Against the Current 189

— The Editors
DONALD TRUMP’S SPEECH to the regional potentates and dictators assembled for the occasion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was generally acclaimed as eminently presidential, and rightly so. That is to say, it was firmly in the tradition of U.S. presidential addresses on Middle East policy: utterly cynical, dripping with deceit, and above all, irreversibly tied to the United States’ leading role as the chief arms merchant to some of the world’s most brutal regimes.
Unlike some of his...
— The Editors
ON FATEFUL THURSDAY, June 1, Donald Trump announced that “The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” setting off alarm bells and outraged protests in U.S. cities and around the world. We would suggest that under present circumstances, he chose the better — well, less bad — of the existing options.
To be absolutely clear, we are not adopting a stance of “the worse the better.” Not at all. What socialists and all environmentalists actually...
— Ansar Fayyazuddin
I WANT TO use two anecdotes to briefly illustrate the chilling yet defiance-inducing effect that Donald Trump has had on the community of scientists since he took office.
In January of this year, I attended a physics conference that happened to coincide with Trump’s launch of the first version of his Muslim ban. The announcement had an immediate and electric effect on the conference attendees.
Over and over, in lectures that had nothing to do with the ban, speakers spoke out against it. It...
— Claudette Begin
WOMEN AS LEADERS blazed the scene in a massive way with the January 21, 2017 Women’s March. A protest movement was launched, energizing new and old activists in support of so many progressive issues and implicitly against the myriad aspects of the Trump agenda. It was no accident then that a woman scientist, a woman post-doc in a university lab, spoke up on social media: “We need a march for science!”
There was such a response from scientists all over the United States that the...
— Derrick Morrison
INTOLERANCE. RACIAL INTOLERANCE. At age 21, Dylann Roof had plenty of it. The symbolic expression of his hatred was the flag of the former Confederate States of America, CSA.
Roof acted out his hatred one night in June, 2015. He killed nine African-Americans worshiping at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. His action set off a swift reaction.
Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, demanded that the Confederate flag flying on the Capitol grounds in Columbia, the state capital, be...
— Sheila Cohen and Kim Moody
WE LIVE IN a north London street which, despite its impressive 19th century architecture is peopled mainly by “council tenants” (public housing residents). This is largely due to the left-of-center politics of the local council (government), which bought up large areas of such housing in the 1970s, limiting “development” and gentrification, and preserving much of the working-class population.
Perhaps as a result Labour MP Emily Thornberry, a strong supporter of Jeremy...
— Hilary Goodfriend
THE U.S. AGENCY for International Development (USAID) frames its work in El Salvador in the sterile, technocratic language of neoliberalism. The Agency is devoted to fostering “prosperity, security and good governance” in the small Central American nation. Notions of non-partisanship and apolitical, post-ideological action are key to this discourse.(1)
“When I see the concern and the actions of Salvadorans from all sectors of society, who regardless of their political...
— Au Loong-yu
Au Loong Yu is a longtime activist based in Hong Kong. He is the author of the book China Rise: Strength and Fragility. The Chinese original of this article has been posted on the Borderless Movement, Hong Kong and it was distributed on May Day. The English translation is by Bai Ruixue.
BY “CHINA’S ANCIENT Labor Party” I am referring to Mozi and his group. Although his group disappeared entirely from history at the latest during the end of the Warring State period (475-221 BC),...
THE FACTORY PRODUCING shoes for Ivanka Trump’s brand has come under scrutiny for exploitative workplace practices, and for the arrest and disappearance of three labor rights activists who were investigating the place for China Labor Watch. The following information is taken from a report written by Zheping Huang, posted May 31, 2017 on the Quartz Media website ( A June 7 report aired on “Democracy Now” is online at...
— Malik Miah
DETROIT FOR MUCH of the 20th century was a center of Black intellectual radicalism and militant agitation against white racism. From the days of the Marcus Garvey nationalist movement in the early decades of the century, to Malcolm X, revolutionary autoworkers and the Black Power movement in the 1960s, Detroit was front and center in debates on strategy and tactics to win Black freedom.
African Americans did not practice quiet acceptance of the status quo. Many even turned to socialist ideas....
— Kim D. Hunter interviews Melba Joyce Boyd
For Against the Current’s discussion of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit rebellion, poet and cultural activist Kim L. Hunter interviewed Melba Joyce Boyd, Distinguished Professor in African American Studies at Wayne State University. Boyd She is an award-winning author of 13 books, nine of which are poetry. Her activism in a struggle against police abuse is referenced by Heather Ann Thompson in Whose Detroit? (Cornell University Press, 2004), 150.
Against the Current: Let’s...
— Danielle L. McGuire
Danielle L. McGuire is an associate professor of history at Wayne State University and author of the award-winning book At the Dark End of the Street, a study of the struggle against the rape of Black women in the 1940s South that brought together the key figures, including Rosa Parks, who would spearhead the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. The following account is abridged from an anthology, Detroit 1967, just published by Wayne State Press. McGuire has uncovered material that hadn’t...
— Dianne Feeley
COMPARING DETROIT TODAY to Motown half a century ago, we find a resource-strapped city with about two-fifths of its peak population (now estimated at around 670,000). Eighty-two percent is African American, 12% white and 6% Latino. In 1967 Blacks were 38% of the residents and made approximately three-quarters the wage of white workers; today wages have slipped to half of what a white earns.
Then official unemployment stood at 6.2%; now it is 8.4%. However the rate of participation in the work...
— Patrick M. Quinn
Reform or Repression:
Organizing America’s Anti-Union Movement
By Chad Pearson
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016, 312 pages, $55 cloth.
THE FINAL TWO decades of the 19th century, beginning with the great strike wave of 1877, and the first two decades of the 20th century were a period of intense class combat in the United States. The industrial working class struggled with the financial and industrial employing class in a bitterly fought battle that established an initial...
— Marian Swerdlow
Educational Justice:
Teaching and Organizing against the Corporate Juggernaut
By Howard Ryan
Monthly Review Press, 2016, 287 pages, $19.55 paperback.
IN HIS INTRODUCTION to Educational Justice: Teaching and Organizing against the Corporate Juggernaut, Howard Ryan states that he and his coauthors “offer theory, strategy and organizing case studies to inform and inspire those who are working to rebuild public education and put an end to the corporate occupation of our schools.” This is...
— Luke Pretz
The Ways of the World
By David Harvey
Oxford University Press, 2016, 384 pages,
$27.95 hardcover, forthcoming paperback $19.95.
DAVID HARVEY’S THE Ways of The World is an excellent collection of essays from an academic who has contributed significantly to Marxist theory and its popularization. Harvey is the acclaimed author of many works on geography, capitalism and politics, among the best-known of which is A Companion to Marx’s Capital (Verso, 2010).
The Ways of the World works on...
— Kit Adam Wainer
Shifting Sands:
The Unraveling of the Old Order in the Middle East
Raja Shehadeh and Penny Johnson, editors
Olive Branch Press, 2016, Northampton, MA, 261 pages, $17.95 paperback.
RAJA SHEHADEH AND Penny Johnson have made a valuable contribution with a collection of brief and easy-to-read essays. These outline some of the main contours of the Arab Spring and place modern events in historical context.
The authors, who live in Ramallah in the West Bank, are deeply involved in the struggles of...
— Anne Namatsi Lutomia
Securing the Base:
Making Africa Visible in the Globe
By Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Seagull Books, 2015, distributed by University of Chicago Press, 130 pages, $25 cloth.
THE ESSAYS IN Securing the Base are united by a concern for the place of Africa in the world today. The iconic Kenyan writer and former political prisoner Ngugi wa Thiong’o maintains that any discussion of the continent must take into account the depths from which Africa has emerged.
From the struggle against the odds posed...
— Tom Junes
Seeing Through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution:
Solidarity and the Struggle against Communism in Poland
By Jack Bloom
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2014, 428 pages, $28 paperback.
IN 1980, HUNDREDS of thousands of workers challenged the foundations of the communist regime in Poland and won the right to form an independent self-governing trade union. It was an unseen first in the Soviet bloc, and these events played their part in precipitating the demise of communism in Poland and elsewhere in the...
— Peter Solenberger
October 1917:
Workers in Power
Fred Leplat and Alex de Jong, editors
London: Resistance Books, IIRE and Merlin Press, 2016, 256 pages, $23 paperback.
THIS YEAR IS THE centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. In February 1917, by the Russian calendar of the time, workers in Petrograd, starting with women textile workers, began a series of strikes and demonstrations demanding bread, peace and freedom.
The Petrograd garrison came over to their side, the Czar abdicated, and the revolution spread...