Against the Current, No. 105, July/August 2003

Against the Current, No. 105, July/August 2003

What the Airline Crisis Shows

— The Editors

THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY is in deep crisis.  Losing over 100,000 jobs since September 11, 2001, and suffering major wage and benefit cuts, workers are in shock and looking for new leadership.  The recent U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, the outbreak of the SARS epidemic and the economic downturn exacerbate the impact of the crisis on labor.  Airline workers are in the forefront of discussions about their own industry and more general questions as political and social consciousness changes under the impact of the restructuring crisis.  These experiences are valuable for all workers.

"War on Terror" versus Native Sovereignty

— Andrea Smith

SINCE 9/11, MANY Native American tribes have come out in support of the U.S. war against “terror.” In fact, however, it is important to understand that this war against “terror” is really an attack against Native sovereignty.

Bush has used the war on terror as a pretext to increase energy resource extraction in the United States, arguing that this country needs to harness its domestic energy reserves to support the war on “terror.”

Old and New War in Aceh

— Kurt Biddle

THE INDONESIAN MILITARY (TNI) is waging a full-scale war on Aceh. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has instituted martial law and authorized military operations there for a period of six months, which may be extended. Some 50,000 Indonesian troops have been deployed to “exterminate” the rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM), a force of less than 5,000.

On Monday, May 19, in what has been described as the biggest Indonesian military operation since the 1975 invasion of East Timor, Indonesian paratroopers filled the sky over Aceh, jumping out of U.S.-made C-130 transport planes.

France, Chirac and Bush's War

— Sophie Beroud and Patrick Silberstein

THE FRENCH DEMONSTRATIONS against the war in Iraq had two peculiar aspects. In the first place, though they remained weaker than in other European countries (as Great Britain, Italy or Spain), they were the first mass movement since the Spring 2002 presidential election; second, they occurred in a very specific context, created by the stand of French diplomacy within the United Nations Security Council and President Jacques Chirac's opposition to any military action under the UN banner.

The New Strike Wave

— Sophie Beroud and Patrick Silberstein

WHILE THE WAR was devastating Iraq, the French government -- pushed aside and reduced to pursuing its domestic agenda -- continued its assaults on working people's gains, particularly welfare and pensions. The population, however, resisted.

A Voice for the Irish Left Wing

— Tommy McKearney

FOR MANY YEARS Irish republicans understood that in order to create a republican democracy in Ireland, it would be necessary to break free from the political connection with, and domination by monarchist Britain.

Understandably therefore, many outside observers (and many people in Ireland too) have assumed that Irish republicanism comprises of only one agenda and that is the purely nationalist one of ending British rule in Ireland. In a very real sense, the act of clearing the building-site seemed to assume more importance than the shape of the house to be constructed.

Inside the Crony Wars

— Nomi Prins

THE 1990s BUBBLE mantra was the bigger and richer, the better. Then the party ended; and the ugly remains were a collection of bad debt, record defaults, cancerous fraud, unprecedented bankruptcies, job cuts and pension depletions.

Unemployment increased nearly fifty percent, most significantly in the cities and technology and telecoms, and then spread to manufacturing, airlines and energy. No new jobs loomed on the horizon. And no retirement income was recovered from the pitiful fines laid on the guilty. In short, it was a bad spot for a new administration to find itself in.

From Lynching to Lethal Injection

— Jan Boudart

THERE IS AN inextricable link between the racism in our criminal justice system and the existence of the death penalty itself.

During slavery the criminal code unabashedly authorized harsher punishments for Blacks (both slave and free) than for whites.(1) In addition crimes against whites, in a legal sense, were considered more serious. Before passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, many state laws expressly authorized discrimination.

Random Shots: Iraq and a Hard Place

— R.F. Kampfer

DONALD RUMSFELD SAYS the United States will remain in Iraq until a stable democracy takes power. Or until Hell freezes over, whichever comes first.

The British usually used national minorities as junior partners in the administration of their empire, since these depended on British support to maintain their privileged position. Boy George thinks he can oppress all Iraqis equally. Little wise-ass.

The International Solidarity Movement

Confronting the Occupation

— David Finkel

THE HORRIFYING ESCALATION of violence in Israel and Palestine, immediately following the Aqaba “Road Map” summit meeting -- especially the attempted assassination of Dr. Abdel-Aziz Rantisi and the successful killings of other Hamas leaders, followed by the retaliatory June 11 suicide bombing in Jerusalem -- did not come as a surprise to Middle East activists and knowledgeable observers.

The Israeli Army Shot My Brother

— Sophie Herndall

I HAVE BEEN asked to speak at this rally as the sister of Tom Hurndall. As many of you may know, Tom was shot while trying to save children from Israeli army fire. While I would emphasize that my family have no political affiliation, what Tom and we discovered during our separate visits to Israel and Gaza has caused us deep concern. I am here today to describe our experiences.

Our Humanity in the Balance

— Carel Moiseiwitsch, Gordon Murray and Drew Penland

WE RECENTLY RETURNED from the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza where we volunteered with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Upon returning to Vancouver, we were shocked by the disconnection between our experience of Palestine and its portrayal in the Canadian media.

One Day in Ramallah

— Daniella, ISM volunteer

ONLY HOURS AFTER a suicide bomber detonated himself on a bus in the French Hill section of Jerusalem, the IOF (Israeli Occupation Force) started its invasion and clampdown of Ramallah. At 8:00 am I woke to heavy gunfire on Jerusalem Street in the Southern neighborhood of Ramallah.

Palestine: Dying for Peace

— Louisville Middle East Peace Delegation

[This statement was written by the Louisville Middle East Peace Delegation: Dennis Bricking, Sharon Wallace, Angelyn Rudd, Cindy Sheldorf, Carla Wallace, Almarie Calvert and John Morrison. It is slightly abridged.]

IN PALESTINIAN WEST Bank and Gaza Strip, non-violent resistance to the Israeli military occupation is a growing phenomenon that is not receiving media attention.

Discussing Cuba

An Introduction

— The ATC Editors

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN Cuban-U.S. relations, and inside Cuba itself, point to potential flashpoints. These events, which have also produced controversy in the international as well as North American left, include:

To the Conscience of the World

— a statement initiated by 10 prominent Mexicans

THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER has been violated as a consequence of the invasion against Iraq. A single power is inflicting grave damage to the norms of understanding, debate and mediation amongst countries. This power has invoked a series of unverified reasons in order to justify its invasion. Unilateral action has led to massive loss of civilian life an devastation of one of the cultural patrimonies of humanity.

A Statement by Solidarity

— Political Committee of Solidarity

SOLIDARITY ENDORSES the appeal "To the Conscience of the World" initiated by ten prominent Mexicans and which has now been signed by scores of writers, journalists, and other personalities from throughout Latin America and the world.

A Fourth International Statement

— Executive Bureau of the Fourth International

THE FACT THAT the Communist Party of Cuba has felt the need to write to “fraternal parties and organizations” shows the scope of the problem that Cuban leaders are facing as reactions come in to the execution of three Cuban citizens, and the heavy prison sentences imposed on other citizens who were expressing their desire to exercise their right of criticism.

Stop Bush's New Aggression Against Cuba

— statement initiated by the International ANSWER Coalition

[This statement was initiated by the International ANSWER Coalition. There are several thousand signers. To sign, go to campaigns/cuba/sign.html]

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED individuals and organizations, view with great concern the intensifying campaign of subversion and aggression against Cuba, directed by the U.S. government. We in the U.S. progressive and anti-war movement recognize our obligation to expose and organize against the Bush administration's plans to overthrow the government of Cuba.

Oppose Repression in Cuba

— statement published by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy

[The following statement is published by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (]

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, strongly protest the current wave of repression in Cuba. We condemn the arrests of scores of opponents of the Cuban government for their nonviolent political activities, and the shockingly long prison sentences some as high as 28 years -- imposed after unfair trials.

Why the Cubans Acted Now

— Joaquín Bustelo

SOME ON THE left have asked why the Cuban government acted as it did in the recent arrests and trials. The reason for taking these actions now is, quite clearly, I believe, because of the change in U.S. policy and the nature of the Bush regime.

Take Iraq, for example -- which Bush just did, no matter what world public opinion had to say about it.

Cuba Makes Me Hurt

— Eduardo Galeano

THE JAIL SENTENCES and executions in Cuba are very good news for the global superpower, which has been going crazy trying to cough up that bone stuck in its throat. But they are very bad news, sad and painful news, for those of us who think that the courage shown by this tiny country, so capable of greatness, is admirable, but who also think that justice and freedom march hand in hand or not at all.

This Is Where I Get Off

— Jose Saramago

THIS IS WHERE I get off. From now on, Cuba will continue on its way. I will not go along. To disagree is a right forever written with invisible ink in every past, present and future declaration of human rights. To disagree is an act of conscience that cannot be forsaken. Disagreeing might lead to treason, but that must be proved with irrefutable evidence.

Cuba: We Know, and So What?

— Alain Krivine

WE KNOW THAT today Cuba is one of the Bush Administration's main targets. Cuba is spared nothing. The island's economic situation gets harder and harder, and we know what awful consequences the embargo has for people's daily lives.

We know the role the CIA plays with its project of destabilizing Cuba, and we know in particular about the militant, provocative activity of James Cason, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.


Rebel Pens, "Pencil Hands," and Labor Journalism

— Steve Early

Writing The Wrongs: Eva Valesh and the Rise of Labor Journalism
Elizabeth Faue
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002, 249 pages, $25 hardcover.

Rebel Pen: The Writings of Mary Heaton Vorse
edited by Dee Garrison
New York: Monthly Review Press, 1985, 345 pages, $26 paper.

Mary Heaton Vorse: The Life of an American Insurgent
Dee Garrison
Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989, 377 pages, $21.95 paper.

Mary Heaton Vorse
with an introduction by Dee Garrison

(Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1991) 236 pages, paper.

IN THE MID-1970s, I once did a story for The United Mine Workers Journal about coal miners who'd been fired and blacklisted for union organizing in eastern Kentucky. One of the unemployed UMW supporters I visited, along with Journal photographer Earl Dotter, lived in a creek-side trailer, at the end of a small hollow, accessible only by a narrow, winding mountain road.

The Lost Art of "Scottsboro" in Linoleum Cuts

— James A. Miller

Scottsboro, Alabama:
A Story in Linoleum Cuts
Lin Shi Khan and Tony Perez
edited by Andrew Lee
New York: New York University Press, 2002, 147 pages, $26.95 cloth.

THE NOTORIOUS SCOTTSBORO case of 1931 -- nine Black youths falsely accused of raping two white women on a freight train moving through northern Alabama -- became an instant national and international cause.

Judith Ezekiel's Feminism in the Heartland

— Sonya Huber

Feminism in the Heartland
Judith Ezekiel
Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2002) 339 pages, $24.95 paper.

JUDITH EZEKIEL'S SOCIAL history of “second wave” feminist activists in Dayton, Ohio sets itself the task of exploding the myths that most people, including radicals and activists, use to interpret and frame feminist politics and organizing.

Tanya Reinhart's Israel/Palestine: How to End the 1948 War

— David Finkel

Israel/Palestine. How to End the War of 1948
Tanya Reinhart
New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002, 278 pages, $11.95 paper.

IN THE RUNUP to the invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush notoriously promised British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the United States would turn its energy to reviving the “Middle East peace process.”

In Memoriam

Julius Jacobson (1922-2003)

— Samuel Farber

JULIUS JACOBSON, CO-EDITOR and founder of the socialist journal New Politics, died in Brooklyn, New York, on March 8, 2003. He was 81 years old.

Julie and his wife Phyllis -- who has been in a nursing home since she suffered a stroke three years ago -- were children of the now almost extinct Jewish blue-collar working class in New York City.

Michael Kidron (1939-2003)

— Samuel Farber

MICHAEL KIDRON, A Marxist economist and founding editor of the British journal International Socialism, died on March 25 of this year. He was 72 years old.

Kidron was born and grew up as the youngest child of an ardent South African Zionist family that migrated to Israel throughout the 1940s. His older brother Avram eventually reached the position of Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the number two position in that department.

Nina Simone: And She Meant Every Word of It!

— Kim D. Hunter

A QUINTESSENTIAL NINA Simone quote was made during a live recording of one of her most noted original songs, “Mississippi Goddamn,” a scathing anti-racist ditty which she wrote after the murder of Medgar Evers, ironically set to a jaunty if not always jovial tune. She introduces the song by first stating the title and then, after a pause, in a tone that leaves no room for doubt or compromise, she says “And I mean every word of it.”