Against the Current 183

— The Editors
THE “POLITICAL REVOLUTION” proclaimed by Bernie Sanders refuses to fold its tents in the wake of the Democratic primary season. Although Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee, Sanders and his movement promise to carry the fight to the Philadelphia convention, and beyond — in some form (or several) still very much remaining to be determined. We’ve solicited several perspectives in this issue of Against the Current which appear in the section on...
— Malik Miah
“I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong...no Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
EVERYONE HAS A story about Muhammad Ali. For me it was as a young high school student in Detroit. I had already seen the wrongs of imperialism and its wars, and of course the racism Blacks faced in Detroit.
Ali as a Black man and Muslim was a powerful symbol of courage. His willingness to give up his boxing career to stand with the Vietnamese against the U.S. government reflected the stirrings of...
— David Finkel
DOMESTIC TERROR AND hate crimes in the United States are as old as the country. That’s what mass killings of Native Americans and lynching of Black people have been all about. Immigrant communities, labor organizers and of course gay, lesbian and transgender people have been targeted.
In today’s America, women’s health clinics, Black churches, mosques and a Jewish community center have been assaulted by terror and hate attacks. The perpetrator in almost every case is a male...
— Howie Hawkins
THE PERENNIAL DREAM on the left of a mass breakaway of progressives from the Democrats to a left third party has been stillborn since the days of Eugene Debs, who made this appeal to progressive Democrats in 1904:
“Where but to the Socialist Party can these progressive people turn? They are now without a party and the only genuine Democratic Party in the field is the Socialist Party, and every true Democrat should thank Wall Street for driving him out of a party that is democratic in name...
— Johanna Brenner
AT THIS MOMENT I find myself swinging between optimism fueled by the previously unimaginable appeal of Sanders’ “socialism,” the energized base of young people attracted to his campaign, this evidence that the neoliberal consensus is dead, and despair about the HUGE gap between this political opening and the organizational capacity of the revolutionary socialist left. Like many others, I’m asking can anything be done?
Mainstream forces are already organizing to pivot...
— Traven Serge
THIS IS AN extraordinary time as we could be at a turning point in American political life. Bernie Sanders is receiving mass support for the message of Occupy — the 99% versus the 1%. He has used his candidacy to popularize key radical demands: $15 and a union, an end to mass incarceration, universal healthcare, free public higher education, legalizing millions of immigrants, a carbon tax and banning fracking, to name a few.
Even if articulating these ideas within a social democratic...
— Neal Meyer
THE MERITS OF Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president have been debated ad nauseam. Rather than rehash this debate, those who supported Sanders’s candidacy (including myself) can better contribute to debates on electoral strategy by assessing our own work and laying out the lessons we have learned.
Supporters of Bernie Sanders wagered that his campaign would be the most important event in the development of socialist politics in decades. There is at least some evidence to suggest that...
— Robert Caldwell
THE BERNIE SANDERS campaign represents a breakthrough on the U.S. left — not because the insurgency within the Democratic Party represents any new opportunity to transform the graveyard of social movements, but primarily because the campaign has surfaced a growing desire of millions for a left program and opened a much larger space to talk about socialism, while also exposing the limitations of the Democratic Party.
The last of the Cold War mental barriers against socialism have been...
— Shahrzad Mojab
THE IMAGES ARE heart-wrenching. The numbers are extreme, the living conditions appalling. I am speaking of Syrian refugees: women, men, and children who are fleeing the fire of war to face the ravage of sea, deserts, barbed wire, border patrols, beatings, imprisonment, encampment and condemnation.
An abundance of reports with sophisticated and well-presented statistical graphs depict the enormity of this human calamity. Stories are told, music and plays are performed, photos taken, paintings...
— Noha Radwan
This Muslim American Life:
Dispatches from the War on Terror
By Moustafa Bayoumi
New York University Press, 2015, 309 pages, $19.95 paperback.
WHEN DONALD TRUMP proposed a ban on Muslim travel to the United States last December, many dismissed the proposal as absurd and untenable. Others more apprehensively saw it as a real threat, one of the new evils that would be visited upon the United States should Mr. Trump become the next president.
Moustafa Bayoumi’s This Muslim American Life tells...
— David Finkel
PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST AND Chicago community leader Rasmea Odeh is gaining ground in her struggle for a new trial, following her 2014 conviction for “unlawful procurement of naturalization.” (For some background on the case, see “The Trials of Rasmea Odeh,” http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/trialsofrasmeaodeh.)
In 2015, a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Cincinnati ruled that the exclusion of testimony at her trial about torture and post-traumatic stress she suffered...
PROFESSOR HOMA HOODFAR, a prominent Canadian-Iranian anthropologist at Concordia University in Montreal specializing in issues of reproductive rights, the role of women in politics, as well as the intersections of gender with development and public health, traveled to Iran in early 2016 for a family visit and scholarly research.
As reported by Middle East Report Online, Hoodfar “was scheduled to depart the country on March 10, but on the preceding evening Revolutionary Guards officers went...
— Michael Löwy
SINCE THE BEGINNING of the 21st cen­tury, the Left has won elections in most Latin American countries, in a powerful wave of popular rejection of the disastrous neoliberal policies of the previous regimes. One must however distinguish between two quite different sorts of left governments:
1) Social-liberal coalitions, which do not break with the fundamental “Washington Consensus” but implement several progressive social measures. The basic principle of this sort of government is...
— Mehlab Jameel
JUST THREE DAYS  before the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to legalize same sex marriage, president Obama ordered that an undocumented transgender woman be escorted out of the White House Pride celebration because she interrupted the President to raise her voice against the state-sanctioned torture and deportation of LGBT people.
 “You are in my House…you should be ashamed of yourself,” scolded the President as gay people in the audience cheered “We...
JASMINE RICHARDS, A leading Pasadena, California Black Lives Matter activist, was sentenced to 90 days jail time and three year probation following a conviction for what was called, until last year, “felony lynching” — a law written to stop lynch mobs from seizing their victims from police protection — now retitled “unlawfully removing someone from police custody.”
In an Orwellian twist worthy of the U.S. justice system, Richards was convicted for allegedly...
— Ursula McTaggart
The Good Lord Bird
By James McBride
New York: Riverhead Books, 2013.
NOVELIST AND JAZZ saxophonist James McBride earned a National Book Award for his 2013 novel The Good Lord Bird, a farcical telling of John Brown’s 1859 anti-slavery battle at Harpers Ferry. The author is acclaimed for his earlier work The Color of Water, a tribute to the community that raised him, and a newly published study of the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown.
According to the novel’s conceit, a 1966...
LEONARD PELTIER, THE Native American activist who has been imprisoned for over 40 years — even though the U.S. government admitted decades ago that it doesn’t know who killed the two federal agents for whose murder Peltier was falsely convicted — has appealed for executive clemency.
Designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International, Peltier is the highest profile American Indian prisoner incarcerated in the United States. James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on...
— Alan Wald
Fire and Blood:
The European Civil War, 1914-1945
By Enzo Traverso
Translated by David Fernbach,
London: Verso, 2016. Pages +293, $26.95 hardback.
ENZO TRAVERSO HAS pulled off the rare reconstruction of a past epoch that pulsates with electric immediacy. Fire and Blood fashions events happening seventy-five-to-one-hundred years ago to feel as lively and pertinent as political debates taking place at present. His principal topic is the hell that was the center of Europe’s two world wars...
— Allen Ruff
Cataclysm 1914 —
The First World War and the Making of Modern World Politics
edited by Alexander Anievas
Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2015, 412 pages + bibliography,
Haymarket Books edition, 2016, $36 paperback.
WITH THE CENTENARY of World War I well underway, numerous books and articles on the causes, conduct, and consequences of the “Great War” have appeared. Outstanding among them is Cataclysm 1914, the collection of new perspectives and reappraisals on the war’s...
— Brad Duncan
Amiri Baraka and the Congress of African People: History and Memory
By Michael Simanga
Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, 160 pages, $30 paperback.
Heavy Radicals:
The FBI’s Secret War on America’s Maoists: The Revolutionary Union/
Revolutionary Communist Party, 1968-1980
By Aaron J. Leonard and Conor A. Gallagher
Zero Books, 2015, 356 pages, $29.95 paperback.
THESE NEW BOOKS investigate two of the important revolutionary groups to emerge in the United States during the 1970s. Both books are...
— Cheryl Coney
Household Workers Unite
The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built A Movement
By Premilla Nadasen
Beacon Press, 2015, 220 pages + notes, $27.95 cloth.
THE EXPLOITATION OF Black labor becomes even more apparent when we study the roles of Black women and work. Premilla Nadasen focuses on women domestic workers during a period of time when between one-third and one-half of all Black women were employed as domestics. Isolated in the individual home, they could not use traditional union...
— Giselle Gerolami
The Beginning and End of Rape
By Sarah Deer
University of Minnesota Pres, 2015, 232 pages, $22.95 paperback.
THE BEGINNING AND End of Rape marks an important contribution to growing scholarship around issues of gendered violence. Sarah Deer’s contribution is unique and pathbreaking: While much has been written on legal issues surrounding rape on developing tribal law, there is virtually nothing on tribal legal response to rape.
Sarah Deer is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation. A law...
— Timothy Messer-Kruse
Author’s note: I would like to thank the editors of ATC for extending an invitation to respond to Hill’s review of my books. It is a credit to this publication that it encourages such an open and free exchange of ideas.]
LIKE SO MANY academic radicals before her, Rebecca Hill (“Messer-Kruses’s Haymarket History,” ATC 182, http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/node/4655) protects the false memory of the Haymarket martyrs against my charge that they were just what they...