Against the Current 61

— The Editors
HAILING THEMSELVES AS the saviors of the principles of human rights, democracy and a multi-ethnic free Bosnia, the leaders of NATO strut before the cameras, salute each other's courage and declare that peace is at hand. Bill Clinton, grandstanding at Tuzla with U.S. troops as his cast-of-thousands prop, told them they are making history.  In their statesmanlike self-congratulation, neither Clinton nor any other leader of the Western alliance has time or breath to mention the heroes who have...
— C.J. Hawking
THREE DAYS BEFORE Christmas, 1995, there was a tragic blow to the labor movement.  The locked-out Staley workers of Decatur, Illinois brought their more than three-year battle against the multinational conglomerate, Staley/Tate and Lyle, to a close; 56% of United Paperworkers International Union (UPIU) Local 7837's membership voted to accept the company's latest contract.
— David Finkel
SIX-AND-A-half months into the Detroit newspaper strike, conventional wisdom tends to regard the battle between the six unions and the Detroit Newspaper Agency (DNA) as a bloody draw.
A reasonable enough assessment, but only with an essential caveat: Ultimately, a draw goes to the company....
— Mia Butzbaugh
"THE STRIKE'S LIKE a bomb with a long fuse," Air France worker Michel Bousquet explained the second week into the work stoppage. "Each time [Prime Minister] Jupp<130> makes a concession, it's like he's cutting off part of the already burnt fuse. It's too late. And as we get closer to the `bomb,' it becomes more dangerous, the demands higher."
The "bomb," of course, didn't go off in France this fall. It was not, I was reminded more times than necessary, May-June of 1968. Yet as a child of...
— John Vandermeer
A YOUNG STREET musician in Havana clarified something for me. After telling me he was trying to get a visa to go to the United States, I asked him how many of his generation wanted to leave Cuba. He said probably about 90%. I asked him when he stopped supporting the Revolution. "But I support the Revolution," he answered. My next question was obvious, "How many of your generation support the Revolution?" I asked. "Probably about 90%," he replied....
— Milton Fisk
THE STEPS CUBA made over the past year in the direction of a market impressed me during two recent return visits there as already having made a big difference in daily life. Whether the new measures will be for the overall good can't be determined yet.
Many people have access to more goods. But marketization is inevitably leading to new inequalities. And so far it is going ahead without any hint of a political opening....
— Peter Downs
BERNADETTE DEVLIN McALISKEY, known internationally as the leading civil rights activist in Northern Ireland for the last twenty-five years, conducted a ten-city U.S. tour last October.
Born in Cookstown, County Tyrone in 1947, McAliskey emerged in 1968 as a leader of the Civil Rights Campaign. In April, 1969, she was elected to British Parliament. Four months later she was sentenced to six months in prison for helping to defend Derry's Bogside neighborhood against a three-day assault by the...
— Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
THE IRISH FREE State was not founded on the principles for which the War of Independence was fought. The Irish are the only white European people whose common experience in history is as a colored people, as oppressed. Their struggle is part of the historic struggle of oppressed people against the European movement that goes by the name "discovery."
They say Christopher Columbus "discovered" America. Well, it was certainly big enough for him to find . . . Actually, St. Brendan got here before...
— an interview with Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
Against The Current: You've said that the MacBride Principles campaign was modeled after the Sullivan Principles for investment in South Africa. Can you expand on that?
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey: The MacBride Principles campaign is more than a campaign on foreign investors in Northern Ireland. We have campaigns inside the country, too. I remember a campaign we had against the British store, Marks & Spencer. People would go into Marks & Spencer filling up their trolleys, and then not...
THE MACBRIDE PRINCIPLES for Northern Ireland call for employers to implement the following measures:
1) Increasing the representation of individuals from underrepresented religious groups in the workforce including managerial, supervisory, administrative, clerical and technical jobs.
2) Adequate security for the protection of minority employees both at the workplace and while traveling to and from work....
— Jim Dee
WEEKS PRIOR TO the massive IRA bomb which rocked London's Canary Wharf, an IRA volunteer in Derry told me, "If this goes back, it'll involve London." He was not happy, and in no way elished a return to war, adding: "And there'll be casualties. It's not going to be just Irish lives anymore."
The volunteer was stating the obvious. As a senior Sinn Fein member said after the bombing, "Even the birds in the trees knew that the peace was over. Everybody knew it. Gerry Adams has been trying to say it...
— Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre
IN A PASSAGE of the Grundrisse, Marx makes the following remark on the Romantic perspective:
"It is as ridiculous to yearn for a return to that original fullness as it is to believe that with this complete emptiness history has come to a standstill. The bourgeois viewpoint has never advanced beyond this antithesis between itself and this romantic viewpoint, and therefore the latter will accompany it as legitimate antithesis up to its blessed end."(1)
This passage is interesting not only because...
— Tyrone Williams
WHAT DOES RAP music as a genre have to say to and about leftist politics in general? This question might strike many as odd, if not irrelevant, since many commentators on the lyrics of rap music dismiss them out of hand as, at best, inconsequential in terms of leftist politics or, at worst, reactionary in their glorification of street violence, misogyny and money-grabbing....
— Catherine Sameh
— R.F. Kampfer
A NATURAL CONSEQUENCE of privatizing the nation's prisons would be a return to the practice of charging admission to the public to view he inmates, as is done in modern zoos. An even greater savings would result from the old Chinese practice of allowing the visitors to throw scraps of food to those prisoners they found most amusing....
— The Editors
IN OUR PREVIOUS issues (ATC 59, 60), we published the first contributions to our symposium on "Imperialism today and tomorrow." We present here further responses. Our letter soliciting participants asked them to briefly discuss whether classic theories of imperialism remain relevant and also invited responses to three specific questions:
— Catherine Samary
a) ONE MUST FIRST understand that world capitalism's "logic of accumulation" underwent a transformation starting with the 1970s--that is to say, a reversal of the long phase of expansion. Imperialism's attempt to respond to the crisis in the principal postwar mechanisms of capitalist regulation produced (or accelerated) several main factors....
— Thomas Harrison
NATO INTERVENTION HAS stopped the bloodshed in Bosnia, for the time being, but at a terrible price. The Dayton accords are a defeat for the Sarajevo government and for Bosnians' hopes for a reunited nation. They represent a victory for Milosevic and Tudjman (the presidents of Serbia and Croatia--ed.) and, of course, a public relations coup for Clinton.
U.S. leaders would have preferred the Balkan wars to end long before this with the surrender of Croatia in 1991, and then, failing that, the...
— Delia D. Aguilar
HISTORICALLY, THE MAJORITY of peripheral nations never exercised much control over the direction of their economic development, consigned as they have been to the role of supplying raw materials, mineral resources and cheap labor for core nations. But in the `90s, the restructuring of the world economic order with its increased mobility of capital and resulting global concentration of wealth has placed developing countries in an even more vulnerable position.
The process further intensifies...
— Jane Slaughter
"One thinks it's better, working for a company, because there is a quitting time."--Debora Guzm<160>n, Guatemalan maquiladora worker
AS THE RICH countries shift more and more work to factories in the Third World, the women of those countries become, officially, proletarians. As garment and electronics companies set up in Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, women with little education but with an immense capacity for hard work are becoming integrated into the mainstream of the world...
— Jane Slaughter
UNTIL RECENTLY, THE big corporations used the poor countries mostly as sources of food and raw materials; they built their main factories at home.
Luis Galicia, a staffer at the Guatemalan research institute AVANCSO, calls his country a supplier of "desserts"--bananas, coffee, sugar....
— Jane Slaughter
IN FEBRUARY 1995, maquila worker Debora Guzmán was kidnapped as she walked to the market to buy food for lunch. She was involved in an organizing drive at the L&L factory outside Guatemala City. She had been threatened before, and her husband had advised her not to go out, but, she told herself, "It's only two blocks."
"They took me to the highway, under a bridge, they covered my eyes," she remembered. "They put me in a car, they tied me up, they injected me, and I passed out."...
— an interview with Kathleen Gmeiner
KATHLEEN GMEINER, AN attorney in Detroit, is public policy coordinator of the Hunger Action Coalition and a board member of the Michigan Fair Budget Action Coalition. The views she expresses here are her own, not necessarily policy statements of either organization. She was interviewed by David Finkel of the ATC editorial board.
Against the Current: The current debate over welfare has a strong ideological component: the fight to preserve the idea that society has some obligation to help people...
— an interview with Sylvia Mitchell
SYLVIA MITCHELL IS a longtime activist and a community organizer in Portland, Oregon. She was interviewed by David Finkel for ATC.
Against the Current: What's the specific situation with federal waivers for welfare in Oregon right now?
Sylvia Mitchell: The main waiver is to allow mandated work programs....
— Amy Hanauer
Pitied But Not Entitled
by Linda Gordon
The Free Press, 1995, $15.95 paperback.
PITIED BUT NOT Entitled, Linda Gordon's exhaustive history of the passage of the 1935 Social Security Act, is thoughtful, insightful and highly relevant. As governments slash poverty relief programs at all levels and as welfare-bashing reaches an all-time high, it is instructive to take a step back and look at how the current system developed....
— Eric Chester
ONE OF THE many ironies of contemporary life in the United States is the perspective being assumed by most of the Left toward electoral politics. As living standards continue to slide into the abyss, the two-party system has begun to lose its hold over popular consciousness.
It has become common wisdom that the Democratic and Republican parties are closely tied to avaricious corporate interests and that, as a result, their debates represent a narrow spectrum of political discourse. Indeed Ross...
— Robin D. G. Kelley
MY FIRST AND only personal encounter with Chris Alston occurred in March of 1993. I had the good fortune of sharing the podium at Wayne State University to discuss the role of African Americans in the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) during the 1930s.
Meeting Mr. Alston was certainly a highlight for me. After all, given his history of community and labor activism, the historian in me felt as if I had known him my whole adult life....
— Andrea Houtman
ALMA STROWISS, A pillar of the Los Angeles Solidarity branch, died November 13, 1995 at age 60. Her long battle with cancer had never stopped her from her active political life as a socialist, which began in the late 1950s.
Alma came to socialism via an unusual path: Her father,Dr. Walter Thomas (a Ph.D in theology) was a Baptist minister in a small town church but was fired because of his homosexual orientation and because he became an atheist and a socialist....