Against the Current, No. 65, November/December 1996

Against the Current, No. 65, November/December 1996

The Gulf Slaughter Revisited

— The Editors

"ONE CRIME AGAINST Humanity Deserves Another" may not be the latest catchy campaign slogan from the Clinton campaign team, but to quote the Pres, it's actions and not words that count.  The re-tightening of economic sanctions, which have already killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children-as Stanley Heller documents in his article in this issue of "Against the Current"-are calculated to help ensure Clinton's re-election, even though they failed to accomplish as much for his predecessor George Bush.

The Poisoned Fruits of Oslo (II)

— The Editors

"THE HOPE FOR a new Palestinian upsurge from below," we wrote in our July/August editorial ("ATC 63), "must not be lost. The very fact that such a revival is so difficult to undertake, or even imagine, in the present moment must be considered among the poisoned fruits of an Oslo `peace process' that once seemed to offer at least some limited progress."

For Iraqi Children, Death by Sanctions

— Stanley Heller

AN UNDERREPORTED CASUALTY in the latest U.S.-Iraq conflict is the "Food for Oil" deal that was agreed upon in May. This was the long awaited relief plan for Iraqi civilians suffering under United Nations sanctions.  While it had never been put into effect, the last U.S. criticisms had supposedly been withdrawn.

The Vulnerable Are 70% of the Population

— interview with Professor Peter Pellett

[The following is an interview conducted by Stanley Heller on June 27, 1996 with Professor Peter Pcllett, of the University of Massachusetts, who led last year's UN study team in Iraq.]

Against the Current: Members of your study team estimated that 567,000 Iraqi children had died because of the sanctions. Has any social scientist or government leader denied that hundreds of thousands of children have died?

Peter Pellett: Not to my knowledge. Sanctions are designed to produce deprivation and suffering: that is their purpose. It is thus not surprising that the poor and vulnerable, especially the children, are most affected and hence mortality is increased....

Jerusalem's Inevitable Explosion

— David Finkel

"JERUSALEM: AN OCCUPATION Set In Stone?" has made an unusual mark for a video documentary.  The film represents a pioneering effort of this medium by a grassroots movement in the Occupied Territories to present its own story.

The Strike at McDonnell Douglas

— Peter Downs

ARROGANT EXECUTIVES AT weapons maker McDonnell Douglas thought they had their St. Louis machinists cowed. They thought workers would accept whatever they offered. They were wrong.

On June 5, workers walked off the job. They didn't know it, but their walkout would last ninty-nine days and drag state and federal government officials into the conflict....

HMOs, A Pox on Our Houses

— Pauline Furth, M.D.

A RECENT AND appalling indication of how the profit motive exclusively drives so-called "Health Maintenance Organizations" (HMOs) concerns the chicken pox vaccine.

Chicken pox is a viral infection, highly contagious, of approximately two weeks' duration. It is far more serious in adults than in children, but may lead to serious diseases such as pneumonia, encephalopathies and the fatal Reye's Syndrome....

Toward 21st Century Democracy

— an interview with Steven Hill

STEVEN HILL IS West Coast coordinator for the Center for Voting and Democracy. He spoke by phone with David Finkel of the ATC editorial board.

Against the Current: First, can you tell us about the ballot initiative for proportional representation taking place in San Francisco? This issue of our magazine will go to press before Election Day, so we won't yet know the results, but are you optimistic about winning?

Steven Hill: Very optimistic. In fact, there's no organized opposition....

Proportional Representation: The Urgency of Real Reform

— Gerald Meyer

THE UNITED STATES' low rate of voter participation and the absence of an organized political left are related phenomena: Both are linked to the single-member plurality electoral system.

The introduction of an electoral system based on proportional representation would allow the left to be represented in government, because it allows for representation without requiring a majority vote. From 1937 to 1949, when the New York City Council was elected by proportional representation, the left had its most remarkable electoral successes....

Can Repression Save Indonesia's Suharto?

— Dianne Feeley

THE COST OF maintaining President Suharto and his family's monopoly on Indonesia--a country of nearly 200 million people scattered across thousands of islands and, for the last twenty years, illegally occupying East Timor--is quickening in the face of a general election scheduled for early 1997.

In 1965, Suharto--at that time commander of a rapid deployment force--overthrew President Sukarno (who had declared Indonesia's independence from The Netherlands in 1945 and had been revered as a political figure who sided with the poor) and unleashed a bloodbath in which more than a million people were killed. Thousands spent fifteen years in internment camps and hundreds of thousands were forced to carry special identity cards....


— The Editors

THE TWO-DECADE GENOCIDE in East Timor has become news with the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize to Bishop Carlos Felipe Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta, two courageous Timorese activists. Since the Indonesian military regime invaded East Timor in 1975, a third of the population has died from starvation, epidemics and military repression.

East Timor became the prime example, in the "propaganda model" analysis developed by Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman, of the media's disinterest in massacres perpetrated by "friendly" governments....

Mexico: Insurrection and Disintegration

— Dan La Botz

THE PEOPLE'S REVOLUTIONARY Army (EPR), a new Mexican guerrilla group, appeared back in June in the town of Aguas Blancas, Guerrero where eighteen peasants had been massacred by the police a year before. In a short "Manifesto of Aguas Blancas," the EPR announced its intention to overthrow the Mexican government and bring democracy and social justice to Mexico....

Towards A Red Feminism

— Teresa Ebert

for Barbara Foley and her struggles
to build a socialist academy

RED FEMINISM CONTESTS all forms of institutionalized feminism: from cultural feminism (which is making a comeback in the name of a commonsense fear of the "new," the "alien" and the technological) to postmodern feminisms with their bourgeois reifications of the pleasures and desires of commodity capitalism.

Red Feminism challenges the effectivity of the new localist, "transnational" feminisms and calls for a renewed internationalism--with a historical and strategic use of the nation-state--to fight global capitalism....

The Rebel Girl: The Transgendered Outlaw

— Catherine Sameh

with Leslie Feinberg
A documentary by Alisa Lebow. Docudrag Productions, 1994; running time 26:18.

A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT Leslie Feinberg could have taken place anywhere. But Feinberg chose the gym, for her "a place of dignity and strength."

For her, being transgendered is not about the clothes she wears but how she views her body, and what kind of attitudes society imposes about that body....

Detroit Newspaper Strike Update

— The Editors

FACING THEIR SECOND consecutive holiday season on the picket lines, two thousand striking Detroit newspaper workers continue a bitter war of attrition against the Detroit Newspaper Agency (DNA) and its two scab papers, the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News.

Between March, 1995 (pre-strike) and March 1996, figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation show, Detroit News circulation dropped by 38.2% in Wayne County, 31.9% in Oakland County and a whopping 43.9% in Macomb County. For the Free Press the respective declines are 39.6%, 28.4% and 41.1%....

Random Shots: Notes from a Smoker's Diary

— R.F. Kampfer

IN ORDER TO discourage teen-age smoking, the FDA has mandated that cigarette "mascots" be less appealing to young people. Joe Camel will be changed to Brad Broccoli. The Marlboro man will be a high school gym teacher instead of a cowboy. Virginia Slims ads will feature a scantily clad Margaret Thatcher....

Viewpoints on the "Stand for Children"

Standing for Children, or Clinton?

— Susan Dorazio

I WAS ONE of the tens of thousands of people who attended "Stand for Children" in Washington, D.C. on June 1. This was to be a broad-based apolitical event intended to express the commitment and resolve of children's advocates, and to "send a message" to everybody else about the plight of so many of our kids.

As an activist I was skeptical of the value of such an event, but as a day care worker I was enticed by the prospect of a mass gathering of children and adults reassuring each other, and reminding the country, that we exist and that we matter. In the end, ambivalence persisting but hope (and curiosity) prevailing, I boarded one of our area's four buses and headed for the rally....

Standing for All Our Children

— Sasha Roberts

ON JUNE 1, 1996 at the National Stand for Children in Washington, D.C., the words of a song by Sweet Honey in the Rock flashed through my head:

Step by step the longest march can be won, can be won.
Many stones to build an arch, singly none, singly none.
Any by union what we will, can be accomplished even still.
Drops of water turn a wheel, singly none, singly none.


Marxism and the Fate of the European Jews

— Peter Drucker

The Marxists and the Jewish Question:
The History of a Debate (1843-1943)
by Enzo Traverso, trans. Bernard Gibbons.
New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1994, $18.50 (paperback).

THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN Jews and the left is the stuff of legend: in particular, the legends of the extreme right. "Jewish Marxism" was one of the bogeys that the Nazis conjured up in order to whip up support and ultimately used as a pretext (second of course to "racial inferiority") for the Holocaust. The historical link between Jews and socialism has in fact been nowhere near as universal or consistent in reality as in paranoid, right-wing fantasies....


A Response to Cathy Crosson

— Anne E. Menasche

IT WAS MOST unfortunate that Cathy Crosson in her review of Nadine Strossen's book "Defending Pornography" ("ATC" 63) chose to resort to anti-feminist stereotypes and name- calling to discredit anti-pornography activists with whom she disagrees.  Such methods discourage real debate within the women's and progressive movements on a complex topic and, in a period of anti-feminist backlash, risk playing into the hands of the right wing far more than Dworkin-MacKinnon's mistaken approach to pornography.

A Rejoinder

— Cathy Crosson

WHAT WE HAVE here is a failure to communicate.  Ann Menasche complains that my criticisms of MacDworkinism act to "discourage real debate" about pornography-precisely my announced intention.  Enough ink and feminist energy have been squandered on this relatively insignificant topic to last us the next century.  If it was ever a debate worth having, it has long ago exhausted its usefulness and has become an ever-weightier albatross for the women's movement.

On the Trotskyist Opposition

— Paul Le Blanc

I WOULD LIKE to take issue with John Marot's lengthy polemic (ATC 64) against the final volume of Tony Cliff's useful Trotsky biography. Most of Marot's five-page review consists of a critique of "the Trotskyists" in an increasingly Stalinized Russia.

The thrust of Marot's critique is that Trotsky's analysis of the nature of the bureaucratic dictatorship made it impossible to mobilize the working class to defeat Stalinism, that it led instead to the Russian Trotskyist leadership embracing Stalin's "left turn" and capitulating to the totalitarian regime....

A Rejoinder

— John Marot

PAUL LE BLANC WOULD like to attribute the victory of Stalinism fully to the complexities of the objective situation, and excuse virtually the entire leadership of the Left Opposition in Russia for their faulty analysis of them. But Le Blanc overlooks the reasoning of the so-called "capitulators" who broke with "modern Trotskyism as we know it."...

In Memoriam

Michel Mill 1944-1996

— Patrick M. Quinn

MICHEL MILL, A longtime central leader of the Trotskyist movement in Quebec and Canada, died of a heart attack at the age of 51 on October 6, 1996 in East Lansing, Michigan.

In Memory of Constance Coiner

— Alan Wald

CONSTANCE COINER, A 48-year-old Associate Professor of English at SUNY Binghampton, and her 12-year-old daughter, Ana, were among the passengers killed on the TWA flight that exploded after departing New York City for Paris in late July. They were mentioned in a report on National Public Radio, in a New York Times article titled "A Scholar's Reward," and in The Chronicle of Higher Education....

Friend, Scholar and Fighter

— James Petras

STEVE VIEUX WAS a scholar, a committed intellectual and a loyal friend . . . a difficult combination to find these days. inside or outside of academia.

As a scholar he was capable of working at the macro and micro level, from theoretical critiques of Theda Skocol to close-up studies of the impact of neoliberalism on everyday life. The intellectual problems were derived from concerns derived from practical problems facing the working class. But Steve never let political commitments get in the way of a concern for rigorous analysis and thorough research of documents....

In Memory of Steve Zeluck

— Lew Friedman

RECENTLY, WHILE GOING through old pamphlets on my bookshelf, I came across Toward Teacher Power, a pamphlet written by Steve Zeluck in 1973, when Steve was a member of the International Socialists. As I read through his pamphlet I recognized that Steve's ideas are as significant today as when it was written. Thinking back, I realize the importance of Steve's legacy and how his ideas can be of use to us today....

Steve Zeluck: Revolutionary Marxist

— Charlie Post

I FIRST MET Steve Zeluck in the fall of 1979. At 25, I thought of myself as a "seasoned political." I had joined the organized revolutionary left in my late teens and had gone through a round of "splits and fusions" in the mid-1970s that failed to create a stable political group. Steve was then 57, a veteran of nearly forty years of militancy in both the labor and revolutionary socialist movements....