What We Are Reading Today: Varoufakis on how Marx predicted our present crisis

Updated 23 April 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Varoufakis on how Marx predicted our present crisis

‘Marx predicted our present crisis and points the way out,’  writes Yanis Varoufakis in The Guardian’s Long Read Series.

Most people think communism has been consigned to the dustbin of history, but Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, goes back to the source and examines “The Communist Manifesto,” written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and published in 1848.

Varoufakis said the book remains unsurpassed as a work of literature that foresaw the predatory global capitalism of the 21st century.

“Today, a similar dilemma faces young people: conform to an established order that is crumbling and incapable of reproducing itself, or oppose it, at considerable personal cost, in search of new ways of working, playing and living together?” Varoufakis wrote. “Even though communist parties have disappeared almost entirely from the political scene, the spirit of communism driving the manifesto is proving hard to silence.”

Marx and Engels forecast that a powerful minority would prove “unfit to rule” over polarized societies.

“The manifesto gives its 21st-century reader an opportunity to see through this mess and to recognize what needs to be done so that the majority can escape from discontent into new social arrangements,” Varoufakis said.


What We Are Reading Today: Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe by Sheri Berman

Updated 21 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe by Sheri Berman

In Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe, Sheri Berman traces the long history of democracy in its cradle, Europe. 

In her study of European political development over more than 200 years, Berman, a professor of political science at Barnard, shows that the story of democracy in Europe is complicated. 

“The ultimate goal, she believes, is liberal democracy, with elections, respect for the rule of law, individual liberties and minority rights. But that is a rare, and hard-won, achievement. A step forward is often followed by a step back,”  said Max Strasser in a review published in The New York Times.

“This may seem a bit obvious to anyone familiar with the broad outlines of European history, but Berman makes the case clearly and convincingly. Moreover, at a moment when hyperventilating over the decline of democracy has grown into a veritable intellectual industry, her long-view approach comes across as appealingly sober,” Strasser added.