Socialism and Democracy During the First Twenty Years of Socialism and Democracy*

By Victor Wallis

My first article for Socialism and Democracy, “Marxism in the Age of Gorbachev” (S&D #11, Fall 1990), written with the encouragement of Patrick Peppe in what turned out to be the last year of his life, was based on a presentation I had made less than a year before — and less than a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall.1 Weighing the prospects for socialism at that moment, I found good news along with the bad. The bad news was obvious. Popular opposition to the regimes of the Soviet bloc appeared to have crystallized as opposition to the very idea of socialism. Along with the collapse of those regimes, liberation movements elsewhere in the world seemed to have lost an essential source of support. Even then, though, there appeared to be good news as well. On the one hand, the socialist project could in the future be more readily envisaged without being tied to the failures of its first epoch. On the other hand, the continuing depredations of capitalism — especially visible in the Third World and in the environmental crisis — showed the potential for generating popular outrage that could not be soothed by official nostrums about the supposed impossibility of any alternative.

In my article, I tried to view the intricacies of this bad news/good news dynamic through the prism of Marxist dialectics, of which I presented a brief synopsis informed especially by the work of Bertell Ollman.2 Now, fifteen years later and as this journal enters its twentieth year, I would like to offer the contours of an analysis which, drawing on our collective efforts over the intervening period, brings this understanding up to the present. In brief, I want to suggest that while all the bad news has become even worse, the good news has at the same time become increasingly hopeful. Although I don’t think it is yet possible to draw a balance between these two contrary trends (as to their relative weight), I do believe that something useful can come from viewing them in their interconnections.

Bad News

As in 1989, it is not hard to see what is wrong. Nonetheless, it is sobering to note all the negative trends together.

First and perhaps most generally, the disappearance of an explicit and self-described world-scale counter-hegemon to the rule of capital—in other words, the crumbling of a putative socialist bloc that was led by a military superpower—had the effect of removing at a single stroke the only consciously felt restraint on the self-endowed license of the US ruling class to work its will in whatever ways it sees fit in any part of the world. The political elite in Washington slipped almost overnight (though not without decades of preparation) into the position that Hitler had only dreamed of, namely, that of unchallenged global military supremacy.3 From its position of power, far from relaxing into a new period of stability, it embarked immediately on an uninterrupted succession of military interventions, beginning with the December 1989 invasion of Panama4 and followed only a few months later by the decision to turn against former ally Saddam Hussein, luring him into his invasion of Kuwait,5 and then launching (in January 1991) the war of attrition that would culminate in the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Already in 1992, a key Pentagon strategy document made explicit the goal of preventing the possible emergence of any other world-power that could even approach the US in military might. The document (whose leading author was Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz) was equally clear as to military’s permanent mission of intervention into other countries. Although such interventions go back virtually to the founding of the US republic, the terms under which they had previously been carried out had always implied some kind of restraint, whether “doctrinal” or geopolitical. Thus, until the end of World War II, with the notable exception of the war against the Philippines, unilateral US interventions had essentially been confined to the Western Hemisphere, to which the Monroe Doctrine (1823) supposedly provided the necessary entitlement. The Truman Doctrine of 1947 expanded the scope of intervention to include, albeit without consultation, “freedom-loving peoples everywhere”; in practice, however, its scope was limited because of the Soviet — and soon also the Chinese — presence, whether in the form of the actual territories that they encompassed (together with their allies) or in the form of political resistance that could be mounted — often under their leadership but with the support of energized and assertive Third World governments — within the framework of the United Nations.

After 1989, all such restraints fell away. The prerogative to intervene no longer needed to be argued; it could be taken for granted. The search for legitimation by international bodies quickly shrank in importance. For the initial US assault on Iraq (1991), UN approval was still considered necessary, even though significant pressure had to be exerted in order to obtain it. By the time Washington decided to bomb Yugoslavia (1999), approval by the US-dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was deemed sufficient. For the Iraq invasion of 2003, UN approval was sought only in the wake of huge worldwide antiwar demonstrations, and when the approval did not materialize, Washington simply ignored the UN and went ahead with its plans.

Although the United Nations, even apart from the US role within it, scarcely qualifies as a beacon of popular sovereignty, it is nonetheless significant that the priorities of US imperialism have increasingly led Washington to exempt itself from international agreements and legal norms. While Republican leaders have been more aggressively contemptuous of such conventions, it is noteworthy that the Democrat Clinton did not sign onto the International Criminal Court until the last minute, making no attempt to muster support for its Senate ratification and leaving it to be quickly repudiated by George W. Bush. A similar pattern of lackluster approval followed by repudiation marked US response to the 1997 Kyoto accords on global warming. Bush II then carried unilateralism to new heights by withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, all the while sanctimoniously inflicting surveillance and threats against any regime (such as Iran or North Korea) that his administration chose to accuse of violating its strictures. Similarly, with war raging in Iraq, he would invoke the Geneva anti-torture Conventions on behalf of captured Americans while scoffing at any attempt to cite those same Conventions with reference to the far greater numbers held by US forces, whether in Iraq or in Guantánamo.6

Such double standards have become so routine—and yet so little remarked upon by the commercial media—as to pass largely unnoticed in public discourse within the US, and yet they apply to virtually every sphere of policy. Perhaps most striking is the juxtaposition of endless references to “freedom” with a multi-pronged assault on actual freedoms at home. The “freedom” of Bush’s rhetoric is always totally abstract and supposedly all-encompassing; the freedoms that have been encroached upon—especially by his administration but also by his predecessors over the last quarter-century (Democrats for many purposes included)—are quite specific and concrete. 1. With the combination of anti-welfare measures, drug laws, and mandatory sentencing requirements, the US prison population has multiplied more than fourfold since 1980, to the point of becoming percentage-wise the world’s highest. 2. The increasing transnationalization of corporate operations has cut severely into the economic options available to wage-earners—an effect that has been amplified by privatizations (with their adverse impact on former public employees), by moves to reduce or revoke pensions, and by the refusal even of Democrats to legislate job-protection for striking workers. 3. With the abrogation of the Fairness Doctrine (1987), with the stealth-passage of the Communications Act of 1996, and with the resulting scope given to a heavily financed media of right-wing intimidation,7 the commercial media have largely abandoned traditions of adversary journalism in favor of a culture of credulity and conformity. 4. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, also passed with almost no public debate, has severely eroded Constitutional protections by, among many other provisions, a definition of terrorism so vague that it has been used to squelch peaceful protest. 5. Finally, the integrity of the electoral process itself has been severely compromised by blatant interference with both the right to vote and the transparency of the vote-count.8

Complementing US global aggression and internal repression has been the steady advance of a religious fundamentalism which, while endorsing all the above-mentioned policies, steers public anger away from questions which might embarrass the ruling class (issues of economic security, public services, etc.) and toward symbolic rallying points and social scapegoating. Examples of symbolic measures are anti-flag-burning laws and measures to impose expressions of religious faith in the public sphere (including schools). The so-called “social” agenda of the Right flows directly from this same mindset. Under the guise of restoring morality to a corrupt society, it effectively scapegoats poor women (with its anti-abortion agenda) and gay people while at the same time backing a harsh law-and-order regime—including the death penalty—which has a disproportionate impact on communities of color.

Needless to say, the outcome of all these trends has been a sharp deterioration in the conditions of life for large numbers of people. The hardest hit, of course, have been those subjected to military invasion and occupation, which in the case of Iraq came on the heels of a fifteen-year economic siege that had already brought untold hardship. The populations of Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, and Haiti have to varying degrees experienced a similar effect.9 The more purely “systemic” deterioration has not exempted the US, where there has been a weakening of the labor movement, a rise in poverty levels, and a sharpening of economic polarization. Given capital’s global scope, moreover, the effect is worldwide. Privatization, foreign takeovers, public service cutbacks, and the draconian policies imposed by international financial institutions have led in many regions, but most calamitously in Africa, to a decline in social supports and to the spread of severe misery.

Overarching all the “bad news” is the continuing deterioration of the natural environment. With the Chinese economy now increasingly contributing its own toxic share, the US government, far from trying to help reverse such trends, has stepped up even further its targeting of environmental protection laws. Military activity itself is, of course, the greatest environmental danger of all, with its vast release of toxins of all kinds, including, in current US practice, the unchecked use of depleted uranium projectiles. More generally, the looming end of the cheap-oil era10 has led not to an emphasis on conservation but rather, in characteristic capitalist fashion, to a desperate scramble for control over the rapidly shrinking zone of easy access, for which Iraq now constitutes the geopolitical epicenter.

In terms of the potential to respond to all this, there are some further problematic trends that must be noted before we can turn to more hopeful developments. First, with the rapid spread of information technology, there remain fewer and fewer spheres of activity that are not bound up with high levels of energy-consumption. Second, privatization practices have spread to such an extent that they now thoroughly pervade public life, as access to public events (e.g., the US presidential inaugural parade) is sold to the highest bidders while the checking of electoral rolls and even the registration of voters is now in some cases contracted out to private firms. Third, fundamentalist religious influences have spread not only among backers of Washington’s agenda but also, of course, among those who are some of its principal targets. Ironically, as the longterm outcome of aborted national development in the Islamic world (dating back to the CIA coup against the secular constitutional government of Iran in 1953), the brunt of militant opposition to US imperialism in that region appears now to have been taken on by sectors which, within their own societies, have traditionally obstructed progressive social movements — including demands for free expression and, most notably, for the rights of women.11

Good News?

How good can any “good news” be against such a backdrop? I am as uncertain about this in writing it as you might be in reading it. Nonetheless, there are certain signs of resilience. Our task is not to exaggerate them but to note them and build upon them.

The first question we need to consider is: How complete was the “collapse” which we took as our point of departure? In my 1990 essay, I argued that the coexistence of socially antagonistic regimes—identified, respectively, with capitalism and socialism — could not be separated from the coexistence of antagonistic classes within the sphere of capitalism. A particular socialist regime or “camp” [set of regimes] is thus simply a more advanced manifestation of a class-based opposition to capital which can arise within capitalist society. The crumbling of a regime or even of a camp does not dissolve the antagonism; it merely alters its form, in a sense returning it to an earlier stage of conflict. Nonetheless, the historical acquisitions of the period of partial socialist hegemony do not automatically disappear. As was already clear in 1990, these were not limited to changes that occurred within the directly affected societies. They also included, on the one hand (as noted already in 1946 by historian E.H. Carr), the progressive reforms that were accepted in advanced capitalist countries in order to inoculate against more radical alternatives, and, on the other, the various emancipatory struggles elsewhere in the world that benefited in some way from the presence of even a less-than-exemplary counterhegemonic power.

Given the palpable links to socialism embodied in both these dimensions, and given the continued opposition they met after 1989 from capital, I was never able to accept the phrase “the end of the Cold War.” It seemed evident to me that the same struggle was continuing under an only slightly different guise. The dismantling of public services and the subjugation of independent Third World regimes remained high on the capitalist agenda. Popular demands to resist such measures would give the Left a highly receptive constituency. Even if mobilized initially by other forces (as now, especially, in Islamic countries), the resulting struggles could create political space elsewhere in the world for the advance of anti-imperialist movements grounded more in an understanding of structural inequities.

What has survived of the socialist camp itself? Here we must revert briefly to the “bad news” dimension before taking note of more hopeful aspects. In the former Soviet bloc, the only positive trace of socialism seems to be the recollection of lost public services. This has led in some instances to a rejection by voters of the more extreme advocates of neoliberal “shock therapy.”12 Also noteworthy, in this connection, is the fact that Yugoslavia, as the last remaining East European country to keep the commanding heights of its economy within the public sector, became the direct target of a withering 3-month US aerial assault. As for Asia, and most especially China, what can be said is that while the regimes –including the ruling Communist parties—survived, they did so as administrators of a voracious resurgent capitalism rather than as builders of socialism. In the Chinese case, even the minimal sphere of free public services taken for granted in much of the West, namely, schools and healthcare, has been switching back to pay-as-you-go arrangements, with harsh consequences for many.13 If North Korea has resisted such trends, it has been from a position of severe isolation, material hardship, and military threat,14 all of which have served to reinforce the authoritarian tendencies of its regime.

The one major exception to the pattern of collapse is the case of Cuba, which, although forced by financial pressure to accept the economically stratifying impact of a largely foreign-owned tourism and hard-currency sector, has nonetheless insisted on preserving the social gains of the Revolution. The continued socialist commitment of its government has been a perennial irritant to the US government, which throughout these twenty years—despite its earlier pretence that its concern was only with Cuba’s Soviet ties—has maintained and amplified its economic blockade (and worse),15 while continuing to forbid most US citizens to see the country for themselves. Cutting through the US information-embargo on Cuba has been an ongoing project of this journal, so I will not try to add much here. Cuba’s achievements in healthcare and education are widely acknowledged. As Peter Roman has shown in our pages, it can also claim advances in institutionalizing grassroots policymaking.16 Beyond this, as Richard Levins has documented, it has pioneered emancipation from petroleum-dependence, including promotion of organic agriculture and urban food-gardens.17 Finally, throughout the period of its Revolution, Cuba has been a center of oppositional culture for Latin America as a whole, thereby defying US attempts to isolate it while at the same time extending moral and political support to progressive efforts as well as, in some sectors (healthcare, education, construction, and disaster relief), direct material aid on a substantial scale.

The new upsurge of popular movements in Latin America — discussed at length in our most recent special issue18 — has restored a measure of revolutionary hope to oppressed people, even beyond the borders of the countries in which they have arisen. The most dramatic case is that of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Republic, which, with its singular combination of revolutionary leadership, mass support, electoral legitimacy, and oil wealth, has been able in only a few years to significantly raise not only the hopes but also the organizational strength and, to some extent, the immediate wellbeing of the country’s impoverished majority. In the year since Gregory Wilpert’s analysis appeared in our pages,19 President Hugo Chávez has explicitly invoked a vision of “socialism for the 21st century” while at the same time reaffirming his commitment to govern within constitutional norms. The fact that the Cuban Revolution was born out of armed struggle (having originated under conditions of far more direct US domination) in no way diminishes the sense of commonality felt by participants in the two countries’ processes. With the Telesur project (a Latin America-wide broadcasting network based in Caracas) and with the joint Cuban/Venezuelan 10-year plan to train 200,000 healthcare workers for deployment throughout the region, it appears likely that the growth of popular movements in other Latin American countries will be accelerated.

The thoroughly democratic character of these popular movements—whether expressed in grassroots organizing (as in Mexico, Bolivia, and Argentina) or in national electoral outcomes (in Brazil and Uruguay as well as Venezuela) — has potentially major implications for the worldwide struggle between capitalism and socialism. Viewed alongside the above-noted trends characterizing the United States, it encourages a diametric turnabout — compared to an earlier epoch—in popular conceptions of the social correlates of democracy. Through most of the period of the US-Soviet rivalry, Washington’s “free world-vs-totalitarianism” rhetoric found partial confirmation in the institutions and processes of regimes claiming the socialist mantle. While the capitalist countries (including the US itself) presented a mixed bag, US electoral and civil-liberties practice gave at least some plausibility to assumptions conflating capitalism with democracy. Objectively, such assumptions have now been stripped bare. While this realization may be slow to take hold within the US, the basis for it emerges sharply from any global overview. A most striking expression of the new scenario was the certification by the Carter Center that the Venezuelan recall referendum of August 2004 (which confirmed Hugo Chávez in office) was free and fair, set against its observation that US electoral arrangements in place for that same year did not satisfy minimal requirements for a fair election (in terms of criteria such as financing, media access, procedural regularity and transparency, and impartial administration).20

The links of socialism with democracy go back to the time of Marx.21 In the naming of our journal, the juxtaposition reflected in part a fleeting hope that the two terms, after their long estrangement in the Soviet Union, would be reunited via the evolution then taking place there under the slogans of glasnost [openness] and perestroika [restructuring]. The current moment, in which democracy is under assault in the United States while being revitalized by revolutionary movements in Latin America, suggests that the unity of democracy with socialism may now have found a more solid historical grounding.

This is not to say that the evolution can be easy, but it is to say that insofar as the capitalist order loses its democratic legitimation, its hold on popular loyalties will be severely weakened. The change in the objective correlates of democracy — whether in its constitutional or its grassroots dimension — could therefore have a profound and positive impact.

It remains for us to consider the practical ways in which this shift can be made intelligible to those sectors of the US population which, though ill served by capital, have been shielded from such awareness. This is a daunting task, but some of the groundwork for it is already evident. To begin with, the US military and political failure in Iraq (and in Washington’s efforts to extend its power even further afield) will eventually speak louder than any spin. The matrix of false pretences surrounding the US invasion is already causing a political meltdown as these lines are written. The hardships ensuing from the August 2005 hurricane catastrophe have only amplified the disgrace. Although this latter failure may end up being cast as a partisan matter (implicating primarily the incumbent Republican administration), the Iraq imbroglio is one in which top Democrats have reaffirmed their complicity at every step. The overall floundering of the country’s political leadership will be further aggravated by the effects of generally rising fuel prices, which, in tandem with ever more dramatic (un)natural disasters, will give credence to the observation that the environmental crisis is a survival issue.22 As this realization takes hold, the psychological defenses erected by religious fundamentalism (often infused with white supremacy and macho stubbornness) will look increasingly absurd23 — having already become targets of ridicule in the flourishing “comedy sector” of the commercial news/entertainment complex.

Within the working class, political loyalties are to a remarkable extent split along racial lines, with people of color (especially African Americans) tending to express, on the strength of their own experience, the most massive rejection of the status quo. It is up to other potentially revolutionary forces to understand what has shaped that perspective, and to find ways to help broaden its impact.24 This is the only basis on which we can hope to see the emergence of a popular democratic movement in the US comparable to the ones that have arisen in Latin America. Although such a parallel may at first sight appear far-fetched, given the obvious economic and social differences between the two settings, we need constantly to remind ourselves that without radical policy changes, the condition of the majority in the US can only worsen. Once those most responsible for this deterioration have been fully discredited, the sectors that were the first to condemn them will be seen as having earned a level of moral authority that will give them a distinctive role in building a movement with which the majority can identify. The readiness to confer such authority has already asserted itself in the arena of popular culture, as a sector of the Hip Hop community—with an initially African American base but with strong youth appeal ranging across ethnic and national lines — has been promoting networks of outspoken opposition to established power.25

Where, then, does the socialist project now stand as a political force? Globally, thanks in particular to the impact of the Bolivarian Revolution, socialism is back on the agenda. Within the advanced countries, however, the situation is more problematic. Perhaps one can say, though, that the consciousness-raising which, over the last few decades, has occurred above all within the new social movements — challenging oppression based on ethnicity, gender, culture, sexuality, age, and ability — has now reached a point at which the need for a broader unity, for a comprehensive structural understanding of oppression, is widely recognized.26 While many progressive people are still hesitant to embrace socialism, the repudiation of capitalism is clearly and massively expressed in the routine targeting by activists — unprecedented until Seattle 1999 — of the policymaking bodies of the global financial system.27 The same point can be made about the World Social Forum movement, whose essence is aptly expressed by the Zapatista slogan “One No and many Yeses”: it’s clear what we are against, but not what we are for.28 The presence of a broad spectrum of movements in a single political space can serve as a constant reminder of the need for a deeper level of unity. This whole matrix of activism is enhanced, finally, by the rapid expansion — spurred by the 1999 face-off in Seattle — of independent media networks, of which a key expression in the US is the daily progressive news-program Democracy Now!29


The positive aspect of the present conjuncture boils down to two observations, one being the recent political victories in Latin America and the other, the greater clarity surrounding the democratic implications of the socialist project. How these gains will play out over time depends in part on people’s conscious political responses and in part on the danger of unpredictable intensifications or offshoots of the negative trends (whether in the form of expanding warfare or in the form of climatic or public health disasters30). Despite the possibly overwhelming scope of the latter type of occurrence, it remains essential to keep in view the underlying fundamental antagonism. If this can be done, then the continuous activism springing from immediately perceived abuses will begin to acquire a deeper impact. However improbable it might seem, there is at least a chance that the heightened sense of crisis provoked by unanticipated levels of suffering will prompt a sudden increase in people’s receptivity to sweeping alternatives. Our patient efforts, along with those of many others, could then prove to have a resonance greater than we are entitled to predict.

* My thanks to Frank Rosengarten for proposing that I write this article, and to Marcella Bencivenni, Hester Eisenstein, Georgy Katsiaficas, George Snedeker, and Hobart Spalding for their valuable suggestions. Citations below are intended primarily to reflect the range of both S&D’s coverage and my own thinking over this period. They are in no sense exhaustive. S&D’s earlier years, prior to my editorial involvement (which dates from 1995), are notably underrepresented.

1. At the first Rethinking Marxism conference (Amherst, Mass., Dec. 1, 1989); see also my article “The Communist Manifesto and Capitalist Hegemony after 150 Years,” S&D 23/24 (1998).

2. See esp. Ollman’s Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx’s Method (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).

3. On the wider context of this development, see my article “2000 and Beyond: The Challenge of Capitalist Hyper-Development,” Capitalism Nature Socialism, vol. 11, no. 1 (March 2000).

4. The 1992 film “Panama Deception” takes on added significance in its foreshadowing of the 2003 Iraq invasion: it shows that the much-heralded pursuit and capture of the country’s military leader (Manuel Noriega) was incidental to Washington’s larger objective (revoking the 1978 treaty which, by 2000, would give the US-controlled Canal Zone back to Panama).

5. One week before Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the US ambassador to Iraq told Saddam Hussein, “We have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border dispute with Kuwait” (New York Times International, 9/23/90, quoted in Behind the Invasion of Iraq, by the Mumbai-based Research Unit in Political Economy [New York: Monthly Review Press, 2003], 38). On US lack of interest in a peaceful resolution, see Noam Chomsky, World Orders Old and New (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 9f.

6. On the mass psychology underlying the US claim to be above the law in such matters, see Walter J. Davis, “Passion of the Christ in Abu Ghraib: Toward a New Theory of Ideology,” S&D 37 (2005). The hypocrisy of government on the torture issue has to be viscerally felt in order to be fully recognized; hence the importance of dramatic expressions such as the plays by Pat McGeever and Terry Bisson in the present issue of S&D.

7. The Right’s characteristic contempt for rational argument infuses the bullying style of the Fox News Network, as graphically shown in the documentary film “Outfoxed.” I discuss the US Right’s approach to political discourse in “McCarthyism Redux?” The Public Eye, vol. 19, no. 1 (Spring 2005).

8. For an overview, see my Introduction to S&D 37 and the articles on the 2004 election by Bertell Ollman, Steve Martinot, and Joel Kovel in S&D 38. The manipulation of the decisive Ohio vote in 2004 was taken to an even higher level in November 2005, when referendum proposals to reform that state’s electoral procedures were defeated by margins that diverged from pre-election surveys by as much as 28 percentage-points (Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, “Has American Democracy Died an Electronic Death in Ohio’s 2005 Referenda Defeats?” The Free Press, Nov. 12, 2005,

9. The Palestinian case is addressed in a special section, “The Palestine Question,” in S&D 32 (2002). Haiti was the target of US military intervention in 1994 and of a US-organized coup in 2004. The first restored to office the country’s elected president [Jean-Bertrand Aristide] while terrorizing his popular social base (see Stan Goff, Hideous Dream: A Soldier’s Memoir of the U.S. Invasion of Haiti [Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2000]); the second removed him from office after he had won re-election.

10. See Dan Box et al., “The End of Cheap Oil,” The Ecologist, vol. 35, no. 8 (October 2005).

11. The particular dilemma posed for women in the affected countries is discussed in Bina Srinivasan, “Religious Fundamentalism, Community Disintegration, and Violence Against Women,” S&D 35 [in special section, Gender and Globalization: Marxist-Feminist Perspectives, ed. Hester Eisenstein] (2004). The contorted links between Islamic fundamentalism and US foreign policy prompted my reflections in “A Radical Approach to Justice for 9/11,” S&D 31 (2002).

12. For background to this response, see Hans Aage, “The Triumph of Capitalism in Russia and Eastern Europe and Its Western Apologetics,” S&D 38 (2005).

13. For critiques of Chinese “market socialism,” see the articles of Bertell Ollman, and Robert Weil in S&D 30 (2001).

14. Georgy Katsiaficas, “Impressions of North Korea,” S&D 35 (2004).

15. On US-supported terrorism against Cuba, see, in this issue, the review of Alicia Herrera, Pusimos la bomba—¿y qué?

16. Peter Roman, “The Lawmaking Process in Cuba: Debating the Bill on Agricultural Cooperatives,” S&D 38 (2005). See also our special issue Cuba in the 1990s: Economy, Politics and Society, S&D 29 (2001), and other Cuba coverage in S&D 20, 28, 32, 34, 37.

17. Richard Levins, “How Cuba Is Going Ecological,” Capitalism Nature Socialism, vol. 16, no. 3 (September 2005).

18. The Reawakening of Revolution in Latin America (ed. Gerardo Rénique), S&D 39 (2005).

19. Gregory Wilpert, “Venezuela: Participatory Democracy or Government as Usual?” S&D 37 (2005).

20. Carter Center, Observing the Venezuela Presidential Recall Referendum (Feb. 2005), p. 128; and remarks by David Carroll in “Considering U.S. Elections in the Context of International Election Standards” [interview], both at

21. See August H. Nimtz, Marx and Engels: Their Contribution to the Democratic Breakthrough (Albany: SUNY Press, 2000); also, Mehmet Tabak, “A Marxian Theory of Democracy,” S&D 28 (2000).

22. I have explored the systemic implications of this concern in “Toward Ecological Socialism,” Capitalism Nature Socialism vol. 12, no. 1 (March 2001); “‘Progress’ or Progress? Defining a Socialist Technology,” S&D 27 (2000); and “Socialism and Technology: A Sectoral Overview,” in Anatol Anton & Richard Schmitt, eds., Socialism for a New Generation (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, forthcoming).

23. Just as scriptural justification has been found for visions of social equality (e.g., Theology of Liberation), so it could be found for respecting the natural environment. Such a possibility has recently been broached even within the very conservative National Association of Evangelicals (New York Times, Nov. 7, 2005, A17). Its adoption, however, would require a major shake-up in that constituency, which, as the Times report points out, has a cultural aversion to “environmentalists”—not to speak of left activists.

24. See Yusuf Nuruddin, “Promises and Pitfalls of Reparations,” S&D 31 (2002), and our special issue, Radical Perspectives on Race and Racism (eds. Ronald Hayduk, Yusuf Nuruddin & Victor Wallis), S&D 33 (2003).

25. See our special issue, Hip Hop, Race, and Cultural Politics (eds. Yusuf Nuruddin & Victor Wallis), S&D 36 (2004). On the related phenomenon of radicalism in sports, see, in the present issue, the reviews of Dave Zirin, What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States.

26. Various approaches are presented in a special section, “Strategies for the Left,” in S&D 38 (2005). I have discussed issues of diversity and unity in: “Marxism and the U.S. Left: Thoughts for the 1990s,” Monthly Review, vol. 43, no. 2 (June 1991); “Keeping the Faith: The U.S. Left, 1968-1998,” Monthly Review, vol. 50, no. 4 (Sept. 1998) [adapted from an article in S&D 22 (1997)]; and “The U.S. Left Since 1968: Decline or Growth?” New Political Science, vol. 21, no. 3 (Sept. 1999).

27. This has involved a new anti-capitalist generation, whose views are expressed in the following anthologies co-edited by S&D editors/writers: Benjamin Shepard & Ronald Hayduk, eds., From ACTUP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Age of Globalization (London & New York: Verso, 2002); Eddie Yuen, Daniel Burton-Rose & George Katsiaficas, eds., Confronting Capitalism: Dispatches from a Global Movement (Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2004); Dan Berger, Chesa Boudin & Kenyon Farrow, eds., Letters from Young Activists (New York: Nation Books, 2005). See also Carol Barton, “Global Women’s Movements at a Crossroads,” S&D 35 (Gender & Globalization issue, cited above, note 11), and the youth website

28. John L. Hammond, “The World Social Forum and the Rise of Global Politics,” NACLA Report on the Americas, vol. 38, no. 5 (March/April 2005); on the first WSF, see Norman Solomon, “’A Different World Is Possible’: Porto Alegre vs. the Corporate Media,” S&D 30 (2001).

29.  See Amy Goodman, with David Goodman, The Exception to the Rulers (New York: Hyperion, 2004).

30. For a recent case study on the political economy of epidemics, see Mike Davis, The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (New York: New Press, 2005).

This entry was posted in 40, Volume 20, No. 1. Bookmark the permalink.