Against the Current 43

— The Editors
SHORT-TERM HISTORICAL AMNESIA is a wondrous thing. The government that gang-raped Nicaragua and sponsored death-squad murders across Central America, while pouring weapons into the Shah's and then Khomeini's Iran, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Haile Selassie's Ethiopia—and Siad Barre's Somalia—is now hailed for a "humanitarian mission to feed the starving children of Somalia." It is putting the bullies, warlords and drug-dealing gangsters of Somalia in their place as an act of charity and...
This issue is dedicated to the memory of Audre Lorde, who died last November after a fourteen-year bout with cancer. She described herself: "I am a Black, Feminist, Lesbian, mother, warrior, woman, lover, poet doing my work" Part of her life's work was speaking for progressive causes.
— Kim Moody
YOU COULD ALMOST hear the collective sigh of relief that swept through organized labor when George Bush conceded defeat to Bill Clinton. True, Clinton had stiff-armed labor as he ran toward his election touchdown that captured the imagination of fans the world around. But he was some kind of Democrat, and any labor leader knows that's better that any kind of Republican.
Furthermore, his policy papers promised good things like jobs, training, infrastructure projects and health care reform. In any...
— Nick Davidson
TEAMSTERS FOR A DEMOCRATIC UNION (MU), the rank-and-file reform caucus within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), is at a turning point in its history. With the victory of the Ron Carey Slate in 1991, several 1DU members have moved into high-ranking positions within the union as elected officials and field staff. Long accustomed to being dissident "outsiders" far removed from the levers of power, reformers are struggling to make the most of their new role in what has been America's...
— Andy Pollack
"OPERATION RESTORE HOPE," far from being a humanitarian mission to end starvation, was a calculating attempt to reassert U.S. dominance and funding for its military. The Operation benefitted from the moral veneer, painted by the media, which an examination of the timing, method and background to the Operation enables us to strip away.
In the first place, Washington's record on the whole African continent is clear and brutal enough that it should have fostered much more inquiry, public exposure...
— Robert Brenner
I WAS ASKED to talk about the historical lessons of revolution in the twentieth century. But since we are primarily interested in historical lessons that are likely to be relevant to the twenty-first century, I think it would be more to the point to consider the experience of reform and reformism.
Reformism is always with us, but it rarely announces its presence and usually introduces itself by another name and in a friendly fashion. Still, it is our main political competitor and we had better...
— Gerd-Rainer Horn
THREE RECENT WAVES of racist attacks on refugees in Germany have once again catapulted the newly-unified nation onto the front pages of newspapers around the world. Within the international media—and within portions of the German left—these outbursts of anti-foreign violence have led to thinly veiled speculations regarding the existence of ominous parallels between the new, united Germany and the Germany of sixty years ago.
What is the substance of these accusations? What is the...
— an interview with Lea Tsemel
LEA TSEMEL is an Israeli attorney working in defense of the 415 Palestinians expelled by the Israeli occupation authorities from their homes in the West Bank and Gaza. Part of the following interview appears in the January 1993 issue of News From Within, published by the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem. The final four questions were faxed by Against the Current. Lea Tsemel's answers were translated from French to English by Joanna Misnik.
News From Within: What really happened on...
— R.F. Kampfer
MINA, IN THE latest version of “Dracula,” is more assertive than she is usually portrayed, but still shows a regrettable tendency to fall for men who take advantage of her. As for the Count, after waiting 400 years to find Mina, why did he go after Lucy first? At least the current Dracula is considerate enough, however, to bring home a takeout for the wives back at the castle.
The line that really belongs in "Alive" is: "That takes care of the food supply, but what are we going to...
— Elissa Karg
AS I READ Susan Faludi's bestseller, Backlash, I found myself doubting her thesis: instead of going forward, as women have been all of my adult life, are we now going backwards? Did feminism go out of fashion in the '80s?
As I was mulling over these questions, I picked up a copy of the magazine section of the Sunday paper and came across one of those personal testimony" type articles describing a woman's decision to give up her career after the birth of her baby. She concluded that her husband...
— Betsy Esch
IN THE SECTION Fatal and Fetal Visions: the Backlash in the Movies Faludi sets out to prove that (late) eighties film was the larger than life reflection of what the '80s media had already said about women: that our very "success" was what now was making us miserable; that the women's movement promised us lives that it didn't deliver, that the real route to happiness and fulfillment was through motherhood. This is, in short the essence of the backlash.
It seems to me that before we can think...
— Sharon Feldman
TWO CHAPTERS IN Susan Faludi's book that deal specifically with the beauty and clothing industry and how the backlash has been an integral part of each. "Dressing the Dolls: The Fashion Backlash" and "Beauty and the Backlash" are filled with powerful examples of how the industry has manipulated women through the press and advertising. The goal: keeping women in their place. The reason: money and control.
Faludi points to surveys by the Kinsey Institute to explain that U.S. women have more...
— Jane Slaughter and Dianne Feeley
SUSAN FALUD! MAKES a passionate case for the 1980s as the decade of backlash against women. Women made gains during the 1970s—thanks to the feminist movement—that, she says, were then derailed or reversed during the Reaganism of the 1980s. But she fails to situate the struggle for women's rights in the political context of the Reagan era. How far did the African-American community advance? What about working people as a whole? How can we evaluate women's success without using a...
— Catherin Sameh
EVERY MARCH FOR the past three years, I have written about International Women's Day for my local radical paper. I study its origins each time with the same admiration for the 15,000 garment work-era who marched in 1908 through the streets of New York.
They were young women, most of them immigrants who spoke little or no English. The cards were clearly stacked against them. But they took to the streets anyway. They marched to protest and demand an end to sweatshop conditions and child labor, and...
— Delia D. Aguilar interviews Dr. de la Paz
IN SEPTEMBER 1992 a federal court in Hawaii found the late Ferdinand Marcos, Philippine President and dictator for twenty years, guilty of human rights violations in his country. Interpreted by justice-minded people as a warning to all potential despots, the verdict constituted moral victory for the 10,000 Filipino victims in whose behalf the suit was filed. Among the testimonies presented during the trial was that of Dr. Sylvia de La Paz, former Executive Director of Medical Action Group (MAG)...
THE FORMATION IN 1984 of Gabriela, a militant federation of women's organizations, marked the formal launching of the women's movement in the Philippines. Emerging at an historical moment when cross-class protest against the U.S.-supported Marcos dictatorship was at its peak, Gabriela assumed the awesome task of articulating feminism in the nationalist struggle.
Since that time feminism in the Philippines has flourished, particularly in the past two years when a large number of new organizations...
— Allison Rolls
WOMEN IN IRELAND appear before the world as sacrificing mothers, lovely and helpless colleens, or even heartless, repressed terrorists. It's not so much that Irish women have bought into these representations as that they are bound to them by the legal strictures that describe and proscribe their lives. The 1937 Irish Constitution—the constitution that still outlaws divorce and abortion in Ireland —enshrines the role of women in Article 41.2.1:
"In particular, the State recognises...
— Peter Drucker
THIS IS REALLY about two years late to be giving a talk on queer nationalism. The first Queer Nation group, Queer Nation New York, was founded in April 1990. In some places, like New York and San Francisco, Queer Nation may even have peaked before the end of 1991, with hundreds of core activists in both places. Some of us socialists were distracted from the new phenomenon that year, particularly by the Gulf crisis which began in August 1990.
But better late than never, especially with something...
— Ann Menasche
WITHIN THE LESBIAN/GAY movement, the women's movement and the left, there has been an ongoing struggle for recognition of the needs of lesbians for self-organization and visibility. We demand that our lives and our issues be taken seriously.
In the conservative political climate of the past decade, lesbians have suffered some setbacks. In particular, lesbian-feminism as a distinct political current of radical-feminist activism has been itself increasingly pushed onto the margins. That is true...
— Kimberly Smith
TWO YEARS AGO, thousands of demonstrators flooded the halls of Grand Central Station. The domed room, with its cavernous ceilings, was designed to dwarf city dwellers in its magnificence, but ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) members poured into the center, halting pedestrian traffic, closing ticket counters and staging a "die-in" across its marble floors.
Wherever participants looked they saw faces of people they knew. With its roots in the lesbian and gay community, four-year old ACT-UP...
— E. Haberkern
I WAS DISAPPOINTED but not surprised to see Against the Current join the Hate Week campaign against "the Serbs." What I did find shocking in your editorial of November-December 1992 ("In Defense of Bosnia," ATC 41) was the casual way in which the anti-imperialist tradition of the left was dropped.
For some inexplicable season the editorial opposed a U.S. ground invasion—which doesn't seem to be in the works anyway—while blaming the Europeans for not making a "decisive response" by...
— David Finkel
THE ISSUES RAISED in E. Haberkern's letter have become even more urgent at the beginning of 1993, as the imperialists of the United States and Europe indeed appear closer to a massive military intervention in the former Yugoslavia. The opportunity to clarify Against the Current's views on these issues, and to engage in a vitally important dialogue among socialists regarding them, is therefore a particularly welcome one.
To briefly review, our editorial opposed imperialist military intervention,...
— Ravi Malhotra, response from Stephanie Coontz
ALTHOUGH STEPHANIE COONTZ'S article "'Family Values'—For Real?" (ATC 41) thoughtfully addresses many important issues surrounding family issues which those on the left must face, as a disability rights activist I am deeply disturbed by her comment that "[poverty, decay of the urban infrastructure and 'deinstitutionalization' of the mentally ill have deprived children of safe places to play or go to school." (9)
While the impact of the first two causes is obvious, I find it distressing that...
— David Linn
I AM WRITING in part to encourage you to keep up the good work Justin Schwartz's essay Revolution and Justice" in ATC 42 was a minor masterpiece, and Cecilia Green's three-part essay on women in Caribbean slavery in ATC 4042 was a major one. I'd like to see you print more letters, so here goes one now.
In Mike Zielinski's piece on "Bill Clinton in the World" (ATC 42) he makes the curious comment that “during the 1980s, a broad movement-for the first time in U.S. radical history--went...