Against the Current, No. 113, November/December 2004

Against the Current, No. 113, November/December 2004

An End or Beginning?

— The Editors

AT LAST IT'S over. We know the identity of the occupant of the White House for the next four years.  As this issue of Against the Current was frantically completed on election night, it looked like Bush would win—narrowly, but unlike 2000, without the stigma of a blatantly stolen election—barring a reversal of fortune in Ohio. The next day, it became official.  The Republicans are the national governing party in America.

A Victory on Pension at IBM

— Malik Miah

A VICTORY WAS won for older workers at the end of September when the monopoly IBM agreed to pay $300 million to thousands of older current and former employees to partially settle litigation over its pension plan. The company and plaintiffs agreed to cap further damages an additional $1.4 billion. The settlement is of great importance to airline and other workers facing changes to their pension plans.

U.S. Unions & the War

— Dianne Feeley

IN THE BUILDUP to the Iraqi war three members of the United Auto Workers Executive Board — Bob King, Elizabeth Bunn and Richard Shoemaker — spoke out against the pending invasion. Yet since the war began the UAW has not taken a position on the war, or even used the pages of its magazine Solidarity to open a dialogue about how it affects UAW members.

The Meaning of Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution

— Greg Albo

A FEATURE OF revolutions is that they keep coming around in unexpected ways and in unexpected places.  Who would have dared predict the eruption that was Seattle in November 1999, when the powers behind neoliberal globalization seemed completely incontestable?

Naming the Darfur Crisis

— Mahmood Mamdani

HOW CAN WE name the Darfur crisis? The U.S. Congress, and now Secretary of State Colin Powell, claim that genocide has occurred in Darfur. The European Union says it is not genocide. And so does the African Union.

Stop Terror & War!

— Solidarity Against War, Moscow

THE WAVE OF terrorist attacks across Russia, culminating in the bloody tragedy at Beslan, has reminded us all that there is a war taking place in this country. Russia’s rulers depict this as the “intervention of international terrorism” and compare it with the events of 11 September 2001....

Abusive Conditions as China Goes Capitalist

— Zhang Kai

THE SECOND MEETING of the 10th National People’s Congress, held in March 2004, made some amendments to the Constitution. The clause “citizens’ legitimate private property will not be violated” has been added to further defend private property rights and inheritance rights.

The Chinese Working Women's Network

— Pun Ngai and Yang Lie Ming

THERE IS NO doubt that China is growing rapidly in importance in the global economy.  In particular, the United States has seen a marked increase in trade (especially imports from China) and foreign direct investment (U.S. capital going in China).  These trends had already begun in the middle to late 1990s, but have increased since Congress granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations status to China in 2000, and since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.  China has now surpassed the United States as the largest destination in the world for foreign investment.  While many U.S. businesses (and other multinationals) look eagerly to both the large Chinese market and the very low wages of Chinese workers, the U.S. labor movement has been focused on stopping the flow of U.S. production and jobs to China.

Northern Ireland's Troubled Compromise

— John O'Connor

AUGUST 31 MARKED the ten-year anniversary of the Provisional Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) cease-fire, and a turning point in the recent history of Northern Ireland. For almost three decades, Irish republicans sought to destroy the Northern Irish state as they aimed to reunite the partitioned Northern six counties with the Irish Republic. At its best, Irish republicanism aspired to a new, independent, and socialist Ireland — an Ireland free of British dominance and Southern Catholic conservatism.

Canada's Election & the Left

— Nathan Rao

ELECTIONS PROVIDE A snapshot of the broader political scene and relationship of forces. In the absence of a major domestic or international crisis, the framework of a given election is set well before the campaign even begins. Certainly, a break with capitalism or neoliberalism was on the extreme margins of this past June’s Canadian election, and not just because of the narrow parameters within which the main parties defined their campaigns.

Crisis and Apartheid in Israel/Palestine

Four Years of Disaster

— Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2004 — Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi began today’s press conference with a summary of recent trends and statistics. The second Intifada, now entering its fifth year, has seen the world distracted by events in Iraq, enabling Israel to continue violating Palestinians’ human rights with complete impunity.

Israel's Struggle Within

— ATC interviews Uri Davis

This interview with Uri Davis, the author of Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within (see the review following on p. 21 of this issue), was conducted for Against the Current by David Finkel in Detroit on September 16, 2004.  Uri Davis spoke in Dearborn, Ann Arbor and suburban Detroit at the beginning of a speaking tour, mostly in Ontario, where he plans a legal challenge against the tax-exempt status of fundraising by the Jewish National Fund of Canada.

Review: A Final Warning?

— David Finkel

More than any other single book I've seen, this one should have the power to shake up pro-Zionist liberals, and I'm ordering several dozen copies to get into the hands of people who will read it more readily than a detailed historical treatise.

The Road to Civil War

— Uri Avnery

The talk is about the coming civil war. Only a few months ago, that would have sounded preposterous.  Now, suddenly, it has become a possibility, and a very real one. Not another blown-up media sensation.  Not yet another of Sharon's political manipulations.  Not just a new blackmail attempt by the settlers.  But the real thing on the ground.

AIPAC: Israel's U.S. Spy Den

— Allen Ruff

THE SOCIALIST LEFT must remain clear in its avoidance of a conspiratorial view of history.  The entire U.S. political spectrum in the aftermath of the 2000 election, and especially since 9/11, has been awash with conspiracy theories.  With deep roots in our political culture, ahistorical conspiratorial views of the workings of the world, devoid of any class understanding or a structural and institutional analysis of what we live in, come bubbling to the surface, especially during times of "national crisis."


Marx on the Planet

— Michael Livingston

Marx’s Ecology:
Materialism and Nature
John Bellamy Foster
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000, 310 pages, $18.00 paper.

WE HAVE ARRIVED at a turning point in human history. Scientists feel that we have until perhaps 2050 before the multiple and massive environmental problems we face will become irreversible. After that, the planet will not support the existing global capitalist civilization.

Race & Revolution

— Peter Drucker

Race and Revolution
Max Shachtman
edited and introduced by Christopher Phelps
London/New York: Verso, 2003, $19 hardcover.

VERSO PRESS HAS done anti-racists and socialists a great service by publishing Max Shachtman’s Communism and the Negro at last, 70 years after he wrote it in 1933, under the new title Race and Revolution.(1) As Christopher Phelps points out in his introduction, Shachtman’s document anticipated much later scholarship on African-American history and politics. It is also a valuable source for the history of U.S. Marxism.(2)


A Rejoinder to Jim Hard

— Steve Early

JIM HARD’S RESPONSE to “Reutherism Redux” seems to be that all union members gripe a lot; therefore critiques of SEIU should be ignored because Hard “could walk into any CWA workplace that Steve Early or anyone else represents and find similar criticisms.”

Where Is the Real Debate?

— Jim Hard

HAVING SPENT THE last two decades as a reformer in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 in the California State Employees Association (CSEA), I wanted to respond to a few issues raised in Steve Early’s article “Reutherism Redux: What Happens When Poor Workers Wear the Color Purple” (ATC 112, September-October 2004).

No "Respect" for Class

— Jim Bywater & Sacha Ismail

IN HIS ARTICLE on Britain’s ‘Respect Coalition’ in ATC 111 (July-August 2004), Liam MacUaid used the indisputably anti-working class record of the Blair government to justify the highly disputable claim that Respect is a supportable alternative. We want to reply.

A Rejoinder on Respect

— Liam Mac Uaid

RESPECT HAS PROVIDED a place in the political ecosystem for those with an inclination to substitute anecdote and slander for an analysis of what’s happening in British politics today. Bywater and Ismail have chosen to make this their habitat.

In Memoriam

UAW Pioneer and Fighter for Social Justice: Victor G. Reuther

— Mike Parker

VICTOR REUTHER'S DEATH June 3, at age 92, was a personal loss-breaking one of the last connections to my parent's socialist movement of the 1930s.  Victor was also the connection to the courageous and honorable men and women who made great sacrifices over 60 years ago to win union recognition and the contract gains that my United Auto Workers brothers and sisters now take for granted.

Neil Chacker, 1942-2004

— David Finkel

DURING THE VIETNAM war, one Colonel Reberry at Fort Lewis, Washington, posted a threatening notice forbidding the distribution of material that would promote "disloyalty and discontent."  A response shortly appeared on the same bulletin board, written by GI Neil Chacker, an American Servicemen's Union organizer:

Honoring Walt Sheasby

— Joel Kovel

WALT’S PASSING IS a triple loss. Personally he was a very dear friend. Second, as we are hearing, in many different ways he was a true stalwart activist, of immense energy and dedication.

Walt Sheasby: An Activist Life

— Dan La Botz

DURING THE LATE 1960s Walt Sheasby not only organized for Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in California, but also helped the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, worked against the Vietnam War, and advocated for and became a volunteer organizer of the Peace and Freedom Party.