Against the Current, No. 224, May/June 2023

Desperate Journeys. Sick System!

— The Editors

Central American asylum seekers deported from El Paso to Mexico, March 2021.

THE CONVERGING CATASTROPHES of global capitalism have landed on multiple communities, peoples and nations — but nowhere harder than on displaced populations, refugees and asylum seekers. There are by now an estimated 100 million people globally who have fled their homelands or become internally displaced by war, political repression or ethnic violence; by environmental destruction or economic collapse; or in many cases, by lethal combinations of these modern plagues....

Peripheries of Chinese Imperialism: Belt & Road Initiative in Jamaica

— Robert Connell

Maroon community and visitors celebrate in Accompong, 2017. Robert Connell

SINCE ITS FOUNDING in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructural development project of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that stands as a major plank of its diplomacy, has been at the center of debates about the Chinese government’s political orientation and intentions.(1)

For socialists, these debates cut to the heart of the class nature of the Chinese state and its implication....

From ATC authors and friends

The Normandale Park Shooting

— Kristian Williams

Police Lies Facilitate Racist Violence(1)

Photo: Oregon Public Broadcasting

BENJAMIN SMITH IS going to die in prison. On April 18, Benjamin Smith was given a life sentence after pleading guilty to murder, attempted murder, and assault following his shooting of a group of unarmed women in Portland's Normandale Park. Every indication is that the February 2022 attack — ...

Organize Popular Safety Committees

— Iranian Teachers Coordinating Council

Parents in Zanjan guard the local school from attack.

AT THE HEIGHT of the street presence the Iranian Teachers Coordinating Council held rallies and marches in more than 30 cities. The statement's full title is Urgency of organizing popular safety committees to defend students against chemical attacks, through human chain protection around the schools....

Hollywood, NY WGA Strike: “There Is No Industry Without Writers”

— Malik Miah

HOLLYWOOD FILM AND TV writers went on strike on May 1 demanding a living wage and job security. Writers Guild of America (WGA) picket signs went up outside major studios and shut down late-night TV shows, forcing the industry to run previously taped programs..../p>

The French Political Crisis Continues

— Suzi Weissman interviews Sebastian Budgen

France, Paris, April 6, 2023. The demonstrator's sign reads "Let s kick the king of the jerks off his throne." 11th inter-union demonstration against pension reform. Photograph by Martin Noda / Hans Lucas

ON MAY DAY 2023, France will explode in demonstrations against the authoritarianism of the Macron government and its undemocratic passage of a bill that raises the work life of the majority of French people by two years. Here is a edited version of an April 5, 2023 interview from Jacobin Radio that provides an overview and analysis of the current political crisis, with Suzi Weissman interviewing Sebastian Budgen. In France, President Macron has imposed a deeply unpopular pension reform by resorting to Article 49.3....

Harry Belafonte -- A Life of Fighting Racism and Oppression

— Malik Miah

A Hollywood photo of the young Harry Belafonte.

“Young people need to be more rebellious.” --Harry Belafonte

THE REMARKABLE AND outstanding Harry Belafonte died on April 25 in his New York City home at the age of 96. He lived a full life as a political activist for civil and human rights, and was known by millions as a popular singer, actor and creative entertainer.

In the 1950s no one, Black or white, was more known and with greater impact that Harry Belafonte. He set the path for other African Americans in the acting and film industry who used his fame and funds to support civil rights and the struggle for racial justice....

"Cop City" Must Be Shut Down!

— Malik Miah

Tortuguita, forest protector shot dead by Atlanta police. Tennessee IWW

WHAT IS ATLANTA’S “Cop City”? Why are people protesting?

Protests began in 2021 when the city announced plans to open Cop City – officially called the Public Safety Training Center (PSTC).

The large police training center, to be constructed on forest land owned by the city, has garnered national attention from Democratic and Republican supporters of “fighting crime” by giving police more weapons and powers. The Biden Administration is behind hiring tens of thousands of cops with little community oversight....

Israel in Turmoil: Why and What Next?

— Suzi Weissman interviews Yoav Peled

Yoav Peled

THIS INTERVIEW WITH Yoav Peled was conducted April 5, 2023 by Suzi Weissman for Jacobin Radio, broadcast on KPFK radio in Los Angeles. It has been edited for publication here. As protests and polarization continue, updates on the evolving Israeli political crisis and events in Israel-Palestine are available at the valuable online publication +972.

Suzi Weissman: Half of Israel took to the streets, shutting down their workplaces on Monday, March 27....

Conflict in Sudan: "Life-and-death battle"

— Dina Ezzat interviews Gilbert Achcar

ON DAY NINE of the conflict that has erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Gilbert Achcar, a close observer of the political and military challenges that have come the way of the Arab world for over a decade, reflects on a battle that he believes was inevitable due to the dual nature of military power in Sudan.

A professor of International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies....

Martial Terror in the Neocolony: Plight of Philippine Women Political Prisoners

— E. San Juan, Jr.

IN HIS CLASSIC "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte," Karl Marx amends Hegel's quip on history repeating itself, first as tragedy and then as farce (1986 97). With the former Philippine dictator Marcos's son in office, will farcical acts be the spectacle for the next six years? Imagine the sons of Somoza, Trujillo or Batista returning to their banana republics -- that would indeed be "the tradition of all the dead generations" acting as toxic "nightmare on the brain of the living."

The oldest U.S. neocolony, the Philippines, was then plundered....

Brandon Johnson Defeats Political Establishment in Chicago

— Robert Bartlett

IN IN STUNNING rebuke to the political establishment in Chicago and around the country, Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, former teacher, and organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union defeated conservative, alleged “lifelong Democrat” Paul Vallas. Johnson was endorsed by the United Working Families Party of Chicago.

While the final results won’t be known until all the mail in ballots are counted, it is likely that Johnson’s margin of 51% to 49% for Vallas will likely...

The Statement of Minimum Demands of Independent Iranian Unions and Civil Society Organizations

Woman, Life, Freedom

Twenty independent organizations and unions of Iranian teachers, workers, women, students and retirees have issued the following statement of minimum demands

To the Honorable and Open-Minded People of Iran:

On the forty fourth anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the economic, political and social foundation of the country is shaken by a vortex of crises and disintegration. Thus, it is not possible to imagine a clear and achievable perspective for ending this situation within the framework of the current political superstructure. Thus, the oppressed people of Iran, freedom and equality-seeking women and youth have been giving their lives with unprecedented courage to turn the streets....

Behind "100% Preventable” Rail Disaster: Anti-worker Deregulation, Corporate greed

— Malik Miah

IN THE SMALL town of East Palestine, Ohio, the catastrophic February 3 rail derailment highlights failures of safety regulations, indifference to residents, and anti-labor bias against those who do the work.

Initially the media reported it as an accidental derailment, which happens on average every other day, and was not a health risk. But townspeople....

Davos 2023 Showed Us A Ruling Class Incapable of Resolving Global Crises

— William I. Robinson

World Economic Forum -- masters of the globe, but not in control.

THE TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATE and political elite were back in Davos, Switzerland, from January 16-20 for their annual conclave amid the most severe crisis of global capitalism since the founding of the World Economic Forum half a century ago. In earlier years, participants in the exclusive gathering jet-setted into the Swiss resort town exuding confidence in the hegemony of global capitalism. But this time around, uncertainty over their ability to manage the crisis, maintain control, restabilize global capitalism and rebuild fractured....

Michigan Appellate Courts Curb Death in Prison Sentences for Minors

— Efrén Paredes, Jr.

Michigan State Capitol, Lansing, Michigan.

A DECADE AFTER the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentences for justice-involved children under age 18 ("juvenile lifers"), Michigan appellate courts are course-correcting years of arbitrary sentencing outcomes which have been an affront to the rule of law.

LWOP sentences are often referred to as a "death in prison" or "death by incarceration" sentences because a person who receives the extreme punishment is condemned to die in prison unless her/his sentence is commuted by the Governor, which is unlikely to occur in most cases.

Against Multipolar Imperialism: Toward Socialist Multipolarity

— Promise Li

Multipolar Imperialism

AS THE LATE Samir Amin wrote in 2006, “the challenges with which the construction of a real multipolar world is confronted are more serious than many ‘alterglobalists’ think.” Sixteen years later, Amin’s call for nations to “delink” from the Western-led economic order appears more ignored by state elites in the global South now than ever before....

Student Days in Iran

— Yassamine Mather

Women's strike at Al-Zahra University.

THE THREE DAYS of protests announced by Iranian university students early in December to mark Student Day was a clever choice. They knew it was not going to be supported by royalists. Student Day commemorates three leftwing students, Ahmad Ghandchi, Shariat-Razavi and Bozorg-Nia,...

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