Against the Current 155

— The ATC Editors
NO, HE DIDN’T. That’s the epitaph on the tombstone of liberal and left-wing hopes that greeted the historic election of Barack Obama in November 2008. Did anyone imagine then that the election itself, more than anything he’d do in office, would be the high point of the Obama presidency? Or that three years later, the power of “Yes we can” would be the eruption of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) spreading to one city after another — essentially nothing to do with...
— Malik Miah
THERE IS A sharp reality disconnect in the Black community. On the one hand, the Black population continues to support the first African-American president, Barack Obama, by more than 90%.
Yet the plight of the Black communities is at its worst condition in three decades. Official unemployment is over 16% —twice that of whites — and in the high 30% for young African Americans. Black household income is in decline and the lowest of the five major ethnic groups. Poverty is at the...
— Kathryn Savoie
THE KEYSTONE XL is a proposed 1700-mile pipeline that would transport tar sands oil (also called oil sands) from Alberta, Canada into the United States, crossing six states from Montana to Texas and Louisiana. The proposed pipeline, which has a price tag of $7 billion, would add to the extensive existing network of oil pipelines, carrying tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
TransCanada, the company that would build it, needs the approval of both the U.S. State Department and president...
— Dianne Feeley
BY THE END of October, autoworkers at the Big Three will have approved their 2011-2015 contracts. Since Ford was the most profitable corporation, and one that had avoided bankruptcy, it was the logical corporation for the UAW to target. During the economic crisis Ford workers voted down a round of concessions that would have suspended their right to strike until 2015, so by bargaining first at Ford the union could have maximized its potential power to put an end to the concessions.
United Auto...
— K.D.
SATELLITE TV IS big in Zimbabwe; owing to the limited and propagandistic programming on state-sponsored Z-TV, and the travails of night travel on a decaying road network, just about every house in Harare, from the poor/working class Mbare township to the luxury suburb of Burrowdale, sports a dish that brings South African soapies, Al Jazeera and, most importantly, the latest in reality TV to living rooms across the land.
On my last trip to Zimbabwe all eyes, it seemed, were glued to the latest...
— David Finkel
“YOU CAN’T MAKE this stuff up,” the Prime Minister of Israel lectured the UN General Assembly. Binyamin Netanyahu was referring to the history of Libya under Qaddafi, and Iraq under Saddam Hussein, chairing UN Commissions on Human Rights and Disarmament respectively.
Something else you can’t make up: A visiting foreign head of government receives a rare invitation to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress, where he proceeds to mock U.S. policy as stated by the...
— Jimmy Johnson
“It should never be forgotten that while colonization, with its techniques and its political and juridical weapons, obviously transported European models to other continents, it also had a considerable boomerang effect on the mechanisms of power in the West, and on the apparatuses, institutions, and techniques of power. A whole series of colonial models was brought back to the West, and the result was that the West could practice something resembling colonization, or an internal...
— Catherine Samary
[“THE CRISIS OF 2007-2009, coming from the U.S. core of the globalized system, the crisis that threatens the weak links of the euro, and the third crisis that started to affect Eastern Europe in 2009 have a major common point. Whether we are talking about the United States, Greece or the Baltic States, these crises are the repercussions of profoundly unbalanced growth.”
[This article by Catherine Samary is edited, and abridged for publication here, from a chapter of Capitalist Crises...
— an interview with Eric Toussaint
[THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION with Eric Toussaint, president of the Committee for Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM) in Belgium, conducted on September 24, is the sixth installment of a multi-part interview that appears in full on the organization’s website This interview was translated by Christine Pagnoulle and Vicki Briault in collaboration with Judith Harris.]
CADTM: In July-September 2011 the stock markets were again shaken at the international level. The crisis has...
A CONFRONTATION BETWEEN the government of Bolivian president Evo Morales and a part of his indigenous social base is leading to a serious political crisis.
Following a violent police assault on indigenous community protests against a road being built through their self-governed Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS), the main trade union federation COB called a 24-hour strike on September 28,...
— Theresa El-Amin
[THE FOLLOWING LETTER to the editor, written by Theresa El-Amin, regional director of the Southern Anti-Racist Network, appeared in the Columbus, Georgia Ledger-Enquirer. It appeared the Sunday following the state of Georgia’s judicial murder of Troy Davis on September 21, 2011. The Sunday edition has a circulation of 43,000 in conservative communities in southwest Georgia and southeastern Alabama.]
ALL OF THE prayers for Troy Davis have been answered. And the answer is: “Troy Davis...
— Alan Wald
EACH PHASE IN the nine-year-history of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) now reads like a chapter from a cautionary tale for future generations of young radicals. In 1960, SDS elected its initial president, Alan Haber (b. 1936).(1) Two years later the first convention adopted a manifesto with lasting scriptural authority, “The Port Huron Statement.”(2) SDS membership was soon zooming toward one thousand, with a strong base at nine colleges.
In March 1963 Haber received a $5000...
— Paul Buhle
A HANDFUL OF friends, old and new, have asked me about the path that my ideas and activities have taken me, some 50 years after I happened across a civil rights picket line in my hometown of Champaign, Illinois in the summer of 1960. The following is a radical memory unusual in some ways, but with many similarities to the memories of my New Left contemporaries in the outcome.
Most self-identified radical activists from the early 1920s to the early 1960s were influenced deeply by the effects of...
— Ross Altman
Ravens in the Storm:
A Personal History of the 1960s Anti-War Movement
Carl Oglesby
Scribner, 2008, paperback reprint 2010,
352 pages, $22.
[Carl Oglesby died on September 13, 2011. We present this review as a memorial tribute. -- The ATC Editors]
FORTY-SIX YEARS ago this November, then-SDS president Carl Oglesby stood on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and told those assembled to protest the war in Vietnam that the men who were responsible for that war were not evil, they were...
— Mike Davis
IN MY LIFETIME I’ve heard two speakers whose unadorned eloquence and moral clarity pulled my heart right out of my chest.  One was Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, speaking from the roof of the Busy Bee Market in Andersonstown in Belfast the apocalyptic day that hunger striker Bobby Sands died.
The other was Carl Oglesby, president of SDS in 1965. He was ten years older than most of us, had just resigned from Bendix corporation where he had worked as a technical writer, and wore a beard...
— Dawn Paley
Los ritmos de Pachakuti:
Levantamiento y movilización en Bolivia (2000-2005)
Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar
Bajo Tierra Ediciones, D.F., México. 2009.
Dispersing Power:
Social Movements as Anti-State Forces
Raul Zibechi. Translated by Ramor Ryan
AK Press, Oakland, 2010, 163 pages, $15.95 paper.
From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia:
Class Struggle, Indigenous Liberation, and the Politics of Evo Morales
Jeffery R. Webber
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2011, 236 pages + notes and index....
— Marc Becker
Bolivia’s Radical Tradition:
Permanent revolution in the Andes
S. Sándor John
Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009, 320 pages, $55 cloth.
S. SÁNDOR JOHN’S Bolivia’s Radical Tradition explores in detail the emergence in Bolivia of what became the strongest Trotskyist tradition in the Americas, thanks in large part to militant tin miner unions.
The emergence of Trotskyism in South America’s poorest country is a bit of a curiosity. Trotsky never wrote on...
— Karin Baker
People Wasn’t Made to Burn:
A True Story of Race, Murder, and Justice in Chicago
By Joe Allen
Haymarket Books, 2011, $22.95 hardcover.
THIS BOOK IS a gripping account of a fire and a shooting. Yet it is so much more. The lives of James and Annie Hickman, the tragic death of their four children, and James’ trial after shooting their landlord, form the center of Joe Allen’s book. But Allen constructs his narrative with the vivid stories of those who came together around the...
— Derrick Morrison
The Sociology of Katrina
Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe
edited by David Brunsma, David Overfelt and Steve Pico
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 288 pages, new edition 2010,
$29.95 paperback.
“HURRICANE KATRINA WAS a catastrophic disaster that resulted in over eighteen hundred fatalities, the displacement of at least 1.2 million people, and economic losses that are not yet finally accounted, but may approach $100 billion. Approximately 2.5 million residences were damaged by...
— Barry Eidlin
Canadian Labour in Crisis:
Reinventing the Workers’ Movement
David Camfield
Winnipeg: Fernwood Press, 160 pages, $19.95, paper.
IT ISN’T NEWS that the U.S. labor movement is in profound crisis, and has been for some time. Readers of this magazine are by now all too familiar with the symptoms: waves of concessionary contracts, eroding labor laws, vicious government and employer attacks, defeated strikes, the precipitous decline in union membership....
— Paul M. Heideman
NATHANIEL MILLS’ REVIEW of Barbara Foley’s Wrestling With the Left (ATC 152, May-June 2011) raises a number of very important issues for understanding the politics of Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece, and by extension 20th-century African-American literature as a whole. In particular, Mills’ criticisms of Foley’s neglect of potentially liberatory moments in the text foregrounds the crucial issue of how revolutionary critics should go about the task of investigating...
— Nathaniel Mills
Foley has established what before her intervention would have been a bizarre proposition: that a writer long associated with literary anticommunism, vital-center liberalism, and conservative American nationalism is a writer the left can and should read....