Against the Current No. 212, May/June 2021
Biden: "Empire Is Back"...
— The Editors
Conviction on All Three Counts in Chauvin Trial, Bail Revoked
— Malik Miah
Bravery, Not Blowout
— John Logan
Egypt's Uprising and Its Fate
— Joel Beinin
- Solidarity with Myanmar Peoples
Islamophobia in Europe
— Joseph Daher
Marxism and the Modernist Poet
— Alan Wald
What Method of Organizing?
— Marian Swerdlow
- Tulsa's Buried Massacre, 1921-2021
- Solidarity with Kshama Sawant
- Urban Crisis
Detroit's Tale of Two Water Crises
— Josiah Rector
Detroit, Comeback & Austerity: State of the City
— Peter Blackmer
Bringing Malcolm to Life
— Malik Miah
The Empire's New Forms
— Keith Gilyard
Healing Politics -- A Doctor's Story
— Susan Steigerwalt
Venezuela: Things Fall Apart
— Carlos G. Torrealba M.
Danger on the Shop Floor
— Toni Gilpin
Stirring the Dust of Archives
— Noa Saunders
Shifting Identities in a Settler Land
— Listen Chen
Fictionally Comprehending Trotsky
— Paul LeBlanc
- In Memoriam
Karen Lewis, 1953-2021
— Dianne Feeley
— The Editors
NOT THAT IT ever left, of course: The United States’ vocation to rule the world is a constant fact of global life and its multiple crises. What then is the meaning of President Joe Biden’s proclamation that “America is back,” warmly greeted in many capitals and among elite opinion-makers?
Biden’s mantra is taken to mean a return from Trump’s transactional chaos and corruption to what’s called the “rule-based international order.” As to what that order means in the lives of the global majority, Nicole Aschoff has it right (“The Biden Doctrine,” Jacobin, Winter 2021):
“In promising to reconstruct a close approximation of the Obama-era global order, Biden is promising to restore a violent, rapacious system that had increasingly lost its legitimacy....
— 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,...
— Josiah Rector
LESS THAN EIGHT months before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. cited water bills as an example of what was wrong with capitalism. In his “Where Do We Go From Here?” speech, delivered at the 11th Annual Southern Christian Leadership Conference convention in Atlanta, Georgia on August 16, 1967, King asked, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?”
He observed that “when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy.” He went on to ask: “Who owns the oil? […] Who owns the iron ore? […] Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?”(1)
Taken literally, King’s last question suggests that desalination technology, harnessed to human needs rather than profit, could make the world’s oceans a viable drinking water source for the world’s population. (This was not a totally impractical idea; by 1961, Kuwait was already desalinating over six million gallons of water per year.(2))...
From ATC authors and friends
— Mary Ellsberg
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....
— 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 The Origin of The Family, Private Property and the State (1884)....
— Donna Cartwright
THE DECISION BY Heritage of Pride, which runs the annual New York City Pride Parade, to minimize the police presence at this year's march, has brought a storm of protest from mainstream media like The New York Times and The Washington Post....
— Enzo Traverso
The Paris Commune ended on this day in 1871, after just two months in power. How do we explain, the longevity and freshness of the memory of a fleeting revolutionary government?
There is a paradoxical discrepancy between the meteoric rise and fall of the Paris Commune, whose life did not exceed seventy-two days, and its lasting presence as a central experience in the Left’s historical consciousness.
Viewed through the lens of what some scholars call “world history,” what happened in Paris between March 18 ....
— Moshé Machover
THE ZIONIST COLONISATION regime spreads a nauseating stench - literally. I am referring to an Israeli invention, appropriately named ‘Skunk’ and described as a “non-lethal weapon of mass control”. It is a liquid used by Israel’s armed forces on its colonial subjects as a means of crowd control as well as of collective punishment - jets of it are sprayed from special armoured vehicles in public spaces and into private homes. It is a smash-hit Israeli export, manufactured by the ‘left’-Zionist kibbutz, Beit-Alpha, and marketed....
— David Finkel
[This review was written and initially posted in 2018 on the Solidarity website. We present it here because Norman Finkelstein’s book, Gaza. An Inquest into Its Martyrdom (University of California Press, 2018). remains absolutely essential for understanding the repeated destruction of Gaza, its society and its population. As of this moment – May 18, 2021 -- the United States plays the same role it has always done: calling for “restoring calm” while blocking any meaningful UN Security Council cease-fire resolution until Israel signals its willingness to suspend the current military round. Here is a current video interview with Norman Finkelstein on the present mass murder of Gaza.]
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN’s LIFETIME of scholar-activism includes a long record of skewering highly acclaimed pundits and propagandists of the “pro-Israel” and media establishments. His first target was the fraudulent “demographic study”....
— 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...
— Malik Miah
THE RIGHT-WING CULTURAL war in the United States is not an academic debate about race, history and freedom. It is a life and death struggle for Blacks, Latinos, Asians, indigenous peoples and transgender youth, and for women’s right to abortion and jobs....
— 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....
— Pierre Rousset
THIS ARTICLE WAS written the day after Saturday 27 March 2021, the date of Myanmar’s traditional “Armed Forces Day” commemorating the uprising against the Japanese occupation in 1945, inaugurated with a martial parade worthy of a French 14 July in the administrative capital of Naypyidaw. The celebration came as the army murdered at least 102 people, including some children and a good number of young adolescents -- the heaviest daily toll since the putsch of 1 February. (1)
— Scott McLemee
The Man Who Lived Underground:
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”....
— Malik Miah
This year has already been horrific for transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States.
According to the Human Rights Campaign at least 24 transgender people have been killed. The majority were Black and Brown trans people.
The HRC is a leading LGBTI civil rights organisation. It “envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community”.
The HRC has...
— A group of Syrian writers and solidarity activists
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....
— Michael Löwy
MARCH 5, 2021 IS THE 150th anniversary of the revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. Michael Löwy analyzes her relevance for today.
IF WE SHOULD choose the distinctive feature of Rosa Luxemburg's life and thought, it is perhaps revolutionary humanism. Whether in her criticism of capitalism as an inhumane system, in its struggle against militarism, colonialism, imperialism, or in her vision of an emancipated society, her utopia of a world without exploitation, without alienation and without borders, her socialist humanism runs like a red thread all her political writings. This humanism is also in her correspondence, its especially in her letters from prison. These have been read and re-read by successive generations of young activists.
Why does this figure of a woman -- Jewish and Polish, Marxist and revolutionary, tender and uncompromising, militant and intellectual -- always challenge us? How is it that 100 years after her death she stays so close to us? What is the astonishing topicality of her thinking for those of us living in the 21st century?...
— 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....