martin's blog

The four lives of Laurent Schwartz

I recently came across Laurent Schwartz's autobiography, published in French in 1997, and in English in 2001. Maybe for reasons which I'll indicate, it has not become a well-known book; but there is much to be extracted from it.

Schwartz was a Trotskyist from when he was shocked by the Moscow...

Later capitalism

A discussion of Ernest Mandel's 1975 book Late Capitalism



A "magnum opus"



All too often we produce only a pastiche of the recent past when we try to map the future, or even the present. One conclusion is that our ability to predict is limited; another, that we should at least learn...

The respectable left

Review of Ha-joon Chang: 23 Things they didn't tell you about capitalism. Penguin, 2010


Ha-joon Chang, a professor at Cambridge, is on his way to becoming the British counterpart of Paul Krugman, the economic expert of the respectable left. He writes frequently in the Guardian, and the Campaign...

The hegemony of neoliberalism

Review of Philip Mirowski: Never let a serious crisis go to waste: how neoliberalism survived the financial meltdown. Verso, 2013


Philip Mirowski addresses the left, very broadly defined - "people who have taken it as a fundamental premise that current market structures can and should be...

Finance and the "other exploitation"

Review of Costas Lapavitsas: Profiting without producing, Verso 2013


Capitalist exploitation is not just by the boss extracting from the worker, in return for a meagre more-or-less “living wage”, an expansible value-added which may be something like three times what’s paid out in wages.

It...

A Gramsci glossary


CAESARISM. By Caesarism Gramsci meant much the same as other Marxists have meant by Bonapartism. Quintin Hoare (SPN p.206) argues that Gramsci's "Caesarism" was broader than other Marxists' "Bonapartism", but I read Gramsci more as considering gradations of Caesarism as well as full Caesarism (SPN...

Packed lecture hall for call to anti-capitalist revolution

Not only the scheduled lecture theatre, but also an overflow theatre connected by video link, were crammed full when David Harvey spoke at the London School of Economics on 26 April about his latest book, The Enigma of Capital, a book which concludes with a call for "revolution" to "dispossess" the...

Notes on Tony Cliff's autobiography

Notes on Cliff's "A World to Win"
General:
Cliff comments (p.3) that: "Readers may be shocked by the narrowness of my own life story outside politics". That's as may be. But what about the narrowness of his life story inside politics?
After the initial string of anecdotes about Arab suffering in...

Notes on "Capitalism With Derivatives"

Dick Bryan and Michael Rafferty, Capitalism with Derivatives, Palgrave Macmillan 2006

Since the 1980s, the trade in financial derivatives has become vastly greater than any other sort of trade.

There was $684 trillion - over $100,000 for every child, woman, and man in the world -...

Notes on "Political Economy of Money and Finance"

Makoto Itoh and Costas Lapavitsas, Political Economy of Money and Finance, Macmillan 1999

This book is a review of doctrine rather than a study of the latest developments. A great deal of it is concerned with the polemics between the "bullionists" and "anti-bullionists", and later between the...

Notes on "A People's History of Iraq"

"A People's History of Iraq", by Ilario Salucci. Haymarket Books 2005

This book is an odd patchwork, and misleadingly titled (it is not at all a general history of Iraq), but contains some useful stuff.

The core of it is 100 pages, first published in Italian in 2003, of a fairly...

Notes on "Targeting Iran"

"Targeting Iran", by David Barsamian, with Noam Chomsky, Ervand Abrahamian, and Nahid Mozaffari. City Lights, 2007

This book is essentially an extended pamphlet against the Bush-Cheney administration's talk of a military attack on Iran - talk only temporarily shelved, and not clearly repudiated...

Construction workers to walk out on 12 September

I hear from a BLF activist in Brisbane that construction sites across the country are likely to walk out on 12 September.

On that day union official Noel Washington appears in Geelong Magistrates' Court for a first hearing. Washington has refused instructions from the ABCC - a special police...

Notes on "Capital Unleashed", by Andrew Glyn

The strongest feature of this book is the detailed evidence it compiles of continued large variation in social conditions between the leading capitalist countries.

Globalisation and the "race to the bottom" are realities, but often understood in too sweeping a way, as if today's capitalist...

The Bible

My younger daughter Molly is currently reading the Bible - reading it as a convinced atheist, for information and literary instruction - and I'm trying to keep up with her.

Molly reads much faster than me, so I'm still in Kings while she has finished the Old Testament and is about to start...

Reading notes on various books

Robert Service; Orlando Figes; Jean-Jacques Marie; and Sam Farber on the Russian Revolution and the early Bolshevik regime. Richard Dawkins on God. R J B Boswell on Mussolini. Alfred Rosmer on the workers in World War 1. Jacques Texier on Marx, Engels, and democracy. Read on for links to the notes...

"No to the Pope" protest in Brisbane, 19 July 2008

About 150 of us marched through Brisbane city centre on 19 July, on the occasion of the Catholic Church's World Youth Day in Brisbane, to say "No To The Pope".

See YouTube for pictures.It was a lively and worthwhile protest, getting a good response from passing shoppers. Several people...

RSP launched

In July I attended the launch meeting in Brisbane of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, a group formed mainly by the former Leninist Party Faction of the DSP (Castroite) group.

Australia-wide, the RSP includes many people formerly very prominent in the DSP, such as John Percy, Doug Lorimer...

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