Marxism and postmodernism

Black Friday and the folly of anti-consumerism

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2019 - 19:16

Eduardo Tovar

In the US, Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November). The day revolves around large discounts in shops.

Black Friday sales are notorious for the levels of chaos or even violence that occur as crowds pour into the shops and scramble for the discounted goods. To take an extreme example, in 2008 a stampede of shoppers on Long Island, New York, trampled a Walmart employee to death.

Although Black Friday as a long-running annual tradition is specific to the United States because of its relationship to the holiday of Thanksgiving, retailers in other

Ellen Meiskins Wood (1942-2016): a Marxist who put class centre

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 11:59

Andrew Coates

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who has died aged 73, was a noted intellectual figure on the international left who influenced several generations of thinkers and activists.

Born in New York as Ellen Meiksins one year after her parents, Latvian Jews active in the Bund, arrived as political refugees, Wood studied in California before establishing herself as an academic in Canada, based at York University in Toronto.

Her writings were thought-provoking and luminous.

She first came to a wide left audience with The Retreat from Class: A New “True” Socialism (1986). This was a collection of her

Read this? Or jamesmurdoch it?

Published on: Fri, 16/12/2011 - 11:39

By Martin Thomas

James Murdoch claims he didn't know about widespread phone-hacking and other dirty tricks by Murdoch journalists. Investigators have uncovered an email to him spelling out the full picture which he not only received but replied to.

Murdoch's defence is that he didn't read that email, beyond the first few words. Like many other people with many other emails, web pages, or text messages, he didn't read it. He jamesmurdoched it.

He went through the motions with a degree of attention that can be estimated from known faster rate at which people "read" web pages, compared to reading

Why we should switch our computers off more

Published on: Sun, 19/09/2010 - 21:50

Martin Thomas

"The Shallows: how the internet is changing the way we think, read, and remember", by Nicholas Carr. Reviewed by Martin Thomas.

A friend recently told me about her 17 year old daughter's homework habits. She will habitually be watching a DVD on her computer and chatting by instant message with number of friends while simultaneously writing an essay for which she will get top marks.

The internet has brought boons by vastly speeding communications and access to information. It develops new mental skills. The 17 year olds of previous eras lacked the mental as well as the electronic equipment to

The critique of capitalism: the writings of Ellen Meiksins Wood in review

Published on: Sat, 15/10/2005 - 02:00

Janet Burstall and Tony Brown

The lesson that we may be obliged to draw from our current economic and political condition is that a humane, ‘social’, truly democratic and equitable capitalism is more unrealistically utopian than socialism” concludes Ellen Wood in Democracy against capitalism (p. 293).

And if capitalism cannot be reformed to achieve this kind of society, then we need a critique of capitalism, which, Wood begins her book by explaining, is the principal project of Marxism.

So, why, given the dire state of the world, is the Marxist critique of capitalism not more influential, widely supported, authoritative?


Modernism and postmodernism in architecture

Published on: Sat, 15/10/2005 - 00:54

Belinda Weaver

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download article as pdf

Some architects defend hated modern buildings by saying "The Eiffel Tower (Crystal Palace, etc.) was hated in its day!" However, many modern buildings were not hated or protested about in their "day". It's now, after years of looking at them, that the outcry has come against soulless tower blocks and ugly offices. In their day they were praised.

In his book 'Heroes', journalist and filmmaker John Pilger shamefacedly quotes a 1968 article he wrote praising Sheffield's Hyde Park Flats "great glass towers...that face, not blades of soot, but trees and green.

"Post-Fordism": collapsing into the present

Published on: Sat, 15/10/2005 - 00:48

Martin Thomas

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Capitalism has changed and is changing. Vast new areas in the Third World have industrialised. The introduction of small, cheap, flexible computers is revolutionising finance, administration, retailing, manufacturing. The majority of the workforce in many capitalist countries is now "white-collar" - but white-collar work is becoming more industrial.

Dozens of other shifts and changes are underway. Which of them are basic? How are they connected? What implications do they have for socialists?

Into this debate has marched the Communist Party's magazine

The lasting legacy of Derrida

Published on: Tue, 23/11/2004 - 06:26

Peter Thomas examines the work of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who died in October

Derrida is often regarded in the Anglophone world as a leading French postmodern philosopher whose doctrine of “deconstruction” propounded a moral relativism and political passivity.

In fact Derrida was neither French nor post-modern. He was as opposed to doctrines as he was insistent on the necessity of moral and political choices and commitments. He was, to be sure, a philosopher, but one whose life and work were spent interrogating and problematising precisely those responsibilities which accompany

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