Through the years, the IIRE has used different venues to develop and diffuse left-wing ideas. Aside from our courses, an important pillar of our work is our publication program. We have published over 50 issues of our Notebooks for Study and Research, currently in cooperation with left-wing publisher Merlin Press. We have also produced Working Papers: working documents that often form the basis of future publications and serve to stimulate discussion for newer drafts. A third outlet is our website on which we publish audio- and video-recordings of our courses.

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Notebooks for Study and Research

The results of the IIRE's work are made available to a larger public in large part through our publication series, the Notebooks for Study and Research. Since 1986 we have published dozens of issues of the Notebooks. The Notebooks focus on themes of contemporary debate or historical or theoretical importance, sometimes based on lectures given in sessions in our Institute. Since 1998 they were published as a book series in collaboration with Pluto Press in London and since 2010 in cooperation with Merlin Press. Different issues of the Notebooks have also appeared in languages besides English, including French, German, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Turkish, Swedish, Danish and Russian.

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Documents de Travail

Tous nos documents de travail sont disponibles en format PDF.

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The Porto Alegre Alternative: Direct Democracy in Action

Iain Bruce, editor

IIRE/Pluto Press, Notebook for Study and Research no. 35/36 (162 pp., € 19.20, £12.99, $23.50)

 Brazilian socialists André Passos Cordeiro, Ubiratan de Souza, Pepe Vargas, Raul Pont and João Machado describe in The Porto Alegre Alternative how Porto Alegre's participatory budget was born, how it works, how it developed in interaction with popular movements and spread with local Workers' Party (PT) victories, and how it has staked out new ground in promising a radically democratic alternative in the interests of the poor to top-down political and economic decision-making. They argue that the 'Porto Alegre' model does offer an alternative to capitalist politics as usual, but that Brazilian President Luis Ignacio da Silva ('Lula') unfortunately does not seem to have learned its lessons. As editor Iain Bruce writes, the participatory budget's linkage of socialism and direct democracy takes up 'an inescapable task for those seeking to restate the case for socialism in the twenty-first century, in an idiom that makes sense to the new generations coming to politics after Seattle and the immense movement against war in Iraq'.

Iain Bruce is a British journalist and filmmaker who has made documentaries for Channel 4 and the BBC. His latest documentary touches on Porto Alegre and its connection with the wider global justice movement.

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The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder

Gilbert Achcar

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 33/34 (128 pp., €15.00, £10.00, $15.99)

 The US shift towards "unlimited war" precipitated by the events of 11 September 2001 was long in the making. Gilbert Achcar traces the rise of militant, anti-Western Islamic fundamentalism to its roots in US policies aimed at control ling the oil reserves of the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, the "Muslim Texas". He examines the disintegration of class-ridden societies in the Middle East today and shows how these processes are rooted in the interests and policies of US imperialism. The US war on terrorism is raising this disintegration to new heights of destruction and disorder.


IIRE Fellow Gilbert Achcar lived in Lebanon until moving to France and most recently Berlin, where he is a researcher in social sciences at the Centre Marc Bloch. He is a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique, editor of The Legacy of Ernest Mandel and author of several books, including the forthcoming Eastern Cauldron.

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Globalization: Neoliberal Challenge, Radical Responses

Robert Went

IIRE/Pluto Press, Notebook for Study and Research no. 31/32 (170 pp., € 21.00, £13.99, $21.00)

 In this clear and concise overview, Robert Went refutes the myth that globalization is an entirely new phenomenon and an unavoidable process. While recognizing that globalization poses serious strategic challenges to progressive movements, he argues that these challenges are not insurmountable and that there is hope for real change. Viewing globalization in its historic perspective, Went argues that there can be no return to the postwar mode of expansion, but that the current trend must be altered. If it is not, he warns of greater social inequality, levelling down of wages, a deterioration of working conditions, life-threatening ecological disasters and a pervasive dictatorship of the market. To combat this scenario, Went challenges the left to rebuild social movements and offer a credible alternative.

Robert Went is an economist and former IIRE co-director, currently working as a researcher at the Faculty of Economics and Econometrics of the University of Amsterdam and for The Netherlands Court of Audit.

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Understanding the Nazi Genocide

Marxism after Auschwitz

Enzo Traverso

IIRE/Pluto Press, Notebook for Study and Research no. 29/30 (154 pp., € 19.20, £12.99, $19.20)

 Auschwitz was a pre-eminently modern genocide. If racial hatred was its first cause, its execution required a 'rationality' typical of modern capitalism. In this book on the slaughter of the European Jews in 1941-45, Enzo Traverso sustains a dialogue with writings on the Shoah from Hannah Arendt to Daniel Goldhagen. To faciliate this dialogue he draws on the critical and heretical Marxism of Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt School, which grasped late capitalism's pent-up capacity for destructive upheavals exacerbated by bureaucratic organization and advanced technology. Traverso argues that after Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the gulag, the choice we face is no longer between the progress of civilization and a fall into ancient savagery, but between socialism conceived as a new civilization and the destruction of humankind. For Traverso the Warsaw Ghetto uprising is an image of what should impel us to rebel: not a sense of inevitable victory, but an ethical imperative.

Born in Italy, Enzo Traverso is former Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales of Paris and currently teaches political science at the Jules Verne University of Amiens. Two of his earlier books have been published in English: The Marxists and the Jewish Question (1994) and The Jews and Germany (1995).

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Fatherland or Mother Earth?

Essays on the National Question

Michael Löwy

IIRE/Pluto Press, Notebook for Study and Research no. 27/28 (108 pp., € 16, £10.99, $16)

 In Fatherland or Mother Earth? leading French Marxist Michael Löwy argues that the fragmentary writings on national issues by Marx and Engels have the potential to form the basis of a coherent theory, a truly international dialectic which yet remains to be developed. This theory draws on contributions from key thinkers such as Lenin and Otto Bauer. Löwy argues that the explosion of nationalist movements around the world today cannot be wholly understood without acknowledging Lenin's notion of 'oppressed nations' nor be adequately addressed without Bauer's toolbox of 'national/cultural autonomy'. Löwy demonstrates that by doing justice to national realities and identities, and simultaneously linking together new forms of social-movement internationalism - anti-IMF, ecological, feminist - a new internationalism can be created for the twenty-first century.

Born in 1938 in São Paulo, Brazil, Michael Löwy has lived in Paris since 1969, where he is now director of research in sociology at the National Centre for Scientific Research. One of the most versatile Marxist intellectuals of our time, he has been widely published in English and French (as well as Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Japanese, etc.). His books in English include: The Marxism of Che Guevara (1971), Georg Lukács: From Romanticism to Bolshevism (1978), The Politics of Uneven and Combined Development: The Theory of Permanent Revolution (1981), the IIRE Notebook Marxism and Liberation Theology (1988), On Changing the World: Essays in Political Philosophy from Karl Marx to Walter Benjamin (1993) and The War of Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America (1996).

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The Trade-Union Left and the Birth of a New South Africa

Claude Jacquin

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 26 (92 pp., €2.75, £2, $3.25)

 In the 1970s and '80s a wave of industrialization contributed to the greatest political and social mobilization in South African history, of which the trade-union movement was one of the central driving forces. One particularly interesting current that emerged was the 'independent trade-union left' that played a key role in the birth of the union federation COSATU. In The Trade-Union Left and the Birth of a New South Africa, Claude Jacquin follows the political, social and economic changes that ultimately brought an end to apartheid. All the forces that tried to combine 'democratic' emancipation with social liberation ultimately failed, he says. The current ANC government's choice for neo-liberal management of South African society is very remote from the options defended in the debates of the 1980s: not only from the socialism once advocated by the trade-union left, but also from the 'national democratic revolution' advocated by its adversaries in the South African Communist Party. Jacquin's account of how these two currents converged as they abandoned their original perspectives should contribute to lively debates.

Claude Jacquin covered South African events for the fortnighly International Viewpoint and carried out research during ten visits to South Africa between 1982 and 1992. His other works include studies of the Angolan revolution and the independence movement in New Caledonia.

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World Bank/IMF/WTO: The Free-Market Fiasco

Susan George, Michel Chossudovsky et al.

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 24/25 (116 pp.) [OUT OF PRINT]

 The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization have managed to impose neo-liberal policies on virtually the entire world. The 16 authors of the anthology IMF/World Bank/WTO: The Free-Market Fiasco explain how the IMF and World Bank prevail on governments to sacrifice their inhabitants' health, education and nutrition in order to funnel money to Western banks. Despite rhetoric about 'ecologically sustainable development' and 'social safety nets', pressure to respect 'intellectual property rights' and devote 'everything to export' is pushing the Third World deeper into dependency. Nowhere have these policies slowed global impoverishment: neither in the disaster area that is Africa; nor in Latin America, where the 'lost decade' of the 1980s still drags on; nor in the ruins of Russia's half-dismantled economy.

IMF/World Bank/WTO: The Free-Market Fiasco raises disturbing questions about how unelected institutions are pre-empting democratic decision-making. Its aims are to inform, analyze, provoke thought and discussion, and increase awareness of international initiatives that advance democratic alternatives.


Lean Production - A Capitalist Utopia?

Tony Smith

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 23 (68 pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25)

Sample ImageAre innovative ways of organizing production and marketing eliminating antagonisms between capital and labour, between producers and consumers, and between different companies? Does 'lean production' unite companies, workers and consumers in the harmonious pursuit of common interests? In Lean Production: A Capitalist Utopia?, Tony Smith explains how lean production is transforming many of the earlier, 'Fordist' ways of organizing the economy. He examines changing relationships between employers and employees, between producers and consumers, and between different firms. In the end he concludes that the real changes brought about by lean production do not alter the exploitative, alienating and anarchic character of capitalism. A socialist economy based on grassroots participation and democratic coordination, he suggests, could match the dynamism of lean production while keeping lean production's broken promises of cooperation and harmony.

Tony Smith is professor of philosophy at Iowa State University and advisory editor of the magazine Against the Current. His books include The Logic of Marx's 'Capital'.

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Do the Workers Have a Country?

José Iriarte 'Bikila'

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 16 (48pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25)

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 Marxism has contributed much to the understanding of the national question: its class dynamics, its relationship to internationalism, its political importance and the importance of the slogan of self-determination. Lenin's role in this was particularly significant. But José Iriarte 'Bikila' thinks we should also take other theorists into account, like the Austro-Marxist Otto Bauer and the Irish socialist and patriot James Connolly. Above all, it is important to re-examine a number of issues in the light of contemporary experience. In what circumstances can there be a fusion of Marxist and nationalist traditions? What is the particularity of an oppressed nation in advanced capitalist Europe? Should the borders of a radical left party necessarily be the same as those of the existing states? What is the present significance of independence?

José lriarte 'Bikila' was born in 1945. His thinking on the national question has drawn on his personal involvement and intimate knowledge of the struggle of the Basque people. In 1964 he joined the ranks of the pro-independence organization ETA, leaving in 1973 as part of a current that took part in a regroupment of the radical left. In 1991 he helped found the independent Basque revolutionary organization Zutik.

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From the PCI to the PDS

Livio Maitan

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 15 (48pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25)

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 In 1991 the Italian Communist Party completed its long process of social-democratization. For many years the PCI was proud of its 'communist identity' and even of its 'diversity' in the context of the national political system and the European left. For several decades it was not only the main force of the Italian workers' movement but also the biggest Communist party in the capitalist West. But at its last congress in Rimini it abandoned its historic name and took that of the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS). At the end of such an itinerary a balance sheet is necessary. In From the PCI to the PDS, Livio Maitan looks at some key moments in PCI history and underlines the problems and contradictions that prepared the conditions for its final turn.

Livio Maitan, born in Venice in 1923, has been active in the ltalian workers' movement since the beginning of the Second World War. A national organizer of the Socialist Youth at the Liberation, he broke with social democracy in 1947. Since 1991 he has been in the leadership of the Party of Communist Refoundation. He has taught sociology at the University of Rome and translated and introduced almost all the ltalian editions of Trotsky's writings. His works in English include Party, Army and Masses in China (1976).

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