Against the Current 154

— The Editors
THE DECADE THAT opened with the attacks of September 11, 2011 may have symbolically closed with the elite U.S. death-squad assassination of Osama bin Laden. But the turmoil of these post-9/11 years, notably the self-inflicted wounds of U.S. capitalism, have exceeded the terrorist mastermind’s wildest dreams. There are the wars that George W. Bush, with the support of congressional Democrats, launched in Afghanistan and Iraq — wars that the government promised wouldn’t have to...
— John O'Connor
RESPONDING TO THE terrorist attacks of September 2001, Against the Current’s “Letter from the Editors” (#95, November/December 2001) made an impassioned plea that the alternative to war was a political movement for social justice. Like many on the left, the editors pointed out that only an agenda for social justice could save the people of Afghanistan and Iraq from America’s military wrath and help curb the attraction of individual terrorist solutions.
As we all know,...
— Julie Hurwitz
THE ABUSE OF government/police power in this country is not a new or recent phenomenon — as evidenced by the government’s court-sanctioned internment of thousands of Japanese Americans during WWII, the red scare of the 1940s-1950s to repress the labor movement and other progressive causes, the use of grand juries and COINTELPRO during the ’60s to repress the civil rights and anti-war movements.
In the post-9/11 era, however, we face new and in many respects more serious...
— an interview with Martin Espada
CALLED “THE LATINO poet of his generation” and “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than 15 books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His new collection of poems is called The Trouble Ball (Norton, 2011). The Republic of Poetry, a collection published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize....
— Martin Espada
for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center
Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook’s yellow...
— an interview with Sandy Pope
SANDY POPE IS the candidate for General President of the Teamsters Union in the election this coming October, running against incumbent James Hoffa Jr. She’s a longtime member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union and president of Local 805 in New York City. She was interviewed by Dianne Feeley from the ATC editorial board.
Against the Current: Why do you want to be General President of the Teamsters at a time like this?
Sandy Pope: You’re not the first to ask that! The Teamsters Union...
— Kit Adam Wainer
THE NEW YORK City school system averted catastrophe on June 24, 2011 when mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew reached an accord to prevent more than 4000 teacher layoffs. Under the deal, the teachers’ union agreed to suspend sabbaticals for one year and to reorganize the way in which teachers without full programs are assigned.
The deal marked a significant setback for the Mayor, who had hoped to use the...
— Nina Kampfer
IT’S NO SECRET that the Detroit Public Schools have been in a state of chaos for some time. When former Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Robert Bobb as Emergency Financial Manager in 2009, many hoped that he would make positive changes. The district was carrying a $219 million deficit, not to mention some of the country’s lowest graduation rates and standardized test scores.
Bobb immediately began calling out fraud and embezzlement and taking a much-needed critical...
— Nina Kampfer
Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school for teen mothers, has been central in controversies surrounding the closures and charters of Detroit’s public schools. Although the cost of $19,000 per student each year is comparable to the cost of educating students at other similar schools, the operational costs, from an Emergency Manager’s perspective, were excessive.
However, the preparation for the futures of CFA students goes far beyond academics. Their curriculum also includes instruction...
— Jack Rasmus
WHAT CAN BE called the latest phase of “concession bargaining” emerging in the past year — politically imposed concessions taking back working people’s “social wage” — is historic.
Call it “grand scale concession bargaining:” Not content with union concessions in money and benefits at the shop-floor level in the private sector, not even content with extending that in intensified form today to the public worker sector, corporate interests now...
— Matt Noyes
Radiation is mighty!
Radiation is great!
You can’t beat it and
it doesn’t discriminate.
— Rankin Taxi and the Ainu Dub Band(1)
ON THE MORNING of Thursday, March 17th, six days after the earthquake and tsunamis, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper had just one advertising supplement: a full-color glossy piece from a Buddhist temple, selling grave sites.(2)
The news gap was at its height, with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) declaring the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant...
— Clarence Lang
Malcolm X:
A Life of Reinvention
by Manning Marable
New York: Viking, 2011, 594 pages, $30 hardback.
SOCIAL MOVEMENT THEORISTS have written much about the political opportunities, constraints, and levels of organizational readiness enabling or inhibiting popular insurgency.(1) We still know less, however, about the complex framing processes involved in forging and maintaining activist identities and self-narratives.
From this standpoint, Manning Marable’s posthumously published Malcolm X:...
— Malik Miah
“Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial, and bold young captain — and we will smile….And we will answer and say unto them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you?....And if you know him you would know why we must honor him: Malcolm was our manhood, our living Black manhood!....And we will know him then for what he was and is — a prince — our own Black prince — our own Black...
— Allen Ruff
Policing America’s Empire:
The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State
By Alfred McCoy
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009,
659 pages, $29.95 paper.
Washington Rules:
America’s Path to Permanent War
By Andrew J. Bacevich
Metropolitan Books, 2010, 286 pages, $25 paper.
THE HISTORICAL ANALYSIS of imperialism as a system of domination and subordination, of colonizer and colonized, of the “developed world” or global North over the...
— David Finkel
Following Chris Hedges’ forced retirement as a war correspondent and New York Times reporter (where his reputation was forged by his acclaimed first book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning), Hedges has emerged as a trenchant and increasingly radical critic of the politics and imperial culture of the United States. His prolific articles and speeches paint a picture of a society well on its way to self-destruction through the dominance of corporate power and sheer greed.
Hedges has...
— Richard Lichtman
The Death of the Liberal Class
by Chris Hedges
Nation Books, 2010, 256 pages, $25 hardcover.
THERE ARE FEW writers today who can bring to vision the articulate passion that Chris Hedges directs against the present corporate system; its vile and self-satisfied destructiveness, and the symboitic collusion between this structure of perversion and the betrayal engaged in by “the liberal class.” I believe this aspect of Hedges’ perspective is vitally important and obvious to any...
— Simon Pirani
In the Crossfire:
Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary
By Ngo Van
Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2011, 264 pages, $19.95 paper.
THIS BOOK OPENS with a vivid, gut-wrenching account of the arrest, detention and torture of two young Vietnamese revolutionaries in Saigon in June 1936 by the Sûreté, the political police who defended France’s colonial might. We are spared no details: the electric shock treatment; the kicking; the insertion of a wood plank in the prisoner’s mouth...
— Ron Lare
Reinterrogating the Classical Marxist Discourses of Revolutionary Democracy
By Soma Marik
Delhi, India: Aakar Books, 2008, 496 pages plus bibliography and index.
To order: aakarbooks@gmail.com.
2017 WILL MARK the Russian Revolution’s 100th anniversary. Socialists will again ask how the revolution was made and why it degenerated.
Soma Marik is an Indian Marxist-feminist and activist against the plague of intercommunal violence in her country, as well as a scholar in Russian history. She...
— Kim D. Hunter
David Blair (D. Blair, or simply Blair on stage) was born in Newton, New Jersey in 1967 — coincidentally, a fateful year of urban rebellions — and died this August in Detroit. His memorial included a jazz funeral that was large enough to stop traffic on Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s main drag.  The crowd was a testament to his incredible life, his power to reach people and how he used that power.
The awards he garnered and the work he created in his less than 50 years speak...