Against the Current, No. 106, September/October 2003

Against the Current, No. 106, September/October 2003

Cracking "The Bush Agenda"

— The Editors

THE AGENDA OF the Bush administration is showing cracks on both foreign and domestic fronts. The open question right now is what kind of alternative agenda will be available.

An important beginning in reviving the movement that filled the streets around the world earlier this year will be the mass mobilization called for October 25 by a wide coalition of peace and social justice groups. It is crucial to sustain unified mass action against this continuing war, even while important debates open up on strategies for antiwar and global justice politics in 2004.

Race and Class: Diversity or Equality?

— Malik Miah

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. (Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963)

THIS QUOTE IS often cynically cited and abused by conservatives--Black and white--to justify their deep hostility toward affirmative action. Yet King understood better than most that to achieve a “colorblind” society based on merit and content of character required support to affirmative action, to make up for historical and institutional discrimination.

The Religious Right Embraces Zionism

— Andrea Smith

A COALITION OF diverse organizations held the Interfaith Zionist Leadership Summit May 17-18 in Washington, D.C. Sponsors included the National Unity Coalition for Israel, African American Women's Clergy Association, Christian Coalition, Jewish Action Alliance, the Episcopal-Jewish Alliance, and the Jewish Political Education Foundation.

In addition, Hindu Right activists also attended, declaring that “Israel, India, and the United States are three pillars against Islam.”

Sharon's Right of Return--to Violence

— Joel R. Finkel

ARIEL SHARON'S RIGHT of Return, or shall we say his Return to the Right, has led Israelis and Palestinians full circle in their cycle of violence. Sadly, they are now one level closer to hell, and it will be even more difficult for them to survive.

While almost entirely predictable, it is instructive to review the steps and strategies that have led to the current horrific disaster, which will claim the lives of many more Palestinians and Israelis.

Arab Political Activity After Iraq

— Azmi Bishara

INTRODUCTION: On 14 May 2003, the Jerusalem branch of the National Democratic Assembly--Tajamu' held a meeting in the Ambassador Hotel, where party head MK Azmi Bishara discussed “The Arab World After the Aggression Against Iraq.” The lecture attempted to address the profound sense of disarray and hopelessness experienced by many anti-imperialist and Arab nationalist forces across the Arab world including within Palestine, as a result of the nature and consequences of the Anglo-American war and subsequent occupation of Iraq.

Brazil's Hope in the Balance

— Michael Löwy

AFTER SIX months in government, where are Lula and the Brazilian Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) going? The reform of the pensions recently approved in parliament is a negative sign: it cuts into retired workers' benefits, particularly in the public services, and it entails paying off the system's deficit by imposing an eleven percent surtax on retirees' meager pensions.

UAW: Undermining Solidarity

— Dianne Feeley

THE FOUR-YEAR contracts covering more than 307,000 skilled and production workers represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) expire this September 14. These cover workers at General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler as well as Delphi and Visteon--two top suppliers spun off by the GM and Ford in 1999 and 2000.

Mechanics' Victory at United Airlines

— Malik Miah

IN A STUNNING victory July 14 for mechanics and related employees at United Airlines, the Aircraft Mechanics' Fraternal Association (AMFA) replaced the International Association of Machinists (IAM) as their union. The victory came after rank-and-file grassroots campaign that included hand billing, tabling and responding to the failed policies of the incumbent union. United Airlines is the world's second largest carrier.

Dioxin, Bhopal and Dow Chemical

— Ursula McTaggart

“All our Environment, Health and Safety activities are driven by the `Vision of Zero'--no harm to the environment, to our people or to anyone we touch in the value chain. Why? Because it is the only acceptable objective.” --The Dow Global Public Report, 2001(1)

IN MAY 2002, WHEN a student group protested outside Dow Chemical Corporation's national headquarters in Midland, Michigan, participants insisted that the chemical giant face the consequences of its commitment to the bottom line.

Capitalist Empire and the Nation State

— Ellen Meiksins Wood

BEFORE THE LATEST war in Iraq, anyone who accused the United States of imperialism was likely to meet the objection that the U.S. doesn't occupy any colonial territories anywhere in the world. Now that it is very visibly in occupation of Iraq, everything seems to have changed overnight.

You might want to say that the occupation of Iraq represents a major departure from U.S. foreign policy since World War II--and lots of critics have said just that. The United States certainly does appear, on the face of it, to be reverting to an older kind of direct colonial domination. It certainly does seem to be breaking with the pattern of avoiding colonial entanglements which it has generally preferred.

Cuba: Opposition and Repression

— Haroldo Dilla Alfonso

THE WORLD IS not a simple place. It cannot be explained in the sharply contrasting tones that provide such delight to simple thought. It has actually never been simple, but this is truer now than ever. And there is no reason to believe Cuba is an exception.

Random Shots: Word Processing by Candlelight

— R.F. Kampfer

OPERATION IRAQI LIBERATION (they almost called it that):

Dubya has failed in his attempts to get India to send troops to help occupy Iraq. One can only wonder how Iraqi Moslems would have reacted to the presence of 17,000 Hindus and Sikhs.

Interviews on the Crises in Asia

The Construction of Communalism in India

— Sara Abraham interviews Dipak Malik

IN THIS INTERVIEW, Against the Current spoke with veteran Communist (CPI) activist Dipak Malik, who teaches at Benares (Varanasi) Hindu University and is presently Director of the Gandhian Institute of Varanasi, about the anti-communal work in which he has been involved from his base in Varanasi, in the Hindu heartland of the country. Varanasi is also located in the state of Uttar Pradesh which, when governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saw the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque in 1992, making news around the world.

Iran's Islamic Republic at Breaking Point

— Ali Javadi

IN VIEW OF the explosive internal situation in Iran as well as the tensions between the United States and the “Islamic Republic,” Against the Current interviewed Ali Javadi, a member of leadership of the Worker-communist Party of Iran who lives in Los Angeles. The interview was conducted by David Finkel. Ali Javadi can be reached at and

Viewpoint on the Recall

A Letter from California

— Frank Fried

ON OCTOBER 7, California in all likelihood will have a new governor through a recall process initiated by an anti-tax group in Sacramento. This campaign was marginal until Darrell Issa, a right-wing Republican congressman from San Diego, funded the movement for two million dollars, enabling it to hire professional signature-getters and giving it a credibility that it had previously lacked.