Against the Current, No. 90, January/February 2001

— The Editors

WAS THIS A stolen election?  Absolutely: not once, not twice, but at least three times.  Did the actual outcome matter?  Yes and no. Did our side—the side for independent politics—make long-term gains?  Maybe.  We'll touch on these questions, and one more: In the end, whose votes were wasted?

— Malik Miah

GEORGE W. BUSH became the 43rd president of the United States by a five-to-four vote of the U.S. Supreme Court.  But the die was cast long before the November 7 election.

— Steve Bloom

ON DECEMBER 9, the 19th anniversary of the shooting, in Philadelphia, PA, of police officer Daniel Faulkner—the act for which former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced to death—1500 people participated in a march and rally in Harlem, New York City, demanding a new trial for Mumia and his release from prison.

— Randy Christensen

THE LABOR FOR Mumia Campaign continues to gain steam since our last report for ATC readers (ATC 87). The California Federation of Labor, representing the organized labor movement in California, 1.8 million strong, has lent its support. Nancy Wohlforth, Vice-President of the Federation and National Co-Chair of Pride at Work, was part of a December 11 international labor delegation that took Mumia's fight for justice to Janet Reno's Department of Justice in Washington D.C.

— Louise Cooper

A KEY ACHIEVEMENT in the November elections was the defeat of school voucher schemes in California and Michigan.

California's Proposition 38 would have offered every child in California a $4,000 voucher to use at a private school of their choice; a more modest proposal in Michigan would have provided vouchers worth $3,300 to public school students in school districts with the highest drop-out rates. The fact that both were defeated so resoundingly (with seventy percent voting against) may sound the death knell for other voucher schemes around the country, as well as other efforts designed to pave the way for privatization of our public schools.

— Peter Olson

MORE THAN 10,000 people assembled at the gates of the Fort Benning military base in Georgia on November 19th as part of an ongoing campaign to shut down the notorious U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA).

— Stephanie Luce

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, a few hundred service workers in Santa Cruz, California won a raise. Workers who work for the city or for private sector firms who perform city services will now be eligible for $11 per hour plus health benefits or $12 per hour without benefits.

This is the latest victory in the living wage movement, a grassroots campaign spreading across the country. Activists are getting their city councils and county boards to pass ordinances requiring firms that do business with the local government -- those who get service contracts or receive economic subsidies, for example -- to pay their employees a higher wage.

— Patrick Bond

ON DECEMBER 5, slightly less than half of South Africa's registered electorate went to the polls, and Thabo Mbeki's ruling African National Congress (ANC) emerged with just under sixty percent support -- down from the two-thirds received in the 1994 and 1999 national elections -- and control of all major cities aside from Cape Town.

— Hunter Gray

WE MOVED TO Pocatello, Idaho three years ago. And there are certainly some mighty friendly people hereabouts.  But from the very moment we first arrived, we've been subjected to bizarre harassment—coming obviously from Federal, state, local "lawmen" and vigilante types, and just as obviously stemming from my traditionally Left Native rights/civil rights/labor affiliations and beliefs and history and contemporary activities.

— Walt Contreras Sheasby

“Without a reconstruction of our democracy in order to ensure facilities for informed civic participation to all citizens, no ambitious program of political and economic change will succeed. --Ralph Nader (1993)

RALPH NADER HAS a complex relationship with the historical currents of change before World War I (populism, socialism and progressivism), but it may be his relationship to the Communism of the mid-twentieth century that has shaped his view of reform. Nader readily accepted the prevailing view that the Soviet regime exemplified the definition of socialism, that is, a concentration of bureaucratic power based on government ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution.

— Catherine Sameh

YES, WE'RE WORRIED: With George W. Bush in the White House and a reactionary-activist Supreme Court, pro-choice activists are deeply alarmed.

Bush has signed eighteen anti-reproductive rights provisions as governor of Texas, and been quoted as saying “I will do everything in my power to restrict abortions.”

— R.F. Kampfer

EVEN IF NADER were elected president, the multi-national corporations would be reluctant to give up their dictatorial power. That's when we bring out the rifles.

— Sidney J. Gluck

WORKING PEOPLE AROUND the world are “natural” allies against a common dominant class from seven major capitalist countries which has until now shaped the destiny of the people in 128 developing countries. The twenty one small developed countries and twenty eight in transition are constrained to deal with the pressure of foreign capital on their own internal development. Hence 77.7% of the population in developing countries are harnessed by the financial class from countries with 11.6% of the world's population. Transitional and minor countries comprising 10.8% of the world population are yet to find full freedom. (China is among the developing countries in these statistics.)

— Melba Joyce Boyd

POETRY IS PROBABLY the most mysterious of all the art forms in American culture. In the service of cultural memory, it penetrates and reveals humanity's deepest yearnings and contradictions. Likewise, for African American culture, this service is especially significant because of its close ties to the struggle for freedom and equality.

In keeping with this tradition, Dudley Randall played an instrumental role as a poet, and made an historic and indelible imprint in libraries as the founder of Broadside Press in 1965, during the Black Arts Movement. On August 5, 2000 Randall expired at the age of 86 in Providence Hospital from congestive heart failure.

— Tyrone Williams

FOR THOSE OF us mourning Gwendolyn Brooks' death, her career appears to encapsulate, if not exemplify, the vexed relationship between aesthetics and ethics, an argument older than Plato's Republic.

— Grant Farred

Rummaging amongst those old quotations the threads that connect up with the burning question of the present time. --Leon Trotsky, Permanent Revolution

C.L.R. JAMES' PROCLAMATION in Beyond A Boundary (1963, a classic study of cricket and colonialism --ed.), after almost three decades of radical intellectual work, that “Thackeray, not Marx, bears the heaviest responsibility for me,”(1) is a sententious political statement. It abounds with meanings, standing at once as an alluring paradox and a striking truism.

— Betsy Esch

Airplanes don't fly, tanks don't run, ships don't sail, missiles don't fire unless the sons and daughters of Americans make them do it. It's just that simple.
—General Norman Schwarzkopf, West Point, 1991

— Peter Drucker

FEBRUARY 28, 1991. Thinking that weeks of war and antiwar organizing were still ahead (not my only mistake during those months!), I took a Canadian vacation at the end of February 1991 with my lover Christopher. On the morning of February 28 I got up in Vancouver in the friend's house where we were staying and went to collect the Globe and Mail from the front stoop.

— Gerard Greenfield

LAST AUGUST 25 the NAFTA Tribunal for the case of Metalclad Corp vs. Mexico ruled in favor of Metalclad, ordering the Mexican government to pay US$16.7 million in compensation.  It is the first ruling in an investor-to-state lawsuit under NAFTA.

— Martin Hart-Landsberg

CAPITALISM IN MANY ways is like the mythical hydra of Greek legend, a gigantic serpent with multiple heads, the center one being immortal; every time an attacker chopped off one of its outer heads, two others grew in its place. It was killed by Heracles, with the assistance of his charioteer Iolaus. As Heracles chopped off a head, Iolaus would burn its neck cavity to keep new heads from growing. Eventually they were able to reach the center head and sever it from the body.

— Tariq Ali; David Finkel

DANIEL SINGER, A close friend of Against the Current and longtime European correspondent for The Nation, died December 2, 2000.