Against the Current 169

— The Editors
LIKE MOST OF president Obama’s pronouncements, the State of the Union reflected a signature basketball move as well as his governing method: quick head-fake left, then drive to the right. The rhetoric soars, while the poverty of its substance is obscured by the rapturous applause of the Democrats — and of course by the knowledge that the Republican alternative is a combination of racist-fueled social savagery, misogyny and fiscal lunacy. Yet the policies of the right wing and Tea...
— Malik Miah
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S STATE of the Union speech January 28 confirmed that the rulers’ war on the poor will continue with little resistance by government. Obama barely referred to the poor, and when he did so it was in the typical conservative “pull yourself up” discourse. He did mention raising the minimum wage for new federal contracts in 2015 to $10.10 (with the inclusion of people with disabilities pending).
There are some 50 million Americans living in official poverty...
— Dianne Feeley
THREE YEARS AGO Tamesha Means was rushed to Mercy Health Partners Hospital in Muskegon, Michigan after her water broke 18 weeks into her pregnancy. The hospital diagnosed a premature rupture of membranes but sent her home, saying there was nothing to be done at that stage.
The next day she returned with painful contractions, bleeding and elevated temperature. She was given two Tylenols and, after her temperature went down, sent home.
Later that night, in excruciating pain, she returned for the...
— The Editors
THE CONTROVERSY ERUPTING around the American Studies Association’s resolution for the “academic boycott of Israeli institutions” is an indicator of the growing power of the broader Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) movement in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle. Regarding the ASA’s action, the editors of Against the Current look forward to further dialogue around the complex issues raised in this article by Alan Wald....
— Alan Wald
In Memory of Edward Said (1935-2003)
IMAGINE MY SURPRISE. For decades I have passively endured ritualistic sneering about the irrelevance of nerdy scholars in ivory towers, derision at the notion that we who toil in the archives might have an impact on anything of national significance. Then, on December 16, 2013, the membership of an almost unknown and relatively petite professional organization to which I belong, the American Studies Association (ASA), ratified a convention resolution to...
— Noha Radwan
ON JANUARY 14 and 15, Egypt held a referendum on a new constitution, drafted following the ouster of president Morsi on July 3rd of last year. The constitution will replace the one promulgated previously, in 2012.
It was a foregone conclusion that, since the referendum was presented as a vote of confidence in the leadership of General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the country’s minister of defense and vice prime minister for internal security affairs, it was guaranteed to produce a wide majority...
— Lorenzo Estébanez
“I had hoped that the…moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,“Letter From A Birmingham Jail”
EVER SINCE CAPTAIN America punched-out Hitler during World War II, superhero texts promise the fantasy of invincibility and moral certitude. This promise has been...
— Johanna Brenner
IN THE 21st century, women of the working classes — employed in the formal economy, the informal economy, working in the countryside or doing unwaged labor — have entered the global political stage in an astonishing array of movements. Sparked by the capitalist war on the working class, the enclosures sweeping peasants and farmers off the land or devastating their livelihoods upon it, and the consequent crisis and intensification in patriarchal relations, these movements are...
— Kate Boyd and Cristien Storm
EVEN IF YOU’VE never been to a Race for the Cure, you can picture it…
There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times, and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you
Come on now…
“Celebration” by Kool and the Gang blasts from giant black speakers throughout the park. A sea of women wearing pink Yoplait! t-shirts drink free bottles of Honest Tea emblazoned with pink ribbons. They...
— Noha Radwan
DE FACTO: THE spectacular and significant presence of Egyptian women among the rank and file as well as the leadership of the revolutionary movement since 2011 is a fact. This is in spite of the horrific and often gender-specific forms of repression, including harassment, assault and defamation hurled against them by all agents of the counterrevolution. Just a partial roster of female organizers and spokespeople, let alone participants includes Leila Soueif, Aida Seif al-Dawla, Mona Seif, Nawara...
— Haideh Moghissi
Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here
Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism
By Karima Bennoune
New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013, 402 pages,
$27.95 hardcover.
THE POST-9/11 “war on terror,” and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, have provoked more interest in Islam. To some people Islam has come to represent the ideology of liberation from the yoke of Western imperialism; to others it is a backward and inherently violent faith targeting innocent...
— Moshé Machover
Lineages of Revolt:
Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East
By Adam Hanieh
Haymarket Books 2013 273 pages, paperback, $19.95.
This book ought to be read — or better, studied — by every socialist interested in the Middle East. On second thought, cut out the last five words; that part of the world is of vital interest to every socialist. As the author puts it in the book’s final paragraph:
“The Middle East remains a core zone of the world market, and the...
— Jan Cox
State of the World 2013:
Is Sustainability Still Possible?
WorldWatch Institute
Island Press, 2013, 441 pages, paperback, $22.
THIS COMPILATION IS the latest in the annual State of the World Series issued by the WorldWatch Institute, a widely respected environmental think tank, is also closely associated with and supported by United Nations and international governance institutions and many private foundations.
Those facts underlie both the strength and the weakness of WorldWatch Institute...
— Sam Friedman
Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism
By Peter Hudis
Brill, 2012: Historical Materialism Book Series.
Haymarket Books, 2013,$28 paperback.
PETER HUDIS HAS written a valuable analysis of what Marx said on a critical issue. In this sense it reminds me of Hal Draper’s volumes on Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution.
Hudis’s subject matter differs from Draper’s in that it deals with what comes after the revolution, rather than with how we get there. It also...
— Kim D. Hunter
WHO DOESN’T LOVE the narrative of a life that proves what we believe? The recent passing of Nelson Mandela gave us all a chance to celebrate one such life. The life of the recently passed Amiri Baraka is a little more complicated.
 Baraka created monumental work in a variety of genres — essays, theater and fiction. But he could also pack a room full of people who wanted to hear poetry, arguably the least popular and most neglected form of literature. He both assailed and...
— Ravi Malhotra
DISABILITY RIGHTS ADVOCATE Marta Russell died in mid-December 2013 in Los Angeles, a few days short of her 62nd birthday. A working-class journalist and frequent commentator about issues affecting disabled people as well as a film industry worker for many years, Russell was best known for her landmark and pioneering 1998 book, Beyond Ramps: Disability at the end of the Social Contract (Common Courage Press), which was reissued in 2002.
She was also a frequent contributor to both the left press...