Against the Current, No. 77, November/December 1998

Politics of Terror and Scandal

— The Editors

SCENARIO: AGAINST THE background of a depression in Japan, the economic collapse of Russia and stock market crashes on three continents, a United States president facing imminent expulsion from office for concealing illicit sex in the Oval Office orders retaliatory Cruise missile strikes on two already-ravaged Middle Eastern countries and declares "war on international terrorism."

Take that idea and try to sell it to Hollywood.  Forget about it: Even in "Wag the Dog," after all, not only the pretext but the "war" itself were both imaginary, while the realities of the late summer of 1998 would tax the credulity of even the devotees of "Armageddon."

Adelphi Recovers "The Long View"

— A.S. Zaidi

IN 1985, PETER Diamandopoulos became Adelphi University's seventh president, ushering in an entire decade of "shock therapy" for the small commuter school on Long Island.  Opposition to Diamandopoulos grew when it was disclosed that Diamandopoulos was the second highest paid university president in the United States.  Adelphi had purchased a $1.2 million Manhattan condominium for his use at a time when it was shedding employees and course offerings.

Mumia Abu-Jamal: Awaiting the Decision

— Steve Bloom

AT PRESS TIME internationally renowned author and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal still waits on Pennsylvania's death row for the state Supreme Court to issue a verdict on his appeal for a new trial.  There are at least five ways the court can rule:

Race and Politics: A Color-Blind America?

— Malik Miah

THROUGHOUT U.S. HISTORY “race” has been a major factor in all politics—beginning with the English occupation and the Westward drive of settlers to conquer and slaughter the native peoples. The justification: advancement of civilization.

Racism is as American as apple pie, yet race itself is a political (economic) concept having little to do with biology or science.

The Rebel Girl: The New Sex Police

— Catherine Sameh

IN AN INTERVIEW for the “Hungry Mind Press Newsletter” (Issue Number 3, Summer 1998), Leslie Brody, author of Red Star Sister: Between Madness and Utopia (Hungry Mind Press, l998), a memoir of her stint in the White Panthers (a short-lived anti-racist radical youth group—ed.), responds to Dallas Crow's question “Why a memoir of the sixties now?”

Saga of the Neptune Jade

— Hayden Perry

ON SEPTEMBER 28, 1997, a container-ship sailed through the Golden Gate into San Francisco Bay and tied up at the Yusen Terminal in the port of Oakland.  This precipitated an international drama that ranges from Liverpool, England, Vancouver, Canada, and on across the Pacific to Japan.

The battle involves British, American, Canadian and Japanese longshoremen, college students, labor supporters, and the bosses' Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).  Issues raised concern the right to picket, free speech, international solidarity and even academic freedom.

Worker Resistance in Telecommunications

— Kim Moody

LABOR RESISTANCE SEEMS to be spreading, capturing public support, and even winning some gains here and there.  Such diverse groups as New York cabbies and construction workers, California nurses and transit workers, UPS and GM workers have gone to the streets against the affects of work intensification and industry reorganization.

Less and less are today's strikes characterized by tiny dispirited picket lines, and more and more by mass actions.  Job security, work time, work loads and the speed of work are as much or more the issues in these struggles as shrinking dollars and chiseled benefits.  These tactics and issues now have resonance in broad sections of the working-class population.

Living Wage Campaigns, Part 2: Challenges Facing the Movement

— Stephanie Luce

IN THE PREVIOUS article (see ATC 76), I discussed the basic concepts, advocates and goals behind living wage campaigns, as well as some of the movement's successes. These include a positive ideological effect on legislators and other organizations' agendas; the creation of strong and lasting coalitions; the development of new worker organizations; and the growth of existing worker organizations.

Russia's Crisis: Capitalism in Question

— Hillel Ticktin and Susan Weissman

THE ECONOMIC CRISIS in Russia is a trigger for the world-wide decline in stock markets and currencies rather than its cause.  Russia has been in a sharp economic crisis for a decade, since Gorbachev passed the Law on the State Enterprise, which first introduced market disciplines to the USSR. On the other side, the world is in a supply glut with too many products and not enough buyers.  The Russian debt default looks like the first of a number to come.

Ethnic Conflicts in Nicaragua

— John Vandermeer and David Bradford

WITH LITTLE INTERNATIONAL notice, the winds of war are picking up on the eastern seaboard of Nicaragua. This time, however, it will not be a clear class-warfare case with a popular revolution struggling against an imperial behemoth. Rather, the Croat-Serb-Muslim model may be a better metaphor.

Over the past decade we have watched the situation change from the hopeful vision of a multiethnic autonomous society to today's mixture of ethnic typecasting and cynical manipulations by the neoliberal crooks in Managua.

The Looming Crisis of World Capitalism

— Robert Brenner

MARXIST ECONOMISTS ARE famous for having accurately predicted seven out of the last one international economic crisis.  Perhaps for that reason, many in recent times have been unusually cautious about once again "crying wolf," even as the evidence of international economic dislocation has mounted around them.

Today, however, prediction is no longer necessary.  The international economy, outside of the United States and Europe—perhaps 50% of the world—is already experiencing an economic downturn that is worse than any that has occurred since the 1930s.

An Introduction to E. San Juan: What is Postcolonial Theory?

— Alan Wald

THE SPECTACULAR PROLIFERATION of Postcolonial Theory during the past decade has produced a stimulating yet vexing controversy in Marxist circles. This fractious school of cultural criticism evolved from earlier left-wing concerns with cultures of peoples of color in the internal and external colonies of the West, usually treated under the rubrics of “Third World Literature,” “Minority Discourse,” and “Resistance Literature.”

The Limits of Postcolonial Criticism: The Discourse of Edward Said

— E. San Juan, Jr.

ONE OF THE fundamental discoveries of Marxist historiography is that capitalism as a world system has developed unevenly, with the operations of the “free market” determined by unplanned but (after analysis) “lawful” tendencies of accumulation of surplus value.

With the rise of merchant capitalism, diverse modes of production with varying temporalities and “superstructural” effects have since then reconfigured the planet. In a new cartography, we find metropolitan centers subordinating peripheral territories and peoples. Colonialism and later finance-capitalism (imperialism) compressed time and space, sharply juxtaposing a variety of cultures linked to discrepant economies and polities, with the colonizing center dictating the measure of modernity.

Random Shots: Great World Leaders on Parade

— R.F. Kampfer

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT BORIS Yeltsin made the controversial decision to attend the ceremonial disposal of the Romanov remains. Let's hope he took notice of what happens to incompetent rulers who hang around too long.

Yeltsin, like Peter the Great before him, wanted to have it both ways—to be recognized as the head of a civilized European nation, while retaining the privilege of beheading anyone who annoyed him.

President Clinton, asked to provide a saliva sample for a DNA comparison to Monica Lewinsky's...


A Century of Meatpacking Unionism

— Lisa M. Fine

Down on the Killing Floor.
Black and White Workers in Chicago's Packinghouses, 1904-1954
Rick Halpern
University of Illinois Press, 1997; paperback $17.95.

Negro and White, Unite and Fight!
A Social History of Industrial Unionism in Meatpacking, 1930-1990
Roger Horowitz
University of Illinois Press, 1997; paperback $17.95.

THE END OF the twentieth century provides a wonderful excuse for historians to assess the trends of the last 100 years.  For United States labor historians, this is an opportunity to widen our gaze to allow for a more integrated and connected vision of the past and to work out a more historically informed understanding of present-day events.

How British Labor Declined: Cowley from the Inside

— Sheila Cohen

Inside Cowley: Trade Union Struggle in the 1970s by Alan Thornett (London: Porcupine Press, 1998) 407 pages, $20 paperback.*

Recording the Face of Daily Life

— Alex Chis

Humble Work and Mad Wanderings, Street Life in the Machine Age by Ken Appollo (Carl Mautz Publishing, Nevada City, CA, 1997) 108 pages, 61 duotone images, $34.95. Order from Carl Mautz Publishing, 228 Commercial Street, Suite 522, Nevada City, CA, 95959. Shipping $3.50 first book, $1.00 each additional, CA residents add sales tax.

Artistry, Life and Revolution: The Best of What We Are

— Joseph E. Mulligan

The Best of What We Are—Reflections on the Nicaraguan Revolution by John Brentlinger (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995), $18.95 paperback.

In Memoriam

Eileen Gersh, 1913-1998

— Dianne Feeley

EILEEN SUTTON GERSH, a revolutionary socialist since the 1930s, died in London on March 18, 1998. Like many of her generation, she became radicalized by the political and economic crisis of the 1930s, including the rise of fascism and the Spanish Civil War. Sutton began to read Marx while studying at Somerville College in Oxford and joined the school's Labour Club.

In Memory of A Chinese Revolutionary: Zheng Chaolin, 1901-1998

— Wang Fanxi

ZHENG CHAOLIN, A veteran of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and of the Chinese Trotskyist movement, died August 1 in Shanghai. He devoted his entire life to the cause of the liberation of the Chinese workers and peasants, and yet his achievement was far from restricted to the revolution.