In this issue, we shift our focus toward domestic concerns, though we also look abroad with anxiety and trepidation.
The American political system, so highly polarized between conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats, has experienced in the last year some interesting changes on the left-hand margin of the national political scene.
Universalism and Health Care in the Twenty-first Century
The Affordable Care Act commentariat—including those confidently awaiting the day when all its promises are vindicated, those rooting for its ignominious demise, and those of us in a separate camp—have been kept occupied in recent months. Between autumn’s website drama and winter’s enrollment saga, the news cycle has been full of stories of IT dysfunctions tackled, right-wing challenges thwarted, enrollment goals met, electoral prospects threatened, and individuals newly insured (or variously dissatisfied).
Democracy, Social Justice, Mobilization
Across the United States, we are in the midst of a great struggle over the nation’s education system. On one side is a bipartisan effort to privatize schools and undermine the promise of public education. Opposing that effort are large numbers of parents and teachers.
A Memoir and Reflection on Badass Boffo Revolutionary Feminist Music
In Chicagoland, in 1970, almost every teenage girl listened to rock. They considered it their music—hormonal, quasi-outlaw, with screaming guitars and a heavy, driving beat. But it was sooo misogynist! This wasn’t the Beatles’ playful woman-affectionate songs.
We’re here and we’re not going away
On February 7, 2014, I sat down with Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) in Atlanta, to talk about the organization’s history and achievements, as well as to reflect on the political role of Latino immigrants in the United States today.
Foreign Policy in the Obama Era
The moral collapse of the Obama administration on so many fronts—Guantanamo, Palestine, drone warfare atrocities, mass electronic surveillance and brutal prosecution of whistleblowers, presidential-ordered assassinations, and so much more—has rightly drawn shock and outrage from the peace and global justice movements. Indeed, this presidency has been a civil and human rights travesty both domestically and globally. Alongside our horror, however, must be a clear material and political assessment of the underlying strategic purpose of this administration.
The crisis in Ukraine has raised grave problems for the people of that country, significant dangers for world peace, and many contending views on the left. Here we offer three articles that we think help us make sense of what’s going on, by Joanne Landy, Kevin B. Anderson, and Sean Larson.
Is There a Way Out?
The governments of the United States and Russia are attempting to shape events in Ukraine in their own interests, not for the benefit of the Ukrainian people. Ukrainians have long suffered from domination by Moscow, under the Russian czars and later in the Soviet Union, most horrifically under Stalin. With the end of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, millions hoped for freedom and a new beginning.
Ukraine constitutes a test not only for democratic movements, or the unevenly matched imperialisms of the U.S./EU and Russia, but also for the global left. As with other “difficult” moments like the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, Iran 2009, or the Libyan uprising, our support for democracy and human rights has in some quarters come into conflict with the long held stance that neoliberal capitalism, led by the United States, is the main danger confronting humanity.
Ukrainian capitalism today is distinguished by the most fortified oligarchy of the post-Soviet states. Politics in Ukraine have been subject to volatile lurches over the last decade, driven by the direct involvement of masses of Ukrainians. Meanwhile, shaping the economic, political, and ideological aspects of society and daily life in Ukraine is a ubiquitous inter-imperialist competition between Russia on the one side and the United States and the European Union on the other.
[Ed. note: This essay by James Kilgore was the winner of the Daniel Singer Prize for 2013. Kilgore lived in South Africa from 1991-2002. During that time he was a fugitive from U.S. justice living under the pseudonym “John Pape.” He worked as an educator and researcher for unions and social movements. In 2002 he was arrested on the streets of Cape Town, then extradited to the United States where he served six and a half years in prison. In July 2012 he returned to South Africa for the first time since his arrest. Here he presents his reflections on the journey.]
Scholars have sometimes noted that Argentinian history seems unusually punctuated by periods of booming prosperity followed by dramatic collapse.
One of the most important issues in world politics today is China’s rise as a great imperialist power. Most left-wing writers consider China either as a “socialist country,” a “deformed workers’ state,” or as a “dependent capitalist country” exploited by Western monopolies.
Right-wing militias killed Rosa Luxemburg and dumped her dead body into the Landwehr Canal after the Spartacus uprising in Berlin. Social democrats and communists finished off her intellectual and political legacy by putting her on their respective pedestals. She became a principal witness against Bolshevik organizing practices for the former and was praised as a co-founder of the German Communist Party and a revolutionary martyr by the latter.
Doug Ireland, radical journalist, blogger, passionate human rights and queer activist, and relentless scourge of the LGBT establishment, died in his East Village home on Oct. 26. Doug had lived with chronic pain for many years, suffering from diabetes, kidney disease, sciatica, and the debilitating effects of childhood polio. In recent years he was so ill that he was virtually confined to his apartment. Towards the end, even writing, his calling, had become extremely difficult.
The gifted political cartoonist Phil Evans passed away earlier this year in the seaside town of Hastings, England. He was 68.
Inequality is the theme of our time. It should perhaps be said that it has always been so. But after the surge of globalization since the 1990s, the decreasing fortunes of the middle class, and the more recent shock of the 2008 financial crisis, it has come more sharply into focus. It is within this context that Thomas Piketty has published Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a book that is exhaustively researched and brimming with empirical data and interpretation.
Sit-ins at lunch counters by black students began in Greensboro, North Carolina, on February 1, 1960. Blacks had traditionally not been served there or anywhere in the South at that time. Within a week the sit-ins spread to Durham and Winston-Salem. Eleven of the first sit-ins were within 100 miles of Greensboro. After many arrests, and assaults by white hoodlums, on July 25 all Greensboro stores targeted by the sit-ins agreed to serve blacks on an equal basis.
The mainstream media was never true to its pretension of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable—which was Gilded Age humorist Finley Peter Dunne’s point—but there were exceptions, and exceptional practices. “Accountability reporting,” or investigative reporting, is one of them.
The labor- and third-party movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been studied and written about extensively by academics and writers on the left. Most readers of this journal are probably familiar with much of this material. This book, however, is of particular interest today for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the author concentrates on the South and emphasizes the biracial nature of the movement.
For many years the dominant trend in scholarship on C.L.R. James has been to emphasize his cultural and literary writings. Arguably the most popular way to frame his legacy has been to situate him as a forerunner to cultural studies, post-colonial studies, and identity politics. Grant Farred, for example, has criticized “earlier modes of James studies” that addressed “debates that occupied sectarian James scholars” and welcomed “the centrality of cultural studies within James scholarship,” while Brett St. Louis has argued that the “march of identity politics and post-modernism” is “irresistible,” and that James’s work is of value precisely because it “grapples with a proto-post-marxist problematic.”
Blogs & On-Line Features
[October 24, 2014] Public outrage over the police murders of six people and forced disappearances of 43 students from the Atoytzinapa rural teachers’ college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero continued to snowball this week.
Shock, Horror, Anger at Killing of 5, Disappearance of 43 in Mexico; Protests, Marches, Strikes, Gov't Buildings Burned
Throughout Mexico there is continued shock, horror, indignation, and anger at the police killing of 5 and wounding of 17 other students, and above all at the disappearance of 43 students on the night of September 26 and the early morning of September 27. For almost a month now protests peaceful and violent involving tens of thousands have rippled across Mexico, as students, teachers, and other citizens demand that the missing students be returned alive, though some evidence suggests they may already be dead.
The following article by Adolph Reed, Jr. responds to an article that appeared on the New Politics website a week ago. Sadly, since then we have learned that Karen Lewis has been afflicted with brain cancer. We offer our sympathy to her, her family, and her friends and wish for her rapid and full recovery.
The whole world is just watching the forthcoming massacre in Kobane. US-led air strikes seem to be made only for show. When ISIS approached the oil-rich Erbil, the Kurdish Regional Government’s capital, the U.S.-led coalition forces immediately took action against ISIS. However they didn’t do the same for Kobane.
Moral Mondays has been established in Indiana. At a founding meeting in Indianapolis in mid-September, the organization adopted a “five-point agenda” similar to those of Moral Mondays movements in other states:
According to the latest predictions of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if the Ebola pandemic continues to progress at the current rhythm, it could affect 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone between now and January 2015, leading to the deaths of 700,000 in a year, and thus making Ebola the third leading cause of death from infectious diseases in Africa, after AIDS and respiratory diseases.
After Sunday night, when many people feared that there might be a crackdown on the protests after following several pleas for protesters to leave the sites and the government’s warning that civil servants must be able to return to work the next day, this week the protests have nevertheless continued.
The article by Scott Jay that follows was published on our website several days before the public learned that Karen Lewis was suffering from brain cancer. We are sorry to hear of her illness and offer our sympathy to her and to her family and friends. We leave the article on our website as a matter of public record and because the political issues that it raises remain important, even though she has now decided not to run for mayor. We wish Ms.Lewis a rapid and full recovery. – Editors
Where have all the occupiers gone? We have scattered, enmeshed in an economic system we loathe, faced with the dismal realities of the prolonged "Great Recession" and a jobless recovery that only benefits the ruling class. With our future prospects bleak and our hopes for creating a more just economy diffused, we are left with only our collective will, experience, and values.
Largely downplayed in the U.S. media, ground-shaking events are rattling Mexico. On one key front, Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced October 3 the Pena Nieto administration’s acceptance of many of the demands issued by striking students of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). IPN Director Yoloxichitl Bustamante, whose ouster had been demanded by the students, handed in her resignation.
Long after retiring as a professor of social work at Bridgewater State, Betty Reid Mandell kept putting her teachings into practice in her 80s by lending assistance to the homeless who were seeking help from the state Department of Transitional Assistance.
When she stopped by to volunteer, she recalled in an essay, the homeless section of Boston’s welfare offices reminded her of the front line in an endless conflict.
Today [October 3] Hong Kong’s rule of law and basic human rights were totally violated. In Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Tsim Tsa Tsui fascist thugs and gangs to different extents attacked the peaceful occupiers, resulting in hundreds of injuries. We condemn this most severely. A variety of circumstantial evidence points to the conclusion that Beijing is the biggest suspect behind these thugs and gangs.
The following is a report from an on-the-ground source in Hong Kong. - Editors
The government is mobilizing its mafia extensively. Since noon, the government has started mobilizing gangsters to provoke the public. It is hard to imagine that the government is lining up with the mafia but it now happens during the CY Leung’s administration. This is something expected and no need to be shocked about it.
Looking at the current situation, the government hopes to shift Occupy Central with Love and Peace into a massive riot and make the Hong Kong public angry with the protesters.
Occupy Central--What’s Next for the Hong-Kong Democracy Movement? A Brief Observation on the Current Movement
(An earlier version was translated by Bai Ruixue, but since then the Chinese version had been revised and partially translated by the author.)
Monday 29th September 2014/Occupy Central Day 3 - Occupy central continues to grow by leaps and bounds.