Welcome to Against the Current

Against the Current No. 211, March/April 2021

Bravery, Not Blowout

— John Logan

Amazon driver and her packages. Elvert Barnes CC BY-SA 2.0 cropped from original

RWDSU campaign at Amazon deserves better than uninformed criticism

ON FRIDAY, APRIL 9 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) had lost its organizing campaign at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama, one of the most closely watched union drives in decades, by a vote of 1798 to 738....

International Appeal for the Immediate Release of All Political Prisoners in Russia

— CADTM, Eric Toussaint, Collective, Tariq Ali, Dianne Feeley, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Gilbert Achcar, Fatima Zahra El Beghiti, Myriam Bregman, Noam Chomsky, Fernanda Melchionna and Suzi Weissman

Thousands arrested at nationwide protest against the jailing of Aleksei A. Navalny. Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

AT THE END of January 2021, a wave of mass protests swept through all of Russia’s major cities. The occasion for these protests was the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but the genuine cause was the enormous social inequality and political disenfranchisement prevailing in the country. Not all of those who took to the streets were supporters of Navalny, but they were all united by a desire for social and political change and a fatigue with the corrupt, authoritarian regime ruling Russia today....

From ATC authors and friends

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....

The Chauvin Trial: The Streets, or the Suites?

— August H. Nimtz Jr.

Tom Keough

ALSO ON TRIAL is an important question: Can anti-police-brutality activists be more effective in ending the practice of the police killing unarmed civilians with impunity by becoming part of the “system of criminal justice”?

The trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd will be, arguably, the highest profile police brutality case since the 1992 trial of the four Los Angeles cops who beat Rodney King, also captured on camera. Also on trial is an important question: Can anti-police-brutality activists be more effective in ending the practice of the police killing unarmed civilians with impunity by becoming part of the “system of criminal justice”?...

Myanmar: Terror, Resistance & the Stakes -- A New Political Situation

— 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)

Once again,...

The Only Treatment is Freedom: Mumia Abu-Jamal and COVID

— Johanna Fernández

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<div class=Mumia Abu-Jamal and Johanna Fernández. (Photo: Courtesy of Johanna Fernández)

History is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally in the present in all that we do. –James Baldwin

THREE WEEKS AGO, on Friday, February 26, 2021 Mumia Abu-Jamal called Pam Africa, the person largely responsible for keeping alive the movement to save and free him for 40 years. Mumia told her that he was certain he had COVID-19; that he was having difficulty breathing as well as chest pressure and pain....

Anne Feeney, 1951-2021

— Ellis Boal

Folksinger-songwriter Anne Feeney, died of Covid on February 3, 2021 at age 69. We are reprinting a tribute from Ellis Boal, another lawyer-folksinger, who met Anne when she showed up to support the Detroit Newspaper Strike years ago.--ATC editors

THE DETROIT NEWSPAPER Strike of the late 1990s electrified the city in a way no labor struggle had since PATCO.

The city has a tradition of militancy.  Media pose as the conscience of capital, so there was a sense of betrayal.  Mid-week meetings of the community strike support coalition numbering up to 300 called for violating the court injunction, sympathy strikes, and a mass action strategy.  The strikers put out their own paper, The Sunday Journal, with as many as 30,000 sold and a press run of 300,000 weekly....

London: Birth of a New Women’s Movement

— Anti*Capitalist Resistance activists

After Sarah Everard's murder, demonstration demanded an end to the violence against women. PA Wire

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....

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?...

Powerless in Texas

— Snehal Shingavi

Capitalist competition and greed lie at the heart of the power outages causing desperation across the state.

Two images capture the crisis in Texas perfectly. First, nurses at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center came to work on Thursday to this: “A notice said the water went out. The notice then listed some instructions for using the restroom, such as to not put toilet paper in the toilet when urinating, and to use trash bags to remove feces from the toilet and to then place it in a biohazard bag.” Reminder, this is in the middle of the pandemic....

A Weapon vs. White Domestic Terrorists: Anti-Klan Act of 1871

— Malik Miah

President Ulysses S. Grant, with Secretary of the Navy George M. Robeson and presidential advisor General Horace Porter signed the Third Ku Klux Klan Act. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated print, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson filed a federal lawsuit January 16 accusing Donald J. Trump, Rudy Giuliani, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers of conspiring to incite a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election.

The lawsuit alleges that, by preventing Congress from carrying out its official duties, Trump, Giuliani and the hate groups directly violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act.

The NAACP and Thompson, a long-serving and only African American Congressman....

The Historical Significance of the 2019 Hong Kong Resistance Movement

— Au Loong-yu

On February 19, 2021 Lausan, along with several other organizations including Solidarity, held a webinar book launch for Au Loong-yu’s book, Hong Kong in Revolt, The Protest Movement and the Future of China (Pluto Press, 2020). The following are the author’s slightly edited introductory remarks.

THANKS LAUSAN FOR organizing this exchange. I will like to give a seven-point presentation on the topic of “the historical significance of the 2019 Hong Kong resistance movement,” which my book attempted to cover. But first let me share with you my experiences in relation to my writings on the 2019 Revolt....

On COVID and the Plague of Capital

— Suzi Weissman interviews Rob Wallace, Meleiza Figueroa and Graham Christensen

Agroecology establishes a sustainable relationship of crops to the environment.

Suzi Weissman: Rob Wallace is an evolutionary epidemiologist with the Agroecology and Royal Economics Research Corps. His new book, Dead Epidemiologists (2020), is on the origins of COVID-19. He authored Big Farms Make Big Flu and co-authored Clear-Cutting Disease Control: Capital-Led Deforestation, Public Health Austerity, and Vector-Borne Infection.

We are also joined by Graham Christensen in northeastern Nebraska....

Opposition to the "War on Women"

— Dianne Feeley

A protester confronts police with a Women’s Strike symbol. EPA-EFE/MARCIN OBARA

THOUSANDS IMMEDIATELY PROTESTED the Polish law, which went into effect January 27, 2021, that eliminated of one of the few reasons women can obtain an abortion.

The Constitutional Court ruled last October 22nd that any termination because of fetal abnormality is "incompatible" with the Polish constitution. However massive demonstrations forced the government to hold off publishing the controversial ruling in the Journal of Laws. Three months later and given that gatherings of more than five are banned during the pandemic, the government moved to implement the decision....

Why the Massive Protests Throughout Russia?

— Suzi Weissman's interviews Ilya Budraitskis

Massive demonstration in Pushkin Square, 1/23/21. Associated Press photo

WE ARE PUBLISHING Susi Weissman's interview with Ilya Budraitskis, conducted on February 5th (Moscow time) for Jacobin Radio.

SW: I'm very pleased to have Ilya Budraitskis speaking with us for the first time about the recent protest movement in Russia. He's a Moscow-based historian, political writer, cultural worker, and co-host of the podcast called Political Diary, which you can find online and listen to if you know Russian. Russia has been rocked by massive protests over the last few weeks. These are the first large protests since the ones that took place....

The G20’s Solutions -- Not! -- and the Need to Suspend Debt Repayment

— Eric Toussaint

Last April, the G20 countries launched the idea of debt service suspension by poor countries until the end of 2020. What actually happened?

Measures taken by the G20 regarding debt relief are utterly insufficient as well as unacceptable since they involve intensifying neoliberal policies....

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.