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 (Part 1)
— 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....
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
— Malik Miah
THE BOTTOM-LINE IS that cops are outlaws. They have the power to legally kill Black people.
Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd does not change that fact. The Chauvin verdict does not change the reality of racial profiling, racism and national oppression.
Chauvin was convicted on April 8 and marched to a jail cell. He is under 23-hour solitary lockdown, to keep him away from other prisoners.
Chauvin faces up to 45 years in jail. His three former partners who helped murder Floyd go to trial in August....
— 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)
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”....
— 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....
— 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....
— 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?...
— 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....
— Suzi Weissman interviews Rob Wallace, Meleiza Figueroa and Graham Christensen
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....
— Dianne Feeley
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....
— 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....
— 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....