Against the Current, No. 123, July/August 2006

— The Editors

VIETNAM ALL OVER again? Yes, it is. The massacres by United States military forces of unarmed civilians in Haditha and, as is finally being revealed despite official lies and coverup, numerous other Iraqi towns, are showing tens of millions of Americans what this war is, and part of what it really costs. The highest costs obviously are borne by the ordinary people of Iraq; but American society will pay for decades as well for this dirty conflict — and worse is yet to come.

— Malik Miah

THE IMMIGRATION DEBATE is exposing deep social, racial and class divisions within American society. The arguments are sharp, furious and divide many families - immigrant as well as native born.

What is happening, however, is an oversimplification of the issue. Not everyone advocating more border patrols, English-only and deportation of "illegal aliens" are racists. The Minutemen are; but most of our co-workers aren't. Confusion and anger are common when the issue becomes personal.

— Jeffery R. Webber

ON DECEMBER 18, 2005 the Movimiento al Socialismo (Movement Toward Socialism, MAS) party won an historic 54% of the popular vote in the Bolivian general elections.  MAS leader Evo Morales, an indigenous man of mixed Aymara-Quechua descent who came of age politically as a peasant union leader in the anti-imperialist cocalero (coca grower) movement of the Chapare region, became president.  MAS assumed the governance of Bolivia on January 22, 2006.

In South America's poorest country, a country where 62% of the population self-identifies as indigenous, the election of an indigenous president and a Leftist party were greeted with jubilation. Morales owed his electoral victory to near-continuous Left-indigenous mass mobilization since the Water War in Cochabamba in 2000....

— Chris Tilly and Marie Kennedy

"WE ARE FIGHTERS, but not with guns," said the man in the ski mask, one of a group of masked peasants addressing us and a dozen other visitors. "We invite all of the common people, who are of the left, who are not with the government, to join us in struggle," he continued, speaking in the Mayan Tzotzil language. "Because we know the government will never hear our word, and will never help us."

— Dan La Botz

MEXICAN POLICE ATTACKED activists and residents in the town of San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico during several days in early May, killing one, injuring scores, and jailing over 200. The police attack on Atenco followed only a little more than a week after a violent police assault on striking steelworkers in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán that left two dead and several severely injured....

— Gianpaolo Baiocchi

IN JUNE 2005, the first allegations of a rogue politician in a rightwing party in coalition with Brazil's governing Workers' Party (PT) seemed spurious enough. The politician himself, Roberto Jefferson, had a long history of allegations of corruption, and of narrowly escaping indictment in Brazil's last corruption crisis in 1993. According to celebrity magazines, he had had a makeover, including plastic surgery, before coming forward with the allegations of a "payment for votes" scheme in congress in which the ruling PT doled out a monthly allowance for sympathetic politicians in congress....

— Kale Baldock
DAVID FINKEL’S COMMENTS (ATC 122) about my book Is Iraq Another Vietnam?, and about my position against immediately withdrawing the US military from Iraq, were well-informed and fair. So were the judgments of Gilbert Achcar in his interview with Susan Weissman, though his focus was on the withdrawal issue in general and not on my essay specifically.
— Kristian Williams

"IT'S REALLY SURREAL," cartoonist Matt Wuerker observed. "It's like something out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel."

What do cartoonists on the progressive or "alternative" end of the U.S. political spectrum think of the eruption over portrayals of the prophet Mohammed, and the conflicting accusations of "blasphemy," racism and "censorship"?

— ATC Editors

PATRICIA CAMPBELL IS President of the Irish Independent Workers Union (IWU), an independent trade union and social movement in both the north and south of Ireland. She is a deputy editor of the journal Fourthwrite, founded by a group of Irish Republicans most of whom are former political prisoners from the Republican movement.

— Charles Post

THE PERSISTENCE OF reformism and outright conservatism among workers, especially in the imperialist centers of North America, Western Europe and Japan, has long confounded revolutionary socialists. The broadest outlines of Marxist theory tell us that capitalism creates it own "gravediggers" - a class of collective producers with no interest in the maintenance of private ownership of the means of production. The capitalist system's drive to maximize profits should force workers to struggle against their employers, progressively broaden their struggle and eventually overthrow the system and replace it with their democratic self-rule.

— Sakina M. Hughes
The Unknown American Revolution
The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America
Gary B. Nash
New York: Viking Penguin Group, 2005 492 pp + index. Hardcover: $27.95; paperback: $16.

GARY NASH'S THE Unknown American Revolution fully discloses its aims to propagate both historical and social lessons. Nash retells the story of the American Revolution, complicating and radicalizing its core narrative as "a people's revolution, an upheaval among the most heterogeneous people to be found anywhere along the Atlantic littoral in the eighteenth century."

— Dianne Feeley
Emancipation Betrayed
The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920
By Paul Ortiz
Berkeley: University of California Press, 200. Hardback: $27.50; paper: $16.95.

EMANCIPATION BETRAYED ATTEMPTS to fill in the historical gap between the end of Reconstruction and the post-World War I period through examining Black organizing in the state of Florida. The author, Paul Ortiz, worked on oral histories for the study "Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South" at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. His research peeled back a lineage of struggle several generations long, connecting the post-World War II civil rights movement to how African Americans dealt with the reimposition of anti-Black laws following the collapse of Reconstruction:

— Kim D. Hunter
p>I WAS ATTENDING  an event to honor the scholar and Detroit activist Charles Simmons, who is recovering from cancer, when Maureen Taylor, another activist, told Simmons he should begin to pay as much attention to his own well being as he did that of others. She said when the plane in flight loses cabin pressure, you're instructed to first put the oxygen mask over your own face before you help anyone else.

Perhaps if Damu Smith had heard that advice and had a chance to heed it, he might still be with us today. As it turns out, by the time he had a seizure while on a peace mission in Palestine in March of 2005, the cancer in his body was too advanced to stop; he died May 5, 2006 at the early age of 54.