Against the Current No. 4-5, September-December 1986

Against the Current No. 4-5, September-December 1986

The Elecions and the Left

— Robert Brenner, Warren Montag & Charlie Post

IN THE PAST several months, electoral initiatives have captured the imagination of much of the left. In mid­April, a national meeting of the Rainbow Coalition established that organization as a permanent body. Shortly thereafter, leading forces from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) held a conference on "New Directions," basically aimed to pursue their established strategy of strengthening the left wing of the Democratic Party....

Bernie Sanders' Campaign: A Step Forward

— Dianne Feeley & David Finkel

BERNIE SANDERS' independent socialist campaign for governor of Vermont has sparked interest and controversy on the left. We believe that this campaign can be an important step toward mass-based independent radical political action in this country.

The Sanders campaign is unusual in the United States today: an openly socialist campaign for high public office which is not a purely symbolic gesture. It is practical and aiming to win. This is precisely why the campaign has been sharply attacked by the editors of In These Times as "divisive" of the left....

Socialist Campaign in Vermont

— Bernie Sanders

I WON'T TELL you that we created a utopia in Burlington, because we by no means have. We have some enormous problems in Burlington. But in several areas we have paved some interesting ground that might be useful for others to explore.

Six years ago in Burlington, there was a city government, in a city of 38,000, which was a totally typical political situation. There were two political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans....

Stop the LaRouche PANIC!

— Peter Drucker

EVEN BEFORE THE DAY it was named, AIDS was a political as well as a medical battleground. The medical establishment's first name for the disease was GRID: Gay Related Immune Deficiency. Gays immediately saw that the name GRID would both stigmatize gay people and encourage public indifference to the disease.

As a result of pressure from the gay community, scientists switched the name to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. But the association of the disease with gay men-who were and still are its primary victims continued....

Random Shots: Confederate $ for the Contras

— R.F. Kampfer

THE EVIDENCE is incontrovertible that athletics leads to hard drugs. Yet we allow them to distribute basketballs to innocent children right in the schoolyard.

The word on the line is that IE stands for Idiot Engineer....


— Donald Kenner

THE THIRD ATC has certainly proved that the first two were no fluke. ATC is, by the political standards of Austin, Texas, a hit. Excellent job!

Two things about ATC #3 stuck out, however, and should be considered in future issues.

One is the use of the word "Reaganism" in the "Letter from the Editors" column. To begin with, there is no such thing as "Reaganism." It is an invention of the Democratic Party, showing the antithesis of what a Mondale victory "would have been."

It is...

Worldwide Freedom Struggle

The State's Imagination -- and Mine

— Margaret Randall

"... Her writings go far beyond mere dissent, disagreement with, or criticism of the United States or its policies . . .

"Your pending application for adjustment of status is hereby DENIED."

--Decision on Application for Status as Permanent Resident,
Immigration and Naturalization Service, (INS) El Paso, Texas October 2, 1985

WITH THESE WORDS, a representative of the State [the INS regional director in El Paso, Texas] ended his seven­page decision and my 17-month wait....


— Margaret Randall

The Gloves

for Rhoda Waller

Yes we did "march around somewhere" and yes it was cold,
we shared our gloves because we had a pair between us
and a New York City cop also shared his big gloves
with me--strange,
he was there to keep our order
and he could do that and I could take that back then.
We were marching for the Santa Maria, Rhoda,
a Portuguese ship whose crew had mutinied.
they demanded asylum in Goulart's Brazil
and we marched in support...

The French Left at a Tragic Impasse

— an interview with Daniel Singer

THIS INTERVIEW BEGINS with Daniel Singer's opening remarks at a talk he gave at the New York Marist School in 1986.

REVOLUTIONS, ROSA LUXEMBURG wrote somewhere, are the only kind of war in which, really, ultimate victory can only be achieved through a series of defeats. The implication is that defeats need not necessarily be in vain, provided that we learn something from them....

Greece: The Crisis of a Crumbling Populism

— James Petras

THE VICTORIES of the Greek socialist movement in 1981 and 1985 represented a major breakthrough in several senses: they brought significant new social forces into effective political activity; they gave nationalist and socialist ideology a new legitimacy; they led to the further dismantling of the police-state apparatus that had undergirded the electoral system....

Solidarnosc Today: View from the Left

— Zbigniew M. Kowalewski

THE DEFEAT of the revolution following the declaration of the state of siege in Poland did not lead to the destruction of the social movement, a first in the Soviet bloc. Solidarnosc, in 1980-81, not only led a revolution of greater mass participation and longer duration than any other in the Eastern bloc, but now, following the December 1981 coup, it has generated a prolonged social resistance.

The Stalinist bureaucracy's system of rule is totalitarian by its nature; it is based (1) on the holding of the working class as well as the entire civil society in a state of forced atomization; and (2) on the uprooting of all elements of workers' and citizens' democracy within society....

Review: Poland Under Black Light

— Ewa Wiosna

Poland Under Black Light
By Janusz Anderman
Translated by Nina Taylor and Andrew Short
Readers International, 1985, $12.50.

THE SIBERIAN COLD held Krakow in its grip the winter l lived then. It was mid­February. I'd been in the city about six months, and I thought. I'd grown accustomed to the hardships that were typical of life in this poor, po!itically­ravaged land....

Review: Give Us Back Our Factories!

— Barbara Zeluck

Rendez-Nous Nos Usines!
by Zbigniew M. Kowalewski
Translated (from Polish into French) by Jacqueline Allio
Editions La Breche, Paris 1985.

ZBIGNIEW M. KOWALEWSKI documents the direct working-class character of the revolutionary movement that Solidarnosc was ... and continues to be. His account of the struggle that developed in Poland between August 1980 and December 1981, between Solidarnosc and the "totalitarian bureaucracy," raises with great immediacy a host of political questions (only a few of which can be dealt with here) which I believe the revolutionary movement will find worthwhile to debate....

The Two Souls of Leninism

— Tim Wohlforth

THERE ARE TWO main theories concerning Leninism. Most Western academics view the Leninist party as a self­seeking group which took advantage of a power vacuum to seize power and establish a dictatorial system which benefits only the small ruling stratum, the party hierarchy.(1) Alvin Gouldner, in a radical version, sees Marxism as representing the false consciousness of workers and the real consciousness of intellectuals.(2) In both variants an elitist ideology and structure pre-figures the future totalitarian society....

Guatemala: A New Movement Rises from the Ashes of Genocide

— Jane Slaughter

AS 32 YEARS OF almost unbroken military rule ended last January, Guatemalans wanted to believe that a civilian government could make a difference. Before Christian Democrat Vinicio Cerezo's inauguration on January 14, the average person I talked to in Guatemala City would say, "Maybe things have a chance to get better now."

Unionists were not so ambiguous. Subjected to some of the worst repression, including mass kidnappings and individual assassinations, during the years of General Romeo Lucas Garcia, General Efrain Rios Montt, and General Oscar Mejia Victores (1978-86), they were scornful both of Cerezo's potential and of his intentions....

Immigration: Whose Dilemma?

— Hector Ramos

ONCE AGAIN THE Simpson-Mazzoli-Rodino bill is being discussed by the House Judiciary Committee. It is scheduled to be discussed by the full House this summer. Two versions of the proposal have already been passed previously, including one just last year. Both those bills died, in one instance when the House voted down the Senate version, in the other when a House-Senate conference could not arrive at a common bill.

The Simpson-Mazzoli-Rodino bill is designed to "regain control of the border." ...

Chile -- New Struggles, New Hopes

— Eric Chester

TANKS RUMBLING THROUGH narrow downtown streets, as tear gas saturates the air. Troops in combat gear, carrying loaded machine guns, with their cheeks and foreheads blacked so as to reduce their chances of becoming the target of snipers. A war zone? No, the standard response of the Chilean government to a peaceful protest.

Despite the fierce repression, Chile is a highly-politicized country, and indeed I was surprised by the extent to which the left is organized at every level. As it was, the two weeks during May that I spent in Chile, I joined two major demonstrations involving thousands of people in direct confrontations with military units....


Detroit Labor's Rich Legacy

— Marty Glaberman

Working Detroit
By Steve Babson, with Ron Alpern, Dave Elsila, John Revitte
Adama Books, 1984, 246 pages.

THIS IMPORTANT and valuable book fills a gap that has long existed. It is a history of labor in Detroit that goes back to the beginnings early in the nineteenth century. It documents the changes in the industrial structure of the city and, above all, it documents working-class struggles from the earliest times through the rise of the auto industry and then the formation of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW)....

Patterns of Rank-and-File Power

— Nelson Lichtenstein

Teamster Rank and File:
Power, Bureaucracy, and Rebellion at Work and in a Union
By Samuel R. Friedman
Columbia University Press, 1982, paperback.

SAM FRIEDMAN's finely crafted account of the rise and fall of a rank-and-file movement in Los Angeles Teamsters Local 208 is essential reading to anyone interested in the democratization and rejuvenation of the American trade unions....

An Anthology of Radical America

— Kent Worchester

Workers' Struggles, Past and Present:
A 'Radical America' Reader
Edited by James Green
Temple University Press, 1983, 410 pages, $9.95 paperback.

WORKERS' STRUGGLES presents us with twenty-one articles culled from the pages of Radical America, the quintessential journal of the American new left. Professor James Green, a contributor to Labor Notes and author of The World of the Worker: Labor in Twentieth Century America, has supplied an introduction, one that situates the articles in this historical (maybe cultural is a better word) context. Many of the articles have either been reprinted elsewhere or issued as pamphlets....

Israel: Lifeline for Apartheid

— Mark Dressler

Undercutting Sanctions:
Israel, the U.S. and South Africa
By Jane Hunter, edited by Jane Power
Washington Middle East Associates, (1986), 68 pages, $5.

THE PAST YEAR has witnessed an upsurge of activity in opposition to U.S. ties to South Africa....

In Memoriam

Alice Peurala, Unionist and Socialist

— Dot Peters

ALICE PEURALA, president of Local 65, United Steel Workers of America, the only woman so far ever to head a local union in basic steel in this country, died June 19 at the age of 58, after a three-year battle with cancer.

Like Steve Zeluck, whose comrade and friend she was for over thirty years, she stands as one of the greats in union work and revolutionary socialist politics....

Sid Lens, 1912-1986

— Patrick Quinn

ALTHOUGH HE CHOSE to describe himself, as the title of his autobiography suggests, as an unrepentant radical, Sidney Lens was much more than that. Until the day of his death from cancer on June 18, he was an unrepentant revolutionary socialist.

Despite efforts by several of his eulogists to recall Lens as a radical writer, as a militant trade unionist, or even as a pacifist, he remained to his death a committed socialist whose stated goal was a revolutionary transformation of capitalist property relations in the United States and throughout the world....