Issue no. 104 (Winter 2014)

Our new issue follows the path we have set for ourselves: the studies included reflect in detail on the transformations of the capitalist world-system, its upheavals, and the perspectives of its disintegration. Within the pores of capitalism new opportunities also arise for initiatives of collective self-management, some of which are reviewed in the current issue. In our historical studies the ‘rich’ history of Hungarian anti-Semitism is analyzed along with the current government’s policy of the systematic renaming of Budapest’s public spaces, as part of its effort to relegitimise the Horthy régime of the interwar era. We also present a theoretical analysis and critique of the newly fashionable liberal terminology, which describes the current conjuncture with the concept of a ‘mafia-state’.

Table of contents

Editorial

Autocratic power and popular resistance

Analysis

Wolfgang Streeck: How will capitalism end?

Capitalism seems to have triumphed over all its enemies, yet is in a more and more critical condition. Could it be, that the ever-increasing turbulence within the system is actually a consequence of the elimination of its counterbalances? Continuously increasing income and wealth inequality, uncontrollable financial speculation and its ensuing crises, economic stagnation in the developed capitalist countries and the evanescence of the democratic nature of bourgeois democracy seem to form a completely closed ‘feedback loop’, a vicious cycle. Will a social force emerge to stop the destructive tendencies of capitalism – destructive of itself, the ecological system and human abilities alike – before it’s too late?

Samir Amin: Egypt, Turkey, Iran – emergence aborted

The eminent social theorist and political activist Samir Amin takes one of the favourite terms of mainstream financial journalism, “emerging markets”, to subject it to political economic analysis, by looking at the three most important Middle Eastern states. By constructing a meaningful set of criteria of what would actually constitute “emergence” of a country, Amin shows that none of these states seem to fulfil them, with “emergence” remaining a hollow promise.

Variations on a theme

Yevgeny Chernih: The oil price and geopolitics. The heaviest sanction was the one never publicly announced – interview with Elena Larina

An interview containing substantial insider’s information on the mechanisms of the formation of oil prices – mechanisms that have not only financial, but geopolitical aspects as well. Although the expert interviewed can be considered a representative of pro-Kremlin Russian nationalism, we publish the interview for the wealth of information therein contained.

Chris Hann: The Expansion of NATO and the contraction of Eurasia

The crisis in Ukraine led to an ‘outburst of Atlanticism’ in Western Europe, forming a united anti-Russian NATO-front. While, according to the author, the aggressive steps undertaken by NATO will not slow down or reverse the long-term shift of economic and geopolitical power towards China, this policy is tragically coupled with the US-style dismantling of European welfare states. Western European leaders could form long-term cooperation with the major states of the Eurasian region, extending the principles of controlling markets for the sake of the public good, instead of which they let American geopolitics to ‘take care of’ Asia, which might have disastrous consequences.

History

Károly Ignácz – Balázs Szabó: Elections results in Budapest’s tradition working class districts, 1994-2014

The study investigates post-1989 electoral patterns in the traditionally working class districts of Budapest. Did (does) left-wing parties perform significantly better here? Is there a left-wing continuity in the districts of the ‘Red Belt’ that formed around central Budapest in the early 20th century? Do these latter districts differ from the housing projects built under state socialism? Can the upsurge of the far-right from 2010 on interpreted similarly as in Western Europe?

Péter Konok: …change forthwith the old conditions… The right-wing’s symbolic takeover of Budapest’s public squares. Streets – square – statues.

Many think that the government’s policy of systematically renaming public spaces and erecting monuments, memorials etc. that convey its particular aesthetic and political ‘values’ is a maneuver primarily designed to draw attention away from more serious aspects of its reign. The article argues otherwise and reads the latter as part of a policy to create a new system of public spaces and with it a new perspective on history itself.

Attila Jakab: Anti-Semitism sanctified. Eucharistic Congress and the first anti-Semitic laws in Hungary in 1938.

The year of 1938 reveals everything about the Horthy-régime, in particular about its political and ecclesiastic élites. In this year political Catholicism and racial anti-Semitism merged and became one. Hungarian society started to go down the road towards a complete loss of its sense of reality with the approval and blessing of the Church.

SELF-MANAGEMENT – SELF-ORGANIZATION

John Bellamy Foster: Foreword to the book The Necessity of Social Control by István Mészáros

In his foreword to the book of István Mészáros, the American author summarizes the line of argument spanning the work of the Hungarian philosopher. The main concepts of this work are those of ‘social metabolic control’ and ‘second order mediations’. According to Mészáros as the very structure of the basic unit of capitalist reproduction is based on exploitation and separation, this leads inevitably to a system of ‘second order mediations’ (such as the nuclear family, the capitalist state, the world market or imperialism) that form an ultimately destructive system. Transcending capital must also mean transcending the entire system of second order mediations.

Teréz Terbe: Eco-villages, family farms – within and outside Russia

In today’s Russia autonomous family farms are on the rise, some of them having international links as well. This form of smallholder property independent from the state and corporate capital can potentially provide opportunities beyond those of capitalist production. This type of community ownership is however vulnerable to changes in their economic and political surroundings. Their fight for survival is going on today.

Associations

Péter Szigeti: Mafia-state? Passive revolution? Or something else?

Thinking about 2010 and 2014 the debate about the nature of domestic economic, social and political processes is reopened. What do we have here? A Christian-cum-national conservative régime? A ‘mafia-state’? Or the passive revolution of Viktor Orbán with his new ‘Grundgesetz’ and political system? The author reviews several positions of the recent debates, but unlike in day-to-day commentaries looks at them by investigating their theoretical soundness.

Brigitta Katona: The political aspects of the mafia-phenomenon in Italy

The links between the Sicilian mafia and certain high-level players in Italian politics raises the question if we can talk about a ‘mafia-state’ in the context of Italy? While corruption, kickbacks, bribes and so on are certainly no rarity in this context, many other aspects of the mafia proper are lacking, such as rackets, assassinations, the omertà and so on.

BOOKMARK

Tamás Bezsenyi : Critique of a critical perspective

Review of Kritikai Városkutatás (Szerkesztette :Jelinek Csaba, Bodnár Judit, Czirfusz Márton, Gyimesi Zoltán) Társadalomelméleti könyvtár. L’Harmattan Kiadó, Budapest, 2013.

Tim Grassmann: Marx is just a four-letter word

Review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century

A different way – a different look

László Tütő: The worker as an exploiter?

The working class of several countries while itself being exploited is at the same time the usufructuary of the exploitation of others. The chief mechanism that makes this possible is that as citizens of their respective states members of these working classes get a share of the surplus value produced in other states.