Against the Current, No. 216, January-February 2022

COP26: Success Not an Option

— Daniel Tanuro

THE GLASGOW CONFERENCE (COP26) should have given priority to 1) making good on the promise of the “developed” countries to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, from 2020 onwards, at least one hundred billion dollars a year to help the global South meet the climate challenge; 2) forcing these same countries to intervene financially to cover the enormous “loss and....

Afghan Women: Always Resisting Empire

— Helena Zeweri and Wazhmah Osman

Malalai of Maiwand, Afghan forkloric ethno-national hero.

IN RECENT MONTHS we have seen the resuscitation of the “saving Afghan women” narrative in media commentaries following the U.S. military withdrawal. As much scholarship has shown ever since the 2001 military intervention, this narrative functions to do two things.

First, it ignores the fact that Afghan women have not only been critiquing the inhumane Taliban regime, but the human consequences of U.S. empire. Second, it fails to consider how Afghan women’s resistance over the past 100 years has been deeply committed to an anti-imperial politics.

From resisting the British to the Soviet Union, to more recently the United States, since the mid-19th....

"Reparations Won" in the Classroom

— ATC interviews William Weaver and Lauren Bianchi

Determined to get a confession, police took Darrell Cannon to an abandoned site where they tortured him with a shotgun and a cattle prod. Sentenced to life for a murder in 1983, Cannon was able to clear his name and emerge from prison in 2007. Sarah Jane Rhee

In ATC’s July-August 2021 issue, we reviewed the history of documented, racially motivated police torture in Chicago under the direction of Commanding Officer Jon Burge and the subsequent fight for reparations. We included interviews with principal participants in the struggle to expose the torture and win justice for survivors. Over the course of the struggle, many demands were made on the Chicago City Council. In 2015 the Council passed an historic Reparations Ordinance, first in the nation. It consisted of five major elements: creation of the Chicago Torture Justice Center to deal with the psychological effects of torture and open not only the survivors but to their families; free access to the city colleges for survivors and their families; monetary compensation to 57 survivors (only $100,000); the construction of a memorial; implementation in all Chicago public schools of a curriculum designed to discuss this history in 8th and 10th grade social studies classes....

An Introduction to Interviews on the Indian Farmers’ Massive Victory

— Sara Abraham

Farmers celebrate their hard-won victory. Voice of Darjeeling

IN SEPTEMBER 2020, in the midst of the first wave of the COVID pandemic, the Narendra Modi government in India passed three notorious farm laws – which would have dismantled the crop procurement system, deregulated prices, allowed for the entry of large corporate players into procuring and marketing agricultural produce, and remove a number of crops from the list of essential commodities....

How the Indian Farmers Built Unity

— Sara Abraham interviews Pritam Singh

Sara Abraham: On International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2020, the farmers at Tikri held up pictures of political prisoners who were in the jails of India. Today [Dec 10 2021], despite their victory over the Modi government, farmers are still occupying the protest site and demanding the release of political prisoners. Their powerful action demonstrates that the farmers are making connections between various struggles.

Pritam Singh

Dr. Pritam Singh: Yes, and one of the leading human rights activists and lawyers, Sudha Bharadwaj, was freed yesterday. Numerous other political intellectuals remain imprisoned....

SA: One of the most striking things besides the size of the farmers’ movement is its longevity – occupying the streets for a year. How many different organizations came together? How was it all held together – were there principles of unity? Were there divisions we never hear about?

Punjab: The Depth of Resistance

— Sara Abraham interviews Navyug Gill

Sara Abraham: You’re a historian of Punjab so I would like to ask you about the historical depth of this struggle. It came from a deeper place than just reacting to Modi.

Navyug Gill

Navyug Gill: I would reframe that in this sense: of course, the farmers were fighting the Modi government, but the neoliberal agenda has a bipartisan consensus among most major parties in India. The Congress Party is fully on board with this project.

The fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enacted these laws gave Congress a veneer of saying they oppose them, but they would no doubt impose something similar if given the chance. Indeed, they're the party that privatized the economy in the early '90s, and their statements....

Women in the Farmers’ Struggle

— Sara Abraham interviews Navsharan Singh

Navsharan Singh

Sara Abraham: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Navsharan Singh: In recent years, I have been working on the agrarian crisis locating landless labor, especially Dalit women in the political economy of agrarian crisis and resistance.

SA: Did I also read somewhere that you were involved in popular theater in Panjab?...

From ATC authors and friends

Emergency: Defend Our Rights!

— Dianne Feeley

Several demonstrations were held in cities around the country in defense of reproductive justice, which is under severe attack. Chicago demonstration, Linda Loew

[This is an edited version of the speech I gave on December 1st, at the Lansing rally in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. It was held at the same time as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Mississippi anti-abortion law. Three dozen activists later went to the chambers of the House of Representatives while they were in session and read, in unison, a statement calling for the repeal of the 1931 Michigan anti-abortion law, which would go into effect if Roe v. Wade was overturned. We left the chambers chanting “Repeal 328.”]....

Otto Bauer's Austrian Revolution

— William Smaldone

Otto Bauer
The Austrian Revolution
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2020. 400 pages, $60 hardback.

Otto Bauer (1881-1938) speaking on the steps of the Vienna City Hall (1930). Wikipedia

MANY CONTEMPORARY READERS recognize the end of World War I as a moment of world-historical importance. The collapse of the once powerful Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires brought the catastrophic conflict to an end and paradoxically opened the way to renewed conflagration as the peoples of radically reconfigured Central and Eastern Europe struggled to revise a settlement imposed upon them by the victorious Allied powers. Germany and Soviet Russia's centrality to that revisionist effort, which ultimately precipitated the Second World War, often push the histories of the region's smaller participants into the background. Overshadowed by grand narratives of the period which portray them primarily as pawns or bit players in great power politics, their rich histories thus remain little known to outsiders....

To Vax or Not to Vax? THAT Is the Question

— Cliff Conner

December 8, 2021

One nation divided, with paranoia and pandemics for all.

THE URGENCY OF the need to contain the terrible effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has generated a divisive social issue in the United States and around the world. The reason one word in the title above is in all capital letters is to emphasize the centrality of that issue. As you read what I have written here, I urge you to keep your eye on the ball and not be distracted by peripheral matters. “To vax or not to vax?” is a handy way to remember it, but here is a fuller formulation:...

Save Academic Freedom!

— Paul Ortiz

[THIS IS EDITED from a letter Paul Ortiz, historian and author at the University of Florida, wrote as chapter president, United Faculty of Florida in support of the faculty’s first amendment rights. The union organized a press conference on November 5 and issued several demands for academic freedom.]

FROM THE MOMENT that a courageous faculty member in the Department of Political Science contacted our union on the morning of October 13 to report that they had....

The Biden Administration's Foreign Policy

— Dianne Feeley

Imperial presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden

HAS THE U.S. population become convinced that the “war on terrorism” promoted after 9/11 is a fool’s errand, or are there other enemies that can be conjured up?

Certainly, as Washington has withdrawn its troops after a 40-year intervention in Afghanistan,...

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