Against the Current, No. 215, November/December 2021

The Rising Price of Insanity

— The Editors

The Roberts Court, April 23, 2021. Seated from left to right: Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. & Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.; Justices Stephen G. Breyer & Sonia Sotomayor; Standing from left to right: Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch & Amy Coney Barrett. Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

THERE WAS NEVER anything like it: In the midst of a mounting public health disaster, a phalanx of state governors deliberately and maliciously sabotaging the elementary measures required to protect the population. Driven by a toxic mix of greed, political opportunism and pure ideology, “opening the economy” in states from Florida and Texas to South Dakota outweighs the terrifying realities of overwhelmed hospital Intensive Care Units as well as burnout-and-COVID-depleted medical staffs. Insanity!...

Organizing in HERE, 1979-1991

— Warren Mar

Warren Mar

THIS ARTICLE WAS first written in preparation for an online forum hosted by the Labor Caucus of the Democratic Socialist of America (DSA). It has been edited for historical context and some background information on my involvement with the I Wor Kuen (IWK) and the League of Revolutionary Struggle (LRS), groups founded as part of the new socialist left during the late 1960s and ’70s.

Some background knowledge of the groups I was affiliated with is helpful to understand why we chose to go into particular workplaces and industries....

Protesting the Protest Novel: Richard Wright's The Man Who Lived Underground

— Alan Wald

The Man Who Lived Underground
By Richard Wright
New York: Library of America, 2021, 240 pages, $22.95 hardback.

The Nightmare of Racism

Richard Wright, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection [LC-USZ62-54231]

WHEN THE POSTHUMOUSLY published The Man Who Lived Underground appeared in the spring of 2021, after a year in which fifteen to twenty million people protested in the streets over a number of police killings, political antennae in the media went on high alert. Some subjects are elusive and ambiguous, but at this moment there was a turbocharged awareness of the vicious actuality of racial subjugation in the United States.

All of a sudden, a new generation of anti-racist adversaries was living in a near-permanent state of emergency over the very form of cop violence recounted in the book’s opening pages. In the midst of what a New York Times article declares has grown into a “tsunami” of volumes about anti-Black racism, allusions to the re-emergence of Richard Wright seemed everywhere.(1)...

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.”]....

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,...

Vigilantes Given Green Light to Kill: Rittenhouse Is Acquitted

— Malik Miah

Anthony Huber, skateboarder shot and killed while trying to stop Kyle Rittenhouse's shooting spree.

IT WAS EXPECTED. The judge was clearly on the side of the white vigilante teenage Kyle Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse was carrying an illegally purchased AR-15 rifle at a Black Lives Matters (BLM) protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year after a young Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer, leaving him paralyzed.

The cop, claiming a threat to his life and “self-defense,” was never prosecuted....

Critique of "Leftwing" Antivax Disinformation: Antivaxxers of All Stripes Pose a Serious Threat to Public Health

— Cliff Conner

Yes, the vaccines work? credit: Viacheslav Lopatin/Sutterstock

IN THE UNITED STATES, most of the Covid antivax agitation comes from rightwing sources. It is dangerous and reprehensible because it threatens legitimate public health efforts to bring a pandemic under control that has already killed at least 750,000 people in the U.S. and five million worldwide. The rightwing ideologues who carry out this campaign of disinformation are simply unconscionable scoundrels.

Unfortunately, they have “leftwing” ideological allies who devise rationales designed to appeal to....

Elijah McClain's Murder: Mother, Racial Justice Movement Win Indictments

— Malik Miah

Elijah McClain family photo

NOVEMBER 21 UPDATE TO OCTOBER 22 ARTICLE: The Denver suburb of Aurora has agreed to pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the parents of Elijah McClain, a Black man who died after suburban Denver police stopped him on the street and put him in a neckhold two years ago, the city and a family attorney have announced.

A judge accepted terms of the settlement on November 19, 2021, said Qusair Mohamedbhai, an attorney for McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain.

Outside court, Sheneen McClain said she was glad to have the agreement finalized, but the work of fighting for justice for her son just makes her miss him more....

Twenty Years of the War on Terror

— Sudip Bhattacharya

With the War on Terror in its twentieth year, thrust back into the public discourse with the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Linda Sarsour, prominent Palestinian American activist and thinker, one of the national co-founders of the Women’s March (the largest single day protest in U.S. history), expressed what has been the core experience over the last two decades, “Unfortunately, we’ve been sitting around for twenty years, watching people who look like us, who pray like us, die.”...

Wood Theft

— Michael Principe

The Dispossessed:
Karl Marx’s Debates on Wood Theft
and the Right of the Poor
By Daniel Bensaïd
Translated by Robert Nichols
University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis &
London, 2021, 160 pages, $25 paperback.

IN THIS RATHER unusual volume edited by Robert Nichols, we find his translations of Bensaïd’s 2007 title essay, as well as new translations of Marx’s five 1842 Die Rheinische Zeitung articles on wood theft, from which Bensaïd draws. Nichols also provides a substantial introduction in which he calls this collection an ‘experiment’ representing ‘a deliberately asynchronic juxtaposition.’...

Kevin Floyd’s Foundational Queer Marxism: A Tribute

— Peter Drucker

AGAINST THE CURRENT advisory editor Peter Drucker, the author of Warped: Gay Normality and Queer Anticapitalism, is one of a handful of scholars who have in recent years developed the field of queer Marxism. Another pioneer of queer Marxism, Kevin Floyd, died tragically in 2019. This year the Marxist Literary Group honored Kevin Floyd’s legacy with a special issue of its journal Mediations, including this tribute by Peter Drucker.”

MARXISTS WORKING IN queer studies have gradually been building a body of theory during the first decades of the 21st century....

"I don't want candies in Hell": A 20-year look at violence against women

— Mary Ellsberg

Developed by Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, MN,

THIS IS THE story of groundbreaking research that changed many women’s lives in Nicaragua. Interwoven in the narration of this story are snippets from the lives of two women: its author, who led the research in 1995, and Ana Cristina, pseudonym of the woman who gave the study its title “Candies in Hell.”

The woman who sat facing me was still recognizable after more than twenty years. When I first met Ana Cristina in 1995, she was a young law student at León campus of the National Autonomous University (UNAN) and a participant in a study I led on domestic violence in Nicaragua—one....

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....

Friedrich Engels and Primitive Communism

— Michael Löwy

IN NOVEMBER 2020, SOCIALISTS around the world celebrated the bicentenary of the birth of Friedrich Engels. It is a mistake, often repeated, to regard Engels as a mere popularizer of Marx's ideas. Not only did he contribute, with Marx in 1844-48, to the formation of a new worldview -- the philosophy of praxis or historical materialism -- but he developed an analysis and argument on subjects that Marx did not want or could not study. One of them is the question of primitive communism -- which is not absent in Marx, especially in his unpublished “Books of Ethnography” but is much more developed in Engels' book....

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....

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.