Battle of Ideas

Introducing: social reproduction theory

One of the key texts of early social reproduction theory was Lise Vogel’s Marxism and the Oppression of Women, published in 1983. Vogel’s aim in the book was to criticise the ‘dual systems theory’ that emerged from the 1970s, which saw (a) Marxism as an explanation for class exploitation, and (b) patriarchy as an explanation for women’s oppression: two linked but fundamentally separate systems.

George Orwell, Spain, and revolution

In his 1947 essay, “Why I Write”, George Orwell explained:

“The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it…”

Homage to Catalonia, in which Orwell bore witness to the murder of the Spanish Revolution, was the product of this defining period of Orwell’s life, at least the literary and political equal of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Why Jews wanted Israel

These are the concluding sections of an article on “The Jewish Problem After Hitler”, by Albert Glotzer (writing as Albert Gates), in the “Third Camp” Trotskyist journal The New International of September 1947 (eight months before the creation of Israel). The article was written in response to an article on the same subject of July 1946 by Ernest Mandel, who would become the main writer of “Orthodox Trotskyism” over decades until his death in 1995. Picture is of people grieving for those killed in 1946 pogrom against Jews in Kielce, Poland.

The Russian civil war, 1917-22

A discussion of Jean-Jacques Marie's book La guerre civile russe, 1917-22

Notice the dates: 1917-22. Jean-Jacques Marie, in his history, establishes that the conventional account, according to which the civil war was over by the start of 1921, and all the “emergency” measures by the Bolsheviks after that stemmed only from the Bolsheviks’ supposed lack of democratic understanding, is false.

Unions and the Inland Empire

Pic: The Warehouse Workers' Resource Centre marches with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights on May Day 2018 in Southern California

Review of "Choke Points: Logistics Workers Disrupting the Global Supply Chain", edited by Jake Alimahomed-Wilson and Immanuel Ness

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach employ about 14,000 dockworkers, with the number fairly static as throughput has risen. The whole logistics industry around those ports employs over 500,000, with the number increasing.

Bolshevism, the civil war, and Stalinism

A review of Samuel Farber, Before Stalinism (Polity Press, 1990), re-posted from here.

Sam Farber, justly respected for his critical Marxist writings on Cuba, sums up his attitude in this book by quoting Victor Serge, an anarchist who rallied to the Bolsheviks after October 1917, became an activist in the Left Opposition, and then parted ways with Trotsky over his, Serge’s, rejection of Trotsky’s criticisms of the POUM in the Spanish Civil War.

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