Against the Current 192

— The Editors
EVEN BEFORE DONALD Trump dynamited the corpse of the “peace process” with his December 6 pronouncement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the full horrors of the United States’ wars in the Middle East and Africa were beginning to emerge from the fog of official obfuscation. The furor over Trump’s speech on Jerusalem has reduced the coverage of calamities unfolding in Yemen, in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, in Mali and in places we don’t yet know about. It...
— The Editors
THE REVELATIONS JUST keep coming. They began at the top, as actresses charged the powerful Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Louis CK of rape and various forms of sexual harassment. They soon implicated major TV network personalities, corporate executives and political figures from both capitalist parties.
In the past, when a woman came forward she stood alone, facing a barrage of interrogators. This time, within 24 hours of #MeToo being re-launched on Facebook,...
— Malik Miah
IN THE PREVIOUS issue of Against the Current I discussed the ideology of white nationalism and white supremacy ( The contrasting ideology of Black nationalism must be understood in the framework of the Marxist analysis of nationalism of oppressed peoples.
Blacks would be happy to drop the hyphenated “African-American” and redefine the term “American” as meaning all of its peoples. Most whites, however, don’t support that...
— Jennifer Wingard
WAKING UP ON August 29, 2017, with news of failing levees and reservoirs in Houston, the city I’ve called home for the last ten years, was emotionally trying. Even though Hurricane Harvey was on track to end its constant deluge of rain on the Houston metro area and move east, there was a consensus that Houston, with its high density of petrochemical plants, was not yet out of the woods.
So on that day, the very anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — another devastating hurricane whose...
— Aliya Miranda
ON THURSDAY OCTOBER 19th, I sat shotgun to my dad in a minivan filled with my co-workers and interns from UF’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.
On any other Thursday, we would have been in the SPOHP office promoting events, archiving interviews, and working on digital production projects, and my dad would have been at work. Instead, we’d organized to carpool from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to a Winn Dixie parking lot, maneuvering around blockades and rereading detailed safety...
— Aswar Amen-Ra
MY NAME IS Asar Amen-Ra, I am a UAW member (Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America) and a Chrysler (FCA) employee with over 22 years of experience in the auto industry, as a worker, elected union representative and as an organizer.
Moreover, I have over 26 years' experience as a grassroots community organizer dedicated to the social, economic, and political change in this country. I was a UAW organizer in the South from 2011-2014 with assignments in...
— Joseph Daher
THE KURDISH STRUGGLE in Syria and Iraq has witnessed number of recent changes, with clear contrasts in each country. The broad victory of the “yes” in the Iraqi autonomous Kurdistan region’s independence referendum on September 25 was rooted in the long historical will of the Kurdish people to establish a state. It was also the consequence of a violent history of oppression inflicted upon the Iraqi-Kurdish population by various previous Iraqi nationalist authoritarian regimes....
— Joseph Daher
KRG—Kurdish Regional Government in autonomous area of northern Iraq since 1992
KDP—Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Barzani family
PUK—Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Talabani family
peshmerga—fighters affiliated with the KPD and PUK
PKK—Kurdistan Workers Party, leftwing Kurdish Party in Turkey
PYD—Democratic Union Party, which is ideologically and politically affiliated with the PKK
YPG—the armed wing of the PYD....
— Dawn Starin
SOME WALLS KEEP us out. Some walls keep us apart. Not these walls. Clarion Alley’s walls of art invite us in. Creating a dialogue, they shout out in both full glorious Technicolor and in stark shades of black and white, “Come in and look at our history, read our words, come in and appreciate what we must always remember, what we have lost, what we have found, what we must stand for and what we must treasure.”
Clarion Alley’s thought-provoking, provocative, clever and...
— Bayla Ostrach
“Like the time of the dictatorship, like Fascist times of Franco, we return to having political prisoners. Without a single shot being fired, without a single drop of blood, for no more than going out to the street to demand that they let us leave. Without doing any type of violence they receive this. This will only instill in us more hatred for the Spanish government, but it will not make us take one step backward.”
— Arnold (a pseudonym), a comrade from a historically...
— Bayla Ostrach
ANC – Assemblea Nacional di Catalunya, grassroots, neighborhood-level, community-led independentist leadership organization. A key leader was “pre-emptively” jailed without bail by the Spanish governmentt as part of the coup in October 2017.
CiU – Convergencia i Unió, center-right coalition formed by former Catalan President Artus Mas (2011-2016).
CUP – Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, farthest-Left Catalan political party, characterized by some as...
— Bayla Ostrach
1978-1979 Spanish Constitution recognizes Catalunya as “autonomous” (little real effect).
2003 Catalan political parties propose to reform the 1979 Autonomy Statue of the Spanish Constitution; parties supporting autonomy win 88% of Parliamentary seats and popular vote; future (Socialist) Prime Minister Zapatero commits to Autonomy Statute reform effort.
2005 Catalan Parliament sends proposal for new Autonomy Statute to Madrid to recognize Catalunya as a nation, prevent Madrid’s...
EGYPT’S PRESIDENTIALIST DICTA­TORSHIP continues its suppression of human rights lawyers and activists. Mahienour el-Massry and Moatasem Medhat have been jailed pending a December 30 hearing where they will be tried, along with several other activists, for “illegal gathering, insulting the president, and thuggery” for protesting against president al-Sisi’s contested transfer of the Tiran and Sanifir Islands to Saudi Arabia.
Mahienour el-Massry in particular has been a...
— David Mandel
A HUNDRED YEARS later, the question of the historical legacy of the October 1917 Russian Revolution is not an easy one for socialists, given that Stalinism took root within less than a decade after that revolution and the restoration of capitalism 70 years later met little popular resistance.
One can, of course, point to the central role of the Red Army in the victory over fascism, or to the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the capitalist world that broadened the space for anti-imperialist...
— Kevin Murphy
Trotsky and the Problem
of Soviet Bureaucracy
By Thomas M. Twiss
Haymarket, 502 pages, 2018, $36 paperback.
ACADEMIA HAS NEVER been very kind to Leon Trotsky. As part of its mandate to demonize the entire revolution, the totalitarian school from its inception portrayed Lenin and Trotsky as no better than Stalin.
What currently passes as “scholarship” suggests that recent standards still are not very high. Geoffrey Swain asserts that Trotsky, who was surely the foremost contemporary...
— Alan Wald
Class, Race, and Marxism
By David Roediger
London: Verso, 2017, 198 pages, $26.95 hardback.
TODAY’S ANT-RACIST LEFT is roiled by at least four absorbing controversies about racism and resistance: “Afro-pessimism,” recurrently taken up in relation to journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates and literary scholar Saidiya Hartman;(1) the “New History of Capitalism,” fostered by Harvard historians Sven Beckert and Walter Johnson;(2) contrasting versions of “Identity...
— Mary Helen Washington
Race and the Totalitarian Century:
Geopolitics in the Black Literary Imagination
By Vaughn Rasberry
Harvard University Press, 2016, 496 pages, $45 hardcover.
THE COVER OF Vaughn Rasberry’s ambitious and compelling study Race and the Totalitarian Century features a cartoon by leftwing African-American political cartoonist Ollie Harrington, titled “American Crackerocracy and the Polish Ghetto: Sikeston, Missouri, and Germany.”...
The cartoon, published in 1942 in the Black left...
— Brad Duncan
Becoming Belafonte:
Black Artist, Public Radical
By Judith E. Smith
University of Texas Press, 2014, 68 pages, $24.95 paperback.
EVEN THOUGH HIS name is synonymous with standing up against injustice, the extent to which Harry Belafonte’s political commitments have their roots in the radical left of the 1940s and 1950s has been largely obscured.
The story of how a young man born in Harlem to a Jamaican mother came to be involved with Black leftists, the most radical labor unions, militant...
— John Woodford
James Baldwin: The FBI File
edited by William J. Maxwell
Arcade Publishing, New York, 2017, 430 pages,
$22.99 paperback.
I Am Not Your Negro
documentary film directed by Raoul Peck
Magnolia Pictures, 2017 release, 93 minutes.
“Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters . . . .”
SO BEGAN WORDSWORTH, in his sonnet “London, 1802,” wishing for the return of a great artist of moral and political courage....
— Derrick Morrison
Development Drowned and Reborn
The Blues and Bourbon Restorations in Post-Katrina New Orleans
By Clyde Woods
Edited by Jordan T. Camp and Laura Pulido University of Georgia Press, 2017,
376 pages, $34.95 paperback.
“According to several accounts, the populist movement in the state began with formation of the Louisiana Farmers’ Union by white small farmers from Lincoln and five other northern parishes [counties] in 1881. By 1890 this organization had joined the three-million-member...
— Ted McTaggart
Amiable with Big Teeth
By Claude McKay
Jean-Christophe Cloutier and Brent Hayes Edwards, editors
Penguin Hardcover Classics, 2017, 352 pages, $28.
ON NOVEMBER 25, 1922, the African-American revolutionary activist and writer Claude McKay (1889-1948) spoke before the Fourth Congress of the Communist International on the Black struggle and the tensions existing between white and Black socialists in the United States.
He spoke as a representative of the African Blood Brotherhood, an organization...
— Robert K. Beshara
Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left
By Ian Parker
Alresford, UK: Zero Books, 295 pages, $29.95 paperback.
IAN PARKER WEARS many hats, being “the Co-Director (with Erica Burman) of the Discourse Unit, Managing Editor of Annual Review of Critical Psychology, Secretary of Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix, member of the Asylum Magazine editorial collective, and supporter of the Fourth International” (Parker,
His new book, Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left,...
— Dianne Feeley
A LONGTIME SOCIALIST activist, Estar Baur died less than a year after her lifelong comrade and husband, Erwin. They met at a 1930s Socialist Party dance in Cleveland, where Estar was born and grew up. She quit John Adams High School, where she enjoyed playing the piano and being active in the Young Peoples Socialist League, to run off and live with him.
Erwin was blacklisted in the aftermath of the 1937 Little Steel strike, when the smaller steel companies crushed the union and dismissed union...
— Patrick M. Quinn and Eric Schuster
BILL PELZ, A well-known socialist activist and prolific scholar in the field of European and comparative Labor History, died at the age of 66 in Chicago on Sunday, December 10, 2017 following a heart attack. Bill was born into a working class family on the South Side of Chicago. After graduation from high school he became a bus driver, aspiring to make as much money as his father had as a union machinist, “but later,” he said, “I lowered my expectations and became an academic...