Against the Current, No. 111, July/August 2004

Against the Current, No. 111, July/August 2004

Empire of Lies and Torture

— The Editors

THE PROHIBITION OF torture in international conventions is absolute.  There are no exceptions for so-called "ticking bombs," for "high-value terrorists" or "illegal enemy combatants" or similar improvised fictions—or for extraterritorial prison camps (Guantanamo) where the jailers exercise absolute power but somehow disclaim the legal responsibilities of "sovereignty."

Race and Class: Brown v. Board of Education 50 Years Later

— Malik Miah

I FOUND THE headline of the May 17 Business Week article on the 50th anniversary of the famous Brown v. Board of Education landmark Supreme Court ruling, that "separate but equal" schools were unconstitutional, most revealing.  "A Bittersweet Birthday," it said, declaring "Decades of progress on integration have been followed by disturbing slippage."

A Future Sacrificed for War

— Nomi Prins

ON A GOOD day, the Bush administration is comprised of a pack of pathological liars.  On a bad day, dangerous pathological liars.  Both military and domestic policy is riddled with fabrication.  Deception has proven a handy political tool, in everything from waging an unnecessary war on Iraq to creating bogus reasons to limit future social security and Medicare benefits a la Alan Greenspan.

The Fight to Save Kevin Cooper

— Todd Chretien

AFTER 20 YEARS on death row, February 10, 2004 was supposed to be the last day of Kevin Cooper's life.  Instead, it turned out to be the best day yet in the fight to end the death penalty in California.

Trophy Photographs

— Kevin Cooper

AMERICANS HAVE A fascination with photographs! I remember the very first trophy photograph that I saw. It was a hunter who killed grizzly bear, and he stood there standing over his dead trophy with a proud simile on his face. This was when I was a child and didn't truly understand the human psychology behind such photographs.

South Africa's Deadly Decade of HIV Denial

— Patrick Bond

THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS has returned to power with an overwhelming majority in South Africa's third post apartheid democratic election.  With millions of South Africans dying early because of AIDS, however, the question posed in the header of this article remains, along with a broader one:

Chinese Workers' Resistance

— Norm Diamond interviews Tim Pringle

TIM PRINGLE LIVES in Hong Kong, where he participates as an observer and also as a member of the editorial board of the Chinese-language magazine Globalization Monitor, the title of which speaks for itself.  The magazine covers issues of globalization as they affect workers in Asia in general and Chinese workers in particular.

Korean Labor: Protest by Suicide

— Sang-Hwan Jang

IN JANUARY 2003, Dalho Bae, a 47-year-old worker at Doosan Heavy Industry Co., committed suicide by burning himself. On October 17 Juik Kim, the chief of the metal labor union branch at Hanjin Heavy Industry Co., a ship-constructor, committed suicide after a 129 day-siege on the jeep-crane.

British Labour Today

— Liam Mac Uaid

THE GLORY DAYS of the British Labour Party are long behind it. Labour won the 1945 General Election and used the next six years in office to nationalize the Bank of England, the railway network, electricity, the steel industry and road transport.

The Health Care Crisis and Kerry-Bush

— Milton Fisk

A PERMANENT CRISIS has plagued American health care since 1981.  It began with Ronald Reagan, whose tax cuts led to cuts in Medicaid as well as more stringent eligibility rules.  The crisis has continued, even through the boom years presided over by Bill Clinton, to the present.

The Mythology of Corporate Social Responsibility

— Ursula McTaggart

FOR DOW CHEMICAL, corporate social responsibility means encouraging its employees to volunteer in their communities  as long as that doesn't take up company time.  It means, according to the Dow website, that "At Dow, protecting people and the environment is part of everything we do and every decision we make."

Random Shots: Save That Scrap Metal

— R.F. Kampfer

THE DEFENSE OF Marriage Act has been characterized as the first amendment that diminishes human rights rather than expand them. Actually, that dishonor would go to the Prohibition amendment. We saw how well that worked out.

Middle East in Flames

Bush-Sharon's Hell on Earth

— David Finkel

"BRINGING DEMOCRACY TO the Middle East" is what George Bush calls his policy from Iraq to Palestine, and with a straight face too.

A Slice of Death in Rafah

— from an International Solidarity Movement report

TEL ES-SULTAN, GAZA Strip--Death has become something usual in  Rafah. The invasion would not be successful if the occupation army  didn't kill dozens of Palestinians. At least 20 Palestinians were  killed up to now, and more than 60 injured in the past 12 hours. Last week 16 were killed during the invasion of Block O.

The Nightmare Comes True

— Uri Avnery

I WAS STANDING on a hill overlooking the infamous Kalandia checkpoint. Below me was a narrow road, packed with Palestinians in the blazing sun, 30 degrees centigrade in the shade (but there was no shade) trudging towards the checkpoint.

The Right of Return & Transformative Justice

— Yoav Peled

BY MOST ACCOUNTS, the issue of the Palestinian refugees and their right to return to the part of Mandatory Palestine that now constitutes the State of Israel has been the most obstinate stumbling block preventing the resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Lobby Up Close & Personal

— Henry Herskovitz

"AIPAC HAS ONE goal only," said Lee Rosenberg, "Strengthening the U.S. Israel relationship." Acting on behalf of the Board of Directors of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Lee welcomed 1600 participants to a conference entitled "AIPAC Presents: The Israeli Summit, Tools for Action" held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare (Chicago) on February 29th.

More Dialogue on the Elections

Winning 2004 & Beyond

— Brian Sandberg

ELECTION 2004 STANDS to be the point where the left implodes, drives once spirited young organizers out of the movement, and does little to stop the political slide (or is it avalanche) to the right.

A Case for Nader Now

— Jeff Melton

In their article in ATC 110, "The Left and the Elections," Christopher Phelps, Stephanie Luce, and Johanna Brenner argue that left organizations should refrain from endorsing a Presidential candidate or participating collectively in a Presidential campaign in 2004, instead focusing primarily on building social movements.

Rejoinder: 2004 & the Movement

— Christopher Phelps, Stephanie Luce & Johanna Brenner

WE WROTE "THE Elections and the Left" (ATC 110) as a result of longstanding commitment to independent politics.  One of us worked to build a progressive third party in Madison, Wisconsin, then was active in the Labor Party.  Another was the Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Oregon in 1996.  All of us supported Nader in 2000, and still consider that the correct choice.


The End of Guzzlemainia

— Michael Livingston

Apocalypse Soon? Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil
David Goodstein
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004, 140 pages, $21.95 hardcover.

The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies
Richard Heinberg
Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Press, 2003, 274 pages, $17.95 paper.

"THE WORLD WILL soon start to run out of conventionally produced, cheap oil. If we manage somehow to overcome the shock by shifting the burden to coal and natural gas, the two other primary fossil fuels, life may go on more or less as it has been  until we start to run out of all fossil fuels by the end of this century. And by the time we have burned up all that fuel, we may well have rendered the planet unfit for human life. Even if human life does go on, civilization as we know it will not survive, unless we can find a way to live without fossil fuels." (Goodstein, 15)

The Poetry of J. Quinn Brisben

— Angel Martinez

The Significance of the Frontier: Selected Poems 1966 2002
J. Quinn Brisben
Chicago: Scars Publications, 2002, 130 pages, $10.00.

"art is
the part that means
more than the sum of wholes
re shaped in pain to make old words
new worlds."
 -from "Cinquains for Studs Terkel"

J. QUINN BRISBEN is known as a retired schoolteacher, civil rights worker, disability rights advocate and former Socialist Party presidential candidate. In publishing a literary historical account in verse, he reveals to us his role of poet.

In Memoriam

Remembering Paul Siegel (1916-2004)

— Alan Wald

PAUL SIEGEL, AN internationally known authority on the role of Christian thought in Shakespeare's plays, and a devoted member of the organization Socialist Action, died on April 26, 2004 in New York City.