Against the Current 117

— The Editors
AMONG THE DAILY atrocities perpetrated by the Bush regime, against its own population as well as the world at large, some are well-publicized while others tend to slide beneath the radar screen.  Item: One that hasn't received as much attention as it deserves is called "asbestos reform."
— Mike Davis
"The local people whipped themselves into a mold of cruelty. Then they formed units, squads, and armed them — armed them with clubs, with gas, with guns. We own the country. We can’t let these Okies get out of hand." —John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
THE VIGILANTES ARE back. In the 1850s they lynched Irishmen in San Francisco; in the 1870s they terrorized the Chinese throughout the West; in the 1910s they murdered striking Wobblies in California, Washington and Montana; in...
— ATC Interviews Carl Webb
MILITARY RESISTER CARL Webb, 39, is Absent Without Leave from the Texas National Guard, after his service was involuntarily extended in July, 2004 through the military Stop-Loss program.  He tells his story on his website and blogspot and has been speaking out at antiwar meetings.  His explicit anti-imperialist views have made him a somewhat controversial figure within the peace movement.
— Malik Miah
PENSIONS HAVE BEEN an example of a major social wage that most Americans took for granted, both in private and public sector employment. That’s no longer the case. Ask the workers at United Air Lines.
The latest setback for pensions occurred in the airline industry with the termination of four defined benefit pension plans at Untied Airlines, the world’s second largest air carrier. The major unions at the carrier opposed the terminations, but were unable to stop a bankruptcy court...
— Julie Hurwitz
A REPORT BY Amnesty International released May 13, 2005 concluded that the treatment of detainees being held around the world, including Guantanamo, in the United States' "war on terror," as glaring and systematic violations of human rights, describing the conditions at the Guantanamo Detention Center as "the gulag of our times, entrenching the notion that people can be detained without any recourse to the law."  ("Guantánamo and Beyond: The Continuing Pursuit of Unchecked Executive...
— Susan Weissman interviews Michael Hudson
Susan Weissman, an editor of Against the Current, interviewed author Michael Hudson this past April on her program “Beneath the Surface” on radio station KPFK, Pacifica in Los Angeles. Many thanks to Walter Tanner for transcribing. The following is an abridged and edited text of the interview.
SUSAN WEISSMAN: MICHAEL Hudson, in the lead article in the April issue of Harpers magazine, says “The one sure mark of a con is the promise of free money.” Michael Hudson is a...
— Frann Michel
“BORN INTO BROTHELS” won this year’s Academy Award for best documentary. Directed by British photojournalist Zana Briski and U.S. film editor Ross Kauffman, the film follows Briski’s project of teaching photography to a group of children who live in Sonagachi — Calcutta, India’s red-light district — as well as Briski’s efforts to get these children of sex workers admitted into boarding schools.
— Cyril Mychalejko
ON JANUARY 11, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger spoke to a group of reporters in Guatemala City about ongoing protests against a World Bank mining project in the northern part of the country. He said that his government had to establish law and order. “We have to protect investors,” said Berger. (“One killed, 12 injured as protesters battle police escorting mining equipment in central Guatemala,” Associated Press, 01/11/05)
Hours later the Guatemalan military and police...
— Jeffery R. Webber
[THIS UPDATE WAS written June 7, 2005 by Jeffery R. Webber, a PhD Candidate in political science at the University of Toronto and a member of the Canadian New Socialist Group currently living in Bolivia.]
PRESIDENT CARLOS MESA Gisbert appeared on television at 9:30pm Monday, June 6, 2005 to address the nation with his latest dramatic gesture of resigning.
— Dan La Botz
THE MEXICAN PEOPLE won a battle for democracy this past spring when massive demonstrations — the largest in Mexico’s tumultuous history — prevented President Vicente Fox from making Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador ineligible to run for president in 2006. The defeat of Fox on this issue was a victory for the Mayor, but above all for the Mexican people, who defended their right to vote for a candidate of their choice in the coming national elections.
— Honor Ford-Smith and D. Alissa Trotz
IN 2004, SHORTLY after the coup in Haiti in which President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was removed from office, in the year of the bicentenary of the Haitian revolution, a group of concerned Caribbean Faculty at the University of Toronto organized an emergency public meeting that was exceptionally widely attended.
Much interest was expressed in a follow up discussion, as very little information was available at that time. One year later, a slightly larger group (M. Jacqui Alexander, Honor...
— Robert Fatton, Jr.
MANY OBSERVERS IN the progressive community have argued that the forced departure into exile of Haiti’s former President, Jean Bertrand Aristide, had little to do with his own policy failures or the country’s domestic class structure. Instead they blame the international community and especially American imperialism. While there is some truth to this argument, it is ultimately flawed; it ignores Haitian agency and exaggerates the omnipotence of U.S. hegemony.
— Patrick Bellegarde-Smith
I THANK THE organizers for this event that places Haiti squarely in our consciousness where it belongs. I am grateful that Honor Ford-Smith, Jacqui Alexander and Alissa Trotz were so insistent that I attend despite my best efforts to excuse myself. A large number of campus units and off-campus organizations came together, and one knows that this is the proper way to approach our subject tonight. Men anpil, chay pa lou (many hands make the load light).
Furthermore I am humbled by the presence of...
— David McNally
IT IS A commonplace today that we have entered a “new age of imperialism.” The emergence of complex world money markets, increasingly integrated global production systems, aggressively neoliberal policies imposed by the likes of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the belligerent militarism of the American state — all these are recognized as new modalities of capitalist empire.
— Joseph Grim Feinberg
IN JUNE OF this year, the Industrial Workers of the World celebrates 100 years of existence—a glorious and terrible 100 years. The IWW experienced the state-sponsored murder of its bravest members, most famously when "Wobbly Bard" Joe Hill was executed in 1915, having been framed for murder. It lived through years of slander and repression; limped along, still proud and singing, through decades when its membership dropped ever closer toward zero; and remains, not only as a piece of...
— Alan Wald
THROUGHOUT MUCH OF the 20th century, distinguished painters and muralists were habitually adjoined to revolutionary movements, sometimes producing monumental works expressive of socialist dreams, as well as of the aims and struggles of working people and anti-fascist fighters. One thinks immediately of Spain’s Pablo Picasso (1881- 1973), Mexico’s Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), and the Russian avant-garde of the early Soviet Union.
But what of the United States?...
— Phil Hearse
¡Cochabamba! — Water War in Bolivia
Oscar Olivera
in collaboration with Tom Lewis Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2004, 189pp., $16 paper.
¡COCHABAMBA! is a window on the potential for liberation, and on the strategic challenges, of our times. Oscar Olivera, one of the key leaders of the struggle, and Tom Lewis, a member of the editorial board of International Socialist Review (U.S.), have done a tremendous service in writing...
— Mahmud Rahman
by Sorayya Khan
Islamabad: Alhamra Publishing, 2003, Penguin India, 2004.
SORAYYA KHAN OPENS her novel Noor with two epigraphs. The first page has these words from Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali: “Your history gets in the way of my memory.”
— Raghu Krishnan
Locked in Place:
State-Building and Late Industrialization in India
Vivek Chibber
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003, $39.50 cloth.
GIVEN THE DOMINANT neoliberal ideology of our times, it is assumed in most quarters that state intervention in the economies of the post-World War II era was an utter fiasco. This argument is taken as even more self-evident in the case of the countries of the capitalist periphery or “Third World.”
— Pam Galpern
A Troublemakers Handbook 2:
How to Fight Back Where You Work
edited by Jane Slaughter
Detroit, MI: Labor Notes, 2005
8-1/2 x 11 format, 372 pages, $24 paper. [Order on line at]
ACTIVISTS WHO READ the first A Troublemaker’s Handbook, published by Labor Notes in 1991, recognized themselves in the stories of courageous workers who fought to improve their workplaces and their lives. They were gratified that they were not alone, that there was a whole network of troublemakers...
— Dianne Feeley
Undivided Rights.
Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice
Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross & Elena R. Gutierrez
Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2004. $20 paper.
THE AUTHORS OF Undivided Rights attempt to provide both an overview of how women of color approach organizing around reproductive rights, case studies of those specific organizations and the work they do on the ground. Three framing chapters introduce and summarize, while the other dozen describe specific...
— Paul Le Blanc
The Party: The Socialist Workers Party, 1960-1988, a Political Memoir. Volume 1: The Sixties
Barry Sheppard
Melbourne, Australia: Resistance Books, 2005, 354 pages including indexes. Distributed in the United States by Haymarket Books, P.O. Box 180165, Chicago Il 60618 (Order from: www.haymarketbooks. org); $16 paper.
BARRY SHEPPARD’S BOOK is a sustained exercise in retrieving memories of experiences associated with left-wing radicalism prevalent in the 1960s. This is undertaken...