Against the Current, No. 104, May/June 2003

— The Editors

AFTER "SHOCK AND awe" failed, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" became a meatgrinder war, a kind of blitzcreep as mile by mile, town by town, Iraq's absurdly overmatched military was systematically ground to bits, and many of its people in the process.

— Shana Griffin and Brice White

THIRTY-ONE YEARS in solitary confinement would be enough to drive many of us to despair. Yet as of April 17, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 have each spent the last thirty-one years inside a six by nine foot cell, for nearly 24 hours a day, in various segregation units of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

— Henry A. Giroux

UNDER THE REIGN of neoliberal capitalism and its most devout missionary, George W. Bush, mainstream national politics has been largely narrowed to the related, though important, concerns of terrorism, globalization and war.

Even as the Bush Administration makes inflated claims about economic growth, the gap between the rich and the poor increases, environmental safeguards are dismantled, the incarceration of African Americans and Hispanic men reaches record numbers, child services are slashed, millions lose their jobs.

— Jeanette Heinrichs

ON MARCH 8, 2003, the International Women's Day caravan left the offices of GABRIELA -- the self-described militant women's alliance of the Philippines. We ailed through the streets of Quezon City, a long trailer draped in purple -- the signature color of GABRIELA -- and many jeepneys, decorated with fluttering lavender GABRIELA flags.

Several GABRIELA members, including the singing group Sining Lila (purple culture), who were dressed in black blouses and tie-dyed pants of various colors, sat on stage while their recorded music blared from the huge speakers on either side of the stage.

— R.F. Kampfer

WHAT LESSON HAS Boy George taught the world? “He that hath no nuke, let him sell his cloak and buy a nuke.”

Dubya secretly enjoys the fact that the world considers him a cowboy. The problem is that he sees himself as Gary Cooper in “High Noon” and they see him as Jack Palance in “Shane.”

— Malik Miah

One of the contradictions of the peace/antiwar movement to date is the following: The main ethnic group that opposed the U.S. war on Iraq was largely invisible in the protest marches and rallies.

— Mumia Abu-Jamal

I believe that armies and navies are at bottom the tinsel and braggadocio of oppression and wrong, and I believe that the wicked conquest of weaker and darker nations by nations whiter and stronger but foreshadows the death of that strength . . . -- W.E.B. DuBois, Darkwater (1920)

BY THE TIME this is read, the flames of Baghdad may be cold; the bombing may have faded into memory.

— Charlie Post

Most of us who have been organizing against the war the past few months understand what this war is about. When we chant "No Blood for Oil" we reject the Bush administration's claims that the war is about "weapons of mass destruction" or "democratizing" Iraq. We know that this war is about the control of the oil resources of the Middle East-about establishing US imperialist domination of the region. We are clear that US corporations with close links to the Bush administration, like Halliburton, will reap huge economic benefits of this war. These corporations will make billions of dollars rebuilding and retooling the Iraqi oil fields, while other corporations look forward to large profits pumping, transporting and refining Iraqi oil-much of which is destined for consumption by European corporations. What is not clear is actual impact the war and occupation of Iraq will have on the US economy as a whole. While some US corporations may do quite well, the war and occupation may further undermine overall profitability and accumulation in the US and the rest of the capitalist world.

— Gilbert Achcar


I don't think that the disappointment that you've felt at the news of the Iraqi regime's collapse is warranted.

— Uri Avnery

GEORGE W. BUSH'S “Road Map to Middle East Peace” could have been an important document, IF:

IF all the parties really wanted to achieve a fair compromise.

IF Sharon and Co. were really prepared to give back the occupied territories and dismantle the settlements.

IF the Americans were willing to exert serious pressure on Israel.

— Ella Habiba Shohat

WHEN ISSUES OF racial and colonial discourse are discussed in the United States, people of Middle Eastern and North African origin are often excluded. This piece is written with the intent of opening up the multicultural debate, going beyond the U.S. census's simplistic categorization of Middle Eastern peoples as “whites.”

— Christopher Phelps

MAY 10, 2003--TONIGHT this war appears to be all but finished, and the regime of Saddam Hussein to have collapsed. These are unequivocally good things. All here can and should rejoice in them.

— Francisco T. Sobrino

IT IS TOO early at this writing (February 4, 2003) to definitely characterize the victory of the Workers Party (PT) candidate Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva in presidential polls in the biggest Latin American country, population 175 million, and the world's ninth-largest economy.

This electoral triumph reflected a longing for changes in Brazilian society, exhausted by a whole decade of neoliberal experiences, with 52 million people living below the “poverty line.” On its face, then, it may be considered a major defeat of neoliberalism. Voting for Lula, for millions of Brazilians, held a deeply symbolic charge.

— James Cockcroft

[The first part of this report from Argentina appeared in our previous issue (ATC 103), focusing on factory takeovers spear headed by women textile workers. James Cockcroft, the author of many books on Latin America, spent two weeks in Argentina late last year, as a guest of the Popular University of Mothers of May Plaza, lecturing on the challenge of imperialism to Latin America.]

THE NUMBER OF hard-core committed activists, always a minority, seems to be holding steady, if not increasing, while demands are becoming more inclusive and revolutionary.

— Bettina Ng'weno

ON MAY 1, 2002, during a fight for control of the Afro-Colombian fishing village of Bellavista (located on the Middle Atrato River in the municipality of Bojayá) the leftist guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) launched a bomb at the far-right paramilitary group, the Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá (ACCU), who had holed up around the catholic church of St. Paul the Apostle.

— Paula Rabinowitz
Radical Hollywood:
The Untold Story Behind America's Favorite Movies
Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner
New York: The New Press, 2002), $28.95
A Very Dangerous Citizen:
Abraham Lincoln Polonsky and The Hollywood Left
Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), $27.50.

WIDELY ADMIRED FOR his multifaceted publications about the history of United States radicalism, Paul Buhle has also long been an important advocate for taking popular culture seriously. Along with co-author Dave Wagner, a journalist and film critic and friend from grad school, he has combined these two abiding interests to unveil the secret story of the Hollywood Left during the 1930s, 1940s and Cold War years.

— Dan La Botz

Democracy on Hold: The Freedom of Union Association and Protection Contracts in Mexico, Maria Xelhuantizi-Lopez (Washington, D.C.: Communications Workers of America/ CWA, 2002), 128 (8x11) pages, end notes. Order free copy at

MARIA XELHUANTIZI-LOPEZ'S DEMOCRACY on Hold represents one of the most important contributions to the study of the Mexican labor movement in the last several years.

— Matthew Quest
Covington Hall, Labor Struggles
in the Deep South & Other Writings
Edited and Introduced by David R. Roediger
Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1999, $14 paper.

ARGUING FOR MULTI-RACIAL labor meetings under Jim Crow in 1912, a daring partisan tells Southern workers they need to get over their attitudes of being the cream of the human race as they were fast becoming known as the “White Chinese.”

— Susan Weissman

ALEX BUCHMAN, THE last survivor of Trotsky's American guards at Coyoacn, died on January 7, 2003. Although he was 91, he died before his time. Alex was not in ill health, but slipped and fell during a rainstorm and fractured his hip. He made it through the surgery, but his heart gave out a week later.

— Ellen Meiksins Wood

IF ANY GROUP of Marxist intellectuals has ever transformed a whole discipline, its influence reaching far beyond the theoretical and political boundaries of Marxism, it's the British Communist Party Historians Group.

Founded in 1946, this remarkable group included, among other supremely talented historians, Christopher Hill, Maurice Dobb, Rodney Hilton, Eric Hobsbawm, Victor Kiernan, George Rude, Edward and Dorothy Thompson, and Dona Torr. There aren't many of them left -- though Hobsbawm, Saville, and Dorothy Thompson are still active -- and it's hard to imagine that we'll ever see their like again.