Against the Current, No. 94, September/October 2001

— The Editors

USUALLY FREE TRADE agreements in the neoliberal era are negotiated behind a mask of ceremonies and implemented in the name of the people.  But since the Zapatistas announced their presence to the world on January 1, 1994—the day that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect—a new social movement has challenged the inevitability of the market.

— Rafael Bernabe

THE FEDERAL DEATH Penalty Act of 1994 provides for the application of the death penalty in a series of newly defined federal crimes.  In Puerto Rico, this law has provoked a wide debate: a discussion which combines the issue of capital punishment with questions arising from the specific colonial status of Puerto Rico.

— Ben Terrall

[The following article was written before the August 30 election to the East Timor Constituent Assembly. An accompanying article discusses some of the political parties and individuals involved in the elections.]

THOUGH THE EAST Timorese people are finally free of Indonesian military domination, their struggle to rebuild and achieve peace with justice remains daunting. Officially Washington is supportive of East Timor's emergence as the world's newest nation, but a brief overview of events since East Timor's independence vote two years ago shows that the U.S. government still prioritizes “stable” relations with resource-rich Indonesia....

— B. Skanthakumar

WITH NEW LABOUR'S victory in the British general elections ordained in the opinion polls, the challenges on its left and a new realignment on part of the Left was most of interest at home and abroad.

Collectively the left vote across England, Scotland and Wales was 2.4%, while the Greens scored 2.85% in an election where the working class and poor abstained in record numbers....

— Malik Miah
“Not In My Garden,”
a 50-minute documentary on Ramya,
a Palestinian village inside Israel, by VIDEO `48, in Arabic/Hebrew (with English subtitles); $55 Individuals, $100 Institutions and groups; Send check to P.O. Box 41199, Jaffa 61411, Israel. E-Mail:

WHILE THE INTIFADA in the occupied territories exposes the myth of Israel as a democratic and civilized society, a sample of how Israel acts towards its own Arabs (Palestinians who are citizens of Israel) is told by an alternative independent film group inside Israel, VIDEO `48, recalling the date of Israel's formation.

— Tom Bernick

AS TEAMSTERS PREPARE to cast their ballots for president of their union, they will be interested in learning how and why James P. Hoffa betrayed the Detroit Newspaper Workers.  After enduring a 19-month strike and a subsequent lockout of nearly four years, two Teamster locals were forced to accept contracts that could not have been worse.

— Stephanie Luce

Russ Davis, Executive Director of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, and Hal Leyshon, president of the Washington & Orange Central Labor Council (Vermont), were two of the organizers of the Northeast Labor Committee for Global Justice. The Committee helped mobilize unionists around the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) meetings in Quebec City in April. ATC editorial board member Stephanie Luce interviewed Davis and Leyshon. This article summarizes those interviews....

— Dianne Feeley

WHAT'S BLACK AND white and-in the words of South Carolina's Attorney General Charles Condon – “a propaganda ploy by labor union sympathizers”?

That's the June 9th demonstration -- endorsed by unions, including the national AFL-CIO, and community organizations--of 4,000-5,000 who marched on the state capital in defense of five Charleston dockworkers. The struggle to defend the Charleston 5 actually combines labor rights with community issues....

— Joel Kovel

THE ENERGY SCHEMES of the Bush administration have been greeted with derision by the liberal punditocracy and the more responsible industrial states.  Well they might: The plans are a horror, and precisely what one would expect from the "oiligarchy" that presently occupies the White House.

— Cedrick May

THE STUDENT BODY of Penn State University, often chastised for its lack of interest in substantive social and political issues, came into its own politically on Tuesday, April 24, 2001. Members of the students' Black Caucus assumed control of a university-organized unity march against hate, and forced administration officials to sit at a table and make structural changes to the way the university handles diversity issues and racism on campus....

— Elizabeth Anderson

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN higher education is in legal retreat. Courts have struck down affirmative action programs at the University of Maryland, the University of Texas, the University of Georgia, and the Boston Latin School. They have banned them in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. While courts have upheld affirmative action in California and Washington, these decisions have been rendered moot by voter referenda prohibiting affirmative action in these states.(1) Gov. Jeb Bush has abolished affirmative action in public Florida universities by executive order....

— José Palafox

WHEN JULIAN AMBROSE Malaga left his small village in Chamizal, Veracruz, Mexico, he had hopes of reaching North Carolina in order to find work. Having recently married at 24, Julian was soon expecting to be a father....

— Catherine Sameh

RU-486 PATIENT HEALTH and Safety Act. Child Custody Protection Act. Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Sound suspicious? Well, they are. As paternalistically caring as they might sound, these right-wing driven pieces of legislation are the latest attempts to restrict abortion under the George W. Bush administration and, if passed, would only serve to harm the freedom and health of women....

— R.F. Kampfer

MANY PARENTS ARE annoyed by the popularity of “freak-dancing” among today's teenagers. Of course, annoying parents is the teenagers' main purpose in life....

— Christopher McAuley

A discussion on the problem of "Eurocentrism" in theorization of capitalism and anticapitalist struggle was initiated with Ellen Meiksins Wood's esay on "Eurocentric Anti-Eurocentrism" (ATC 92, May-June 2001).  We present here a response by Christopher McAuley, author of The Mind of Oliver C. Cox, to be published by University of Notre Dame Press in 2001.  Other contributions will appear in forthcoming issues. — Editors.

— Francisco Sobrino

IN A RECENT paper, Antonino Infranca wrote:

“The U.S. embargo not only contributes to lowering the standard of living but also inhibits the development of democracy in the island. It is true that Castro is attempting to slowly open the regime to western capital and is democratizing it by allowing elections with more candidates...

— Barry Sheppard

THE COLLAPSE OF “really existing socialism” in the Soviet Union (USSR) and Eastern Europe a decade ago came as a shock to all tendencies in the workers movement and the political representatives of the capitalist class worldwide. None predicted such an outcome before 1989 -- no one alive, that is. Why was this so?...

— Tod Ensign
Home to War:
A History of the Vietnam Veteran Movement
Gerry Nicosia
(N.Y., Crown, 2001) 688 pages, $30 hardcover.

SERVICE IN THE United States military was an honorable calling before the Vietnam war deflated that robust patriotic tradition. Young men routinely volunteered or accepted being drafted, seeing an opportunity to defend what was called the “American way of life.” Veterans from the First and Second World War, as well as Korea, returned home to suffer in silence. Unless their wartime mental wounds flared into acts of violence, their injuries were seldom acknowledged....

— Norton Mezvinsky

ONE TRAGEDY OF Israel Shahak's death was that it came too soon. He was at the height of his productive capacity, a rare intellectual giant and a superior humanist.  Edward Said described him as "a very brave man who should be honored for his services to humanity."

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