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Behind Syriza's Landslide: A "Note from Afar" on the Greek Elections

by Stathis Kouvelakis
January 29, 2015

From a political point of view the Greek bourgeoisie and its political representatives are stunned and voiceless. All their hopes of heading off Syriza rely on Europe’s leaders--and ruling classes. For their part, the line seems clear enough: it is the politics of the ‘iron cage’, seeking to shut down a Syriza government as quickly as possible. The spearhead of this effort is the attempt to force Syriza to request an extension of the current ‘assistance programme’, which runs out on 28 February. Such an extension would allow continued financing, and thus for the debt to be repaid, but also implies continuing with the current policy and the country being subject to Troika discipline – perhaps under mildly reworked terms.

That’s the context for the ECB decisions on ‘quantitative easing’ that was announced a few days ago. The inclusion of Greece in the public debt-buying programme requires that it accept an ‘assistance programme’ (the bonds to the Greek debt are considered as ‘junk’ and don’t fulfil the conditions of a standard buyback), and it will not happen before July, when Greece will be ‘reviewed’ to check its results. This means that until then, Greece will have to continue repaying its debt, including the 7,5 billions of repayment due in July and August. As the existing budgetary surpluses are clearly insufficient and the country doesn’t have access to international markets, this in turn is practically conditioned to an extension of the current ’assistance programme”...

The State of Reproductive Rights in 2015

by Dianne Feeley
January 22, 2015

After the passage of so many restrictions on abortion procedures and increasing attacks on contraceptive information, the right seems to feel wind in its sails and various spokespeople—including the former Lieut. Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, an oil and gas businessman—have called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The House of Representatives plans to vote on the 20-week abortion ban on the 2015 anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This ban is similar to one passed in Arizona that a federal appeals court called unconstitutional and was refused review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) promised coverage to the millions who have no medical insurance but none of the 10 essential benefits outlined for women’s health cover abortion. The provisions of the Hyde Amendment continue to reign. The ACA does mandate contraceptive coverage for both Medicare coverage and insurance providers through the exchanges that have been set up.

Even though the Obama administration exempted religious institutions from contraceptive coverage for their employees, the U.S. Supreme Court has broadened that ruling in its Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision. Under this ruling, family-owned corporations are also exempt. The majority ruled that having these corporations (we are not talking about mom-and-pop stores, but mayor employers!) offer insurance policies which covered contraceptives the companies identified as abortifacents (whether true or not) would substantially burden their religious freedom. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing the majority opinion, claimed the ruling was limited in its scope...

March to Freedom, 1963 and Beyond

by Charles Simmons
January 19, 2015

There were many small and large victories. This was the beginning of desegregation. There were civil rights bills, a tremendous expansion of the African-American middle class, the massive entry of women into the labor force, and the end of the war in Vietnam. Radical Black youth begin to talk to one another across borders of race and class. But over the 50 years since we've seen that the struggle for justice has many layers, some that we addressed in the 1960s and some that we did not.

We opposed the war in Vietnam but didn't--as MLK had argued we should--fight for a global system of peace and justice.

We never dreamed that half a century later we’d still be fighting against police violence. Nor could we have imagined Detroit forced into bankruptcy.

We didn’t address the fundamental issue of capitalism, which profited from slavery and war, then and now, and stole land and minerals and snatched food from the mouths of the poor locally and globally.

We didn’t address the relationship between Western wealth and deepening poverty in our cities and family farms, and among the masses in the Third World, nor our militaristic foreign policy, and how we in the rich nations--even the workers and middle classes--benefit from the plunder and rape of the peoples of the global South.

The Politics of Mass Incarceration

an interview with James Kilgore
January 2, 2015

Against the Current: Mass incarceration has suddenly gotten quite a lot of attention in the media and in the political mainstream. Why has it become a high profile issue all of a sudden?

James Kilgore: Lots of things have happened. The first, and most important, is that people in the critically impacted communities have started to fight back. We’ve had a lot of mobilization around the War on Drugs, some of it sparked by the wonderful book by Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow. She has helped people to name what is happening.

The disenfranchisement of over six million people with felony convictions has also gained a lot of traction, especially during an election year. But people have been mobilizing in communities. The major mobilizations around police violence are also powerful indicators that things are changing. The national response around Trayvon Martin's killing was crucial, but the organizing after the non-indictments of the killers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner has the potential to form the nucleus of a vital social justice grassroots movement with young people of color in leading roles. This could be historic but we have to see how it all plays out.

Also, the immigrant rights movement is an important complement to the largely African-American led resistance to the War on Drugs. Many people don’t connect the two, but Latinos have been the fastest growing group in the prison population in the last decade...

Cuba: A Victory and Some Risks

from the Bureau of the Fourth International
December 24, 2014

The resumption of diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba as well as the release of three Cubans sentenced to life imprisonment in the USA for espionage constitutes a victory for the Cuban people. For more than 50 years and under a dozen presidents, the US administration has tried everything to destroy the Cuban revolution. Military intervention in 1961 at the Bay of Pigs, conspiracies to assassinate Cuban leaders, an economic embargo to strangle the life of the island, pressures of all kinds to isolate the country, everything has been tried to break Cuba. As was recognized by Obama, this strategy has failed. Facing the biggest world imperialist power, Cuba has held fast. It was not without difficulty, without suffering, but Cuba has held on, becoming an anti-imperialist reference for the entire Latin American left.

When the Soviet bloc collapsed in the 1990s, many observers predicted the fall of the Cuban regime. And it is true that the island, dependent on Soviet aid, went through an unprecedented crisis, the Cuban economy drained, in what the Cubans called the “special period." The economy, within certain limits, took a decade to rebuild (with the participation of the state but also with European capital in the tourism sector and later with the help of Venezuelan oil), but without overcoming a series of structural problems compounded by the US embargo, strengthened by the Helms-Burton act. The bureaucratization of the regime, the stifling of democratic freedoms, and the effects on popular mobilization have weighed on the situation of the island. Alongside the interventions, now, of Raul's daughter Mariela Castro, the restrictions on the autonomous self-organization of women, LGBTI persons, and other oppressed groups should also be noted.

But, despite these problems, US imperialism was unable to break this revolution: one cannot understand this resistance without taking into account the anti-imperialist, national, popular dynamic, of a socialist character, of the revolution of 1959...

January 29, 2015
by Stathis Kouvelakis
From a political point of view the Greek bourgeoisie and its political representatives are stunned and voiceless. All their hopes of heading off Syriza rely on Europe’s leaders--and ruling classes....
January 22, 2015
by Dianne Feeley
After the passage of so many restrictions on abortion procedures and increasing attacks on contraceptive information, the right seems to feel wind in its sails and various spokespeople—including the...
January 19, 2015
by Charles Simmons
There were many small and large victories. This was the beginning of desegregation. There were civil rights bills, a tremendous expansion of the African-American middle class, the massive entry of...
January 2, 2015
an interview with James Kilgore
Against the Current: Mass incarceration has suddenly gotten quite a lot of attention in the media and in the political mainstream. Why has it become a high profile issue all of a sudden?
James...
December 24, 2014
from the Bureau of the Fourth International
The resumption of diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba as well as the release of three Cubans sentenced to life imprisonment in the USA for espionage constitutes a victory for the Cuban...

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