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This, the 45th volume of the Socialist Register, takes up a question that has preoccupied socialists for over a century–the likelihood that if capitalism is allowed to persist it will be characterised by increasing violence. When Rosa Luxemburg in 1916 quoted Engels’ famous statement that ‘Capitalist society faces a dilemma: either an advance to socialism, or a reversion to barbarism’, she asked: ‘What does a “reversion to barbarism” mean at the present stage of European civilisation? We have all read and repeated these words thoughtlessly, without a notion of their terrible seriousness. At this moment, one glance around us will show what a reversion to barbarism in bourgeois society means. This World War–that is a reversion to barbarism’. Given the extent and extremity of violence today, even in the absence of world war, and two decades after the end of actually-existing socialism, it is hard not to feel that we are living in another age of barbarism.