Welcome to Against the Current

Against the Current No. 208, September/October 2020

A Note from the Editors

The bimonthly was launched in 1986 to promote analysis and dialogue from activist movements for social, political and economic justice, and from engaged scholars on the left. Our perspective is “socialism from below,” rooted in the struggles for self-emancipation of the working class and oppressed peoples as the foundation for a new society without exploiters or oppressors.....

From Against the Current

History, Great Britain, and Julian Assange

— Clifford D. Conner

BELOW ARE THE comments Clifford D. Conner made at a September 8th press conference in front of the British consulate in New York City. Conner is an historian and author of Jean Paul Marat: Tribune of the French Revolution and The Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump. The court in Britain is holding hearings on the Trump administration’s request to have Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks and an Australian citizen, extradited. Assange would be tried in a Virginia court on 17 counts of espionage and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.....

Toward Class Struggle Electoral Politics

— Barry Eidlin interviews Micah Uetricht & Meagan Day

LABOR SOCIOLOGIST BARRY Eidlin interviewed Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) activists Micah Uetricht and Meagan Day, authors of Bigger than Bernie: How We Go from the Sanders Campaign to Democratic Socialism (Verso Books, 2020) for Against the Current. Eidlin is the author of Labor and the Class Idea in the United States and Canada (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and a professor of sociology at McGill University in Montreal....

Fragments from a Past – La Lotta Continua

— Jeffrey L. Gould

MY POLITICAL ACTIVISM began in 1964 when I passed out SDS leaflets: “better a crook than a fascist” [Johnson over Goldwater]; it effectively ended by the late 1980s. Although I consider my scholarly research and writings and especially my films to be a continuation of my earlier activism, I can’t speak to activists as one in the trenches. Yet today’s political moment is too charged to remain silent....

"Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble"

— Malik Miah

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” — A tweet from June 2019

JOHN ROBERT LEWIS died July 17 in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 80. He was born on February 21, 1940, in the segregated town of Troy, Alabama. His parents were sharecroppers. He was the last living member of the civil rights leadership known as the “Big Six.”

In 1960, as a seminary student in Nashville, Lewis participated in the sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters....

From ATC authors and friends

Hong Kong in Revolt: A Conversation with Au Loong-Yu

— Ivan Franceschini interviews Au Loong-Yu

For the past year and a half, Hong Kong has been in turmoil, with a new generation of young and politically active citizens mobilizing to protest Beijing’s tightening grip over the city. In Hong Kong in Revolt: The Protest Movement and the Future of China (Pluto Books 2020), prominent Hong Kong leftist intellectual Au Loong-Yu retraces the development of the protest movement in his place of birth over the past two decades, setting them within the context of broader political trends in mainland China and beyond. Published after the Chinese authorities enacted a new draconian National Security Law that effectively signaled a new stage in the crackdown, this book provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on the events of the past months, dispel some myths, and, possibly, draw a few early lessons....

The Increasingly Impossible Middle Class

— David Roediger

IN 2010 THE Commerce Department prepared data for the Obama administration’s Middle Class Task Force, headed by Vice President Joe Biden. Sidestepping knotty problems — see below — of just who was middle class, part of their study proposed a host of expectations that a middle class family would hold....

Cop Shoots Jacob Blake: Kenosha Intensifies Racial Reckoning

— Malik Miah

ONCE AGAIN A young Black man, 29, is shot in the back on August 23 by a white cop in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, about 40 miles north of Milwaukee where the majority of African Americans in that state live.

The man, Jacob Blake Jr., had intervened in a street dispute between two women. The cops arrived and immediately challenged Blake. Two of them shot taser guns at him.

Then when he walked to his car where his three young boys of 3, 5 and 8 years sat in the back seat alone, the white cop grabbed Blake’s shirt and then fired seven shots at his back with four hitting him. Afterwards, the cops said Blake had a knife on the car’s floorboard…

Escalating Plunder

— Robert Brenner

THIS ARTICLE IS adapted from Robert Brenner’s article* in the May/June New Left Review, which is Part I of a two-part article on the economy. That article is well footnoted while this tells the story without them.

THE FEDERAL RESERVE’S March 23rd declaration that it intended to provide loans to non-financial corporations was decisive in indicating the Fed’s assumption of leadership of the government’s corporate bailout. It signaled what was expected of Congress and the Treasury. It also specified the intended level of support for big business in the coronavirus economic crisis.

On cue Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the centerpiece of their just-approved bill, soon to be called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act, was a giant rescue of non-financial corporations, amounting to half a trillion dollars…