Against the Current, No. 80, May/June 1999

NATO's Road to War and Ruin

— The Editors

THE CARNAGE IN Kosovo and the United States/NATO air campaign—which, we will argue, is escalating toward either humiliating defeat or a full-scale ground war—pose one of the greatest challenges in a generation to the left's principles, political courage and moral backbone.  During most of our lifetimes, it's been unprecedented to confront such a situation of apparent total conflict between competing imperatives: between the need for immediate action to stop the crimes against the population of Kosovo, and the need to oppose and halt imperialist interventions.

Waiting to Inhale: Culture Wars or Unfinished Gratification?

— David Roediger

WITH THE END of the impeachment pro<->ceedings, it is surely time for the left to offer analyses of the crisis which press far beyond those on offer in the mainstream press, and which do considerably more than offer a hold-your-nose defense of the President's “privacy.” Here is one such attempt.

The Fight for Leonard Peltier

— Hayden Perry

LEONARD PELTIER, A Native American class-war prisoner, has served twenty-three years in federal prisons for a crime he did not commit—and authorities admit they do not know who did it.

CPE: Demystifying Economics--Interview with Elissa Braunstein

— Stephanie Luce

ELISSA BRAUNSTEIN IS a graduate student in economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and has been a staff economist at Center for Popular Economics (CPE) for the past six years. CPE was founded in 1978 by five faculty and graduate students—Sam Bowles, Jim Crotty, Diane Flaherty, David Kotz, and Juliet Schor—to teach basic economics to activists. The collective has published several book, including A Field Guide to the U.S. Economy, Mink Coats Don't Trickle Down, and Economic Report of the People. Since its founding, thousands of people have attended CPE workshops or courses.
In the past few years, CPE has developed an educational program called “Demystifying Global Economics for women.” Stephanie Luce interviewed Braunstein to find out more about that program, and about CPE in general.

Race and Politics: Indonesia's Ethnic Conflicts

— Malik Miah

IF YOU READ only the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, or watched CNN, your view of the fourth most populous country in the world, Indonesia with its 210 million people, would be of Muslims (ninety percent of the population) and Christians killing each other, as well as pogroms against ethnic Chinese, Dayaks attacking migrants and the people of the "Spice Islands" engaging in communal violence.

A Profile of East Timor's Jose Ramos-Horta

— Conan Elphicke

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA DENIES he is a bitter man, claiming that he feels only disdain for the invaders of his country.  But too much has been inflicted on East Timor, too many of his friends and relatives killed, the diplomatic war he has waged has carried on too long for him not to feel an abiding resentment.

Rigoberta Menchú: A Witness Discredited?

— Cindy Forster

THIS JANUARY, THE charge that the Maya human rights activist and Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú had lied about her past hit the U.S. reading public like a ton of bricks.  Anthropologist David Stoll published a book claiming to have unearthed not only Rigoberta's lies, but also the deceptions of the entire Latin American left from Zapata to Che and beyond.  The book, Rigoberta and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans, paints guerrillas as parasites and Rigoberta Menchú, who won the peace prize in 1992 for her defense of Indigenous rights, as their pawn. It's based on interviews in Guatemala's scorched earth zones that contradict some of the details of Menchú's famous testimony, I. . . Rigoberta Menchú.

A Revolutionary Woman in Mind and Spirit: The Passions of Rosa Luxemburg

— Paul Le Blanc

IN THESE COMMENTS on the spirit and mind of this great revolutionary thinker and activist, I think it makes sense to begin with a focus on her gender. It isn't clear that Rosa Luxemburg herself would be inclined to agree. She had, after all, refused to occupy a “safer”and marginalized position as a women's spokesperson in the socialist movement.

Random Shots: Weird Sex and Boiled Bacon

— R.F. Kampfer

THE ERISIAN LIBERATION Front (it's safer not to know) is running the Antichrist for president in 2000. Their motto: “Why settle for the lesser evil?”

The Rebel Girl: A Question of Rape

— Catherine Sameh

ON JUNE June 27, 1996, a United Nations court indicted eight Bosnian Serb military and police officers for the rapes of Muslim women in the Bosnian war. According to a New York Times article on June 28, 1996, investigators of the European Union and Amnesty International “calculated that in 1992, 20,000 Muslim women and girls were raped by Serbs.”

Capital's Global Turbulence: A Symposium

"Total Capital" Rigor and International Liquidity: A Reply to Robert Brenner

— Loren Goldner

It is only in the markets of the world that money acquires to the full extent the character of the commodity whose bodily form is also the immediate social incarnation of human labor in the abstract. Its real mode of existence in this sphere adequately corresponds to its ideal concept. (Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1, Part I, Chapter III, Section 3c)

(in 1987) . . . the U.S. was still a creditor nation. The returns it earned on its overseas investments helped to offset the impact of its trade deficit, taking pressure off the current account.

These days, the U.S. is a debtor. Rather than investment income coming in, it flows out in the form of debt service. As long as there is no trade surplus to balance the outflow, the debt keeps piling up . . . “It accumulates, and then it compounds, and then it gets really big.

How big is anyone's guess. But extrapolating from current trends suggests the U.S. will be a basket case by the year 2010 .. . Its foreign liabilities could by then be 50 per cent larger than its foreign assets- the sort of situation found in . . .“semi-bankrupt developing countries.”(Richard Waters, Financial Times, Dec. 7, 1998)

The Great Bull Market vs. Looming Crisis: On Brenner's Theory of Crisis

— Peter Camejo

THE UNITED STATES is experiencing the greatest bull market in the stock market. From a low of 776 in August 1982 the Dow-Jones Industrial Average has risen to over 9,600. [This article was completed prior to the Dow's breaking the 10,000 barrier—ed.]

Dialogue on Workers in a Lean World

On Workers in A Lean World

— Kim Moody

IN HIS GENERALLY positive review of my Workers in a Lean World (ATC 78, January-February 1999), Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval accuses me of "too many broad generalizations," of dismissing globalization as "nothing more than `globaloney'," and arguing that all labor needs to address internationalized production is "rank-and-file democracy."

A Rejoinder

— Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval

I ENJOYED READING Kim Moody's reply and hope that other folks get involved in this crucial debate.  My own viewpoint is that "globalization" has dramatically undermined the leverage and bargaining position of workers and labor unions in developed and developing nations.  [See note 1]


Glaberman and Faber's Working for Wages

— Sheila Cohen

Working for Wages: The Roots of Insurgency by Martin Glaberman and Seymour Faber (Dix Hills, NY: General Hall, Inc., 1998)  $26.95 paperback.

OVER THE LAST few years I have been privileged to teach a number of basic economics courses to trade unionists-"privileged" because in every case the students' experience, their awareness and critical understanding of what goes on in their lives, has provided a rich fund of knowledge of which I have become in my turn a grateful student.

The Availability of Utopian Thought

— Terry Murphy

The War of Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America by Michael Lowy (Verso, 1996) 163 pages, $18 paperback.

IN THIS COMPARATIVELY short book, Michael Lowy offers an analysis of the history, theories and struggles of liberation theology in Latin America since the late 1950s.

Letters to Against the Current

Letter and Response on Mumia Abu-Jamal

— Sidney Gendin and Steve Bloom

Letter to the Editors

STEVE BLOOM SUCCEEDS in making a very persuasive case in the January-February issue of Against the Current that the trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal was an outrage against justice.

In Memoriam

Comrade and Friend: Bob Strowiss 1919-1999

— Edmund Kovacs

BOB STROWISS, A member of the Los Angeles branch of Solidarity and a lifelong revolutionary, died January 4 after a long struggle with heart disease and diabetes.

Bob and I joined the Socialist Workers Party in 1947 in Los Angeles. He was part of the World War II generation that grew up during the Great Depression of the Thirties and then was drafted into military service during the war.

Bob served as radar operator on the USS Hanna in the Pacific and he would recount how he observed the incoming shells...