Against the Current, No. 131, November/December 2007

Against the Current, No. 131, November/December 2007

Regime Dis-Credited

— The Editors

THE CREDIT CRISIS rocketing through the global financial system in August and September is the leading indicator of serious economic turbulence. The stock market’s 1000-point roller-coaster slide, down when the shock hit and back up when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a half percent, was the first wave. As of late October, globally and in the United States, markets were falling again as analysts warned that the credit and housing market crunch could pull the U.S. economy into recession — though when is not really predictable....

Race and Class: What the Jena 6 Case Shows

— Malik Miah

SOME 50,000 PEOPLE converged on the small Louisiana town of Jena on September 20. The protest shook up not only the two-stoplight town but sent a loud siren across the country. The 85% white population had never seen anything like this — a Black-led protest against modern-day racism....

The Movement Comes to Jena

— Joanna Dubinsky

THE HUMID AIR felt electric as the sun ascended over the hundreds of buses idling a 20-mile stretch of Louisiana Route 49, the gateway to the rural hometown of the Jena 6. It was 6 AM, September 20, 2007 — the day Mychal Bell was initially scheduled to be sentenced for his role in the beating of a white classmate — and northeast central Louisiana, on the border of Mississippi, was looking anything but sleepy....

Facing the Toyota "Pattern"

— Dianne Feeley

HIGHLY PRAISED AS a “breakthrough” in the mainstream and business press, the new United Auto Workers contract at General Motors is a stunning retreat for the union, threatening the existence of most high-paying production jobs throughout the U.S. auto industry. Skilled trades face drastic downsizing through outsourcing and combining of the trades....

The Sub-Prime Market Crisis

— Nomi Prins

IT WASN’T UNTIL I flew to the United Kingdom on Saturday, September 15th, that the globalized nature of the sub-prime contagion really hit home, as it were, for me. On my flight over, I grabbed a copy of the UK Telegraph newspaper, the front page of which looked like something shot at a Great Depression bread line....

Report from Dubai

— Vicky Francis

 DUBAI — THIS GULF emirate is shaping up into a key tourist destination. For golf, luxury hotels and high-end shopping, it is firmly established as a key player in the Middle East region. Dubai’s geographical location means it can position itself as a meeting point between east and west, a global business hub for the 21st century....

A Left Voice in Pakistan

— an interview with Farooq Tariq

FOLLOWING THE OCTOBER 18 attack on the massive procession into Karachi welcoming Benazir Bhutto back from an eight-year exile, Farooq Tariq, General Secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan, expressed his solidarity with the families of the more than 135 killed and 540 injured. The day afterward, at a crowded press conference in Lahore, he pointed out....

Review: Political War Over Palestine

— David Finkel

IT HAS BECOME impossible to review titles like these, or discuss the issues they raise, without reference to the rise of an exceptionally vicious campaign against critical activist voices and academic scholarship on Palestine and Israel....

An October for Us, for Russia and for the Whole World

— an appeal from Russian Intellectuals and Artists

THIS APPEAL FROM Russian intellectuals and artists on the 90th anniversary of the Russian October Revolution comes to us from veteran leftists, social democrats, artists and even children of Left Oppositionists, most of them politically active at least since the Gorbachev years of glasnost and perestroika. It has been abridged here for space reasons....

The Russian Revolution Ninety Years After

— David Mandel

THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION of 1917 in Russia was the most influential political event of the 20th century. But since history is written by the victors, it is not well known that October was the opening shot of a vast and powerful challenge to capitalism that swept the industrial world and had strong echoes in colonial countries. Between 1918 and 1921 union membership and days lost in strikes everywhere reached new heights, while the ranks of the revolutionary wing of the socialist movement swelled....

Introduction to When the UAW Was Young

— Charles Williams

THE FOLLOWING INTERVIEW with Erwin and Estar Baur was conducted by Dianne Feeley on behalf of the ATC editorial board. Erwin and Estar met in Cleveland in 1937 at a dance sponsored by the Socialist Party. Estar was at that time a member of the Young People’s Socialist League, while Erwin’s involvement in socialist politics dated back to 1934 when he co-founded a high school socialist club in Struthers, Ohio....

When the UAW Was Young

— an interview with Erwin and Estar Baur

I went to 10 different plants in order to learn to become a tool and die maker. I worked in all different kinds of small plants, including a toy plant, where I learned the most. In the toy plant there were all kinds of small, thin shapes and it takes reduced-sized equipment, but the theory is the same. So that’s how I learned the most, by quitting this job, that job, and moving to another. There wasn’t a subject in the tool and die trade that I didn’t learn something from somebody. I became an expert....


Debunking Columbus

— Jennifer Jopp

“I KNEW IT couldn’t be true!” exclaimed my then eleven-year-old daughter when I explained the premise of Restall’s book. “The Ancients knew that the earth was round,” she continued, “so Columbus could not have been the only one....

The CIA and Questions of Torture

— George Fish

ALFRED W. McCOY’S A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror is a chilling, eerily fascinating account of how the CIA used physical and psychological torture as a method of interrogation....

Can We Live and Eat Too?

— Eli Jelly-Schapiro

IN 1579, THE fleet of British explorer Sir Francis Drake met the coast of what we now call California. Drake, who would dub his discovery “New Albion” (Albion being the Latin name for Britain), thought he had happened upon an island. Though the source of California’s present-day name is obscure, at least one etymological theory suggests that Drake was not alone in imagining the place as a world apart; the first literary reference to “California,” in a 1510 novel by Spanish writer García Ordóñez de Montalvo, Las Sergas de Esplandián, depicts an island in the Pacific inhabited by Amazonian women....

The Press and the Class Struggle

— Barry Eidlin

Outside the Box:
Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike
By Deepa Kumar
Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007, 237 pages, $35 hardcover.

EARLY ON THE morning of August 19, 1997, the U.S. labor movement experienced something it had rarely known in recent years: a victory on a national scale. After two weeks out on strike, over 185,000 members of the Teamsters Union had reached a contract settlement with shipping giant United Parcel Service. It was hard to paint it as anything other than a win for the union. On almost every major issue, the Teamsters were able to force UPS to agree to their demands....

U.S. Labor's Subterranean Fire

— Charlie Post

THE BROAD OUTLINES of the crisis of the U.S. labor movement -— sharply declining union density, concession bargaining, failures to organize the growing non-union manufacturing and service sectors, the labor officialdom’s reliance on institutionalized labor-management cooperation schemes — are familiar to readers of Against the Current. The roots of this crisis — the dominance of bureaucratic business unionism and the weakness of rank-and file-led reform movements from below — are also well-known....

Tide Turning in Latin America?

— Midge Quandt

NACLA’s FIRST VOLUME in its new series, Dispatches from Latin America: On the Frontlines Against Neoliberalism, reported on an array of popular initiatives and left-leaning regimes across the continent. The second volume, Latin America After Neoliberalism, is also a collection of essays; but this one is organized by themes and more academic, though still accessible. The book is a useful guide for activists wanting a better understanding of the profound transformations underway in the region....

Letters to Against the Current

On Immigration and Wages

— Kim Moody

MICHAEL FRIEDMAN’S LETTER (ATC 130) challenges the statement in my article on immigrant workers (ATC 127) to the effect that immigration has not been the cause of declining U.S. real wages. His challenge consists of citing two “reports” — one by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR — not the media critics) and another from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)....

In Memoriam

Grace Paley (1922-2007)

— Sonya Huber-Humes

GRACE PALEY DESCRIBED herself as a “somewhat combative pacifist and a cooperative anarchist,” and saw the role of the artist as that of “listener” who would relay stories of those made invisible by society. And she told it plain....

Carol L. McAllister (1947-2007)

— Paul Le Blanc

I REMEMBER MEETING Carol on a public transit bus, I believe in 1980 –- when, almost out of the blue, she approached me and started talking to me about Central America. She recognized me from some earlier meeting on repression and revolution in Central America and wanted to know if, by any chance, I had been in the audience viewing a documentary on women in El Salvador that she had just seen (I hadn’t) and if I would mind if she shared some thoughts about it....