Against the Current, No. 63, July/August 1996

Against the Current, No. 63, July/August 1996

Israel's Poisoned Fruits of Oslo

— The Editors

HOW DID SHIMON Peres lose the Israeli election?  Few commentators seem to remember the real turning point, four months before the May 29 vote-the day Israel assassinated the leading Hamas operative Yahiya Ayyash, "the engineer."  As readers may recall from the gloating network news accounts at the time, this was an ultimate high-tech murder, with an airplane over the target's hideout detonating by remote-control the bomb hidden in his cellular phone....

Founding the Labor Party

— Dan La Botz

IN A HALL bedecked with banners portraying the history of American labor, over 1400 delegates, from forty-four states and representing nearly two million union members, met in Cleveland, Ohio June 6-9 to found the Labor Party, a new political party in the United States committed to fight against the corporate agenda and for economic justice.

Detroit Newspaper Unions' Year of War

— interview with Rebecca Cook

THE PAST TWO months have seen the Detroit newspaper strike enter a more active phase. While not able to stop production of the scab Detroit News and Free Press, the six striking unions have undertaken more aggressive picketing and some creative street actions, as well as maintaining a strong advertiser and subscriber boycott. For example, as of June, a total of 1,395 advertisers had boycotted the newspapers for more than thirty days, the highest number since early in the strike. About 700 advertisers still place their ads in the scab papers....

The Yale Grad Student Strike

— an interview with Cynthia Young

Cynthia Young, a graduate student at Yale and a team leader in the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO), played an active role in the Fall 1995 "grade strike." She taught American Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit during the spring semester. She is writing her dissertation on the role of Black cultural politics in the formation of militant community and union organizing in the 1960s and '70s.

She was interviewed by David Finkel of the Against the Current editorial board....

A New Campus Union at University of California

— Claudia Horning interviews Margy Wilkinson

Last October 15, clerical workers at the University of California formed a union, the Coalition of University Employees (CUE). What makes this unusual is that the University's 19,000 clerical workers are already represented by a large union, AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). AFSCME also represents smaller units of service and patient care/technical workers. Most of CUE's members are former AFSCME members and officers, many of whom worked unsuccessfully for years inside AFSCME to organize clericals at UC....

The "Team Bill," A Poison Bill

— Ellis Boal

BEFORE DECIDING TO quit the U.S. Senate in May, Republican leader Bob Dole thrust an obscure labor bill into the forefront of political discourse. President Clinton called it a "poison pill" in the budget package and promised a veto. It's called the "Team Bill." What's it all about?...

Class and the African-American Leadership Crisis

— Malik Miah

Three out of five Blacks say they believe that conditions are worsening for African Americans and a similar number think that the American dream has become impossible to achieve, a new survey says. The poll, conducted by Yankelovich Partners Inc. for The New Yorker, found that 58 percent of those surveyed say conditions for African Americans are getting worse and 59 percent agree that the American dream has become impossible for most to achieve....  A large majority -78 percent- believe that government programs do not go far enough to relieve the problems of African Americans.  However, 48 percent say Blacks' failure to take advantage of opportunities available to them is a greater problem than white discrimination.  —April 22, Associated Press

South African Labor Marching Again

— Mathew Ginsburg

ON MAY DAY 1986, the then recently formed Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) called a nationwide stay-away with the demand of employer and state recognition of Workers' Day. The union movement's first national strike since the 1960s marked the beginning of an era of intensified anti-apartheid struggle, which culminated in 1990 with the unbanning of popular organizations, the release of political prisoners and ultimately the beginning of the process of political settlement....

More on "Imperialism Today"

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and the author of, among other books, In Other Worlds (1987), The Post-Colonial Critic (1990), and The Spivak Reader (1996).

1. What is the significance of the rise to world dominance of transnational financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank?

THE FIRST PHASE of the unfolding of monopoly industrial capital required development-model territorial imperialisms....

The Comintern, CPUSA & Activities of Rank-and-File CPers

— Charlie Post

IN THEIR DEFENSE of the popular front as the only realistic politics for radicals in the 1930s and 1940s and today, many of the "new" historians of the CP make two related claims. First, they claim that the politics of the CPUSA did not simply reflect the interests of the Communist International and the ruling bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. Instead, they argue that the CPUSA's policies had "a North American context" ignored by historians like Draper and Klehr. In other words, the shifts in CPUSA policies did not merely reflect the shifting priorities of the Soviet bureaucracy, but the changing realities of the class struggle in the US....

The Popular Front: Rethinking CPUSA History

— Charlie Post

THE COMMUNIST PARTY (CP) of the United States was the largest and most influential radical organization active in the tumultuous labor and social struggles of the 1930s and 1940s. While never a mass party by the standards of the French or Italian CPs, the U.S. CP had a real and significant impact on the mass struggles of industrial workers, the unemployed and African Americans before the anticommunist witch-hunts of the late 1940s and 1950s. Not surprisingly, the CP has been the subject of intense scholarly debate for the last half century....

Queer Vows, Pros and Cons

— Catherine Sameh

Is there a relationship between homosexual liberation and socialism? That's an unfashionably utopian question, but I pose it because it's entirely conceivable that we will one day live miserably in a thoroughly ravaged world in which lesbians and gay men can marry and serve openly in the army and that's it. --Tony Kushner, "A Socialism of the Skin (Liberation, Honey!)" from Thinking about the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness

MY BEGINNING WITH this quote might lead you to believe I'm against queers getting hitched or serving Uncle Sam. No, I support our right to both....

Radical Rhythms: "Global Divas"

— Kim Hunter

INTO THE FIELD of myriad and ever increasing world music box sets has come a most interesting entry from Rounder Records that benefits the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), which works to empower women and women's projects in developing countries. "Global Divas" is a three-CD set that features over seventy female artists from more than thirty different countries and cultures....

Letter to the Editors

— Paul LeBlanc

p>PETER DRUCKER'S LETTER (ATC 61), in defending the revolutionary honor of Max Shachtman, takes issue with my article "Challenges of a Black Revolutionary: The Marxism of CLR James" (ATC 60). But what I wrote was not meant to cast aspersions on Shachtman.

I noted sharp differences that led to the 1947 split of James and his co-thinkers from the Workers Party led by Shachtman....

Random Shots: Wages and Other Minima

— R.F. Kampfer

CLINTON AND DOLE have compromised by agreeing to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour, to be paid in monopoly money.

Opponents of raising the minimum wage -- some of whom want to abolish it altogether -- argue that the fast-food joints won't be able to hire as many burger-flippers. They overlook the fact that workers with bigger paychecks buy more hamburgers....


Pornography and the Sex Censor

— Cathy Crosson

FOR THE PAST decade and a half, American feminism has been mired in its divisive "sex wars" over the pornography issue.  In reporting that essentially sterile but politically important debate, the mainstream media have often advanced the censorship agenda of Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin as "the" feminist position.  For reasons that are hardly enigmatic, the anti-porn crusaders have become darling ideologues: they espouse a deeply conservative analysis of gender politics, and they pose authoritarian "solutions" to the problems women face. The gender-hatred and anti-sexuality pervading their work have repelled many who therefore misguidedly reject feminism entirely; the censorial climate they have fostered has caused untold harm. In short, "MacDworkinism" (as some like to call it) has proved eminently useful to the powers-that-be, destructive and discrediting to feminism.

Reading Red Women Writers

— Renny Christopher

Better Red: The Writing and Resistance of Tillie Olsen and Meridel LeSueur by Constance Coiner.  (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.) $45."

"My study resides, then, at the nexus of two related fronts in the culture wars neglected even by many progressive academics: the effort to expand the literary canon by legitimating working- class writing and the struggle to preserve and revision the history of the American Left" (238).

The Uses of Dmitri Volkogonov

— Samuel Farber

AS THE MAN appointed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to manage the secret files housed in the KGB, Communist Party and government offices, the late former General Dmitri Volkogonov utilized his privileged access by publishing a number of works, notably the lavishly acclaimed Lenin. A New Biography (New York: The Free Press, 1994).

Throwing elementary good sense and fairness to the winds and devoid of any subtlety, the author, publishers and mainstream reviewers joined in a chorus proclaiming that this biography shows a heretofore unknown and truly diabolical Lenin....

Trotsky Assassinated Again

— Susan Weissman

IN THE MOTHER of all factional struggles within the Soviet elite, during the "glasnost" of the 1980s, none other than Boris Yeltsin recruited the memory of Leon Trotsky in his anti-privilege campaign against corrupt party apparatchiks. Gorbachev, the wiser, neutralized Trotsky and undercut the left by relegating the Old Man to the museum of the revolution, while allowing it to be understood that Trotsky was an "administrator" (code word for Stalinist), "super-industrialist" (read: super-Stalinist)....