Against the Current, No. 122, May/June 2006

Against the Current, No. 122, May/June 2006

A Gran Marcha and Beyond

— The Editors

MARCH, 2006 MARKED an eruption that hit the streets, showed its strength, and took everyone including its participants by surprise.  Millions marched all over the country: 300,000 in Chicago, 50,000 in Denver, 10,000 in Detroit and Milwaukee, 10,000-20,000 in New York, 20,000 in Phoenix—and somewhere between 500,000 and a million in the Gran Marcha in Los Angeles on March 25.

Plight of Young Black Men: The Scars and the Crisis

— Malik Miah

RECENT STUDIES HAVE reaffirmed a long known reality: young poorly educated Black men are disproportionately disconnected from mainstream society.  The numbers are significantly worse than for Latinos, Asians and whites.

The Sleeping Giant Awakes

— Meleiza Figueroa

PRESSURE is building.  Times are getting nastier.  The stakes are incredibly high.  And on the streets, during this time of unseasonable cold for this city, the "sleeping giant" of Latino and immigrant communities has begun to awake.

Immigrant Students and Workers Take to the Streets: Outpouring in Chicago

— Joseph Grim Feinberg

IN LATE FEBRUARY, word began to spread around Chicago about a protest against HR 4437, a bill passed by the House of Representatives to criminalize undocumented immigration, as well as aid given to undocumented immigrants (for more information on HR 4437, see  A humble-looking activist website announced, in English and Spanish, "Unite!.March against HR 4437 General Strike!" (

A Test of Our Courage

— Mike Davis

MIKE DAVIS WAS interviewed by Jon Wiener on KPFK, Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles, on March 29, 2006.  The interview has been slightly abridged for publication.  Mike Davis is the author, most recently, of the book Planet of Slums, discussing the ecological catastrophe of urban concentrations of the global poor.  He teaches history at the University of California-Irvine.

Textbook Tempest in California: Who Speaks for Hinduism?

— Purnima Bose

DECADES AFTER THEIR arrival in the United States in significant numbers following the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, Indian Americans are entering the political fray.  Like other ethnic communities, Indian Americans are not a monolithic group.  Yet the most conservative Hindu elements have had some success in claiming to represent the whole community in recent debates regarding the certification of sixth grade history textbooks in California.

Collective Action - and Victory! France: CPE Goes Down

— Robi Morder

MILLIONS OF YOUNG people in France have lived through the experience of collective action and of an important victory, young people who just a few weeks earlier had paid no attention to political organization.  In the end the movement won: the "First Employment Contract" (CPE) has been annulled.

French Students Speak for Themselves What We Won—and Need

— Erwan, Florent, Gaby, Gaelle, Guillaume, Laetitia, Nina & Steven

Q: TODAY, APRIL 10, Prime Minster Dominique de Villepin declared that he would "replace" the First Employment Contract (CPE).  You've been on strike more than seven weeks to get the CPE withdrawn.  What is your reaction to this declaration?

Fighting for Union Autonomy: Mexican Miners On Strike

— Dan La Botz

ON APRIL 20 EIGHT hundred state and federal police launched an assault on 500 striking workers who had been occupying a steel mill in Lázaro Cárdenas.  Two were killed, five seriously injured and 40 wounded.  A video released to the press shows Michoacán police taking aim at the strikers.

Arroyo on the Brink

— Sonny Melencio

PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT GLORIA Macapagal-Arroyo has so far survived two attempts to oust her from office. The first constituted the so-called “opposition salvo” in July 2005. This was followed by the aborted “military uprising” in February.

The first attempt was staged by bourgeois opposition groups composed of rival electoral parties opposed to Arroyo, top officials who left Arroyo’s executive cabinet, the Makati Business Club (a prominent capitalist group), and former president Corazon Aquino. The second was mounted by rebel groups within the Armed Forces of the Philippines, mainly junior officers and soldiers of the elite army force.

After Katrina: A View from the Ground

— interview with Isaac Steiner

AGAINST THE CURRENT interviewed Isaac Steiner, a member of Solidarity in Atlanta, about his experiences in a grassroots reconstruction project in New Orleans.

ATC: When did you travel to New Orleans, why and under whose auspices?

Isaac Steiner: This March I traveled to New Orleans with hundreds of other students to help with rebuilding and various organizing projects underway there. I’d visited the city before, was somewhat familiar with the history and political situation there. But this was the first time I or most of the other participants had been there since Katrina.

New Legal Openings for Mumia Abu-Jamal

— Steve Bloom

MARCH 2006 — DON’T call it a breakthrough. Not yet. But last December the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (which includes Philadelphia) accepted three key legal questions for review in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A decision in Mumia’s favor on any one of the three would require a new trial, at the very least.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther and award-winning journalist (called “the voice of the voiceless” as a result of his work for Philadelphia radio stations). He was convicted, in a frameup trial, for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner.

A Living Wage in London

— Jane Wills

AT A TIME when the United States is associated with the export of neoconservatism in the form of George Bush, readers will be heartened to read this tale of a more positive export as the living wage movement has leapt across the Atlantic over to the United Kingdom.

Spearheaded by a broad-based organization called London Citizens, the living wage campaign has won better pay for at least 2000 workers in London. In addition, the campaign has been important in allowing union branches (locals) to develop mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations and to recruit new members and leaders.

War in Iraq: Withdraw Now?

Beyond Iraq: The Spreading Crisis

— David Finkel

THE DISASTER AND carnage of the Iraq occupation is the center of a crisis now spreading through the region—to Iran, to Afghanistan and the India-Pakistan subcontinent, and especially to Israel-Palestine—with implications far beyond.

The Case for Staying in Iraq

— Kale Baldock

I DON'T SUPPORT an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, because I think it would probably make an already bad situation much worse.  Of course, there's no guarantee that continuing the occupation will succeed in allowing some form of stability to take hold—particularly if our military forces simply "stay the course" of brutality evidenced in Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, and the training of Iraqi death squads.

Interview with Gilbert Achcar

— Susan Weissman

ON THE THIRD anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Susan Weissman interviewed Gilbert Achcar for her program, "Beneath the Surface," on KPFK, Pacifica radio in Los Angeles.  In the following excerpt, Achcar discusses the questions of immediate withdrawal and civil war in Iraq.

Follies of the War

— David Finkel

THREE YEARS LATER, it is hard to believe that a gloating and triumphant Christopher Hitchens could write this (April 18, 2003):

"So it turns out that the slogans of the antiwar movement were right after all. And their demands were just. “No War on Iraq,” they said — and there wasn’t a war on Iraq. Indeed, there was barely a “war” at all. “No Blood for Oil,” they cried, and the oil wealth of Iraq has been duly rescued from attempted sabotage with scarcely a drop spilled….”Stop the War” was the call. And the “war” is indeed stopping. That’s not such a bad record. An earlier antiwar demand — “Give the Inspectors More Time” – was also very prescient and is also about to be fulfilled in exquisite detail." (A Long Short War, 83)


Feminism in Canada

— Cynthia Wright

Ten Thousand Roses:
The Making of a Feminist Revolution
Judy Rebick
Toronto: Penguin, 2005, $24 (Canadian).

LAST YEAR, ON International Women’s Day in Toronto, several hundred people — many veteran feminist activists — packed an auditorium in the city’s Ryerson University for the launch of Judy Rebick’s oral history of the women’s movement in Canada, Ten Thousand Roses: The Making of a Feminist Revolution. The fact that the book had just been reviewed in the conservative Globe and Mail, Canada’s most influential newspaper, also widened the audience.

Interracial Antiracism

— Rachel Peterson

Romance and Rights:
The Politics of Interracial Intimacy, 1945-1954
Alex Lubin
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005. 183 pages, $45 cloth.

Rethinking Social Realism: African American Art and Literature, 1930-1953.
Stacy I. Morgan
Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004. 356 pages, $54.95 cloth, $24.95 paper.

THE WIDE RANGE of topics covered in Romance and Rights: the Politics of Interracial Intimacy, 1945-1954 by Alex Lubin and Stacy I. Morgan’s Rethinking Social Realism: African American Art and Literature, 1930-1953 converge around the central importance of the Second World War and anticommunism.

A People's Science

— John Vandermeer

A People’s History of Science
Clifford D. Conner
New York: Nation Books, 2005
554 pages. $17.95.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVES OF science tend to be triumphant tales of magnificent men (and an occasional wily woman) who, through brilliant insight and/or dedicated persistence, changed the way we understand the world and, frequently, how we manufacture our space in that world. An opposite tendency is the cautionary tale of mad scientists aiming to invent ice-nine, the technology that will ultimately spell doom for us all.

Melville and A Lot More

— Paul Buhle

Herman Melville: Between Charlemagne and the Antemosaic Cosmic Man
By Loren Goldner
New York: Queequeg Publications, 2005 291 pages, $15 paperback.

MORE THAN A decade ago, an unpublished manuscript began filtering its contents into the minds of a fairly wide circle of erstwhile New Left intellectuals. It was fascinating, like no other theorizing on the text of Moby Dick and its significance; or rather, resembling many others in some of its evidence but ranging far beyond them in its implications.

In Memoriam

Giants and Immortal Legacies

— George Fish

DECEMBER 1, 1933-
JANUARY 6, 2006
MARCH 18, 1941-
JANUARY 19, 2006

LOU RAWLS AND Wilson Pickett were two of the most distinctive Black voices in pop music. From the 1960s right up to the present, both were major players in that extraordinary scene of the 1960s and 1970s, an artistic and soulful creative renaissance that stretched the boundaries of what could be done with popular culture well beyond the expected. It is a renaissance still remembered, still very much cherished as much outside the borders of the United States as within, even as today’s virulently rampaging lowest-common-denominator commercial pandering tries to overwhelm us.