Against the Current, No. 120, January/February 2006

Against the Current, No. 120, January/February 2006

Crisis of the Regime

— The Editors

"A GOVERNMENT HEADED by right-wing extremists has been returned to power, to preside over a divided country and a potential for real catastrophe in Iraq…" That's what we wrote a year ago, in the immediate wake of the 2004 election (editorial statement, ATC 113).  In other words, the Republicans were firmly installed as the country's ruling party, albeit with a razor-thin majority, unless and until they were to screw something up really, really badly—and have they ever, from Baghdad to New Orleans and back!

An Unfragmented Movement: The People are the City

— Joanna Dubinsky Interviews Shana Griffin

It had been two weeks since Katrina's floodwaters and the government's indifference was unleashed on the city of New Orleans: two weeks spent in anguish and outrage—searching for information, analysis, and hope.  I was thinking about how to wrap my mind around everything—especially wondering where the feminist analysis was—when this email demanding gender analysis popped into my email inbox.

Race and Class: Paris to New Orleans

— Malik Miah

IT TURNS OUT that the city of lights and city of jazz have a lot in common. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and militant explosions in the suburbs of Paris expose the underbelly of racism and class divisions.

The French Riots: Dancing with the Wolves

— Yves Coleman

IN FRENCH SUBURBAN slang, to "dance with the wolves" means to provoke the cops, make them run and, obviously, to escape without being arrested.  The unfortunate reality is much less romantic.  The three weeks of recent riots may be seen as a long overdue political response to the profound racism of French society; but in this writer's view this uprising is more an index of desperation of French youth, of all national origins, than the beginning of a new political movement.

Transit Union Shuts NYC Down: Standing Up for Our Rights

— Steve Downs

WHAT DO YOU get when you mix 35,000 angry workers, an arrogant management, a union leadership under pressure from its membership, a decades-long drive to shrink the public sector, a racial divide between bosses and workers, and miscalculations?

A Massive Crisis in Auto: Delphi, GM, the UAW, and Soldiers of Solidarity

— Dianne Feeley

ON DECEMBER 19, facing a strike threat and pressure from GM, Delphi Corporation backed away from its "final offer" to the United Auto Workers, pushing the deadline back to the end of February.  With the demand for a 63% wage cut off the table, complicated horse trading will ensue—but what's clear is that rank-and-file anger and mobilization makes a big difference.

NYU: Nerds on Strike!

— Amanda Plumb

ON NOVEMBER 9, 2005, graduate student employees at New York University (NYU) put down their red pens and picked up their picket signs. After a 2004 ruling by a Bush- appointed majority of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the NYU administration seized the opportunity to refuse to recognize and renegotiate with the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC)/ UAW Local 2110.

Contradictions of the Iraqi Resistance: Guerilla War vs. Terrorism

— Michael Schwartz

ONE OF THE most complicated aspects of the war in Iraq is that the Iraqi resistance is divided into a multitude of different groups with a multitude of different goals.

The Danger in Lebanon

— Gilbert Achcar

THE ASSASSINATION [of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri] resulted in the intensification of the campaign by the USA and France against the Syrian presence and influence in Lebanon. This pressure was able to base itself on the mass mobilization inside Lebanon, which forced the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

Black Struggle Then and Now

Mixing Metaphors and Diluting Memory: Lynching - The Reality

— Gode Davis and Peter Ian Asen

ON OCTOBER 9, 2005, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter appeared on ABC's "This Week" to defend Harriet Miers, President Bush's confidante whose nomination to the Supreme Court had evoked howls of protest, particularly from the Christian Right.  Specter told George Stephanopoulos that Miers' verbal critics made up "one of the toughest lynch mobs ever assembled in Washington, DC, and we assemble some tough lynch mobs."  In claiming Washington's penchant for "tough lynch mobs," Senator Specter was not speaking literally—though he could have been.  It is unlikely that Specter meant to evoke the actual lynch mobs roaming the streets of Washington D.C. for four days during the "Red Summer" of 1919, attacking African-Americans in a frenzy whipped up by racism, anti-communism, fears of joblessness, and post-war jingoism.

Israel's "Withdrawal" Toward Apartheid

— David Finkel interviews Jeff Halper

“FROM SHARON’S POINT of view it’s a done deal. Israel has won its century-old conflict with the Palestinians,” writes Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

“Surveying the landscape — physical and political alike — the Israeli Prime Minister has finally fulfilled the task with which he was charged 38 years ago by [former PM and leader of the Israeli right wing] Menahem Begin: ensure permanent Israeli control over the entire Land of Israel while foreclosing the emergence of a viable Palestinian state.” (Article of the Week, “Setting Up Abbas,” October 6, 2005,

Black Struggle Then and Now

The Targeting of Walter Rodney

— Michael O. West

ON OCTOBER 15, 1968 the government of Jamaica barred Walter Rodney from returning to the island. A lecturer at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Rodney had been out of the country attending a Black Power conference in Canada. The Guyanese-born Rodney was no stranger to Jamaica, having graduated from UWI in 1963. He returned to his alma mater as a faculty member at the beginning of 1968, after doing graduate studies in England and working briefly in Tanzania.

The Oratory of Malcolm X

— Ursula McTaggart

Malcolm X:
Inventing Radical Judgment
By Robert Terrill
East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2004, $49.95 hardcover.

SPIKE LEE CLOSES his 1989 film “Do the Right Thing” with two quotes: In one, Malcolm X proclaims the right to self defense and in the other, Martin Luther King, Jr. insists upon non-violent protest. Each quote has the potential to produce a drastically different reading of the film, which ends in a police murder of an African-American youth and a subsequent street riot.  Lee, however, chooses to maintain a tension between the two interpretations of the riot, asking his audience to juggle both or to choose for themselves.


Jeff Halper's Obstacles to Peace

— David Finkel

Obstacles to Peace
A Critical Re-framing of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
By Jeff Halper
maps prepared and designed by Michael Younan.
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), PalMap (Palestine Mapping Centre).
Third edition April 2005.
128 pp (large format). For ordering information (USA) contact:

“THE OCCUPATION CHALLENGES us all… Can a system of control, displacement, denial of fundamental rights and repression actually prevail? What does it mean if we are unable to end an occupation that is growing continually stronger by the day, before our very eyes, in defiance of international law and more than 200 UN resolutions? If occupation and repression actually defeat a people’s aspirations for freedom and fundamental human rights, then what are the implications for oppressed peoples in other parts of the world far from public attention?” (Foreword, iv)

Seth Farber's Radicals, Rabbis and Peacemakers

— Michael Steven Smith

Radicals, Rabbis, and Peacemakers:
Conversations with Jewish Critics of Israel
By Seth Farber
Common Courage Press, 252 pages, $19.95.

MY GRANDPARENTS CAME to America from Hungary in 1912. My family who stayed there and the Hungarian Jewish population were mostly killed by the fascists in the bitter winter of 1944, some 800,000. Twenty thousand alone died of the cold and disease, huddled in the great unheated synagogue, the largest in the world, on Dohany Street in Budapest.

Four Books on Hegemony and Resistance

— John Vandermeer

The Corporation:
The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
By Joel Bakan
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005 $14 paper.

Hegemony or Survival
America’s Quest for Global Dominance
By Noam Chomsky
New York: Henry Holt & Company 2004, $13 paper.

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim
America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror
By Mahmood Mamdani
New York: Doubleday Publishing 2005, $14.95 paperback.

A Revolution in Motion
By Isaac Saney
London: Zed Books, 2004, $19.95 paper.

THERE ARE TIMES when a key analysis has a wakeup effect....