Against the Current 188

— The Editors
DONALD TRUMP’S WAY to “drain the swamp” is evident: Put the swamp creatures in the cabinet. But one example in particular, the appointment and confirmation of Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., shows as much about the opposition as it does about Trump.
Ross is indeed a special piece of work. As reported by the Washington Post, Ross was “(d)ubbed the ‘king of bankruptcy’ for his leveraged buyouts of battered companies in the steel, coal, textile and...
— Malik Miah
“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” —Malcolm X
WE LIVE IN strange times. A white, nationalist, billionaire businessman has been elected president. His 24-member cabinet is made up primarily of wealthy white men, many former Goldman Sacks executives, that Trump’s most extreme nationalist ideologues call “New York liberals.” Trump has appointed...
— David Finkel
IT’S AMAZING TO see what 60 or so Cruise missiles (price tag $1.6 million apiece) and one $16 million 22,000-pound “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) can do for a floundering White House.
Suddenly Donald Trump’s image became so very seriously “presidential.” Overshadowed at least for the moment were the Republicans’ internal civil war over health care, infighting between the Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner power centers in the West Wing, Trump’s...
— Dianne Feeley
SURROUNDED BY CEOs and autoworkers bused in for the event, Donald Trump made it clear during his March 14th appearance in the Detroit area that he was going to get rid of a federal regulation in order to free up the industry so it could “make thousands and thousands and thousands of additional cars.” For him it was a simple decision: “If the standards threatened auto jobs, then common-sense changes could have and should have been made.”
Trump sees regulations for higher...
THE RASMEA ODEH defense campaign issued a statement on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, announcing that “Rasmea Odeh, the 69-year old Palestinian American community leader who was tortured and sexually assaulted by the Israeli military in 1969, is bringing to a close her battle to win justice from the U.S. legal system.”
The statement is online at http://justice4rasmea.org/news/2017/03/23/rasmea-accepts-plea-deal/. The following is an excerpt.
“After living in this country for over...
— Angi Becker Stevens
YOU ARE ALL here today because you realize what a vital time this is for building a feminist resistance. It is also a crucial time to build the type of truly intersectional feminist movement we need, one that speaks for the rights of all women and not just a few. And one essential way to build that movement is by moving beyond pro-choice politics which center on abortion and contraception, to a more complete picture of what full reproductive justice means.
Reproductive justice is a framework...
THE WOMEN’s MOVEMENT of the ’60s and ’70s had two different strategies around reproductive issues:
• The pro-choice movement focused on the legal battle of ending restrictions on abortion and birth control, framing these rights as a woman’s choice.
• The left of the women’s movement maintained that women’s reproductive issues didn’t stop with legalization but raised interrelated reproductive issues: access to birth control, “free abortion...
— Marc Becker
AS MUCH AS some of us would like to deny the reality, over the course of the last year or so the Latin American left has suffered irrefutable reversals of fortune. After a decade of the left’s near-hegemonic control over government structures throughout Latin America, previously discredited conservative politicians who favor a return to the capitalist neoliberal polices of privatization and austerity are staging a comeback.
The strong resurgence of a neoliberal and oligarchical right...
— John Vandermeer and Ivette Perfecto
LIKE MANY PREVIOUS revolutionary movements, the Zapatistas in Mexico have their share of conventions, encounters, protests and the like. It is not unusual to celebrate the contribution of the arts to revolutionary fervor. Yet something different, and to us unique, happened this past December 25-January 4.
Following a conference on the role of art in the revolution last year, they held a large conference on the role of science in the construction of a new society. Called ConCiencias (literally...
— Suzi Weissman
THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION of February and October 1917 opened up a new historical epoch, and was greeted with enthusiasm by workers around the world. Never before had workers come close to winning power, though many participated in political life in the Social Democratic parties of Western Europe.
Suddenly, in Russia, revolution was an actuality, not simply a hope or a threat. Victor Serge described the intoxicating power of that moment as one where “life is beginning anew, where conscious...
— Farooq Tariq
AWAMI WORKERS PARTY Workers Party Gilgit-Baltistan (GB, formerly known as the “Northern Areas” — ed.) regional leader and Federal Committee member Baba Jan is serving a lengthy term in jail. He is pictured here with AWP Hunza District party leaders (left to right) Muhammad Ramazan, Engineer Amanullah, Ikram Jamal, and Akhon Bai after appearing in a lower court in Hunza on Wednesday, March 8.
While this great son of the mountains is incarcerated for raising his voice for the...
— Kim D. Hunter
time has long passed that you could rob the fattest banks in america
and spread the money and names
of true criminals
where either would do the most good
we have lost every secret place
where the wind could relieve you of your name
where electricity does not swallow light
and gently vomit motor noise
invisible and deafening....
— Alan Wald
Franz Kafka:
Subversive Dreamer
By Michael Löwy
Translated by Inez Hedges
Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2016, 156 pages, $27.95 paperback.
FRANZ KAFKA: SUBVERSIVE Dreamer provides bracing corrections to much fuzzy thinking about the German-speaking writer Franz Kafka (1883-1924) as an anguished misfit.
In seven chapters as compact and elegant as they are erudite and engrossing, the French-Brazilian Marxist Michael Löwy delivers a crystalline appraisal of an...
— Anthony Bogues
Every Cook Can Govern:
The Life, Impact and the Works of C.L.R. James
A Worldwrite documentary
Order the DVD at www.clrjames.uk, email world.write@btconnect.com.
C.L.R. JAMES WAS a revolutionary thinker. Born at the beginning of the 20th century (1901) in the Caribbean island of Trinidad, he lived in Britain, the United States and the Caribbean. At his death in May 1989, he was widely acknowledged as one of the most important radical writers and theorists of the 20th century.
His political and...
— Dan Johnson
E.P. Thompson and the Making of the New Left:
Essays & Polemics
Edited by Cal Winslow
Monthly Review Press, 2014, 288 pages, $23 paper.
THE ENGLISH WORKING class “did not rise like the sun at an appointed time. It was present at its own making.” In frequently quoted lines from the preface to The Making of the English Working Class (1780-1832), E.P. Thompson endeavored to “rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the ‘obsolete’ hand-loom weaver, the...
— Bill V. Mullen
In Love and Struggle:
The Revolutionary Lives of James & Grace Lee Boggs
By Stephen M. Ward
University of North Carolina Press, 2016, 464 pages, $39.95 hardback.
STEPHEN M. WARD has written what is likely to be the definitive joint biography of the Detroit-based political activists and organizers, Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) and James Boggs (1919-93). Ward, an associate professor at University of Michigan, and board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community...
— Seonghee Lim
The Nature of California:
Race, Citizenship, and Farming since the Dust Bowl
By Sarah D. Wald
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016, 312 pages, $30 paperback.
SARAH D. WALD in The Nature of California examines how meanings of citizenship, labor and farming have been contested and represented in literature since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Although the “ideal images” about the farmer have changed over time, they have been closely related with claims of who deserves...
— Kim D. Hunter
Knocking the Hustle
Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics
By Lester K. Spence
Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books, revised edition 2016, xxv +164 pages. $19 paperback.
EXPLORING NEOLIBERALISM FROM commercial Hip Hop to education policy, Lester K. Spence has penned a short yet fairly comprehensive work on how the ethos of the marketplace has permeated and damaged the nation in general and the Black community in particular. In fewer than 200 pages, Knocking the Hustle leverages everything from rap...
— Matthew Clark
Len, A Lawyer in History
A Graphic Biography of Radical Attorney Leonard Weinglass
By Seth Tobocman (Author & Illustrator);
Paul Buhle & Michael Steven Smith (Editors)
AK Press, 2016, 200 pages, $19 paperback.
LEONARD WEINGLASS WAS the consummate movement lawyer. A brilliant, handsome, Yale-educated attorney who could have lived in privilege and comfort, he chose instead a humble life devoted to the movement, defending some of the great leftwing activists of his time in court against...
— Howard Brick
I’VE GONE BACK and forth on the Port Huron Statement, the 1962 foundational document of Students for a Democratic Society. Decades ago, I took the opening lines of the Statement literally (and pejoratively): “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities.”
Clearly, I thought, this was a “middle class” (petit-bourgeois) movement of intellectuals whose reformist imagination couldn’t go beyond the...
— Patrick M. Quinn
SEYMOUR KRAMER, A founding member of Solidarity, and longtime labor union activist in the San Francisco Bay area, died of complications of diabetes in Berkeley, California, on January 20, 2017 at the age of 70.
I first got to know Seymour in the mid-1960s when we were both members of the Young Socialist Alliance (the youth organization of the Socialist Workers Party) in Madison, Wisconsin, and were actively involved in the movement against the war in Vietnam. Seymour, originally from New York,...
— Mike Davis
Seymour Kramer’s longtime friend Mike Davis wrote the following tribute for the memorial meeting.
FOR SEVERAL YEARS in the 1970s Seymour and I were the smallest political party in the world. I forget whether he was Lenin and I was Trotsky; or perhaps it was Abbot and Costello; but in any event we considered ourselves to be the apostles of regroupment to the Trotskyist left.
As Seymour once said, it was “like St. Francis trying to preach to the crows.” But as thankless as our...
— Dianne Feeley
BORN IN DETROIT’S working-class Poletown neighborhood on Grandy Street, Reggie McNulty grew up in a household where her parents were free thinkers. Her father worked at Ford and later at Packard; her mother cleaned homes. Although money was scarce, Reggie’s mother “could make soup out of anything that grew.” At night her father would read to her mother as she mended socks or ironed. Or they would listen to the radio. But by the time Reggie was in high school, her mother...