Against the Current No. 214, September/October 2021

Facing the Long J6 Riot

— The Editors

TRUMP’S JANUARY 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol didn’t begin on that day, of course. It was prepared by the outgoing president’s feverish “stolen election” lies and bumbling lawsuits and cultish rightwing and social media disinformation in which a sizable sector of the Republican voting base has ensconced itself in a reality-free parallel ideological....

Hindu Exceptionalism and COVID-19

— Mona Bhan and Purnima Bose

Faces of India's crisis" Farmers continue their long protest strikes against the Modi government's "free market" laws.

A YEAR AGO our article on “Authoritarianism and Lockdown Time: Coronavirus, Occupied Kashmir, and India” (ATC 207) analyzed the temporal dimensions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s [BJP] responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. We reflected on the juxtaposition of the “compression of time,” enacted through Modi’s four-hour notice that India would be....

From ATC authors and friends

Twenty Years of the War on Terror

— Sudip Bhattacharya

With the War on Terror in its twentieth year, thrust back into the public discourse with the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Linda Sarsour, prominent Palestinian American activist and thinker, one of the national co-founders of the Women’s March (the largest single day protest in U.S. history), expressed what has been the core experience over the last two decades, “Unfortunately, we’ve been sitting around for twenty years, watching people who look like us, who pray like us, die.”...

Biden Claims "Success" While Resistance Grows inside Afghanistan

— Malik Miah

Afghani women assert their rights under the Taliban regime.

United States president Joe Biden declared the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan a “success” in a defiant White House address on September 1:

“As we close 20 years of war and strife and pain and sacrifice, it’s time to look at the future, not the past,” Biden said....

Wood Theft

— Michael Principe

The Dispossessed:
Karl Marx’s Debates on Wood Theft
and the Right of the Poor
By Daniel Bensaïd
Translated by Robert Nichols
University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis &
London, 2021, 160 pages, $25 paperback.

IN THIS RATHER unusual volume edited by Robert Nichols, we find his translations of Bensaïd’s 2007 title essay, as well as new translations of Marx’s five 1842 Die Rheinische Zeitung articles on wood theft, from which Bensaïd draws. Nichols also provides a substantial introduction in which he calls this collection an ‘experiment’ representing ‘a deliberately asynchronic juxtaposition.’...

Kevin Floyd’s Foundational Queer Marxism: A Tribute

— Peter Drucker

AGAINST THE CURRENT advisory editor Peter Drucker, the author of Warped: Gay Normality and Queer Anticapitalism, is one of a handful of scholars who have in recent years developed the field of queer Marxism. Another pioneer of queer Marxism, Kevin Floyd, died tragically in 2019. This year the Marxist Literary Group honored Kevin Floyd’s legacy with a special issue of its journal Mediations, including this tribute by Peter Drucker.”

MARXISTS WORKING IN queer studies have gradually been building a body of theory during the first decades of the 21st century....

Who Is Steven Donziger, Why Is He Unjustly Persecuted & Why Should We Care?

— Cliff Conner

WE SHOULD CARE, first of all, because the principle of “an injury to one is an injury to all” demands it of us. But there is much, much more to the Donziger case than the victimization of a single courageous individual. It should be thought of as a compound or multilevel injustice, with its outrageousness compounding at every level.

The first level—the underlying injustice in the Donziger case—is of the greatest social significance imaginable. It is the Chevron oil company’s decades-long environmental destruction of 1,700 square miles of the Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador. The deadly consequences of that ecological devastation for the Indigenous....

"I don't want candies in Hell": A 20-year look at violence against women

— Mary Ellsberg

Developed by Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, MN, https://www.theduluthmodel.org/

THIS IS THE story of groundbreaking research that changed many women’s lives in Nicaragua. Interwoven in the narration of this story are snippets from the lives of two women: its author, who led the research in 1995, and Ana Cristina, pseudonym of the woman who gave the study its title “Candies in Hell.”

The woman who sat facing me was still recognizable after more than twenty years. When I first met Ana Cristina in 1995, she was a young law student at León campus of the National Autonomous University (UNAN) and a participant in a study I led on domestic violence in Nicaragua—one....

COVID-19 Vaccine Apartheid: No One Is Safe from Big Pharma

— Jack Gerson

North American and Europe are reopening. Lockdowns have ended in many regions, masking and distancing restrictions relaxed or eliminated. Schools are returning to fully in-person learning. The European Union, to cheers from the tourism industry, has lifted its ban on travel from the United States. Indoor dining, sidewalk cafes, movie theaters and sporting events are reopening, many completely dropping pandemic protocols. The mood on the street is far more relaxed.

The arrival of effective vaccines has dramatically reduced death and hospitalization rates in countries able to carry out mass vaccination campaigns,...

End the System of Private Patents!

— CADTM International, Collective, World March of Women, TNI, Womin

For a pharmaceutical industry under popular control and a free, universal and public vaccination system.

Thanks to a huge scientific effort based on international collaboration and historic amounts of public money, humanity has been able to develop several effective vaccines against Covid-19 in less than a year.

However, this great achievement could be totally overshadowed by the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. In a situation as critical as the present, the exceptional nature of the measures...

Fighting Anti-Asian Violence Cannot Include Apologies for the Chinese State

— Promise Li

Last month’s murders of Asian women massage workers in Atlanta marked another devastating milestone in a recent wave of anti-Asian violence fueled by pandemic racism and the Trump administration’s Sinophobic rhetoric in its rivalry with China. With a hardline stance against China becoming, as one pundit quipped, one of the few major bipartisan issues left in Congress, leftists and progressives have seemingly been issued a stark ultimatum: condemn the crimes of the repressive Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the risk of fanning the flames of a “new Cold War,” or highlight US aggression against China at the expense of providing solidarity to Chinese workers and dissidents....

Friedrich Engels and Primitive Communism

— Michael Löwy

IN NOVEMBER 2020, SOCIALISTS around the world celebrated the bicentenary of the birth of Friedrich Engels. It is a mistake, often repeated, to regard Engels as a mere popularizer of Marx's ideas. Not only did he contribute, with Marx in 1844-48, to the formation of a new worldview -- the philosophy of praxis or historical materialism -- but he developed an analysis and argument on subjects that Marx did not want or could not study. One of them is the question of primitive communism -- which is not absent in Marx, especially in his unpublished “Books of Ethnography” but is much more developed in Engels' book....

Notes From the Underground

— Scott McLemee

The Man Who Lived Underground:
A Novel
By Richard Wright
Afterword by Malcolm Wright
Penguin Random House, $22.95 hardback

In the sort of coincidence that makes a columnist’s work much easier, the Library of America published Richard Wright’s The Man Who Lived Underground: A Novel on April 20 -- the same day, as it turned out, that a jury in Minneapolis convicted a police officer of murdering George Floyd last year.

It has taken almost eight decades for Wright’s book finally to appear in print. In an evaluation of the manuscript for Wright’s publisher in 1942, one reader described the opening pages of scenes of police brutality, depicted blow by blow, as “unbearable”....

Erasing People through Disinformation: Syria and the “Anti-Imperialism” of Fools

— A group of Syrian writers and solidarity activists

By December 2020, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group had documented the deaths of 387,118 people, including 116,911 "civilians." Reuters

DISREPUTABLE WRITERS ANDis outlets, often operating under the aegis of “independent journalism” with purportedly “leftwing” views, are spreading corrosive propaganda and disinformation that aims to strip Syrians of political agency

[The following Open Letter was a collaborative effort of a group of Syrian writers and intellectuals and others who stand in solidarity with them. It is signed by activists, writers, artists, and academics from Syria and 34 other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, Oceania, and South America, and appears in multiple languages: English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Greek, and Italian.]

SINCE THE BEGINNING of the Syrian uprising ten years ago, and especially since Russia intervened in Syria on behalf of Bashar al-Assad, there has been a curious and malign development: the emergence of pro-Assad allegiances....

The First Decade of the Arab Revolutionary Process

— Gilbert Achcar

TEN YEARS AGO, on 17 December 2010, a young street vendor in the town of Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia sparked a political firestorm that soon engulfed the whole country, before spreading across the entire Arabic-speaking region, in what has been known since 2011 as the “Arab Spring.”

The initial months of that “spring” were euphoric: a wave of massive protests....


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