Ressources Notebooks for Study and Research

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.

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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The Gulf War and the New World Order

André Gunder Frank and Salah Jaber

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 14 (72pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25) 

 The Gulf War and the New World Order provides thorough analyses of the Gulf War from the invasion of Kuwait (August 1990) to the aftermath of operation 'Desert Storm' ( January/February 1991). It examines the war's meaning for the Third World and gives detailed assessments of Western policies and the changing scene in the Middle East.

André Gunder Frank has taught anthropology, economics, history, political science and sociology at universities in Europe, North America and Latin America. He became known especially through his book Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America (1967), which sold over 120,000 copies in nine languages. His recent work has been in the fields of world system history, contemporary international political economy and social movements. His books include World Accumulation 1492-1789 and Resistance in the World System: Capitalist Accumulation, State Policy, Social Movements (with Marta Fuentes Frank). Salah Jaber was active on the left in Lebanon until 1983. He has written often on the Middle East for publications such as International Viewpoint (in English), Inprecor (in French) and Al-Mitraqa (in Arabic).

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The Spanish Civil War in Euzkadi and Catalonia 1936-39

Miguel Romero

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 13 (48pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25)

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 In The Spanish Civil War in Euzkadi and Catalonia, Miguel Romero questions conventional history and tries to look at it from the point of view of the defeated and oppressed. This starting point makes it possible for him to show that the defeat of the revolutionaries in the republican camp (particularly in Catalonia in spring 1937) paved the way for Franco's victory. The originality of his study is the way in which it integrates the national question into its analysis of the civil war. In the Basque country and in Catalonia, defence of the republic, working-class mobilization and the anti-fascist struggle took place in different and specific national contexts. Romero develops a comparative analysis of the civil war in the two countries. He notes that the shared tragic conclusion to the conflicts should not hide the very different dynamic of the social and political forces in the two situations.

Miguel Romero was born in 1945 in Melilla, Spanish Morocco, and began his political activity during the Franco dictatorship between 1966 and 1971 as a member of the Popular Liberation Front. He was later editor of the radical fortnightly Combate.

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The Bourgeois Revolutions

Robert Lochhead

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 11/12 (72pp. €6, £3.75, $6)

 The current political relevance of the history of past revolutions is revealed in the ongoing polemics over the meaning of the French revolution of 1789 and the English revolution of 1640-60. The comparative study of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century revolutions is also indispensable to analyzing the particularities of the various Western European states to which these revolutions gave birth. It is a necessary reference point, finally, for the study of revolutions in the Third World. The idea that they were 'bourgeois revolutions' is central to the Marxist analysis of contemporary society. Robert Lochhead's study presents their general features and examines two case studies (the Low Countries and England) in depth to illustrate the complexity of the classes, parties and leaders who made these revolutions. It concludes with an overview of various interpretations of the nature of these revolutions, showing the diversity of the Marxist tradition in this regard.

Robert Lochhead was born in 1950 in Bern, Switzerland. He teaches biology and has been an activist in the public services union and a city councillor elected on the Socialist Alternative/Green slate in Nyon, Switzerland. He is the author of many articles published in the newspaper La Brèche, notably on ecology.


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Marxism and Liberation Theology

Michael Löwy

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 10 (40pp €3.25, £2, $3.25)

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 The emergence of revolutionary Christianity and liberation theology in Latin America opened a new chapter and posed exciting new questions. In Marxism and Liberation Theology, Michael Löwy argues that these developments demand a renewal of the Marxist analysis of religion. One of the best illustrations of this observation is the following dialogue, reported by Frei Betto, between himself and the police officer in charge of his interrogation under the Brazilian dictatorship: 'How can a Christian collaborate with a communist?' 'For me, men are not divided into believers and atheists, but between oppressors and oppressed, between those who want to keep this unjust society and those who want to struggle for justice.' 'Have you forgotten that Marx considered religion to be the opium of the people?' 'It is the bourgeoisie which has turned religion into an opium of the people by preaching a God, lord of the heavens only, while taking possession of the earth for itself.'

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), On Changing the World: Essays in Political Philosophy from Karl Marx to Walter Benjamin (1993), The War of Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America (1996), and the IIRE Notebook Fatherland or Mother Earth? (1998).

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Ressources Notebooks for Study and Research