Against the Current, No. 101, November/December 2002

Against the Current, No. 101, November/December 2002

The Imperial Trifecta

— The Editors

To be absolutely clear: We oppose this war from start to finish not because it is "unilateral," not because it is risky, and certainly not because we hold any sympathy for the ruling tyranny in Iraq, but because this war is imperialist.  It is a war to confirm—and expand—global U.S. capitalist supremacy, and nothing is more dangerous for the world than a "success" in this war of conquest.

Black Workers for Justice, Twenty Years of Struggle

— Saladin Muhammad

THE BLACK WORKERS For Justice (BWFJ) is a mass activist workers organization. It includes socialists, radical working class and general members, who play leading roles in trying to link the immediate struggles in the workplaces and communities to a long term transitional radical program for Black empowerment/self-determination, social justice and social transformation.

BWFJ was founded in 1981. Its labor and political perspectives grow out of an analysis of the development of the U.S. national and global economy, the U.S. imperialist state, and the ongoing role of the U.S. South as a fundamental pillar of U.S imperialism.

From South Africa to Palestine

— an interview with Claudia Morcom

CLAUDIA MORCOM SERVED as a Wayne County (Michigan) Circuit Court judge from 1983-1998. In all, she spent twenty-six years on the bench, beginning in Workers Compensation Disability Court. She has been actively engaged in civil rights and human rights work throughout her life, beginning with attending rallies for the Scottsboro frameup victims in her childhood. She worked with SNCC and the National Lawyers Guild in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Rebel Girl: Punitive "Marriage Promotion"

— Catherine Sameh

“The sexual revolution that began in the 1960s has left two major problems in its wake. The first is the historic increase in non-marital births that have contributed so heavily to the Nation's domestic problems including poverty, violence, and intergenerational welfare dependency. The second is the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that now pose a growing hazard to the Nation's public health.” --from President Bush's Welfare Reform Proposal, “Working Toward Independence”

Detroit and the Legacy of Vincent Chin

— Scott Kurashige

IN JUNE 2002, Detroit-area activists marked the 20th anniversary of the hate crime murder of Chinese American Detroiter Vincent Chin. The successful memorial conference included a poetry slam and a visit to the cemetery where Vincent and his mother Lily Chin are buried.

Asian American activists in a number of cities across the country -- including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Seattle -- also held commemoration meetings.

Poem in memory of Vincent Chin: somewhere in the over lit night

— Kim D. Hunter

somewhere in the over lit night
between your erection and the parking lot
your guts twisted
and your brain listed
the object, the job, the ugly grind
that you would have given anything
to give up
grew legs
loomed like godzilla
and landed on vincent's head
what's a drunk unemployed racist to do
whose penis was that bat
pinned between the luxury of whiteness
and the necessity of food and house payments

Nablus: Curfew and Defiance

— eyewitness report from the International Solidarity Movement

WHY DO I not find words for the realities that lie before my very eyes?

Witnessing life in Nablus these past few days has been particularly difficult, infuriating and heartbreaking, for the situation is the worst it has ever been. Today marks 104 days of curfew; 104 days during which 200,000 people have been imprisoned in their homes -- over three months, over 2020 consecutive hours inside (for curfew has been lifted for about seventy hours total).

Jimmy Carter's Tangled Camp David Web

— David Finkel

JIMMY CARTER'S NOBEL Peace Prize provokes some reflections on the meaning and consequences of the first Camp David Accord, in 1979, between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menahem Begin. This is conventionally regarded as the crowning achievement of Carter's generally ill-starred presidency.

It was exactly the opposite: Among all the political turning points in the Middle East, Carter's Camp David and the "separate peace" between Egypt and Israel that followed it constituted one of the worst developments that ever occurred in the entire history of the conflict.

Random Shots: Idle Idylls of Old Idols

— R.F. Kampfer

ONE HAS TO wonder how far the immortal Janis Joplin would have gotten on “American Idol.” Ever notice that the winners of the weekly votes cried more than the losers?

No Blood for Oil!

Imperialism, Sovereignty and "Just Wars"

— Malik Miah

IN 1916, IN the middle of the first imperialist world war of the last century, the Russian revolutionary leader Lenin wrote an article while in exile about war and socialist policy. In his piece titled “The military program of the proletarian revolution,” Lenin explained, “Socialists cannot, without being socialists, be opposed to all war.”

Lenin specifically mentioned, as wars that socialists support, colonial uprisings for national liberation and revolutionary wars. He included civil wars as an extension of the class struggle.

London: No to the Bush-Blair War

— Phil Hearse

NO CLEARER DEMONSTRATION of the difference between U.S. and British politics could be found than the September 28 London demonstration, which mobilized 350,000 people on the slogans “Don't Attack Iraq” and “Freedom for Palestine.”

Thousands of young people from Britain's significant, mainly Pakistani, Muslim community joined the demonstration. Support from the labor movement and universities was massive. Eleven national trade unions supported the demonstration, including the country's biggest, the 1.5 million strong local government workers union UNISON.

Cincinnati: Protest in the Heartland

— Dan La Botz

THOUSANDS PROTESTED IN Cincinnati Monday, October 7. While President George W. Bush spoke inside, calling upon the American people to support a Congressional measure which would give him the power to carry out a war against Iraq, demonstrators lined the sidewalks in front of the Cincinnati Museum Center (the former Union Terminal) and for blocks around, chanting, singing and waving signs opposing the war.

The War on Labor's Rights

The Battle of the Docks

— Malik Miah and Dianne Feeley

PRESIDENT BUSH'S OCTOBER 8 unprecedented decision to invoke the anti-labor Taft-Hartley law forced 10,500 locked-out longshore workers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), back to work for an eighty-day “cooling off period” on twenty-nine West Coast ports. It allows the employers to get through their peak shipping season -- without any compulsion to negotiate a contract -- and into the slowest part of the year.

A California Unionist's View: Uneasy Solidarity

— Michael Rubin

EARLIER THIS SUMMER the ILWU was talking tough, and taking positive actions to build labor and community support.

The Alameda County Central Labor Council had helped the situation by pulling together a mutual support committee of unions who were in contract negotiations. The national AFL-CIO sent a staff person to Oakland to organize labor support.

Screen Actors Join Longshore Picketers

— Peaches Johnson

THIS PAST MONDAY Night as I was watching TV, there on the screen was this Longshoreman asking for someone to drive by and honk. “Please show us some support.”

Well, I had been thinking about taking them down some food, and offering my encouragement. Yes, I remember what it was like to be out there walking that picket line, thinking that no one cares. It's a very lonely feeling.

Homeland Security--No Rights, No Security

— David H. Richardson

Q. WHY DOES NEW Jersey have all of the toxic waste dumps and the District of Columbia all the lawyers?

A. Because New Jersey had first choice.

The proposed new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would involve a massive overhaul of the federal government, combining some twenty-two agencies with 170,000 workers into one new entity.

Inside the Global Turmoil

Cote d'Ivoire's House Divided

— Mark Brenner

THE WEST AFRICAN nation of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) on September 19, 2002 was once again engulfed in political turmoil and military conflict, as nearly a thousand soldiers staged a coordinated uprising in three of the country's major cities.

These events mark the third major spate of political violence in Côte d'Ivoire in as many years, and run the very real risk of embroiling at least two neighboring countries in a larger regional conflict. While there is ample reason to fear the worst, current signs are hopeful, as both sides signed a cease-fire brokered by Senegal's foreign minister on October 19, 2002.

A Way Out for Kashmir?

— interview with Hamid Bashani

HAMID BASHANI IS a Kashmiri, a former student activist, and presently the Secretary-General of Advocates International. Members of South Asian Left Democratic Alliance (SALDA) in Toronto interviewed him on July 25, 2002.

This interview was conducted prior to the fall elections held by the Indian government in Kashmir. While the turnout and extent of coercion is in dispute, the election results were a crushing defeat for the governing Kashmiri party linked to the Indian government.

Argentina's Unique Union Federation

— Guillermo Almeyra

THE UNIONS OF Argentina are divided into four federations. The biggest are the two versions of the Confederación General de Trabajo (CGT, General Labor Federation), the historical peronist federation. [“Peronist” refers to unions that were historically loyal to the longtime charismatic, dictatorial ruler Juan Peron--ed.]

Colombia: Neoliberalism and Violence

— Forrest Hylton

“Our ancient tragedy began that 9th of April, 1948 [date of the assassination of radical Liberal Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in Bogotá, which triggered Colombia's largest twentieth-century urban riots].

“We can never forget when Fidel Castro and other muchachos came to Bogotá to interrupt the Panamerican Conference and create an international conflict, and indeed they succeeded. Thus began an extremely painful situation of conflict between parties that never managed to clear up what happened that day or determine the effort of international communism to destroy Colombia . . . .


Bryan Palmer's Cultures of Darkness

— Leo Panitch

Cultures of Darkness:
Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression
[From Medieval to Modern]
by Bryan Palmer
(New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), $24 paper.

BRYAN PALMER IS a Canadian Marxist historian who has done much, in the tradition of E.P. Thompson, to recover and analyze the cultures of resistance that working people developed in the course of practicing class struggle from below. His work is shaped by a particular sympathy for the kind of class struggle that transgresses the existing social order.

Max Elbaum's Revolution in the Air

— Patrick M. Quinn

Revolution in the Air:
Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che
by Max Elbaum
(London and New York: Verso, 2002) 370 pages, $30 hardcover.

MAX ELBAUM'S REVOLUTION in the Air is a damn good book, one that should be must reading for all those who consider themselves part of the left today and for future generations of socialists as well.


On Capitalist Origins

— Christopher McAuley


I want to thank you for having taken the time to respond [in ATC 97, March-April 2002---ed.] to my comments on your article “Eurocentric Anti-Eurocentrism” that appeared in the May/June 2001 issue of Against the Current.

I found your remarks helpful and they have forced me to further clarify and refine my own thoughts on the origins of capitalism. I hope that the benefits of your comments will be evident in what follows. Before proceeding, however, I would like to apologize for having misrepresented, in any way, your model of the origin of capitalism in my response.

A Response to Christopher McAuley's on Capitalist Origins

— Ellen Meiksins Wood

I do appreciate your effort to clarify your views, but I really don't see how it affects anything I said. So let me just make a few points in response to yours:

1) It's an odd conception of history which seems to suggest that, before capitalism, labor was typically free, while the great impetus to unfree labor came with capitalism. Ancient slavery? Feudal serfdom? Forced labor in just about any powerful non-capitalist kingdom or empire, east, west, north or south that you can name?

In Memoriam

Helen Rodriguez-Trias (1929-2001)

— Karen Stamm

AFTER I GOT word of Helen's death from lung cancer last December, I began a process of looking back over the many years that we worked together, from 1974 through approximately 1989, and the many years since we had seen each other.

I wanted to recognize and honor what Helen and her political contributions meant for me, for women generally, for women of color and for the women's and health movements.