Against the Current, No. 127, March/April 2007

Against the Current, No. 127, March/April 2007

Blood, Money, More War?

— The Editors

THE MOST REMARKABLE feature of George W. Bush’s “troop surge” to Iraq is this: Nobody thinks it will work. That it means a further human sacrifice of Iraqi and American lives, on the altar of a disastrously failed war, is not the view only of those of us on the anti-imperialist left, or of hard-core antiwar activists. It’s the view of the overwhelming majority of military analysts, of media commentators across the political spectrum, and of the majority of the U.S. public. Hundreds of thousands marched against the war on January 27; resolutions of disapproval began meandering through Congress; and Bush made it clear that he has no intention of paying attention to either...

Race and Class: Segregation Coming Back?

— Malik Miah

SINCE THE VOTERS in Michigan approved an anti-affirmative action referendum, Proposition 2, by a 58 to 42% margin in November, banning race and gender preferences in state university admissions, state awarding of contracts, and agency programs and hiring, there has been a great deal of concern among civil rights activists about the steady re-segregation of higher education in the country...

Strategy & Tactics for Immigrant Rights in 2007

— Nativo V. Lopez

FOR THOSE OF us who have participated in various capacities in the immigrants rights movement, we are called upon to help define the strategy and tactics to pursue in the continued fight to fashion new, fair, and humane immigration policy and law for the United States. This would not be possible without a brief objective assessment of the actual state of affairs between our adversaries — the anti-immigrant xenophobes and their allies — and us...

Immigrant Workers in the United States (Part 1)

— Kim Moody

THE RISE OF mass immigration in much of the developed world began its acceleration with the global economic crisis of the 1970s. A deepening crisis of profitability; the collapse of the Bretton Woods currency system; and the recession of 1974-75 encouraged an acceleration of foreign direct investment, the rise of multinational  corporations, and the subsequent increase in trade...

Whither the Congress of South African Trade Unions?

— Ebrahim Harvey

SINCE 1994 THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the labor ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the largest and most influential trade union federation in South Africa, has faced such adverse and troubling times that many commentators and analysts have seriously questioned the purpose and integrity of such an alliance. This political issue has been flogged in the public domain like probably few others.

Behind Russia's Headlines

— Hillel Ticktin

NEWS ABOUT RUSSIA and the former Soviet Union has been increasingly alarmist. First the press reported an increasing level of internal repression, with rising levels of censorship and curbs on the freedom of speech, then the assassination of bankers and a Forbes journalist, Paul Klebnikov, followed by an apparent Russian threat to the supply of gas to Europe and most recently the blatant killing of a recent KGB defector in London, Alexander Litvinenko, linked to the prominent critical journalist Anna Politkovskaya who had herself been assassinated.

Brazil After Four Years of Lula

— João Machado & José Corrèa Leite

UNLIKE PREVIOUS BRAZILIAN elections, the 2006 elections were marked by a high level of apathy. The superficial explanation for this is that new electoral regulations greatly restricted the propaganda that previously saturated voters over several months. A stronger explanation, however, is to be found in the frustrated hopes of the most politicized sectors after four years of Lula’s government — frustration revealed in the almost complete absence of the kind of vibrant street activity that characterized the Workers Party (PT) in the past (with activists now replaced by professional politicians) or in the loss of any “vote of conviction” for the PT.

Sanctions on Iran

— Ali Javadi

THE UN SECURITY Council last year unanimously voted on a resolution to impose a series of political and economical sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to this resolution, the export of commodities and materials with dual use in Uranium enrichment, production of heavy water and also missile production will be prohibited. In addition, the resolution gives a 60-day notice to the Iranian regime to comply with the resolution to halt Uranium enrichment, otherwise heavier economic sanctions will be imposed.

Women's World of Struggle

Women, Work & Migration

— Jackie Esmunds

MARGARET BELAFONTE FLED her home on a small Caribbean island to escape a violent and abusive common-law spouse (her name has been changed to protect her identity). The country she fled is one in which social services, such as they were, have been drastically cut. There is one temporary shelter in the country for women escaping violence, which houses only 15 women. The police are indifferent — and sometimes hostile — to women seeking protection from their violent partners. As a result, bail conditions and restraining orders that are supposed to protect women are ineffective.

Marriage Demystified

— interview with Stephanie Coontz

STEPHANIE COONTZ IS the author of Marriage, A History (reviewed in this issue by Johanna Brenner) and three earlier books on the family institution in historical perspective. She was interviewed by Dianne Feeley from the ATC editorial board.

AGAINST THE CURRENT: Your first books were looking at women’s roles in pre-class and early class society. What made you interested in starting there? What insights did this work bring to your discussion about marriage in modern society?

STEPHANIE COONTZ: I was influenced by the feminist insights of the 1970s, which challenged the traditional idea that the role of the family was to protect women and children.

Review: Marriage, A History

— Johanna Brenner

Marriage, A History:
from Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage
Stephanie Coontz
New York: Viking Press, 2005, 432 pages
$18.17 hardcover, $16 paper.

PRESENTED AS A popular history of marriage, this book is in fact a political intervention — an extended argument that counters conservative “marriage defenders” who oppose gay marriage, are appalled by cohabitation, wish to make divorce and unwed motherhood more difficult, and so forth. The unraveling of “traditional marriage” (which turns out not to be particularly traditional after all) is not only inevitable, Coontz argues, but actually a healthy change for the best.

Feminism at Work

— Lynne Williams

AS FEMINISTS WE often focus our attention on the effects gender inequality has on women. And while this inequality still exists and requires our unwavering attention, as socialist feminists we also focus on the effect this inequality has on our ability to organize a class conscious movement, where our differences do not impede our ability to act collectively against capital.

Women in Oaxaca's Popular Movement

— Yakira Teitel

WOMEN HAVE NOT only acted as participants in the ongoing popular movement in Oaxaca, but have also profoundly shaped the course of its history. They have created some of the most powerful stories and moments in the past nine months, and have helped tell them.

Review: Sex Work Globalized

— Brooke Campbell

Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered:
New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights
edited by Kamala Kempadoo
Boulder, CO & London, England: Paradigm Publishers, 2005,
248 pages, $26.95 paper.

IT’S NO COINCIDENCE that the Bush administration chose sex trafficking as a cause célèbre in the wake of September 11, or that the U.S.-led War on Trafficking looks and sounds a lot like the U.S.-led War on Terrorism.

Review: Women, Diamonds & War

— Bettina Ng'weno

“Diamonds, Guns and Rice”
Jan Haaken, Caleb Haaken Heymann, Alan Shea Anderson-Priddy (Producers), 2005.
Speaking Out: Women, War and the Global Economy
Jan Haaken and Ariel Ladum, Seiza de Tarr, Kayt Zundel, Caleb Heymann, Portland OR: Ooligan Press, Portland State University, 2005, $19.95 for both.
Order through Ooligan or through Teaching for Change (

HOW CAN WE we understand women’s roles in wars and the effect of war on women today? The DVD “Diamonds, Guns and Rice” and companion text/workbook Speaking Out are a multimedia educational tool, created with the aim of providing education material about women, war and the global economy to the high school and university level.


The Labor Aristocracy: A Reply

— Charlie Post

SEBASTIAN LAMB, TOM Smith, and Steve Bloom(1) raise important issues in their responses to my articles on the labor aristocracy(2). On the one hand, Lamb and Smith share my criticisms of the labor aristocracy theory, but disagree with elements of my alternative theory of working class conservatism. On the other, Bloom defends the idea that super-profits derived from imperialism in the global South provide material privileges that explain working class conservatism and reformism.


The Saga of Black Hoboes

— George Fish

What’s the Use of Walking if There’s a Freight Train Going Your Way? Black Hoboes & Their Songs
with Companion CD
Paul Garon and Gene Tomko
Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., 2006, $22, paper with CD.

THE CONTENTS OF this intriguingly titled new book by blues music authorities and authors Paul Garon and Gene Tomko are perfectly described by its subtitle: Black Hoboes & Their Songs.