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Neither the public nor the ordinary members of the Party had any clue as to what this ‘Fourth World’ was. This

book gives the answer. The progressives and the Party members can judge for themselves how much it is useful

or harmful in the fight against globalization and neo-liberal capitalism. In this context, it has to be pointed out that

I do not believe that Marxism needs no more enrichment, that everything that can be said has already been said



Another World Is Possible—Thoughts about a Fourth World

By M.P. Parameswaran


Another World Is Possible: What Is it? Towards the concept of a" Fourth World"

To the loud neoliberal propaganda that 'There Is No Alternative' (TINA) initiated by the 'globalizers' after the fall of the socialist bloc, the 'resistors' all over the world have come up with the slogan: 'Another World Is Possible' (AWIP). We had five World Social Forums since 2001 with this as the central slogan. This 'Another World' will not be neoliberal or imperialistic. Neither will it be similar to the present Third World. It will not be, also, a repetition the type of socialism experimented with in the twentieth century.

All we can say is that it will be a Post-Capitalist Society. It may not yet be a truly socialist society. Having exhausted the numerals 1, 2 and 3, we call it a 'Fourth World'. The use of indefinite article is intentional. There could be many variations. The nomenclature 'Fourth World' applies to them all. One current such example could be China. It is neither capitalistic nor socialist. It is experimenting and claims to be moving towards socialism. This claim may be contested. Even if agreed to, they too feel that socialism is far, far away. Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea too are experimenting. They too are striving forwards a future socialism, quite different from that of the 20th century one. This too may be contested.

It may be argued that, objectively, they are moving towards capitalism and that instead of joining the First World, they may end up in the Third World. Hopefully they may end up in a distinctly different situation, positively more advanced than capitalism, but not yet achieving socialism, a genuine Fourth World.

This Fourth World may take different forms and contents in different countries. This small book is an attempt to conceive one such form suitable to, and realizable in, India. It is based on the experiences of the 20th century India and, in particular, of Kerala. The heroic struggle waged by the people of India during the 20th century, its long tradition of democracy , the deep political consciousness of its people, all these form the basis for such a hope.


The word ‘Fourth World’ has been used differently by many. It is natural to think of a ‘Fourth World’ different from the first, second and third. I used this expression for the first time in a paper titled "Towards the Perspective of a Fourth World" presented at the 6th All- India People’s Science Congress held in 1998 at Nalanda, Bihar, India. There, it was used with a specific meaning: a post-capitalist pre-socialist social order. The necessity and reality of such a transition formation is now widely accepted. That paper remained an academic one for nearly five years. Suddenly in the middle of 2003, the term was resurrected by some pseudo-Marxist journalists and a huge media blitz was mounted against it. Several top leaders of the CPI(M) and the CPI competed with one another in condemning the ‘Fourth World’. There was practically no polemics, because there was no critique on content but only blatant accusations.

Being a disciplined member of the CPI(M) then, I did not openly join issue with the senior Party leadership. For reasons unconvincing not only to me but also to lay readers, I was summarily ‘expelled’ from the Party in February 2004. There was no warning, no opportunity to explain my position, no suspension and enquiry but straight expulsion—a punishment meted out to extreme anti-Party activities. One academic paper presented in a conference and forgotten for almost five years was suddenly interpreted as an extreme anti-Party activity.

Neither the public nor the ordinary members of the Party had any clue as to what this ‘Fourth World’ was. This book gives the answer. The progressives and the Party members can judge for themselves how much it is useful or harmful in the fight against globalization and neo-liberal capitalism. In this context, it has to be pointed out that I do not believe that Marxism needs no more enrichment, that everything that can be said has already been said, that leaders’ interpretation—from the local committee level to the central secretariat level—is to be accepted without questioning—centralised democracy, indeed!)

All the 20th century experiments to build socialism have failed. Why? Are there common features? Was the weakness internal? Or was the external enemy all too powerful? Why? Why? Why? In 1997, while convalescing from a mild heart attack, I had jotted down a number of issues which needed intense discussion and wrote to several Polit Bureau Members of the CPI(M), leaders of the CPI, other Marxists and even friendly non-Marxists. It is sad, but it is a fact, that I failed to kindle enough enthusiasm amongst the Party leadership to initiate such a study. Later, in 2000 and in 2002, small group discussions were organized. For this, the original questions were re-organised and categorised as given below.

Historic—Contemporary Issues

1. How and why did all the "socialist-working class" states in the world collapse? Are there any common features/ causes for this?

2. Can the economic policies followed by China (and also North Korea, Viet Nam and Cuba) be reconciled with their professed political objectives?

3. Why have all the "workers’ states" (and their parties too) become less or more corrupt? Has absence of real democracy contributed to this?

4. " While in Rome do as Romans do." China apparently follows an updated version of this proverb: While in a capitalist world, be a stronger capitalist. There Is No Alternative (TINA). Some counter this with TIAA, There Is Another Alternative: What could that be? What attempts have been made to outline this?

5. Was the October Revolution a mistake? Was it an experiment doomed to fail from the outset because of the poor development of productive forces? Why did revolutions not take place in England and Germany as Marx expected?

6. In 1905, Lenin wrote " Imperialism: Highest and Last Stage of Capitalist." Since then, year after year, communist literature wrote about the general crisis of capitalism and its impending collapse. Where did they/we go wrong?

7. Apparently capitalism has not exhausted its full potential. If so, what could the remainder be? Is exhaustion of potential a purely objective category? Does the subjective element, the consciousness and organization of the working class accelerate this exhaustion? If so, what are the limitations?

8. What possibly, we can learn from Gramsci and other later Marxists? How have the capitalists "manufactured consent" among the rest? Is dissent possible "only after" capitalism has exhausted its potential?

9. Why was the question of nationalities never resolved in USSR or in Yugoslavia? Why does it persist and continue to grow?

Theoretical—Conceptual Issues

10. In the Communist Manifesto Marx wrote:

It has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other—the bourgeoisie and the proletariat." Is this true? Is it that simple? What about castes in India? Religion? Nationality? Gender? "It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers," continued Marx and Engels. Does this mean that they all belong to the same grand "working class," including the factory worker, the agriculture labour, the casual worker, etc.? Do they, or can they ever, have the same class consciousness?

11. The Manifesto ends with these words: " The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." Is this true now?

12. "Communism" is often epitomised through the phrase "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Gandhiji said: "This world has enough to satisfy everybody’s needs, but not their greed." Has Marx ever tried to differentiate need from greed or pseudo-need created by capitalism? If yes, how do one differentiate the two? If no, is it possible to satisfy the unlimited needs of all the human beings? Are there enough physical resources on this earth for this?

13. What do we understand by human progress? Is it more and more consumption? Is it more choices? How do we quantify it?  

14. Greed is a difficult category. It could be defined in two contradictory ways: (1) Greed is a need which you cannot presently satisfy. Anything that can be satisfied by anybody is not greed. (2) Anything that everybody cannot have is greed. Which is correct? Or are there better definitions?

15. The concept of contradictions is central in Marxist philosophy. What are the major contradictions impacting upon the human society today? (1) Capitalism and Socialism (2) Imperialism and Colonialism (3) Imperialism and imperialism (4) Capital and Labour (5) Ever expanding needs and limited natural resources (6) Ever increasing pollutants and limited sink (7) Gender inequity, (8) Caste/religion.

16. The contradiction between growing productive forces and stagnant production relations is supposed to create ultimate revolutionary conditions. Can we think of an alternative scenario: nucleation and growth of local, cooperative, economies, coalescing to assume larger and larger proportions and leading to effective confrontation with global capitalist economy? This has both an objective (small made powerful through appropriate science and technology) and a subjective (wisdom to differentiate needs from greed) element in it. Can quantitative growth of local economies lead to a qualitative change in the global society?

17. To quote from Manifesto again: “The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all elements of production in the hands of the State; i.e., the proletariat organised as a ruling class . . ." This is further elaborated: Abolition of property in land; abolition of rights of inheritance, centralization of credit, means of communication and transport, etc., in the hands of the State. This is exactly what happened in Russia and elsewhere. Was this correct? Is this to be attempted again? Is State ownership the same as People’s ownership?

18. Is the formulation "dictatorship of the proletariat" still correct? Is dictatorship preferred to democracy? Who forms the proletariat? If we say "proletarian democracy," how is it different from bourgeois democracy? Is democracy merely casting votes? Is not participation an essential element in it? And does not participation demand human scales of operation, both in economics and in politics?

19. Finally, if the condition of abundance, as characterised by "to each according to his needs" is not possible theoretically and we have to operate always under conditions of scarcity demanding regulation, can the State "wither away"? Is the concept of absolutely classless society valid?

20. Revolutionary or transformatory process demands:

—ever evolving, ever expanding and ever diversifying actions of the people.

—an evolving, flexible and yet coherent organization/ institution to focus these actions so that they have a resultant force and resultant direction of movement.

21. It can so happen and had almost invariably happened, that the organization or institution loses its dynamism, ceases to evolve and in turn become impediment to the growth of the movement.

22. Can we say that Communist/ Workers’ Party organizations have shown this tendency of calcification and inflexibility and thereby constricted the growth of people’s  movement?

23. Can it be said that the party hierarchy and leadership solidifies first and everything else become subsidiary to it?

24. May not this lead to a situation that the dynamic people’s movements—economic, political and cultural movements—undirected they may be—explode, breaking asunder all organizational/ party structures?

25. Can we say that what happened in the USSR and other socialist countries in the world is something like this?

26. Communists are considered ‘leaders’ of the society in which they live. They are supposed to have a powerful influence on the society around. However, the outside society can have influence, in turn, on the communists too. There have been arguments within almost all communist parties about the concept of an "Ideal Communist" and of a "Pragmatic Communist.” In the struggle, the ideal communists lose, perhaps not because of their idealism, but because of its degeneration into formalism and organizationalism and often fundamentalism. The pragmatists survive, but in the process become more and more "pragmatic" and in the end become one with the public—not like fish in the water, but water itself.

27. In this context, does not a theory of constant revolution, constant change within the party becomes important?

28. Can we assume that Mao was deeply conscious of the "fish becoming water" and that his slogan "Storm the Citadels" was a reaction towards it? The fact that it had failed may not be due to its intrinsic fault, but due to the extreme degeneration of the apparatus that had already taken place?

Issues Related to India

29. What is the character of Indian State today? What do we learn from international experience? Which are the classes existing in India today? What are the roles of caste, religion and nationality?

30. Have we failed to apply Marxism creatively to Indian conditions? If so, what are the major features of that failure? Will Marxian analysis alone suffice? Do we require other tools too?

31. What is the path of Indian revolution? The classical Russian? or Chinese? Or what else?

32. Does decentralization of power and resources, people’s participation and strengthening of local economies help the Indian revolution? How? Or does it weaken? If so how? Is decentralised democracy "antithetical" to democratic centralism?

33. Can India choose the path of Asian Tigers? If not, why? What is the development perspective for India? The Nehruvian model? The Gandhian Model or a New Model? What are the features of a new model?

34. Is it possible to resolve all our border problems with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh,

Nepal, and also the Kashmir problem and reduce the defense expenditure in the entire region? What would be its impact on the arms trade economies? If this is not possible, what are the objective and subjective impediments?

35. How are we going to stop and reverse the growing strength of religious fundamentalism and of the underworld and also of the increasing stranglehold of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF?

This book, of course, is not a contribution towards answering these questions. No single person shall dare to attempt it. This book is intended only to inform fellow citizens what I meant by this mysterious ‘Fourth World’, which seems to have become the main enemy of Indian Revolution.

Source: Geocities

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Dr. M. P. Parameswaran, author of Empowering People: Insights from a Local Experiment in Participatory Planning, received a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from the College of Engineering, Kerala, India in 1956, and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the Moscow Power Institute in 1965. He was a scientist with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay, from 1957 to 1975. Since 1975 he has been a full-time activist with the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP). Dr. Parameswaran also currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS) and as the Chair of the Total Health and Sanitation Mission, Kerala.

The Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (which literally means the Science Writers' Forum of Kerala) has earned wide acclaim for activities related to generating environmental consciousness, literacy campaigns, and decentralized, micro-level planning. The KSSP is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (dubbed the alternate Nobel Prize) in 1996, the UNESCO Literacy Award (King Sejong Prize) in 1990, the UNEP's Global 500, and the Vriksha Mitra award.—IndiaTogether

M. P. Parameswaran is an Indian nuclear engineer and eminent science contributor. He is an atomic scientist and educationist of India. He played an important role in Indian Nuclear program. He was born on January 18, 1935 in Kerala. In 1956, he received Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the College of Engineering, Kerala. He then joined Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay in 1956 as a scientist and continued there up to 1975. From 1969 to 1973 he also worked as the assistant director of the State Institute of Languages in Kerala, on a deputation from BARC. He got PhD in Nuclear Engineering from Moscow Power Engineering Institute in 1965. . . .

MP is also a prolific writer. He has written 29 popular science books in Malayalam and two in English. His books give a panoramic view of science. Radioactivity, atomic science, Astronomy, Mathematics, political science, social science, ecologythese are some of the varied subjects he has dealt with in his books. A vision of "A New WorldA New India" guides his thoughts and actions. He was the recipient of two national awards, one for science popularisation and another for literacy. Articles written by him in various periodicals run to more than 300. He has received Government of India awards for Books for Neoliterates (1962) and Basic and Cultural Literature (1964). He also received an Award for Children's Literature in 1982.

He was also an active member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) for 33 years, before being expelled for writing an ideological book 'Fourth World' which envisions a world based on decentralised democracy and an economic production that is detached from consumerism, but the party views it as a rejection of Marxist principles. In 2007, he also acted in a Malayalam movie named 'AKG' about the Communist leader A K Gopalan in which M. P. Parameswaran donned the role of Kerala's first Chief Minister E M Sankaran Namboodiripad (EMS).Wikipedia

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Social ideas of an n-scientist

While suggesting alternatives to globalisation, he said direct action, both defensive and offensive, was required and we have to clearly declare it a war-like situation. "Let us declare a people's war against sell-out policies, against fundamentalism, against cultural degradation, against consumerism and against mafias of all form. This is a war to save the human species from self-destruction, to free human beings from animal limitations, to realise the true human potential," says Dr. Parameswaran, the spirit behind the formation of the All India People's Science Network

Dr. Parameswaran, who has blended Gandhism with Marxism and his own type of Socialism, has devised new forms of offensive defence against the aggression by the so called corporate world, which he calls ``corporate mafia''. He suggests an extensive and intensive boycott of goods produced by the trans-national corporations. He preferred developing smaller technologies for producing quality goods for all and organising a mega network of consumers and cooperative societies involving millions of households.

He suggested that a massive citizen education programme of more than one year's duration be envisaged to educate all about the ill-effects of forced globalisation and the benefits of local self-reliance. A cultural offensive to be used against cultural imperialism by organising scientists, artists and writers. The natural resources available in various States, he said, should belong to the people and shall not be allowed to be sold over to private profiteers. Luxury, conspicuous and extravagant consumption should be considered as unethical and anti-social. It is immoral to have a star or stylish living in a country with so much of poverty, ill health and illiteracy, he said.

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A Fourth World outlook

To know the world does not mean knowing only the word. One has to learn from interactions with the world. The literacy campaign was initiated in 1989. At a discussion in Delhi, where the UNESCO director general and many important people from the Government of India were present, it was argued that it is not possible to mount a campaign for literacy in India. This is because, elsewhere where there was such a campaign—Cuba, China , Tanzania, Burma or Russia—there had also been a major social upheaval. So a literacy campaign could only succeed either with or after a social revolution, but not before it. Since there was no semblance of any revolution in India, such campaigns could not succeed. Our own experience has been that on the basis of science we have been able to mobilize people for campaigns, ranging from the silent valley movement to lectures on astronomy. In fact, in 1987 we mobilized tens of thousands of people for a major science campaign, the Jan Vigyan Jatha. So we argued that it is not necessary for literacy to follow social revolution. Rather, literacy could accelerate social revolution. They said there was no precedence for that. I said that anything which is first cannot have precedence. So, let us try it first.

However the initial trial should be in a place where it is easiest to achieve success, viz. Kerala. This is because in Kerala, the literacy level was higher than in other places. In addition, the KSSP was a very large organization with 40,000 members and units everywhere. It had a lot of credibility, and the Ernakulam district collector at that time was a former vice president of the KSSP. He said that he would be game to such an experiment which would help make Ernakulam 100% literate. So, we joined forces and the government of India gave about Rs. 1 crore. We then had to mobilize about 15,000 volunteers to educate approximately 170,000 people. These volunteers conducted saturation propaganda through face to face discussions, multimedia and street theater. They visited every household. Ultimately 160,000 people enrolled, and of these, 130,000 became literate. This meant that they could read and understand around 35 words per minute, write 7 or 8 words per minute without mistakes, and perform numerical calculations with two digit numbers. Beyond this, we took each of them on 3-4 visits to the police station, post office, bus stand, collector's office etc. Most of the villagers were afraid to go to these places. So this exercise helped to increase their confidence level, and reduce their fear of the bureaucracy.

This achievement in Ernakulam caught the imagination of people all over the country. Similar campaigns were started in Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu), Bijapur (Karnataka), Midnapore (West Bengal), and Durg (Madhya Pradesh). The following year, it spread nationwide.

However, the term 100% literacy is used figuratively. In reality, nothing is 100% - about 70-80% of people may be functionally literate, while the other 20% may be marginally literate. So anything above 90% should be known as total literacy and not 100% literacy. But even that term is a misnomer when expanded to the rest of India, and should instead be referred to as a mass literacy campaign.

Nevertheless, total literacy became a fashion and about 400 districts in India took it up. Every collector and minister took it up as a prestige issue. The result is that about 120 million people participated in the literacy campaign. Of these, about 20% became totally literate, while the rest could only sign their name. But even this was a massive process which required a volunteer force of more than 10 million. Each volunteer committed about 400 hours per year. During the process, the outlook of the volunteers changed by discussing with and learning from groups of people who had enrolled in the campaign. Many of the learners were more knowledgeable than the volunteers. The volunteers knew only the alphabet. So, an interesting relationship started. As a result, the demand for primary education shot up since these people wanted their children to be literate. Initially there was extreme cynicism, and to break that we needed plenty of optimism.

This achievement may not be called literacy per se. Rather it could be referred to as an increased level of awareness because of the increased demand for education and active involvement. For instance, movements like the Nellore anti arrack and the quarry workers' women's movement developed as a result of this campaign

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Fourth World Essays

Afro-America & The Fourth World 

The Black Middle Class & a Political Party of the Poor  (essay)

Dark Child of the Fourth World  

The Fourth World and the Marxists

The Fourth World: In the Belly of the Beast

New Orleans: The American Nightmare

On the Fourth World: Black Power, Black Panthers, and White Allies

Why I Support the Latino Demonstrators


Other Fourth World Essays

African America A Fourth World  (Waldron H. Giles)

Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out   (Dennis Leroy Moore)

Fourth World Introduction (M.P. Parameswaran)

 Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist  (M.P. Parameswaran)

The Fourth World Multiculturalism (Rose Ure Mezu)

Fourth World Programme M.P. Parameswaran)

Neo-Liberalism Dictatorship of the Market  M.P. Parameswaran)

The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World  M.P. Parameswaran)

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 26 November 2011




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Related files:    Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist    Fourth World Programme   Neo-Liberalism:Dictatorship of the Market   The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World