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This article presents a historical-materialist approach to key issues of revolution and counter-revolution and uses it to analyse what happened in Russia between 1917 and the late 1920s. What took place in 1917 was indeed a socialist revolution. However, by the end of 1918 working-class rule had been replaced with the rule of a working-class leadership layer that was improvising a fragile surplus-extracting state of proletarian origin. The eventual transformation of that layer into a new ruling class represented the triumph of a modernising counter-revolution. The decisive determinants of these developments were material pressures acting, first, on a working class plunged into catastrophic social crisis and war and then, after the Civil War, on the party-state leadership layer that sought to maintain its state against both European capitalist societies and the classes from which it had to extract surpluses. However, aspects of Bolshevik ideology also played a role.

In: Historical Materialism
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Abstract

Hardt and Negri's theory of immaterial labour provides a socio-economic foundation in the contemporary world for the philosophical and political elements of their thought. Although there has been considerable engagement with Hardt and Negri's work, the socio-economic dimension of their thought has received little sustained attention. This is certainly true of their theory of immaterial labour. This article aims to remedy this oversight. It presents and scrutinises Hardt and Negri's concept of immaterial labour and its putative hegemony. It then examines the depiction of the world of paid work in advanced capitalist societies with which the theory is associated and looks at three alleged consequences of the rise of immaterial labour. It concludes that this dimension of Hardt and Negri's thought is profoundly flawed, that immaterial labour cannot play the role they wish to assign it in their theory, and that this failure suggests the importance of a different method of developing theory from that employed by Hardt and Negri, along with so many other contemporary writers.

In: Historical Materialism
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This article aims to advance the historical-materialist understanding of racism by addressing some central theoretical questions. It argues that racism should be understood as a social relation of oppression rather than as solely or primarily an ideology, and suggests that a historical-materialist concept of race is necessary in order to capture features of societies shaped by historically specific racisms. A carefully conceived concept of privilege is also required if we are to grasp the contradictory ways in which members of dominant racial groups are affected by social relations of racial oppression. The persistence of racism today should be explained as a consequence of two dimensions of the capitalist mode of production – imperialism and the contribution of racism to profitability – and of a social property emergent from racism: the efforts of members of dominant groups to preserve their advantages relative to the racially oppressed.

In: Historical Materialism