Against the Current 162

— The Editors
HUMAN CIVILIZATION IS heading over the climate cliff, with consequences even on conservative estimates that threaten the survival of the world’s coastal cities as well the viability of agriculture, fishing stocks and fresh water supplies — in short, essentially the natural base on which all of society is built. Within this century, a global temperature rise of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is regarded as inevitable.
The consequences of that are serious enough —...
— Malik Miah
WHO WOULD EVER have thought that after 400 years, African Americans would become an invisible community to most politicians and the ruling class? The community’s issues are barely mentioned by the mainstream media — and when they are, it’s usually in a way to criticize civil rights gains of the past.
The right wing media led by Fox News and talk radio use code words like “food stamps” and “takers” to denote the Black community. Their Orwellian attacks...
— Dianne Feeley
THE MICHIGAN LAME duck legislature was on a tear to pass as many anti-democratic laws as possible before ending its 2012 term. The centerpiece of this ideological thrust was the passage on December 11 of the so-called “right-to-work” legislation that allows workers in union-organized workplaces not to pay a fee for union services they receive under the contract. (For reasons of political opportunism, firefighter and police unions are exempted from the RTW bill.)
Mostly because of...
— Dianne Feeley
PASSAGE OF THE right-to-work-for-less bill is only one of several horrendous laws the Michigan legislature has enacted in the final days of its session.
The legislature had to find a way to overcome the November referendum’s thumbs down of the Emergency Manager legislation. Public Act 4, which had been passed by the legislature and signed by governor Snyder last March, allowed the state to take over school districts, as well as cities and towns under financial distress, at the...
— Dave Kingman
THE “BLACK FRIDAY”strike at Walmart stores surprised and elated many on the left and activists throughout labor and allied movements. The basic facts of the strike and the organizing efforts which led to it have been well-covered in the left and progressive press. This brief commentary attempts to assess the significance of these efforts.
Black Friday did not resemble a conventional strike — the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union says that just several hundred...
— an interview with Gilbert Achcar
GILBERT ACHCAR IS professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. His most recent book was The Arabs and the Holocaust. The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives (New York: Metropolitan, 2010). His next book, The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising, is scheduled for publication in June 2013 (Los Angeles: University of California Press). He was interviewed by David Finkel from the Against the Current editorial board.
Against the Current: From your...
— René Rojas
CHILEANS WENT TO the polls on October 28, 2012 to elect mayors and city councils from Arica, bordering Peru in the North, to Punta Arenas in southern Tierra del Fuego. Considering the student movement that unleashed what seemed like unstoppable waves of mass militancy over the past year and a half, one might have expected gains for popular and working-class forces. Yet while students and subsequent rebellions had shaken the previously stable foundations of the region’s model...
— Bryan D. Palmer
“Searching for Sugar Man”
Director, Malik Bendjelloul, 86 minutes, (2012), PG-13
A SHY MAN dressed in black, guitar slung over his shoulder, walks the meanest streets of one of the meanest cities in the United States. Imagine this man, making his way to a waterside bar of questionable repute. Let us, for accuracy’s sake, call it “The Sewer.” He performs for a pittance, his audience a routinized, if motley, crew of down-on-their-luck, up-on-their-illusions,...
— Clifford J. Straehley, M.D.
The following letter was submitted to Against the Current by Dr. Clifford J. Straehley, Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Hawaii and retired Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery at Stanford Medical School. He lives in Walnut Creek, California. Since this letter was written, in the wake of the Colorado theater shooting, new massacres of course have occurred including the latest horror at Newtown, Connecticut, giving the issue ever greater urgency — The editors.
ON APRIL...
— Gloria House
Gloria House presented this talk, “African American Nationalism, the Concept of Internal Colonies, And Third World Solidarity: Reflections of a Movement Worker,” at the 50th anniversary Port Huron Statement Conference held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, November 2, 2012.
THE YEARS 1965 TO 1967 mark my work as a SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) field secretary in Alabama, and the beginning of a lifelong commitment to the African-American liberation movement...
— Angela Hubler
At the Dark End of the Street:
Black Women, Rape and Resistance —
A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks
to the Rise of Black Power
by Danielle McGuire
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2010, 416 pages, $16.95 paperback
IN AT THE Dark End of the Street, Wayne State University historian Danielle McGuire persuasively and powerfully argues that the history of Black women’s anti-rape activism must be understood as an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement, but that...
— Dianne Feeley
Sweet Land of Liberty
The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
By Thomas J. Sugrue
Random House, NY, 2008, 588 pages, $20 paperback.
“WE MUST COME to see that the de facto segregation in the North is just as injurious as the actual segregation in the South.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr., from his talk at Detroit’s Walk to Freedom March, June 23, 1963
WHILE MOST HISTORIES of the civil rights movement are set in the South, Thomas J. Sugrue’s book outlines its...
— Alan Wald
Black Internationalist Feminism:
Women Writers of the Black Left, 1945-1995
By Cheryl Higashida
Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2011, 250 pages, hardback $50.
Radicalism at the Crossroads:
African American Women Activists in the Cold War
By Dayo F. Gore
New York: New York University Press, 2011, 229 pages, paper $23.
Sojourning for Freedom:
Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism
By Erik S. McDuffie
Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2011, 311...
— George S. in conversation with Asha
The Central Park Five,
a new documentary by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon,
119 minutes
“THE CENTRAL PARK Five” is a new documentary by famed director Ken Burns (of The Civil War and Jazz fame), his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon, based on Sarah’s book by the same title. I was able to see the film at one of its premier screenings in late November, at a small independent and loosely radical theater in Harlem. The theater was packed to capacity...
— Norm Diamond
Ours to Master and to Own:
Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present
Edited by Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini
Haymarket Press, 2011, 443 pages, paperback $19.
IN THIS CENTENNIAL year of the great Lawrence textile workers’ strike, let us remember that the “roses” they fought for in addition to “bread,” referred to dignity and control on the job, in the workplace, as well as in the rest of their lives.
It goes almost without saying that workplace...
— Jase Short
Monsters of the Market
Zombies, Vampires, and Global Capitalism
by David McNally
Winner of the 2012 Deutscher Memorial Prize
Haymarket Books, 2012, $28.
FROM THE MEANINGS behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Karl Marx’s utilization of the grotesque as metaphor for market fetishism in Capital, and ending with a powerful reflection on African zombies in the age of globalization, David McNally skillfully traverses the landscape of fantastic horror, past and present.
Monsters of the...
— Barri Boone
Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power
by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy
Melville House Publishing, 2011, 200 pages, $16.95 paperback.
“WHITE SUPREMACY IS a bill of goods sold like snake oil to all white people who grow up in the United States. So why then are the whites who benefit least from this system given the lion’s share of the blame for racism?”
James Tracy, interviewed along co-author with Amy Sonnie on their recent book, offered this comment in...
— Christopher Phelps
AFTER HIS DEATH last year at the age of 82, most obituaries of Eugene Genovese — the historian of American slavery whose masterpiece, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, was published in 1974—stated that he traveled from left to right, from Marxism to conservatism.
While not incorrect, that characterization ignores the duality of reaction and revolution in Genovese’s thought, the conservative impulses that ran through his radicalism even at its high point, and the...