Against the Current 172

— The Editors
THE SEPTEMBER 21 Peoples Climate March and related activities — notably, the September 19-20 NYC Climate Convergence Conference ( — make a timely occasion to look at the dimensions of the global environmental crisis and how to confront it.
If solutions are to be found, where to begin? Undoubtedly, all-out efforts in basic and applied climate research, conversion to solar and sustainable technology, and profound changes in agriculture and industry will...
— Malik Miah
TWO AMERICAS. TWO realities. Race matters. Us against them.
The mass media have swarmed all over Ferguson, Missouri for one reason: The Black community went into the streets after the police murder of Michael Brown, and refused orders to leave. They have inspired solidarity actions taking place all over the United States and internationally, including Latino, Asian and white young people along with African Americans.
“Don’t Shoot, Hands Up” spread across the country. It...
— Dianne Feeley
ON JULY 29, after national and international outcry against shutting off the water of thousands of Detroit residents, governor-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr turned over management of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to mayor Mike Duggan. Under legislation that has been overturned by Michigan voters in the last election but nonetheless passed once again (this time with an appropriation attached so it cannot be challenged by another referendum vote), the Emergency Manager holds all...
— Dianne Feeley
THE MICHIGAN CONSTITUTION guarantees that pensions earned by government workers will not be reduced. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes nonetheless ruled that federal bankruptcy law trumps the state constitution.
Each Detroit city worker with a vested pension was mailed a ballot to accept negotiated cutbacks, or face massive cuts of nearly 30%. Sensing that the outcome had already been decided, the majority of the 32,000 Detroit city workers and pensioners did not bother to cast a vote on...
THE PEOPLE’S CLIMATE March, scheduled for Manhattan on Sunday, September 21, will take place just two days before world leaders attend an historic Climate Summit at the United Nations. Eddie Bautista,  executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, pointed out that “People are seeing this crisis unfold all around them, especially in low-income and communities of color. Our message to anyone anywhere concerned about the way the climate crisis will impact our jobs,...
— Bill Resnick
ENERGY SYSTEMS ACROSS the planet are in accelerating transition towards sun and wind sourced production, driven by recognition of the catastrophic threat of climate change (caused by burning fossil fuels) and by the increasing cost advantages of renewable technologies.
As with many other emerging technologies with vast implications for profits and power, a great battle has erupted as to their integration into the productive system — under whose control, in whose interests? Indeed the...
— Howie Hawkins
IN JANUARY 2014, when we wrote the first draft of our election campaign plan for governor and lieutenant governor of New York, we set down what we thought were four ambitious goals. But as the campaign has unfolded, it appears we aimed too low. We have revised our goals upwards.
Goal 1: Retain Ballot Status
Our first goal was to receive at least 50,000 votes, which is the threshold for securing and maintaining a ballot line for the Green Party in all upcoming New York State elections. With...
THE LAST-MINUTE entry of a new mayoral candidate has shaken up the electoral topography of Richmond, California, where the Richmond Progressive Alliance is taking on the money and political muscle of Chevron Corporation. Richmond resident and labor writer-activist Steve Early reports:
“(O)n the eve of the filing deadline for city candidates, a longtime city council member not up for re-election this year decided to throw his hat into the ring for mayor. Arkansas native Tom Butt, a...
— Jennifer Loewenstein
ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 9th at approximately 1:20 in the afternoon, Israeli military forces killed Anwar Za’aneen. They fired a missile at a water maintenance crew at work in Beit Hanoun, Gaza. Anwar, a resident of the town, had stood watching the crew as it attempted to reconnect the water supply to his home.
The U.S.-made Israeli drone wounded two crew members moderately, but critically wounded Anwar. An emergency medical team rushed him to Shifa hospital, the main hospital in Gaza City, where...
— an interview with Hisham Ahmed
Suzi Weissman spoke with professor Hisham Ahmed, in the midst of the catastrophe in Gaza and the Israeli-Occupied West Bank, for the July 25, 2014 broadcast of her program “Beneath the Surface” on Pacifica radio KPFK in Los Angeles. We have abridged the interview for Against the Current. Obviously the numbers of casualties and other specifics have changed — very much for the worse — in the meantime. Thanks to Meleiza Figueroa for transcribing the discussion.
— an interview with Rabab Abdulhadi
PROFESSOR RABAB ABDULHADI is founder and Senior Scholar at the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) at San Francisco State University. A longtime scholar and a lifelong activist for Palestinian freedom, her account of “Living Under Occupation” was published in the July-August 2012 issue of Against the Current (
After leading a January 2014 academic and labor delegation to Palestine and Jordan, Dr....
— William Smaldone
AUGUST, 1914 WAS truly a world-historical moment for European socialism. Forced to choose between its internationalist principles and the pull of nationalism, the movement collapsed as the latter sentiment revealed itself to be a much more powerful force than most socialists had expected. Their division over the war would prove of immeasurable importance to the future of Europe and the world.
At the beginning of the 20th century the European socialist movement appeared to be an unstoppable...
— David Finkel, for the ATC editors
WHENEVER HE GETS around to it, president Obama might or might not take “executive action” to slow down the machinery of destruction that has earned him the title of “Deporter-in-Chief.” Meanwhile, the new tide of desperate children and families fleeing Central America piles up at the U.S. border.
Why has this happened? It’s the legacy, first, of the much-praised Ronald Reagan whose administration sponsored Central American military dictatorships, death squads and...
— an interview with Barbara Garson
INEQUALITY HAS BECOME a heated political issue with the eruption of the Occupy movement, followed by the spread of minimum wage struggles — including the election of socialist candidate Kshama Sawant to Seattle city council — and union organizing efforts and strikes in the fast food industry and the infamous anti-union Walmart.
Against the Current interviewed Barbara Garson, author of Down the Up Escalator, How the 99 Percent Live (Anchor Books/Random House, 2013). Her latest book...
— Charlie Post
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
By Thomas Piketty
Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2014, viii+ 685 pages, $39.95.
THE ISSUE OF growing inequalities of in­come and wealth in the advanced capitalist world over the past four decades has been the subject of both social scientific research and political struggle. On the one hand, there is an extensive literature that amply documents the growth of inequality globally since the mid-1970s. While ideologues of neo-liberalism have attempted...
— Marian Swerdlow
Badass Teachers Unite!
Reflections on Education, History, and Youth Activism
By Mark Naison
Haymarket Books, 2014, 200 pages, $16.95 paper.
Giving Kids a Fair Chance
By James J. Heckman
MIT Press, 2013, 152 pages. $15.95.
Class Dismissed:
Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality
By John Marsh
Monthly Review Press, 2011, 328 pages, $20 paper.
THE ACHIEVEMENT OF Occupy Wall Street was to put U.S. inequality, and the discussion of how to address it, front and center. One potential...
— Connor Donegan
The Fall of the House of Dixie:
The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South
By Bruce Levine
New York: Random House, 2013, 303 pages, Paperback edition $17.
Freedom National:
The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865
By James Oakes
New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013, 492 pages, $29.95 paperback.
“EASILY THE MOST dramatic episode in American history,” so begins W.E.B. Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction in America, “was...
— Robert Caldwell
The Inconvenient Indian:
A Curious Account of Native People in North America
By Thomas King.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
2012, 287 pages, $24.95.
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Boston: Beacon Press, 2014, 296 pages, $27.95.
TWO NEW BOOKS, Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, offer American Indian perspectives on the history of North...
— Dan Clawson
A Contest of Ideas:
Capital, Politics, and Labor
By Nelson Lichtenstein
University of Illinois Press, 2013, 336 pages, $25 paper.
NELSON LICHTENSTEIN REPORTS that “My real education came from Berkeley’s [1960s] radical student milieu, especially from my political sect of choice, then labeling itself the International Socialists.” (4) As a result of that, and his work on labor history in the 1940s (then only 25 years in the past), “it is not surprising,” he tells us,...
— Diana C. Sierra Becerra
Until The Rulers Obey:
Voices from Latin American Social Movements
By Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein, editors
Foreword by Raúl Zibechi
PM Press, 2014, 528 pages, $29.95 paper.
UNTIL THE RULERS Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements, edited by Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein, is a collection of interviews of social movement participants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile....
— Brad Duncan
SAXOPHONIST, COMPOSER AND revolutionary Marxist activist Fred Ho (1957-2014) was a dynamic and prolific force within Jazz and radical left movements for over 40 years. A baritone saxophonist inspired by the avant-garde currents in African-American music, Ho despised the term “Jazz,” considering it an insulting term for a powerful tradition. [An article by Fred Ho on the revolutionary content of jazz music appeared in Against the Current 159 and is online at...
— Fred Lonidier
ALLAN SEKULA, “photographer ,film-maker,  cultural theorist and political activist (and) one of the outrstanding Marxist intellectuals of his generation,” died August 10, 2013 in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. (See Steve Edwards, “Socialism and the Sea,” He was known among other things for his studies of the sea, which fascinated him from his years growing up in the port city of San Pedro,...