Michael Andrew Žmolek

  • Nuclear Apathy Redux

    For those of us who grew up during the Cold War, it was something of a coming-of-age moment to realize that at any second of any day, one might perish in the kind of hellfire often preached of in churches but resulting from a strike from a thermonuclear missile launched from the Soviet Union, or if you lived there, from the United States or Western Europe. Of course, at any second of any day, one might perish from an infinite number of causes: a brain aneurism, a heart attack. What is so differe...

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  • The Days After: A 9/11 Memoire, Part III

    Prior to 9/11, all of my visits to New York City left me in awe of the vastness of the city. Used to the wide open spaces and small towns of the Midwest, in New York I felt totally anonymous, just another human being amongst millions, dwarfed by soaring skyscrapers and chilled by cement, glass, steel and granite structures everywhere one turned. In the days after 9/11, those feelings were turned upside down. Most amazing was that when riding the subways, once they parti...

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  • The Day Of: A 9/11 Memoire, Part II

    On the morning of September 1, 2001, the other members of the Voices in the Wilderness group protesting the sanctions against Iraq had left early for the protest site outside the US Mission to the UN when I woke up, maybe around 8 am. Kathy had stayed behind to work on some writing and answer some emails. Shortly before 9 am, the youngest member of our group, whose name I have forgotten but who was from, of all places, Harlemville, a tiny hamlet in upstate New York, where I had coincidentally sp...

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  • The Days Before the Attacks: A 9/11 Memoire, Part I

    In late August if 2001, I traveled to New York City to visit a group of people who were protesting the sanctions against Iraq at the US Mission to the United States. I was not, initially, a member of the group. I was there to interview Kathy Kelly, who directed a group called Voices in the Wilderness out of her Chicago apartment. The UN was preparing to welcome dignitaries from all over the world to celebrate the UN Decade of the Child. That same UN, strong-armed by the...

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  • From the Moon We’re Comedy

    One of the things I tell students in my Sustainable Development course is that human beings have an extraordinary proclivity for waiting until a problem is staring them in the face before taking action to deal with it. This must be why Lao Tsu wrote ‘deal with it before it happens, set things in order before there is confusion' in the Tao Te Ching, written in China in the sixth century BCE. I also point out that our current society tends overwhelmingly to attempt to deal with problems...

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Current Work       

A contribution to a debate originating at the London HM Conference in 2019 has been published under the title: ‘On “The Problem with Brenner”: The Paradox of Agency and the Heresy of Reification’ in Historical Materialism 29, (Fall 2021).

A paper I gave at the 2020 European Studies Conference at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, October 2-3 titled ‘The Banker Who Ate His Money: Enclosures, Economic Reductionism and the “Corn Model” of David Ricardo’ has recently been published as part of the conference proceedings. This was my fourth of five papers presented at the ESC and a theme has developed out of these papers which I hope some day to turn into a book on enclosures and Political Economy. Previous ESC papers have included: 'Market Dependence, Market Imperatives and the Making of Industrial Capitalism in England’ (2017); ‘Adam Smith as Theorist of Agrarian Capitalism’ (2018); 'The Dark World of Reverend Malthus' (2019); and ‘Blood from a Turnip: The Failure to Apply Laissez-Faire in France, from the Physiocrats to Say’ (2021).


Mike ZmolekMichael Andrew Žmolek teaches World History, International Studies and Development Studies at the University of Iowa. His book Rethinking the Industrial Revolution (Brill 2013; Haymarket 2014) explores five centuries of English/British history and is part of a broader effort to understand the nature and origins of capitalism. He is currently part of a team writing a world history textbook for Cognella Publishers and is preparing the growndwork for an archival collection on capitalism and the long ninetenth century for Routledge. Mike received a BA in Linguistics and a Certificate of African studies at Iowa before going on to complete his PhD in Political Science at York University in Toronto, where he served as an executive of the Graduate Students' Association for four years. As a legislative assistant in Congress, his work focused on addressing the plight of Gulf Coast survivors of Hurricane Katrina and on drafting articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for representatives Cynthia McKinney (GA) and Dennis Kucinich (OH). As an activist he has worked on the campaign to abolish apartheid in South Africa; opposing tuition hikes for students in Canada; and opposing the bombing, sanctions and military occupation of Iraq.

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