Letter from the Editors

Against the Current, No. 8, March/April 1987

The Editors

A REMARKABLE CHARADE is being acted out in the national media. Even though Ronald Reagan, for all practical, functional purposes, is no longer the President, and even though the Congress and the media know perfectly well that he is no longer the President, they nonetheless pretend to believe that he is still the President. It is a wonderfully contrived performance to reinforce the legitimacy of the formalities of the system’s political institutions, no matter how far removed these formalities become from the political realities.

The reality, of course, is that Ronald Reagan, the Actor President, has been replaced by Howard Baker, the Acting President. Baker, who represents the bipartisan pragmatic right-of-center consensus in the Congress and most of the ruling class, has undertaken the organization of a new administration to replace Reagan’s fallen one. The Gipper remains on stage to read the lines, a task at which he remains useful. More important posts, however, are changing hands. All down the line, the ideological far right wingers who claimed Reagan as their own are being replaced by the professionals of the conservative establishment.

Iran/Contragate, of course, triggered the coup which brought the Reagan White House crashing down on the heads of the far right wingers who occupied its basement apartments. As Bill Resnick notes in his essay in this issue, however, the decline of Reagan’s political power had begun in 1986 with the discrediting of “constructive engagement” with South Africa and the November elections which ended Republican control of the Senate. Resnick discusses how and why the distinctive ideological politics of the Reagan Administration had outlived their usefulness, and how the pragmatic conservatives (of both parties) are likely to proceed in the quest for truth, justice and the American way of dominating the world.

A second essay on Contragate is contributed by James Petras. Petras’ lively analysis traces an analogy between Wall Street criminal speculation of the Boesky type and the “lumpen-intellectual” current which generates theoretical glosses for the operations of Oliver North and Company. Declining U.S. global hegemony and economic prospects, Petras suggests, are the common source of the antics taking place at or beyond the legal fringes of “legitimate” profiteering and covert action.

This issue of Against the Current focuses on several themes which are important to the magazine’s purposes.

Like many on the left, we have been self-critical of the socialist movement’s overall failure to integrate culture into our politics. Especially distressing is the left’s isolation from the cultural life of national minorities, an isolation which is both an effect and a partial cause of the marginality of left politics. Alvina Quintana’s article “Challenge and Counter Challenge: Chicana Literary Motifs” explores the interaction of feminist, communal and literary concerns in the development of an important current of Chicana writers. Just as the controversy over Alice Walker’s work has uncovered explosive issues involving the role of feminist consciousness in the Black freedom struggle, the writing of Chicana feminists needs to become known and understood if we are to comprehend the dynamics of increasingly important Latino struggles in the U.S.

We also present here the work of feminist poets Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House), Sonia Sanchez and Margaret Randall. The theme of feminism and culture is one which we intend to explore in coming issues.

Several articles in this issue address aspects of socialist vision, politics and organization in the process of changing consciousness at the base. Steve Downs, an activist in the rank-and-file newsletter Hell on Wheels, chronicles the life of TWU Local 100 and the events which led to the creation within the local of an opposition committed to sweeping change from below instead of simply changing the faces in office. Michael Lowy discusses the need for revolutionary Marxism to recover the visionary and utopian dimensions of socialist thought in order to provide a glimpse of our goal, a world without exploitation, oppression, enforced gender roles of bureaucratic privilege. David Finkel’s response to Alex Callinicos’ article in ATC #6 discusses the revolutionary-democratic regroupment strategy for building socialist organization.

The other dialogue feature in this issue, Tim Wohlforth’s rejoinder to Alan Wald plus other contributions from Wayne Price and C.J. Arthur, rounds out the discussion initiated by Wohlforth’s essay “The Two Souls of Leninism” (ATC# 4-5).

The editors of Against the Current appeal to our readers to join in an urgent campaign to defend the rights of the Alternative Information Centre in Jerusalem and its director, Michel Warshawsky. Israeli police raided and closed the Centre on February 16, seizing its files and equipment and arresting the staff. Warshawsky has been charged under the “Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance.”

The Centre and its newsletter, News From Within, have been a crucial source of reliable information to the international-particularly the English-language-media on the practices of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Although the Centre’s daily work has been shut down, the newsletter will continue to appear. Subscriptions are $45 (one year air mail) from News From Within, P.O. Box 165, Jerusalem, Israel and are worth every penny. A broad-based defense campaign is being organized, and support in the U.S. is essential.

Witold Jedlicki’s essay “An Empire At Close Range” provides a highly relevant context for understanding the crackdown on the general escalation of repression in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Both Witold Jedlicki and another contributor to this magazine, Israel Shahak (“Israel Today: The Other Apartheid,” ATC #1) have particular biographical reasons to view with extreme dislike the practices of military occupation and censorship.

March-April 1987, ATC 8

Leave a comment

ATC welcomes online comments on stories that are posted on its website. Comments are intended to be a forum for open and respectful discussion.
Comments may be denied publication for the use of threatening, discriminatory, libelous or harassing language, ad hominem attacks, off-topic comments, or disclosure of information that is confidential by law or regulation.
Anonymous comments are not permitted. Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked *