Against the Current, No. 110, May/June 2004

Against the Current, No. 110, May/June 2004

What's the Election For?

— The Editors

ONLY ONE THING is absolutely clear about the outcome of the endless U.S. presidential race: George W. Bush will not be reelected in November, 2004.  Bush may very well remain in office, and might even honestly win the election.  Bush cannot possibly be reelected, however, since he was never elected in the first place.

Gay Marriage Yes!

— The Editors

ANY DOUBTS ABOUT the meaning of the struggle for the right of gay and lesbian marriage should have disappeared forever when Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco opened the marriage bureau at city hall to same-sex couples.

Cascadia Rising to Save the Forest

— Sarah D. Wald

PROTESTS IN NINE cities across California, Oregon and Washington took place February 23rd, coordinated by the Cascadia Rising Project, in response to the Bush Administration's removal of protections on federal lands for over 100 rare and uncommon species associated with the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Fighting Subpoenas and Gag Orders in Iowa

— Iraj Omidvar

MORE THAN TWO months have passed since federal officials withdrew the grand jury subpoenas against four peace activists and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The withdrawal of the subpoenas and the gag order against Drake came amidst a firestorm of protest, not only from progressive and civil liberties lawyers and peace and justice activists from around the state and the country, but also from mainstream news media and elected politicians from both parties.

DARE's Struggles in Rhode Island

— Paul Buhle

LET'S START IN a scene from last summer that will be familiar, not exactly but approximately, to many older readers: the labor awards banquet.  The setting is a "casino"—in the 1880s sense of a banquet hall, used for wedding receptions and assorted fraternal functions for six generations—set in a venerable public park in a working-class neighborhood, long ago designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.

The state's labor history society has been holding the event for almost twenty years, and...

West Africa's Spiral of Conflicts

— Mark Brenner

IN JULY, 2003 George Bush set off on a five-day, five-country "tarmac tour" of Africa, a thinly veiled attempt to burnish his international reputation in the wake of his illegal and internationally unpopular invasion of Iraq.

Mexico in the Grip of Corruption

— Dan La Botz

MEXICO'S LEFT OF center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has been shaken by a scandal that could well reshape the nation's political life.

Women & War in Sierra Leone

— Jan Haaken

WHILE I WAS doing research in Guinea in the summer of 1999, a village woman informed me of a legend told throughout West Africa. “It is not good to send your children to America,” she said, “for in America, they bury Africans in shallow graves.”

Responding to Washington's Haiti Coup

— Caribbean People's Statement

CARIBBEAN PEOPLE, REPRESENTATIVES of Caribbean organizations and people of Caribbean descent meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados on Saturday March 20th, 2004, unanimously agreed to call on CARICOM Governments to take the following steps as a matter of urgency.  In addition we committed ourselves to immediately begin to mobilize public opinion and action in the Caribbean region ourselves, to oppose and reverse the deadly threat to democracy in the Caribbean resulting from the violent overthrow of...

The World Social Forum, 2004

— Paul Le Blanc

THE FOURTH ANNUAL World Social Forum (WSF), held January 16-21 in the Indian city of Mumbai (what used to be called Bombay), drew 100,000 activists from over 130 countries. For three previous years it had been in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, to which it returns in 2005.

Max Roach's Transparent Sound at 80

— David Finkel

IT WAS A decade or so ago, at what was then called the "Montreux-Detroit International Jazz Festival," that jazz percussion master Max Roach presented a music education workshop that he called "The Transparent Sound." True to form, Roach did not spend the time showing off his own prodigious technical ability. Instead, he invited young student drummers up to help them learn some basic polyrhythms. He also demonstrated how achieving "the transparent sound," making all parts of the drum kit sound clearly--the snare, cymbals and tom-toms--requires subtly different pressure from the right and left hands, unlike classic technique where both hands are required to play with precisely equal force.

Random Shots: All Our Crosses to Bear

— R.F. Kampfer

IT’S VERY THOUGHTFUL to plant a tree when you won’t live to see it full grown. It’s even more thoughtful to plant it far enough away from the house so that it doesn’t choke the gutters.

Labor in Crisis

What the Grocery Defeat Means

— Joel Jordan

“The final contract in Southern California is less costly to Kroger than the offer that was on the table when the strike and lockout began...” --Kroger CEO David Dillon

“[This was] the most successful strike in history.” --recently resigned UFCW President Douglas Dority

EXHAUSTED AND BROKE after four-and-a-half months on the picket line, Southern California grocery workers voted overwhelmingly on February 28-29 to accept a two-tier wage and benefits system with a cap on employers' contributions to the health care benefits plan.

Outsourcing & the Unions

— Malik Miah

“Offshoring's giant target: the Bay Area. Silicon Valley could face export of 1 in 6 jobs--worst in nation” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Outsourcing: stop the hysteria” (Business Week)

“The future of jobs: new ones arise, wage gap widens. Outsourcing technology cut need for rote workers; brainpower is in Demand” (The Wall Street Journal)

WHY ARE OUTSOURCING and offshoring hot button issues? The Bush administration defends it; the Democratic challenger John Kerry attacks it.

The Contract Struggle at an Auto Parts Plant

— Dianne Feeley

A NEW T-SHIRT has appeared at the American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM) plant where I work, and it is selling like hotcakes. The hi-lo driver shuttling parts to my job was wearing it. On the front there's a cemetery with a prominent tombstone, on which is written “R.I.P. UAW.” On the back there's a demonstration, with workers carrying signs that say: “We were sold down the river by the 2004 negotiations.” “Lower Wages, More Work, Indefinite Layoffs.”

Views on the 2004 Election

Letter to a Progressive Democrat

— Paul Felton


I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and I'm proud of it. You voted for Nader and you regret it (or, you voted for Gore, even though you liked Nader better).

Ever since then, you participated in a vigorous campaign to convince Nader and the Green Party not to run in 2004.  It is unprecedented for so many progressive people to fight so intensely to prevent a progressive voice from entering the campaign.

However, I intend to support Nader and/or the Green Party candidate (and...

2004 and the Left

— Ted Glick

2004 IS TURNING out to be an important political year in many ways. For those on the political Left, the independent, non-Green, Ralph Nader Presidential campaign is bringing to the fore a number of important strategic and tactical issues, among them: an assessment of the danger—or not—of a second Bush administration; what our attitude should be toward progressives in the Democratic Party; the political and organizational nature of the kind of "third party" needed; and with whom in the...

The Left and the Elections

— Christopher Phelps, Stephanie Luce and Johanna Brenner

TWO ELECTORAL PATHS will be taken by those left of center this year, and all the spilled ink in the world won't affect the choices.

Appalled by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the USA PATRIOT Act, wholesale destruction of the environment, contempt for democracy, blurring of lines of church and state, erosion of reproductive rights, right-wing stacking of the judiciary, and tax bonanzas for the rich—appalled, in short, by the most reactionary administration in U.S. history—many this year...

The Case for an Alternative

— a statement by Solidarity

THE STRATEGY OF “the lesser evil” hasn't worked, and less than ever will it work today. The loyalty of labor, racial minorities, women, LGBT people and other progressives—expressed in massive campaign contributions and large numbers of votes—comes at a very low cost for the “New Democrats,” who know perfectly well that no matter how far to the right they move, the advocates of “the lesser evil” remain their captives.


Another World Is Possible

— Anthony Arnove

Another World Is Possible: Globalization and Anti Capitalism
David McNally
Winnipeg, Manitoba: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2002, $14.95 paper

Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy
Michael D. Yates
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2003, $16.95 paper.

THE PERIOD SINCE George Bush Sr. declared a "new world order" has been marked by growing global inequality and war. The failures of neoliberalism mean that more than fifty countries have seen declining per capita income in recent years, while millions every year die from easily preventable diseases and lack of access to safe drinking water. The costs of the last fifteen years have been immense, whether for those cut off from electricity in Durban, sacked from factories in Mexico City, or bombed in Baghdad.

In Memoriam

Paul Sweezy, 1910-2004

— Christopher Phelps

WHEN PAUL MARLOR Sweezy, the most widely recognized Marxist economist in the world, died at age 93 in February, a long life of exemplary commitment came to an end.  The sole surviving founding editor of Monthly Review, Sweezy built an internationally known institution that sustained the radical left through the bleakest hours of the Cold War and its aftermath.