Against the Current 116

— The Editors
NEWS FLASH TO those among us from another planet: Unions in the United States are in crisis.  Declining membership, weakening bargaining clout, concessionary bargaining, the ravages of lean production, and a sustained assault on the limited workers' rights that were won in the past add up to a decidedly ugly picture (painted in further detail by Jerry Tucker elsewhere in this issue of Against the Current.)
— ATC Interviews Camilo Mejia
Sgt. Camilo Mejia, the first active-duty U.S. military resister to be imprisoned for refusing re-deployment to Iraq, spoke at a Detroit antiwar rally Friday, March 18, the day before attending the founding convention of Iraq Veterans Against the War in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
— Malik Miah
WHAT IS A working-class family’s most valuable asset? What does every family seek to own?
It is the family home — not just for security but also for retirement. This is true for all ethnic groups, all racial groups, all citizens, all new immigrants — whites, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos.
In fact, the fastest road to wealth, to increase net worth, is to own property, especially home ownership. Those of us living in California have seen double-digit increase in...
— Dianne Feeley
MY DAD DIED when I was 15. I was going into my junior year of high school, my younger brother was still in grammar school. From then on my mother received a Social Security check for each of us until we graduated from high school, and — since I went to college — until I was 21. Unlike so many students today, I finished college debt free.
(It’s true I lived at home and attended a state college, which in California at the time had only a minimal student body fee. Each semester...
— Joseph Massad
Joseph Massad is assistant professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, and has been among the prominent targets of a vicious campaign by right-wing and Zionist organizations against Middle East scholars. This is an excerpt from his March 14, 2005 statement to the Ad Hoc Committee of investigation formed by the Columbia University administration. For further background on the witchhunt against Middle East studies, see Joseph Massad, “Policing the...
— Nurit Peled
[NURIT PELED DELIVERED this speech to the European Parliament on International Women’s Day. Nurit Peled is an Israeli peace activist (her father Gen. Mati Peled was instrumental in founding the Israeli peace movement in the 1970s). She and her husband work with Bereaved Families (Palestinian and Israeli). This text was posted on the website of Women in Black (
THANK YOU FOR inviting me to this day. It is always an honor...
— Amira Hass
THE CROWD OF world leaders visiting the new Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem attests to the strength of Israel’s position in the West. Israel is often  criticized in the home countries of these leaders, but many Israelis and Jews will, as usual,  attribute such criticism to anti-Semitism.
Palestinians and left wingers, including Jews, will discover that the knowledge in these countries about the Israeli occupation is meager, and the public’s interest in it is weak.
— Jeffery R. Webber
FROM THE INSPIRING rebellion of the indigenous and popular classes of the Bolivian altiplano (high plateau),(1) the eruption of the 690,000-strong shantytown of El Alto, and the popular neighborhoods in the hillsides of the capital La Paz in the “Gas War” of October 2003, emerged the “October Agenda,” a list of popular demands to remake the country in the name of the poor and the indigenous majority.(2)
— Jeffery R. Webber
SUNDAY, MARCH 27, 2005 — According to one of Bolivia’s most famous reactionary social scientists, Roberto Laserna, there have been 3,020 events of social conflict in Bolivia between 1994 and 2004.(1) Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that much has happened since the early weeks of February of this year, when I wrote “The Rebellion in Bolivia” (see pages 13-15). Nonetheless, while some social forces have shifted, the basic polarization between Left and Right national...
— Chloe Tribich & John McGough
THE FIFTH WORLD Social Forum convened this year from January 26th through 31st in Porto Alegre, Brazil in the wake of the Bush inauguration and intensifying violence in Iraq, but also some victories for progressive movements in the global south and particularly Latin America.
Nearly 50,000 delegates from over 120 countries presented and attended 2,500 discussions ranging in theme from the expected (“Voices from the U.S. Antiwar Movement”) to the academic (“Construction of...
— Sheila McClear
FIRST, A PICTURE of the World Social Forum’s Youth Camp in Porto Alegre, Brazil: Imagine an unending sea of tents and tarps, hammocks hanging from the trees-all of it baking under the sun. Dirt paths divide the camp and are lined by a colorful array of vendors hawking soap, food (“Refri, agua!” was the constant chant), marijuana plants, and jewelry.
— Abra Quinn
MOST READERS OF Against the Current know the Industrial Workers of the World by their imaginative and daring radical tactics and campaigns in the Northeast and the West  — the Free Speech campaigns; the Lawrence, Massachusetts Bread and Roses textile strike, made colorful by its propaganda, and especially the pageants and children’s evacuation that brought the strike publicity; their organizing of itinerant workers and hoboes; and the Wobblies’ clarion calls for direct...
— Ansar Fayyazuddin
ALBERT EINSTEIN HARDLY needs an introduction.  A popular culture icon, his name, his disheveled appearance in late life, his theory of relativity are synonymous with genius.  It may be hard to imagine a physicist as a popular culture icon, Time's Person of the Century (for heaven's sake); yet no other figure of the 20th Century comes to my mind, with the possible exception of Picasso, whose legacy is so indisputable as to qualify for the position of something so improbable as Person of...
— David Mandel
THE NASCENT SOVIET labor movement played an important, perhaps crucial, role in shaking the foundations of the Soviet system, which proved remarkably fragile beneath its impressive totalitarian superstructure. But this movement failed to develop the organizational and ideological independence that would have allowed it to influence the subsequent course of events.
This article briefly examines the role of “social partnership” in the defeats suffered by the labor movements after the...
— Jerry Tucker
THERE IS TODAY a rare open debate going on within the U.S. Labor Movement over its future. Rarer still is the fact that much of it appears on competing internet blogs. The current debate, provoked by some within Labor’s national leadership, has been almost exclusively focused on “restructuring” and resource reallocation. But the leader-led debate has failed to discuss the more fundamental question of the “culture” of unionism in America today.
Can the present debate...
— Phillip Colligan, E. San Juan & Ravi Malhotra
— Joel Kovel
I was reluctant to turn to this 2002 study of biodiversity and species loss given the bad taste left by Edwin Wilson's 1975 Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, a work redolent with reductionist and Social Darwinian implications and therefore odious to every good leftist.
— Mike Parker
The bumper stickers say, "Unions: the folks who brought you the weekend."  For almost a century, the success of workers' drive to shorten working hours and increase leisure time was considered a sign of progress and humanity.  After all, "we work to live," not "live to work."
— George Fish
Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow of the Council on Foreign Affairs, opens her book on China's ecological crisis with a graphic first chapter depicting the late July, 2001 pollution crisis affecting the Huai River.  This major waterway in central China runs through the city of Nanjing and empties into the East China Sea by Shanghai.
— Robert Hollinger
Retooling The Mind Factory: Education in a Lean State
Alan Sears
Garamond Press (Aurora, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
283 pages, $26.95 paper.
IN RETOOLING THE Mind Factory, Alan Sears employs a Marxist analysis to explain developments in education — especially the corporate university — as a manifestation of the neoliberal agenda. As he puts it:
"Educational reform does have a logic.... I will analyze this logic through the lens of the Marxist approach to the state, labor processes and...
— Yoshie Furuhashi
THE DEATH OF Susan Sontag, one of the most acclaimed intellectuals of her time, on December 28, 2004 immediately inspired controversies about her sexuality. Many writers rightfully questioned major newspapers’ studied silence in their obituaries on her relationships with women.