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Ferguson: Poster City for Municipal Extortion

by John Reed
March 23, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic may have said it best when he said Ferguson was run by a gang, but Ferguson certainly is not unique. A Justice Department report painted a vivid picture of the police and courts shaking down low-income, Black residents of Ferguson in order to pad their own pockets and support the agenda of a white power structure. Since then, news reports across TV, newspapers and radio have shown that the practice of targeting poor people for selective ticketing, fines, and fees to support local governments and government contractors is endemic in at least 44 states.

Much has been made of the racist root to municipal racketeering in Ferguson, and that racism is real. The Justice Department report shows the racist attitudes of white police and city leaders, and race-based hypocrisy of those same officials, and how their attitudes played into conscious decisions to use the police and courts to legally extort money from African-Americans. But commentary has focused on only the most superficial signs of racial disparity--the preponderance of whites on the police force and in city government--ignoring the fact that many nearby communities run by Black politicians practice the same policies. For even where African-Americans have achieved nominal political control, they still operate with a justice system dominated by wealthy whites, and in an environment where the rules of economic growth and prosperity are set by wealthy whites.

In fact, while racism is very much a root of official racketeering in Ferguson, there is another equally important root: the fiscal crisis of municipal government...

Women Under Attack in 2015

from the Editors of Against the Current
March 8, 2015

In the United States, as elsewhere, a woman’s body is not her own. College campuses are a hunting ground for sexual predators, as women come forward to disclose various forms of date rape. According to police records, almost one-third of female homicide victims are killed by their partners. Each year an estimated 1.3 million women suffer domestic abuse; one of every four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. Witnessing violence between parents (or other caregivers) is the strongest risk factor in transmitting violence from one generation to another.

Breaking this epidemic of violence against women, just as breaking with cultural assumptions about race, requires reexamination of social assumptions, a rejection of power and control over others, and the capacity to be a contributive member of society. It means power and control over one’s own body and life, and mutual respect for the rights of others. That’s certainly a tall order in the vindictive and violent society in which we live, and in which the majority has little effective control over their own lives.

We’re constantly told about horrific abuses committed against women in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria. Yet the current atmosphere of a never-ending “war on terrorism” can only nourish the violence there as well as in our own society. The roots of violence against women, however, run much deeper than PTSD or brain trauma resulting from war. It is a much larger social issue...

Solidarity with the Students and Parents of Ayotzinapa

by the International Committee of the Fourth International
March 5, 2015

Since September 26, 2014 the demand has been the same: “They were taken away alive! We want them back alive!” We denounce the clear participation and responsibility of the state at all levels and in particular the involvement of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Mexican Army in the disappearance of our comrades.

The government of Peña Nieto has not only given no response to the demand of the social movement in Mexico, but has also attempted to hide the deep social crisis the country is going through. Ayotzinapa features in this crisis, not as an isolated deed, but as the consequence of a deliberate state strategy which has militarized the country and unleashed a wave of violence which can only lead to tragedies of this type. To this type of drama, we should add the increase in killings of women and violence against women in general, the dozens of journalists assassinated in recent years, and the growing violence of criminal groups against immigrants and national or central American immigrants, to complete the panorama of a country in full social decomposition.

Parallel to this, this government has liquidated the final social conquests that the Mexican revolution of 1910 had bequeathed...

What’s Left in Africa? Reflections on the Failure of Left, Working Class Movements to Take Root in Most of Africa

by Firoze Manji
March 1, 2015

The early 1950s witnessed an extraordinary sweep of popular mobilisations across the African continent inspired by aspirations for emancipatory freedom: an end to the colonial yoke. Nationalist parties convinced people that the path to freedom was through political independence. Since then, many of the gains of independence, which cost the blood and lives of millions in Africa, have been reversed with the privatisation of the commons and public utilities, as well as by dispossessions of land, by unemployment, and by the increasing costs of food, rent, and other necessities of life.


Nelson Mandela was a member of the South African Communist Party as well as the ANC.

In response, discontent has been growing across the continent, with spontaneous eruptions and mass uprisings that have in some cases resulted in the overthrow of regimes nurtured and nourished by imperialism (e.g. in Tunisia, Egypt, and Burkina Faso). In such circumstances, one would have thought that there would have been fertile grounds for the emergence of strong left working class movements across the continent. But why has this not happened?

Left and communist parties of various sizes and influence have arisen in a number of countries across the continent over many decades, despite the terror of colonial repression that they faced...

Electoral Action Conference Will Bring Together Leaders Building Alternatives to the Two-Party System

by Robert C.
February 17, 2015

Activists and candidates from around the country will come together on May 2-3 in Chicago to share their experiences and to launch a network for future cooperation at the Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action Conference.


Left to right: Brian Jones, Kshama Sawant, and Howie Hawkins. Sawant and Hawkins have endorsed the conference.

The past few years have seen a significant uptick in independent political initiatives on the left, from election campaigns to new local electoral and social movement formations, to referenda campaigns. Kshama Sawant’s November 2014 election to the Seattle City Council captured the attention of leftists across the country, but a number of other exciting campaigns have also been path breaking, including the Jackson Plan of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Richmond Progressive Alliance’s David and Goliath fight against Chevron in the East Bay. Many recent political developments have brought organizers building alternatives to the two-party system together with those using direct action and referenda to help win gains against fracking, for a $15 minimum wage, and other important initiatives.

March 23, 2015
by John Reed
Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic may have said it best when he said Ferguson was run by a gang, but Ferguson certainly is not unique. A Justice Department report painted a vivid picture of the police...
March 8, 2015
from the Editors of Against the Current
In the United States, as elsewhere, a woman’s body is not her own. College campuses are a hunting ground for sexual predators, as women come forward to disclose various forms of date rape. According...
March 5, 2015
by the International Committee of the Fourth International
Since September 26, 2014 the demand has been the same: “They were taken away alive! We want them back alive!” We denounce the clear participation and responsibility of the state at all levels and...
March 1, 2015
by Firoze Manji
The early 1950s witnessed an extraordinary sweep of popular mobilisations across the African continent inspired by aspirations for emancipatory freedom: an end to the colonial yoke. Nationalist...
February 17, 2015
by Robert C.
Activists and candidates from around the country will come together on May 2-3 in Chicago to share their experiences and to launch a network for future cooperation at the Future of Left/Independent...

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