Against the Current No. 213, July/August 2021

Infrastructure: Who Needs It?

— The Editors

“INFRASTRUCTURE” IS ALL the rage, and not only just now. Trump talked about it, president Obama promised it, and so have administrations going back to the 1980s. Amidst the talk, the United States’ roads and bridges are crumbling, water and sanitation systems faltering, public health services  left in a condition that’s only been fully exposed in the coronavirus pandemic,...

The Detroit Left & Social Unionism in the 1930s

— Steve Babson

FOR LABOR ACTIVISTS pondering an uncertain future in the 2020s, there’s good reason to look back to the 1930s, a decade that began with the catastrophic collapse of organized labor and ended with the dramatic rise of a new movement. What can we learn from that stunning turnaround, heralded by the wave of sitdown strikes that swept across the nation in 1936-1937?

Nowhere was that social transformation more dramatic and far reaching than in Detroit, a city known in the 1920s as an exemplar of...

Reparations for Police Torture

— interview with Aislinn Pulley

Aislinn Pulley is an activist and co-executive director of the Chicago Torture Justice Center. Sarah Jane Rhee

DIANNE FEELEY AND Linda Loew interviewed Aislinn Pulley forAgainst the Current on April 30, 2021. Aislinn Pulley is co-executive director of the Chicago Torture Justice Center, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago, former organizer of We Charge Genocide and founding member of Insight Arts.

Chicago has admitted that its police were involved in systematic torture of civilians, formalizing this with the passage of the Reparations Ordinance on May 6, 2015 and the establishment of the Chicago,....

From ATC authors and friends

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,

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....

Stench of Zionist colonization

— 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....

Israel: Geography, Demography and Racism

— Yacov Ben Efrat

West Bank Crossing

LESS THAN A month has passed since Israel’s “government of change” was sworn in, and to bridge the gaps in the country’s most heterogeneous coalition ever, it has declared itself “anti-ideological.” Controversial issues between Right and Left are off the table, such as West Bank settlements, religion and state, and the composition of the Supreme Court. However, ideology is the bread and butter of Israel, and ideological issues cannot be kept from the morning news. The first of these was the fate of Eviatar, an illegal settler outpost erected on the lands of the Palestinian village of Beita; initially, when the new government took over, Eviatar was slated for evacuation and demolition.....

Making Gaza “Uninhabitable”: A Requiem

— 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”....

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...

Republicans Step up Racist, Anti-democratic Attacks

— Malik Miah

Photo: Susan Melkisethian on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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....

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....

Rosa Luxemburg's Revolutionary News

— 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?...

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....

See all the articles by ATC authors and friends not printed in ATC.