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....
MAY 31 AND June 1, 2021 mark the 100-year anniversary of the destruction of “Black Wall Street,” the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in one of the most violent and sadistic white race riots of the bloody post-World War I period. Indeed it was pure ethnic cleansing in America....
— K. Mann
ATC IS REMEMBERING the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune with this article from decade ago.
THIS SPRING MARKS the 140th anniversary of the revolt that led to the establishment of the world’s first workers’ government, the Paris Commune of 1871. The Paris Commune has always had a special place in the hearts and minds of revolutionaries, and can inspire today’s activist generation with the potential for “power to the people.”
Anniversaries of the Commune, like other anniversaries of notable events in socialist and labor history, have been occasions to celebrate working-class struggles and recall their lessons. The articles, books, pamphlets and public meetings produced on these anniversaries help preserve the memory of these events. In this way, these historical experiences and their lessons become part of the collective memory of the working class, even part of an oppositional working-class culture.
DURING THE PANDEMIC Amazon has expanded its delivery capacity by 200%. Reaping megaprofits at the expense of its “essential workers,” it employs more than a million people worldwide. Its model pushes workers to the limits of their capacity through the use of targets and surveillance. AI cameras in individual trucks record any non-essential movements drivers might make and the company demands warehouses workers strap on individual apps to track "time off task," the amount of time....
From ATC authors and friends
— 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....
— August H. Nimtz, Jr.
THE MOST INSTRUCTIVE fact about the Derek Chauvin trial—beyond the video and what the prosecution and defense presented—was the jury’s composition.
If not their names, we know now something even more useful about the twelve who voted for conviction: four white women, two white men, three Black men, one Black woman, and two “mixed” or biracial women....
— 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...
— Anti*Capitalist Resistance activists
AFTER THE CALL went out last Saturday to vigil in of honor Sarah Everard, who had been murdered walking home, the gathering was declared unlawful because of COVID-19 restrictions. When thousands came masked anyway, the police "protected" the crowd by attacking it and brutally arresting women. Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan Police, explained "Unlawful gatherings are unlawful gatherings. Officers have to take action if people are putting themselves massively at risk." While willing to have the police action reviewed, she defended the police and said she would not resign.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters he had confidence in Officer Dick and spoke in support of the new policing bill that is discussed in Parliament this week. The bill would grant more powers to the police to control protests. The fact that a policeman has been charged with killing Everard didn't cause bill authors to rethink their strategy. Protesters marched to Parliament, shutting down nearby Westminister Bridge, before going to Scotland Yard, where a line of police stood behind barricades. --The Editors....
— 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....