Against the Current, No. 84, January/February 2000

— The Editors

TWO MONSTROUS EVENTS have opened a window on a daily reality: In the name of safe streets and schools, an undeclared war has been opened on a generation of African-American children.  In affluent suburban Oakland County, Michigan, a nearly all-white jury convicteda 13-year-old youth of second-degree murder, tried as an adult in a shooting that occurred when he was 11 years of age. In Decatur, Illinois, seven Black students were expelled from high school by a nearly all-white school board, against the opposition of the only Black member, for a brawl in the stands at a football game.

— Susan Weissman interviews Dana Frank, Leone Hankey and Lisa Fithian

THE EXPLOSIVE SIGNIFICANCE of the mobilization against the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle has altered the terms of the "free trade" debate.  We present here brief edited excerpts from a discussion broadcast on KPFK-FM in Los Angeles, on the program "Beneath the Surface" hosted by Suzi Weissman, December 13, 1999.

Dana Frank teaches American Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz, and is the author of Buy American, The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism, just published by Beacon Press, a critical analysis of protectionist movements.  Leone Hankey is coordinator of the Southern California Fair Trade Network.  Lisa Fithian, a veteran of civil disobedience and a Direct Action trainer for the Seattle protests, was arrested there and jailed for five days. She has also worked for Justice for Janitors in LA.

— Catherine Sameh

WHAT'S FEMINISM GOT to do with it?

The well-organized and publicized political protests at the WTO meetings in November have inspired activists from a wide array of movements hungry for precisely the kind of multi-issue organizing and solidarity that blossomed in Seattle.

While much has been made of the labor and environmental bridging, little has been reported of any feminist presence at the protests. But if any issue is a feminist issue, it's free trade.

— Susan Weissman
THE NEAR-GENOCIDAL WAR that Russia's Putin-Yeltsin government is waging in Chechnya is cynical on many counts. Some might compare it to U.S. efforts to end the “Vietnam syndrome” by engaging in small wars certain of victory without U.S. casualties.
— Scholars for Democracy and Socialism

THE RECENT BARBARIC explosions [at apartment buildings in major Russian cities], which caused hundreds of deaths amongst Russian citizens, were used by the authorities to resume a campaign of searching for "entire enemies" and, exploiting our grief, to hide the real perpetrators....

— Henry Phillips

ON JUNE 4, 1300 Teamster meatpackers shut down the Iowa Beef Processors (IBP) plant in Wallula, Washington in the largest wildcat strike in the United States in decades. Fed up with low wages and unsafe working conditions, immigrant workers from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Vietnam, Laos and Bosnia united against the world's largest processor of meat and pork products.

As strike leader Maria Martinez told the New York Times, “Enough is enough is something that you can understand in any language.”

— An Interview with Claire Cohen
Here we speak with Dr. Claire Cohen, a veteran of African-American community organizing in Pittsburgh, PA and an activist in Citizens for Police Accountability. ATC has spoken with her on previous occasions, most recently in our January-February 1997 issue, where she discussed the origins of CPA in the light of the police murders of Johnny Gammage (October 1995) and Maneia Bey (Thanksgiving 1994).
— Malik Miah

THE DIALOGUE ON race and nationality in the United States has always been conducted from the standpoint of the dominant racial group—whites.  Not surprisingly, President Clinton's commission on race produced very little to overcome racism, something that would require facing up to the reality of centuries of white supremacy.

— Mark Higbee

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 by Taylor Branch (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988) 1062 pages, $16 paperback. Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 by Taylor Branch (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998) 746 pages, $17 paperback.

— Kim Hunter
Kim Hunter is a Detroit-based poet.
— Alan Wald
This essay will appear in two parts, the second of which will be published in our May-June 2000 issue (ATC 86).

The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936 by Mark Solomon (Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1998) 403 pages, $17 paperback.

— Clarence Lang
Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957 by Penny M. Von Eschen.  Cornell University Press, 1997 189 pp.+ notes and index.  $17.95 paperback.

This is a revised version of a review published in ATC 84 (January-February 2000).  Clarence Lang is a graduate student in history at the University of Illinois and a member of the St. Louis Organizing Committee of the Black Radical Congress.  For technical reasons we are unable to include the endnotes here. Write to AGAINST THE CURRENT if you'd like to receive them.

— Betsy Esch

Detroit: I Do Mind Dying A Study in Urban Revolution by Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin (Boston: South End Press, 1998) $18 paperback.

— Paul Ortiz

Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s by Gerald Horne (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1995) Carter G. Woodson Institute Series in Black Studies, $16.95 paperback.

— Sheila Cohen

A Short History of the U.S. Working Class: From Colonial Times to the Twenty-first Century by Paul Le Blanc (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, Revolutionary Studies, 1999) $17.95 paperback.

— Bill Smaldone
European Socialists Respond to Fascism: Ideology, Activism and Contingency in the 1930s by Gerd-Rainer Horn (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996) $49.95 hardcover.
— Michael Löwy and Terry Murphy

TERRY MURPHY'S GENEROUS and insightful review of my book The War of Gods: “Religion and Politics in Latin America” (ATC 80, May-June 1999) raises many interesting critical questions. Let me try to deal at least with some of them.

On the methodological level: I did not claim in my book Paysages de la Verité (1985) that “the attempt to extend the scientific method to the investigation of society is fundamentally flawed,” and I do not propose “a...

— Paul Flewers
BARUCH HIRSON, VETERAN South African revolutionary, died October 3 after a long illness. Baruch was born in South Africa to a Jewish family which had emigrated from Latvia. He joined the Hashomer Hatzair, a left-wing Zionist youth movement, in 1940, and subsequently joined the Trotskyist movement, to which he adhered, albeit in a critical manner, until his death.