Against the Current, No. 119, November/December 2005

Against the Current, No. 119, November/December 2005

From 9/11 to Katrina

— The Editors

ARE THERE WORDS to describe the racism, the stupidity, the sheer overwhelming cynicism of the Bush gang's "response" to the Gulf Coast holocaust?  We can't think of any, and we won't even try to find them.  Suffice it to say that four years after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and, in particular, the destruction of the major American city of New Orleans has brought our society face to face with the reality of its condition.

After Katrina

Bush to New Orleans Survivors: "You're On Your Own"

— Joanna Dubinsky

LIKE EVERYONE WHO "got out" before Katrina hit, my exit was a private one. My partner and I took heed of the voluntary evacuation because we had the means to do so. We packed three changes of clothes and our passports, got in our trusty 1998 Ford Escort station wagon with some friends, and left our green-shuttered 100-year-old Victorian shotgun house in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

Surviving When the State Disappeared: Community vs. Katrina

— Suzi Weissman interviews Mike Davis

Suzi Weissman interviewed author Mike Davis for her "Beneath the Surface" program on KPFK, Pacifica radio in Los Angeles. 

Suzi Weissman: On tonight's program we continue looking at Katrina's catastrophe—on the ground and in the larger implications for the 'state of the state.' The disaster exposed extreme cynicism, incompetence and sheer racism previously hidden or ignored.

Labor Under Attack

The Northwest Strike: Acid Test for Labor

— Malik Miah

Today's New York Times runs a headline that says, "Amid difficulties, leaders of labor see opportunity."

But where are these so-called leaders of labor?  Where is John Sweeny, the president of the AFL-CIO who is quoted as saying, "A record 53% of nonunion workers say they'd join a union tomorrow if given the chance-that's the highest percentage in 25 years.  It is our job to reach them."

The Northwest Airlines Strike: Where is Labor Going?

— Peter Rachleff

THE AIRCRAFT MECHANICS Fraternal Association (AMFA) strike at Northwest Airlines offers a window into class relations and the state of the labor movement in the United States.  What we can see through that window is very grim.

Hoffa Jr.: The Real Record

— Henry Phillips

MANY SAVVY LABOR movement activists and observers are understandably puzzled by Teamster President James Hoffa’s sudden and enthusiastic endorsement of the Change to Win Coalition. Within the Teamsters, it’s been the reform movement and Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) who have championed the need for structural reform to free up resources to organize the union's core industries-usually in the face of boos and catcalls from the Hoffa crowd.

World of Struggle

Zimbabwe: Mbeki to Mugabe's Rescue

— Patrick Bond

CONSIDER THESE WISE words from a leading African National Congress politician:

"As we speak, the neoliberal orthodoxy sits as a tyrant on the throne of political-economic policymaking. The dominant social and economic forces are doing their utmost to hegemonize the discourse — both materially and in respect of how developmental processes are to be institutionalized and theorized. Among other things, they use such transnational governmental organizations as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization to shape the discourse within which policies are defined, the terms and concepts that circumscribe what can be thought and done."

A Commentary from Israel: Peace Camp - Dead or Alive?

— Michael Warschawski

A FEW WEEKS ago my friend Ilan Pappé published an article under the title "There is no peace camp in Israel."  These words were originally spoken in a lecture delivered by the intellectual activist—or the activist intellectual—at a conference that took place in Fribourg, in the framework of the Swiss Social Forum.

Indigenous Resistance to Gold Mine Gains Momentum

— Cyril Mychalejko

LAST JUNE 13 indigenous communities in Sipacapa, in the western highlands of Guatemala, voted overwhelmingly to reject gold mining on their lands. Oxfam’s press release announced the results: 2,486 people cast their vote against the mine, 35 voted in favor, 32 abstained and one cast a blank vote.

The Canadian/U.S. mining company, Glamis Gold is constructing a World Bank funded open-pit mine in near-by San Miguel. With construction nearly complete, the company is eager to begin drilling. But local community members fear contamination of their water supply, an important resource for the area’s large farming community.

Snapshots of the Bolivarian Revolution

— Dan La Botz

ON A FRIDAY night in August in the town of Juangriego on Isla Margarita, the northernmost point of Venezuela, an island jutting out into the southern Caribbean not far from Curaçao, tourists are having fish dinners in seaside restaurants.  Suddenly they hear the blast of salsa music and boom of political slogans.

Celebrating the Revolutionary Centenary

From 1905 to Our Time

— Sheila Cohen

THE 1905 REVOLUTION consisted of a series of mass strikes which pushed the Tsarist regime into at least the promise of major constitutional change. The focus here, however, is not on the “results” of the 1905 revolution, but on its “prospects”;1 on what its process promised and still can promise, even in so much less revolutionary times. 1905 was a crucial year not only for its revolutionary content but for its expression of the dynamic, and form, of working-class struggle.


John Brown, Abolitionist

— Jennifer Jopp

The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights
by David S. Reynolds
Alfred A. Knopf (New York), 2005
578 pages, $35 cloth.

Why do some people take literally the admonitions of our faiths, both religious and secular? We are all advised to “do unto others.” We all hear, from early childhood, that “all men are created equal.” Yet, not all of us abide by these “faiths of our fathers.”

Background to Bush's Debacle: Iraq and the Empire

— Christopher Phelps

Bush in Babylon:
The Recolonisation of Iraq.

by Tariq Ali
Verso, 2003. 214 pp , $12 paperback.

THE STATED OBJECTIVE of the neoconservatives in control of United States foreign policy today is to carry out a war on terror by spreading freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, if necessary by American power alone, and if necessary by guided missiles, Humvees, and fighter jets.

Globalization's Damages

— Tony Smith

Whose Trade Organization?
A Comprehensive Guide to the WTO
by Lori Wallach and Patrick Woodall
New York: The New Press, 2004,
$19.95 paper.

Another World is Possible:
Popular Alternatives to Globalization at the World Social Forum
edited by William Fisher & Thomas Ponniah
New York, Zed Books, 2003, $22.50 paper.

Confronting Capitalism:
Dispatches from a Global Movement
edited by Eddie Yuen, Daniel Burton-Rose & George Katsiaficas
New York: Soft Skull Press, 2004,
$16.95 paper.

Obsolescent Capitalism
by Samir Amin
New York: Zed Books, 2003, $25 paper.
Another World is Possible:
globalisation and anti-capitalism
by David McNally
Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring, 2002, $14.95.

THE MAIN ARGUMENT in favor of neoliberalism is simple enough: individuals will freely exchange whenever mutual gains result. It follows that restricting trade and investment across borders both infringes liberty and prevents people from enjoying benefits. At this point an appeal is made to historical evidence: previously poor regions have lifted more people out of poverty at a faster rate than ever before in human history by opening up to trade and investment.

In Memoriam

Little Milton and Clarence Brown

— George Fish

9/7/34-8/4/05 and
DIED 9/10/05

ONE OF THE classic of the electric blues says it all about the time of late summer, 2005, when two of the most distinguished practitioners of contemporary blues, both with five-decade-long musical careers, passed away.