Against the Current, No. 67, March/April 1997

Against the Current, No. 67, March/April 1997

Lies, Damn Lies and "Reforms"

— The Editors

"Our greatest responsibility is to embrace a new spirit of community for a new century," intoned Bill Clinton in his inaugural address.  "For any one of us to succeed, we must succeed as one in America."  Indeed, the features of Clinton's "community for a new century" are already emerging.

Granted that presidential inaugural addresses are always the occasion for lofty phrases that hide brutal realities, but Clinton's performance shows real daring.  To speak of "community," at the moment when plans are coming to "privatize" social security through mandatory individual investment plans, is a perfect illustration of the method.

Defying Washington's Embargo

— Phyllis Ponvert

IN THE FACE of strong government opposition and little U.S. media attention, a grassroots effort scored a victory on September 13, 1996. On that day U.S. and Canadian members of Pastors for Peace delivered 400 medical computers to Cuba, without applying for the license required by the U.S. trade embargo.

Behind Peru's Hostage Crisis

— an interview with Coletta Youngers

Coletta Youngers is a senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) in Washington, D.C. Since 1983 she has been living in or working on Peru. She was interviewed in late January by phone by David Finkel of the "ATC" editorial board, who asked her to discuss the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) and the issues raised by the hostage situation in Lima.

Against the Current: What is your own perspective on the present crisis and how it might end?

Class Struggle in Andalucia

— Loren Goldner

THIS ARTICLE DEALS with a number of specific episodes of class struggle in Lower Andalucia(1) in the recent period. Although these struggles have specific regional characteristics, connected to the highest unemployment rate in Europe (43% in Jerez(2) and Cadiz(3)) and exceptional poverty (only a handful of regions in Europe are poorer), they actually fit a national and above all international pattern....

Another View of the Nicaraguan Election

— Cesar J. Ayala

NICARAGUA'S RIGHT WING Liberal Alliance swept the municipal elections of October 20, 1996, winning 92 of the 145 mayoral elections in the towns, against 51 for the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). While the Liberal Alliance won the local elections by a 28% margin, in the presidential elections the Alliance candidate Arnoldo Alemán defeated the FSLN's Daniel Ortega by a 13% margin.

Daniel Ortega chose a prominent Nicaraguan capitalist, Juan Manuel Caldera, as his running mate. Caldera is NOT a member of the FSLN, but is rather a member of the High Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP), an organization which was a virulent opponent of the Sandinistas in the 1980s....

Chronology of the Revolution

19 July 1979: The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) overthrows the dictatorship of general Anastasio Somoza.

April-May 1980: Conservative parties break with the FSLN. Sra. Violeta Chamorro leaves the governing junta.

1981: Beginning of the Contra war....

Random Shots: The Sexual Is the Political

— R.F. Kampfer

EVERY SAME-SEX COUPLE who get married in Hawaii should send Jesse Helms a wedding invitation, and hope for apoplexy....

In Honor of the Left Opposition

— Paul Le Blanc

SIXTY YEARS AGO, in the same year that bloody purges orchestrated by Communist Party dictator Joseph Stalin were engulfing their country, small groups of dissident Communist heroes and heroines in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics waged their final struggle for the original ideals of the Russian Revolution of 1917....

The Changing Face of Labor

John Sweeney's New-Old AFL-CIO

— Jane Slaughter

PERHAPS THE BEST thing about the 1995 election campaign of the New Voice team in the AFL-CIO was that it made the labor movement suddenly visible.  For years the pundits had counted organized labor out. Most newspapers no longer saw a need for a labor reporter; perhaps some junior staffer took "work and family" as part of a beat in the Lifestyle section.

Teamster Reformers 2, Old Guard 0

— Henry Phillips

LAST FALL FEATURED one election, at least, that working people had a stake in. Clinton/Dole?  Forget it. But how `bout them Teamsters?

The choice seemed clear enough: Jimmy Hoffa Jr., a mob- connected lawyer who has represented employers and corrupt officials against Teamster members, or Ron Carey, the union's first democratically elected president and the labor movement's most promising high-ranking militant and reformer.

For International Women's Day

Arab Women Writers' Problems and Prospects

— Amal Amireh

"ARABIC IS A controversial language," Edward Said was once told. This intriguing statement by a New York publisher was offered as an explanation for turning down the Arabic titles that Said recommended for possible translation and publication.

The Export of Philippine Women

— Delia D. Aguilar

AT THE SAME time last September that Business Week (Sept. 30, 1996, 20) announced how the Philippines, "Asia's 'sick man,'" appeared to be out of "the convalescent ward for good," National Public Radio reported the return to Manila of 24yearold Lenny Torres, a domestic helper employed in Bahrain.

Torres came home in a coffin, her alleged suicide angrily questioned by relatives, women's groups, and government officials. In 1995, 87 overseas contract workers (OCWs), mostly domestics like Torres, met unexplained deaths. Meanwhile, as Business Week and other media report, the GNP has been accelerating steadily since 1992, reaching 7.1% in the first half of this year....

Further Dialogue on Pornography

— Nancy Herzig and Rafael Bernabe

CATHY CROSSON's REVIEW of Nadine Strossen's "Defending Pornography" ("ATC" 63, July-August 1996) is a welcome addition to the debate on censorship and pornography.  [The issue was discussed further in an exchange between Crosson and Ann Menasche in "ATC" 65, November-December 1996.-ed.]

The Rebel Girl: Violence Against Choice

— Catherine Sameh

I HAVE BEEN recently asked to speak to a group of young women about reproductive rights issues. I haven't worked in the field for almost four years now, but remain attuned to the changes in climate and politics.

I look through my files, wondering what I could say that might be new and interesting. I am struck by how much has happened, yet how little has changed in nearly ten years -- and then it happens. Another bombing of an abortion clinic: This time in Atlanta. This time, no deaths....


On Lichtenstein's Biography of Walter Reuther

NELSON LICHTENSTEIN'S BIOGRAPHY of Walter Reuther was reviewed by Jane Slaughter in ATC 64 (September-October 1996), focusing on the roots of 1990s-style "labor-management cooperation" in Reuther's leadership of the United Auto Workers. (A brief comment by Martin Glaberman also appeared in ATC 66.)...

On Walter Reuther: Legends and Lessons

— Michael Goldfield

The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor
by Nelson Lichtenstein
New York, Basic Books, 1995, 575 pages, $35 hardcover.

IT HAS BEEN over a year since a coalition of most public sector unions and some industrial unions elected former Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President John Sweeney and his slate as the new leadership of the AFL-CIO. In so doing, they overthrew the old-line craft-centered leadership of former President Lane Kirkland....

Where Studes Lonigan Came From

— Patrick M. Quinn

Studs Lonigan's Neighborhood and the Making of James T. Farrell
by Edgar M. Branch
Arts End Books, Box 162, Newton, MA 02168, 1996,
8.5" x 11" sized format, 104 pages, $20 paperback.

JAMES T. FARRELL was the major American novelist most significantly influenced by Trotskyism over a sustained period. To be sure, Saul Bellow was a Trotskyist in his youth, but his engagement with Trotskyism was neither as deep nor prolonged as Farrell's, which stretched over a decade (1937-47)....

Joan Mandell's Tales from Arab Detroit

— Janice J. Terry

Tales from Arab Detroit. Directed by Joan Mandell, produced by ACCESS and Olive Branch Productions. (c) 1995, 45 minutes color stereo.

TALES FROM ARAB Detroit is a video documentary offering a fascinating glimpse into the lives and struggles of the Arab American community in the Detroit tri-county area.

Independent documentary maker Joan Mandell (whose first film Gaza Ghetto powerfully showed the realities of daily life in that underreported section of occupied Palestine) produced this film in conjunction with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)....

Recovering the Sandinista Murals

— Dianne Feeley

The Murals of Revolutionary Nicaragua 1979-1992

by David Kunzle, with a forward by Miguel D'Escoto

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995,

64 color photographs, over 200 black-and-white photos/graphics. 203 pages, $65 cloth; $29.95 paper.

THE NICARAGUAN REVOLUTION of 1979 was a cultural flowering as well as a political, social and economic sea change. Consequently The Murals of Revolutionary Nicaragua is a readers' delight -- not only are there exquisite reproductions of the major murals painted between 1979-92, but they are placed in context....

The Memoirs of Nadezhda Joffe

— Morris Slavin

Back in Time My Life, My Fate, My Epoch
The Memoirs of Nadezhda A. Joffe
Translated from the Russian by Frederick S. Choate
Oak Park, MI.

THE AUTHOR OF these memoirs is the daughter of the well-known Bolshevik, Adolf Abramovich Joffe, a good friend of both Lenin and Trotsky. Unfortunately, since the book was written in 1971-72, that is, during the Brezhnev period, it is obvious that Nadezhda Joffe could say little on the politics of her time in the gulags. She is now ninety-six years old, living in New York. It is too bad that she did not update her memoirs, which are largely limited to her terrible struggle to survive and to keep her four daughters alive....