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
Pain and anger at the police killing of Michael Brown became transformed into protests that swept across America just before Thanksgiving. Thousands of people in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, and tens of thousands in cities throughout the country reacted with indignation, anger and in Ferguson with violent protests after the grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
We at New Politics were saddened to learn and are very sorry to have to inform our readers that our good friend and writer Özlem Ilyas Tolunay, 39, died on Nov. 16 of a heart attack. We are heartsick that this young woman, a fighter for social justice in Turkey, wife and mother of a young child, is no longer with us.
Dear Friend of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,
Rasmea Odeh, a 67-year-old Palestinian-American, associate director of the Arab American Action Network and organizer of the acclaimed Arab Women’s Committee in Chicago, was convicted in Detroit on November 10 of “unlawful procurement of naturalization” at the time she became a U.S. citizen in 2004.
Her imprisonment immediately afterward has been the most shocking part of the case, as explained below.
Review of The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Workers’ Movement,
An extended interview with Joseph Daher, a member of the Revolutionary Left Current in Syria, living in Switzerland, will be published in the forthcoming Winter 2015 issue of New Politics. Here we just post the questions dealing with Kobanê and Turkey.
If any group of United States citizens can claim a mandate in the midterm elections than it must be the millions of eligible voters who abstained from voting. It is a common excuse when discussing U.S. midterm elections to argue that voters do not participate in the numbers that accompany elections in a presidential election year. However, blaming the low 2014 election turn-out on a historical trend is incomplete and deceptive.
Global Capitalism and Pathogenic Environments: Is palm oil monoculture responsible for the ongoing Ebola outbreak?
The Ebola pandemic, which has already caused the death of more than 5000 people in West Africa, could kill more than 90,000 people, just in the Liberian county of Montserrado, between now and 15 December, if measures taken in the affected regions are not massively increased over the next few days.[i]
Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party (PT) won Brazil’s presidential election on October 26, meaning that when her term ends her party will have held the nation’s top office for a remarkable sixteen years, longer than any party in Brazilian history. Rousseff began as part of an armed revolutionary guerrilla organization during the dictatorship from 1964-1985, then helped found the Democratic Workers Party (PDT), and only joined the PT in 2001.
The failure of President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party to lead a fight for many of the major social issues on which he had campaigned—jobs and wages, African Americans’ civil rights, immigration, labor union power, and the environment—led to a sweeping victory for the Republican Party and a crushing defeat for the Democrats in the midterm election.
In what many outside of the territory are referring to as the Rojava Revolution, a major shift in political philosophy and political programmatics has taken place in Kurdistan. Yet, this shift is not limited to the region of Rojava, or what many call Syrian or Western Kurdistan – a region where the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has taken an active part in this change. In “Turkish,” or rather Northern Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has been the foremost leader.
Once again the Workers’ Party (PT) found itself in the difficult position of having to defend its government’s sorry record on issues such as the economy, corruption and energy policies, all while fending off right-wing opposition candidates. Fortunately for the PT and its incumbent president and presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff, their adversaries at the national level never managed to assemble a political program that differentiated itself from the PT’s.
THE ISSUE OF growing inequalities of income and wealth in the advanced capitalist world over the past four decades has been the subject of both social scientific research and political struggle. On the one hand, there is an extensive literature that amply documents the growth of inequality globally since the mid-1970s.
BOOKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY:
The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg:
Volume I: Economic Writings 1