Against the Current, No. 135, July/August 2008

— The Editors

THE ISSUES IN the 2008 election ought to be clear to everyone by now:  Rev. Jeremiah Wright. John McCain’s medical dossier. Obama leaving Trinity United Church of Christ. Will Bill and Hillary Clinton sabotage the Obama campaign? Will she force herself onto the Obama ticket? Will the religious right come around to McCain after all?...

— Malik Miah

NOW THAT ILLINOIS Senator Barack Obama has become the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, what does it say about U.S. civil society? What stance should progressives and socialists take?

When Obama crossed that 2118-delegate threshold with the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota, all African Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents and socialists — understood the meaning of a son of a African immigrant from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, to get this far in American politics. Martin Luther King, Jr., may have had a “Dream” that it could happen, but few believed it could occur in the lifetime of those who marched in Selma....

— Nomi Prins

DESPITE RECENT CNBC and MSNBC media hosts suggesting we may be at the ‘bottom’ of the housing market crisis, and Market Watch June 3rd commentary headlines like “Housing market may turn more quickly than you expect,” statistics continue to say otherwise, in sobering fashion.

— Jack Rasmus

IN EARLY APRIL 2008 the general consensus was that the U.S. economy had clearly fallen into recession. A long list of key economic indicators from November 2007 through March 2008 were all flashing red — from retail sales, job loss, business and consumer confidence and spending to industrial production and other prime indicators....

— Michael A. McCarthy

WHEN BARACK OBAMA raised the specter of race in a March 18 speech that went far beyond what one would expect from the Democratic Party, some of us on the left were hopeful. Since the 1970s, race-speech in presidential campaigns has been increasingly buried in coded language like, “welfare moms,” “inner-city,” “street crime,” “states’ rights” and so on. We all welcomed a shift away from such discourse. By dealing a bit more squarely with the issue, the speech had the potential to ignite a national debate that could grapple with the “racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years,” as Obama put it....

— Cole Wehrle

IT’S HARD TO imagine that only a year ago the privatization of a public university would emerge as a major political issue in Bloomington, Indiana. That is not to say the topic took the community by surprise. As early as 1994, the Indiana University’s Board of Trustees formed various tasks forces to evaluate the university’s potential for privatization....

— George Fish

THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS’ new Lucas Oil Dome portends to be exorbitant for the taxpayers of Marion County, where Indianapolis is situated. But the cost is genteelly hidden, so the taxpayers are liable to overlook what this new Dome is going to cost them. This is the new Dome the Colts’ owning Irsay family insisted had to be built for them by public funds, or else they’d leave as they formerly abandoned Baltimore.

— The Editors

THE STRIKE AT American Axle, which we reported on in ATC 134, ended when workers voted to go back under a concessionary agreement. The 25% who voted no didn’t feel they were close to winning but they said they couldn’t look themselves in the mirror if they voted yes. Yet the strike idled nearly three dozen assembly plants and put enormous pressure on GM. The UAW did not develop a longterm relationship with the union at the AAM plant in Mexico. All during the strike that plant produced 6,000 axles a day, thus enabling GM to keep some production going.<.../p>

— Lesley Gill

IN A SURPRISE move in the early morning of May 13th, Colombian President Álvaro Uríbe announced the extradition of fourteen top paramilitary leaders to the United States, where they are charged with cocaine trafficking and money laundering. His move has provoked an outcry from victims’ and human rights groups, who fear that the extraditions will undercut efforts to hold the paramilitaries accountable for massacres, disappearances, torture, extra-judicial executions, and the displacement of thousands of people in Colombia....

— Jared Abbott

IN THEIR SEPTEMBER-October 2006 Against the Current (ATC 124) article “The Real Life Side of Coke,” Camilo Romero and Leslie Gill documented the growing movement of students and labor organizations that developed as a response to calls for international solidarity by victims of torture and intimidation at Coke bottling plants in Colombia starting in the 1990s. Joe Zacune wrote in the same issue about a movement of communities in India fighting to preserve their water and their health from a series of infractions on Coke’s part....

— Paul LeBlanc

[The first of this two-part personal account appeared in our previous issue. Paul Le Blanc is the author of Marx, Lenin and the Revolutionary Experience (Routledge, 2006) and other books on left and U.S. labor history. He is currently active in the Anti-War Committee of the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh. In this essay, the author traces the transition from the implosion of the Communist Party-dominated “Old Left” after 1956 to the birth and then crisis of the New Left of the 1960s. — The editors]....

— Paul LeBlanc

A SMALL VOLUME could be produced listing the books dealing with the times I have written about here. I will offer only a couple dozen....

— Jeffery R. Webber
Socialist Register 2008:
Global Flashpoints, Reactions
to Imperialism and Neoliberalism
Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, editors
Monthly Review Press, 2007, 364 pages, $25 paper.

“AT LEAST 10 Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Sunday by Israeli fire,” today’s New York Times reports as I write this review, “bringing the number of Palestinians killed since Wednesday… to more than 100.”(1) One Palestinian in Gaza laments, “There is an attack every five or ten minutes....

— Jeffery R. Webber

AUTONOMIST RIGHT-WING forces in the Bolivian department (state) of Santa Cruz — acting through the offices of the prefecture (governorship) and Santa Cruz Civic Committee — held an illegal May 4 rerendum on departmental autonomy. According to the consulting agency Captura Consulting the “yes” side won 85% of the votes cast, with 15% against. However, many organizations within the left-indigenous bloc of the department had called for a boycott of the referendum, and were successful in obtaining an abstention rate of over 40%....

— Traven Leyshon
U.S. Labor in Trouble and Transition:
The Failure of Reform
from Above, The Promise
of Revival from Below
By Kim Moody
Verso, 2007, 290 pages,
$29.95 paper.
Ramparts of Resistance:
How Workers Lost Their Power and How to Get it Back
By Sheila Cohen
Pluto Press, 2006, 240 pages,
Distributed through University of Michigan, $29.95 paper.

IN U.S. LABOR in Trouble and Transition, Kim Moody focuses on why the organized labor movement went into decline and points to potential signs of revival....

— Chloe Tribich
Opa Nobody
By Sonya Huber
University of Nebraska Press, 2008,
280 pages, $24.95 hardcover.

IN OPA NOBODY, Sonya Huber — an activist struggling to reconcile her politics with the demands of human relationships and the realities of contemporary U.S. life — undertakes an ambitious task: the political nonfiction novel....

— Angela E. Hubler
Transformations: Feminist Pathways to Global Change,
an Analytical Anthology
Edited by Torry Dickinson and Robert Schaeffer
Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008, 286 pages,
$33.11 paper.

IN THE CONCLUDING chapter of this innovative and insightful anthology, Torry Dickinson and Robert Schaeffer argue that “A key development for both theory and politics has been that the intersection of different global hierarchies has led to the rise of global, intersecting social movements....

— Gary Kinsman

AN INSPIRING AND broad-ranging queer historian, Allan Bérubé died at the age of 61 on December 11, 2007. He left us with major contributions of exciting historical work, but also important unfinished work that needs to be continued....

— Jane Slaughter and David Finkel

ELISSA KARG CHACKER, a longtime member of Solidarity and previously the International Socialists (IS) in Detroit, died Sunday, May 11 from injuries suffered in an accident a week earlier. Riding her bicycle home after a Solidarity meeting, she was struck by a car and never regained consciousness. Her daughters Sasha and Nina stayed with her in the hospital, where many comrades and friends maintained a vigil throughout the week....