Against the Current, No 6, January/February 1987

Against the Current, No 6, January/February 1987

Letter from the Editors

— The Editors

THE "SECRET" IS OUT. CIA employees fly contra re-supply missions into Nicaragua. The U.S. Air Force base at Ilopango, El Salvador, is the central staging area. Contra officers are to be trained in the U.S. by Green Berets. Policymakers speak of the need for "impressive results" in the contra war over the next six months so that Reagan can return to Congress for an "expanded program" next year. Somewhere down the road lies the declaration of a "Provisional Government" and perhaps a U.S. naval blockade of Nicaraguan ports....

Meatpacker Unionism Gutted

— Roger Horowitz

IN THE SPRING of 1986, when the AFL-CIO, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the courts and the Hormel Company were moving in on Local P-9, the workers decided to create a lasting symbol of their struggle. With the guidance of several artists, P-9ers painted an enormous mural on the side of the Austin Labor Center and. dedicated it to Nelson Mandela. The collection of images was designed to express the hope of the P-9 members that their struggle would ignite trade union militancy and embolden working people to mobilize in defense of their living standards....

Social Struggles & the NDP

— interview with Judy Rebick

JUDY REBICK, a longtime activist in the movement for the right of Canadian women to have access to abortion, ran for president of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) last summer. Despite the fact that the provincial NDP leadership perceived her and her supporters as a threat, and moved against them, she received 31% of the vote, with some of the other members of the slate receiving more than 40%....

Women in Eastern Europe: Liberation or Patriarchy?

— Jacqueline Heinen

"We know perfectly well that nobody is going to liberate us from diapers or dishes, any more than from standing in those long lines and then dragging the groceries home. Besides, it's normal."

"Say what you want about liberation, but the man's the breadwinner and the woman takes care of the home."

THE RAMBLINGS of our grandmothers? Not at all. The first statement figures prominently in a 1983 article in Rabotnitsa, one of the two main women's magazines in the Soviet Union. The second appeared in the...

Stop Soviet Repression of the Chukaev Family!

TO: Mikhail Gorbachev The Kremlin Moscow, USSR

In the summer of 1985 Alexander Chukaev was sentenced to 7 years of labor camp and 5 years of internal exile for being part of a socialist group. On April 11, 1986, the son of Alexander and Larisa Chukaev, Alexander, age 5, was seized by the state: to be returned when Larisa "stops her activity"-she is a member of the Moscow-based anti-nuclear, pro-disarmament Trust Group....

Social Democracy Today

— Perry Anderson

WITHIN THE ADVANCED capitalist world, Western Europe has been distinguished ever since the turn of the century by the presence of significant social-democratic movements. Modem social democracy was born there. Its ability to spread outside its original homelands proved quite limited. North American and Japanese societies--despite major episodes of labor militancy and socialist organization--have not produced movements of comparable strength or stability....

Inside the New Automation

— Art Myatt

This diagram outlines a CIM system designed for plastics processing. It includes hardware, software and machine terminals to provide production monitoring and reports, process alarms, and plant scheduling aids. This system is designed for large-scale manufacturing. "Plastics analysts… believe that [CIM] reduces the labor contents of products to such an extent that wage differences between U.S. and overseas industries will have a negligible economic impact." Managing Automation, June 1986.

JUST MENTION the subject of automation; a split-screen image leaps to mind.

Old auto: a worker, sweating inside heavy coveralls topped with a black full-face shield, peering through an almost black rectangular little window in the shield, heavy-duty leather gauntlets holding a welder's gun, twists himself into awkward positions to reach into and under the shell of an automobile.

New auto: a robot arm with the welding tip built in buzzes, spins, jerks, and clicks its way through a similar process, like a blind mechanical snake that strikes with showers of sparks. There are sparks and fumes on both sides of the picture, but they are faster and more regular on the side where the snake is striking.

Along with the picture comes some information on the voice track....

Computer Innards for Beginners

— Art Myatt

IN CASE the sudden appearance of the term "computer" is surprising, a brief ex­ planation is in order.

The common idea is that computers are easily recognizable. When you see a desk top containing a keyboard, some type of tv screen, a box with a slot or two for disks to go in, and maybe a printer, those elements appear to be obviously a computer....

A Perspective for Socialists

— Alex Callinicos

REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALISTS throughout the Western capitalist bloc are faced with the paradox well stated in Against the Current (New Series, Number 1). On the one hand, there is absolutely no sign of any alleviation in the global economic crisis which has precipitated two great recessions since 1973. On the other hand, the situation of the working-class movement, and of the revolutionary left, is considerably less favorable than it was a decade ago....

In Defense of Critical Leninism

— Alan Wald

TIM WOHLFORTH'S "The Two Souls of Leninism"(1) addresses a topic of central concern to all partisans of social transformation. No paradox has so vexed the Left in the United States as the stunning success of the Ru3sian Revolution followed by its spectacular degeneration.

Tim is hardly the first to engage this problem....

Random Shots: Onassis's Road to Riches

— R.F. Kampfer

DURING WORLD WAR II, Aristotle Onassis used to sell oil to Germany, getting his payment in advance. Next he would sell the location of his tankers to the British Navy, which would sink them. Then he would collect the insurance on the ships from Lloyds of London. Triple profits on every voyage, and no need to pay the crew....

Letters to the Editors

JAMES PETRAS IS to be commended for his fine article, "Greece: The Crisis of a Crumbling Populism." His analysis was vindicated within two weeks after we received the October issue which contained his article....


Cosmetics and Revolution

— Nora R. Wainer

Cosmetics, Fashions and the Exploitation of Women
By Joseph Hansen and Evelyn Reed
Pathfinder Press, 1985.

By Susan Brownmiller
Simon and Schuster, 1984.

THE QUESTION OF cosmetics, fashion, and other articles of personal embellishment may not seem the likeliest theme for a debate on socialist theory, individualism, and feminism....

The Politics of AIDS

— Peter Drucker

Sex and Germs: The Politics of AIDS.
By Cindy Patton
South End Press, $9.

AIDS in the Mind of America.
By Dennis Altman
Anchor Press/Doubleday, $16.95.

FOR SEVERAL YEARS now AIDS has been an overriding fact of life (and death) for gay men in the U.S., as well as for intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs and many Haitians. It has also become the single most important issue for the lesbian/gay movement....

Ornette Confronts "Technology"

— Tony Smith

Song X
Ornette Coleman, alto saxophone; Pat Metheny, guitar; Charlie Haden, bass; Denardo Coleman and Jack De Johnette, precussion
Geffen 24096.

TWO JAZZ MUSICIANS, guitarist Pat Metheny and alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, recently released an album entitled Song X....

Two Movies on Lesbian Love

— Ann Menasche

BEFORE THE LESBIAN and gay movement, films that depicted lesbian love in a positive way were unknown.

Lesbians, or women who would prefer intimate relationships with other women if they were given real options, were without any role models in the popular media with which they could identify their innermost feelings....

In Memoriam

Joseph S. Giganti, 1905-1986

— The Editors

The editors of Against the Current salute the memory of lifelong revolutionary socialist Joseph S. Giganti, who died July 6 at age 81. One of several old-time labor radicals who reorganized the Charles H. Kerr Company in the early 1970s,...