Marx and Freedom

Against the Grain

What does Karl Marx’s masterwork Capital have in common with Dante’s Inferno? And more importantly, what can the book — which was partly written in debate with the socialist movements of its time — teach us today? William Clare Roberts reflects on Capital, Marx, and the importance of the idea of freedom for him. (Encore …

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Occupy Oakland took over the plaza in front of City Hall ten years ago. Emily Brissette discusses what animated and what constrained the movement; she also considers the debate that arose after stay-away orders were issued against dozens of Occupiers. That debate, contends Brissette, featured conflicting notions of what constitutes legitimate political activity. (Photo by … Continued


It’s self-evident that unequal societies like ours are bad for the poor. However, as epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson argues, they’re also bad for everyone else, including the affluent, not only because inequality affects schools and healthcare, but because it also makes us anxious and unhappy. Wilkinson reflects on our psychological well-being in wealthy but unequal countries. … Continued


Twenty years ago, the inaugural World Social Forum was convened in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Jackie Smith describes some of the networking processes and movement-building dynamics fostered by that gathering and its successors. She also discusses three strands of organizing directly influenced by the World Social Forum: the Right to the City movement, Via Campesina, and … Continued


What are the prospects that a mass movement against capitalism will emerge and develop in the U.S.? Robert Latham considers the power and potential of what he calls the contending masses. And David Ravensbergen evaluates two prominent currents within ecosocialism: ecomodernism and degrowth. Latham, Kingsmith, von Bargen, and Block, Challenging the Right, Augmenting the Left: Recasting … Continued


In a society that devalues ideas, perhaps it’s not surprising that the thought processes of children receive little interest. Yet, as psychologist Susan Engel argues, children are constantly constructing ideas, often collaboratively, although this impulse is frequently dampened by the wider world. And she suggests that we ignore the mental processes of children at our … Continued