the right to ship tea directly to the colonies as a duty-free export, (2) to undercut the price of smuggled tea the colonies were receiving from the Dutch, and (3) to bolster and reinforce the tea import tax placed on the colonies due to the Townshend Acts.

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Overcoming the American Dream | Frank Castro

Commentary | May 5th, 2015

My house sat tucked a mile deep, wrapped in 500 acres of sprawling oaks and towering pines. Dense thickets crisscrossed the land like formidable barricades protecting masses of forests from the intrusions of bored, yet curious children. They would leave you picking daggers from your sides and forearms if you journeyed too far. I grew up in a remote place called Farmhaven, the midway point between Canton and Carthage, Mississippi. Driving through you would never know you were somewhere with a name. Farmhaven is one of those places marked by only an intersection and a road that always goes somewhere else. It is here though, with my father and my brother, in the heart of the South, that I learned the most important lesson life could teach me.

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Will the Real Keynes Please Stand Up: On Keynesianism and Crisis Theory | Michael Roberts

Theory | April 22nd, 2015

An argument has broken out among top Keynesian economists about what is the Keynesian theory on economic fluctuations in capitalist economies (i.e, crises and slumps). The debate has taken the usual form of arguing about what Keynes 'really meant', whether he was really a radical that dispensed with neoclassical equilibrium theory or whether followers and supporters of Keynesian economic theory have distorted the master's ideas so much as to reduce their insights to nothing. This argument reminds me of the unending one within Marxian economics that some of us have been engaging in yet again recently. Did Marx have a clear theory of crises under capitalism in his works that he stuck to consistently; or were his ideas so sketchy that followers like Friedrich Engels distorted them? And is the theory of value as the basis of Marxian economics founded on realistic premises and logically consistent as a fundamental explanation of accumulation and social relations in the capitalist mode of production? Moreover, does the theory fit the facts?

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Curt Flood, Karl Marx, and America's Pastime: A Lesson in the Commodification of Labor | Eoin Higgins

Analysis | March 24th, 2015

Sports have transcended their genesis as simple recreation and have become factories that churn out athletes as commodities. Baseball, that oh so American of sports, is hardly different. In fact, baseball's ownership laid the foundation on which many of the abuses of the athletes across sports are based. Baseball is an industry. With phenomenal profits and exploitation of its workers, baseball has the mutual antagonism found in every business between the owners and employees. This antagonism boiled over in 1969, after simmering below the surface for almost a century, when Curt Flood sued the Commissioner of Baseball, Bowie Kuhn, for violations of antitrust laws and for denying him the right to free agency. Flood's suit went to the Supreme Court, where he lost. In losing, Flood managed to prove the preposterousness of the Court's decision, and by extension, the concept of capitalist law.

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Jumping the Left Shark and the Enclosure of the Social Creative Economy: An Interview with Fernando Sosa, the artist being sued by Katy Perry Corp. | Michael B. MacDonald

Interview | February 20th, 2015

I did not watch the Super Bowl but it only took me a few hours to learn about, and then see, the Left Shark that everyone was talking about. I wasn't immediately sure what the fuss was about. Left Shark was a thing and it wasn't because Katy Perry decided it was (there was also a Right Shark that no one cares about), 'we' created Left Shark. This is how the social production of knowledge and value works, an accumulation of individual decisions that has the impact of creating a valued idea/thing. Left Shark is an idea that has quickly become a commodity. I'm sure many people did not even know what they wanted when they searched 'Left Shark'. Perhaps it's a small Left Shark figurine, a downloadable file for your 3D printer, a plan for a costume? Either way, Katy Perry Corp. has identified an opportunity to make money on this idea, if only they can get ownership of it.

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Competing Visions in Economics as a Social Science: A Primer | David Fields

Analysis | January 7th, 2015

Economics (indeed every discipline of the social sciences) has never been, and never will be, value-free. Social scientists have always relied, and will continue to rely, on sets of elaborate positions, perceptions, and views about the ultimate nature of reality; essentially, it is the reliance on preconceived notions of how the world works, and how it should work, when analyzing manifest phenomena. Aspects of conscientiousness precede investigation and thus one cannot separate the knowing mind from the object inquiry. What constitutes a fact perceives the observation and hence the conception of what is determined as socially significant; the mind is active in constructing and determining the lens through which observation deciphers what of social phenomena is worthy of factuality.

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Paying Up: The Problems with Payday Loans | Devon Douglas-Bowers

Commentary | December 31st, 2014

Despite what the talking heads are saying, the economy isn't doing so well. With this most recent jobs report, the two main sectors of growth were fast food and retail, accounting for a total of about 32.2% of jobs created in October. In part, due to low-paying jobs, many are using payday loans to get by and unfortunately when it comes time to pay up, many are paying much more than what they borrowed due to extremely high interest rates. While this has been bought up in the mainstream every now and then, rarely has anyone taken a look how payday loans came into existence and the type of havoc they wreak on people, mainly the poor. We need to realize that payday loans only harm us and explore alternatives.

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Zombie Apocalypse and the Politics of Artificial Scarcity | Colin Jenkins

Commentary | December 19th, 2014

Dystopian narratives have long been an alluring and thought-provoking form of entertainment, especially for those who take an interest in studying social and political structures. From classics like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World to the current hit, The Hunger Games, these stories play on our fears while simultaneously serving as warning signs for the future. Their attractiveness within American society is not surprising. Our lives are driven by fear. Fear leads us to spend and consume; fear leads us to withdraw from our communities; and fear leads us to apathy regarding our own social and political processes.

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Teaching Ferguson, Teaching Capital: Slavery and the "Terrorist Energy" of Capital | Curry Malott and Derek R. Ford

Analysis | December 19th, 2014

Critical education harnesses the present moment, looks to history to grasp the forces determining the present, and links it with social struggles in an effort to push the configuration of the present beyond its breaking point. Given the recent non-indictments of killer cops Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, critical educators across the U.S. and the globe are bringing the pressing topics of police brutality, state violence, and people's resistance movements into the classroom. In this essay, we contribute to these efforts by arguing that the deadly and unpunished police violence against African Americans requires not only an awareness of slavery, but an analysis of the relationship between capitalism and slavery, and the subsequent subsumption of racism and white supremacy within capitalism.

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A Review of "The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China" by John Bellamy Foster & Robert W. McChesney | David Fields

Book Review | December 11th, 2014

The Monthly Review, since its inception, has been carrying on some of the best works in radical political economy. Economists Paul Baran, Paul Sweezy, and Harry Magdoff set out the analytical foundations of what has come to be called the Monthly Review School. Karl Marx, having written in the nineteenth century, wrote about a particular phase of capitalism, which was predicated less on oligopolies than today, although it was moving in that direction. In the best tradition of a historical-materialist approach, which seeks to understand the world as dynamic, rather than static, Monthly Review writers have realized that the organization of capitalism has changed. While the general driving force, the structural imperatives of increased expansion and accumulation of capitalism remains, the way it goes about doing so is inherently different.

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The Silent Success of Cooperatives in the Bolivarian Revolution | Dada Maheshvarananda

Analysis | December 3rd, 2014

Solidarity, cooperation, and community empowerment are socialist values promoted by the Bolivarian Revolution in contrast to the individualism and selfishness promoted by the corporate-owned mass media. Cooperatives are quietly transforming people's values in Venezuela, and the rest of the world, though they have been mostly ignored by the mass media and by many political leaders, too. The International Cooperative Alliance defines a cooperative as "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise." Worker cooperatives develop trust, solidarity, and teamwork.

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