Against the Current, No. 133, March/April 2008

Against the Current, No. 133, March/April 2008

Looking Back -- and Ahead

— Letter from The Editors

THE YEAR 1968 stands out as one of those pivotal years on multiple political and cultural levels. Against the Current will devote considerable space to discussing what the upheavals of that year meant then, and now.  Conventional media retrospectives will concentrate on the spectacular and appalling visual images — street rioting over the Vietnam War and the Martin Luther King assassination;  the murder of Robert Kennedy; the debacle of the Democratic convention in Chicago, with police beating heads while Hubert Humphrey proclaimed “the politics of joy” in his nomination acceptance speech....

Voter ID Laws, Voter Fraud

— Malik Miah

The close primary election inside the Democratic Party between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton shows that every vote counts. The fiasco in the 2000 presidential election because of “hanging chads” also proves that every vote “not counted” does matter. And voter suppression under any circumstances — not just when elections are close — is a crime, a violation of basic rights and an attack on democracy....

Can Soldiers Resist?

— interviews with Tod Ensign and Phil Aliff

TOD ENSIGN IS director of Citizen Soldier, a GI/ veterans rights advocacy organization based in New York City. (See For his previous articles in Against the Current, see ATC 91 (March/April 2001) “A Decade of Gulf War Illness” and ATC 112 (September/October 2004) “The U.S. Military Under Stress.” Tod was interviewed for Against the Current by Nate Franco. He also interviewed Phil Aliff, a member of Iraqi Veterans Against the War...

The Obama-Clinton Contest

— Dianne Feeley

IN LATE FEBRUARY as this is written, Barack Obama has surged into the lead for the Democratic presidential nomination. Before this unexpected development, African Americans had been skeptical about “whether he could win” or even “whether he was authentically Black.” But once they saw white people voting for him, Black voters’ enthusiasm about Obama’s possible victory became overwhelming....

After Pakistan's Election

— Farooq Tariq

THROUGHOUT PAKISTAN THE massive anti-Musharraf vote on 18 February, 2008 spoke volumes: We do not like the military dictatorship; we want Musharraf out....

Kenya's Opposition Party

— Mukoma wa Ngũgĩ

THAT THE ELECTIONS in Kenya were rigged is no longer in question. And for most people that the culprit is the sitting president, sworn in so quickly that the ceremony has been jokingly likened to a lightning wedding, is no longer a question....

Congo's War, Women's Holocaust

WHICH CURRENT WAR has taken more lives than the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur put together?...

On Hunger and Capitalism

— Dan Jakopovich

“…This type of wretchedness is an abstraction for us white people. Regardless of how much we see it around us, we cannot truly understand what poverty is because we do not suffer from it. At least not as much as the Indian peasant woman I met once in Bolivia. This peasant woman had four bowls of rice and five children. She gave each of her four oldest children a bowl but not one who was sitting in a corner.  I asked her: ‘Why don’t you feed this child?’ She answered: ‘That one is the weakest, the youngest and in any case will be the first to die. I do not have enough food for all five so I have to choose, and I will not feed the one who will die first.’” — Participant at the Dialectics of Liberation Conference, London, 1967....

A Rejoinder to Joel Kovel

— David Finkel

JOEL KOVEL IS to be congratulated on the successful struggle to overturn the outrageous University of Michigan Press decision to halt distribution of Overcoming Zionism.  To whatever extent the controversy has boosted the book’s sales and stimulated discussion of the issues it raised, so much the better. Unfortunately, the vicious campaign attempting to get the University of Michigan regents to cancel the distribution of Pluto Press titles continues at this writing.

Women Remember 1968

Confronting the -isms

— Chude Pam Allen

I LOVE THE name Against the Current and would add that to be active in the Women’s Liberation Movement at the beginning of 1968 was to be “against the current.” And “the current” then was as much the Left and the Black Nationalist Movement as it was the society as a whole. We were mostly white women, mostly middle class in background. Who we were was used against us opportunistically by the Left and the Black Movement to keep from having to address the issues of sexism — a word we didn’t even have back then....

Forty Years of Defying the Odds

— Sheila Michaels

MY WORK AREA is a shambles. Projects I’ve been meaning to get to for forty years tumble from wherever I’ve shoved them.

Last year an announcement floated down, circa 1970, for a New York Radical Women/Domestic Workers Union demonstration. I was not at that planning meeting, but I can imagine the agonies over condemning exploited women who exploit other women and whether to condone domestic work....

My Year of Transition

— Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez

THE YEAR 1968 was a crucial transition for me, from the Black struggle against White Supremacy to the Chicano struggle against White Supremacy. The first struggle began in 1959, when I became involved in the Robert Willliams Defense Committee....

Becoming a Revolutionary: Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

— Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Against the Current: Which events of 1968 were you involved in? How did that event/those events affect you personally and politically at the time?

Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz: By the end of 1967, I was a history graduate student at UCLA at the stage of writing my dissertation. I was active in the campus anti-apartheid organization, antiwar protests, and union organizing of teaching assistants....

The Year of Awakening

— Barbara Winslow

Against the Current: Which events of 1968 were you involved in? How did that event/those events affect you personally and politically at the time?

Barbara Winslow: I was a graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle....

A Time for Learning

— Jane Slaughter

I DON’T RECALL being aware of the events in France in May-June 1968. I was in college, beginning to get radicalized on several fronts, notably the war. Something called the “Free University” was started in Washington, D.C., and I signed up for a class on communes. I remember well a presentation that spring, in which the speaker kept referring to “the Establishment.”...

My 1968 in the Heartland

— Judith Ezekiel

“EZEKIEL’S BROTHER GOT arrested. He’s a Communist!”

This was Mr. Tucker’s first-period current events class, towards the end of my seventh grade school year. Other voices chimed in: “He’s anti-American! A subversive! It said so in the paper.”...

"Intersectionality" in Real Life

— interview with Loretta Ross

LORETTA ROSS IS National Coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective, a network of 80 organizations. Their website is www. She was interviewed by phone by Dianne Feeley and David Finkel from the ATC editorial board.

Against the Current: Where were you during the events of 1968?

Loretta Ross: I was still in high school, in San Antonio. My mother had this passion for making sure all her children did volunteer work. I was a candy-striper at Brooke Army Hospital, where my assignment was simply delivering library books to the wounded soldiers, at least to those who could see....

Honoring International Women's Day

Domestic Work and Rights in China

— May Wong

WHEN CHINA ADOPTED the “open door” policy in 1978, south China, especially the Pearl River Delta area, was the first industrial area created to attract foreign investment, particularly from Hong Kong. In the late 1990s, China accelerated this policy, opening consumer markets to foreign investment. Since 1999, the average annual gross domestic product grew 10%, far ahead of other developing countries....

Women Stand Up, Fight Back

— Chloe Tribich

Color of Violence
The INCITE! Anthology
Edited by INCITE!
Women of Color Against Violence
Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2006,
336 pages. $20 paperback.

WHAT WOULD IT mean to truly end gender-and-race-based violence? How can radicals acknowledge the totalizing violence of white supremacy while also accounting for the very diverse, and sometimes conflicting, experiences and survival strategies of Arab, Asian, Native, Latina and Black women?...

Hitting the Maternal Wall

— Sonya Huber-Humes

The Motherhood Manifesto.
What America’s Moms Want —
And What to Do About It
By Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
New York: Nation Books, 2006,
262 pages, $14.95 paperback.

THE “MATERNAL WALL” is not a new method of contraception, and it’s not the look mom gives when the kids miss curfew. In this slim and accessible book The Motherhood Manifesto, Blades and Rowe-Finkbeiner update the two-dimensional “glass ceiling” to describe the maternal wall as “employment discrimination against a woman who has, or will have, children. ”...


A War Plan Scuttled?

— Allen Ruff

Targeting Iran
By David Barsamian
San Francisco: City Lights, Open Media Series
2007, 206pages, $13.95.

AS THE BUSH era draws to a close, there been increasing speculation on whether or not the United States will attack Iran. Spurred by the posturing and rhetoric coming from the White House and a subservient media, much of that discussion has narrowly focused on Iran  potential nuclear  threat and the character of the current administrations in Washington and Tehran....

Funding Revolutions?

— Aileen Anderson

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded:
Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.
Edited by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence.
Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2007
256 pages, $18 paperback.

NEARLY EVERY PERSON I have encountered who is seeking liberation from the various oppressive-isms of this world has asked the fundamental question, “How do I free myself (and others) from such an insidious system?”...

Kicking Ass for the Working Class

— Kim Moody

More Unequal: Aspects of Class in the United States
Edited by Michael Yates
New York, Monthly Review Press, 2007, 203 pages, $14.95 paper.

THERE IT WAS, staring at me from the AFL-CIO’s very own blog: a black sign with bold red letters saying “KICKING ASS FOR THE WORKING CLASS,” signed AFL-CIO. Surely they meant to say “working for,” or in SEIU-speak “uniting” “working families” or “working people” or some other euphemisms for struggle and class. Had the decline and split of organized labor pushed our otherwise moderate business union leaders to new extremes?...

A Working-Class Hero Is Something To Be

— Steve Early

The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor:
The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi
By Les Leopold
Chelsea Green Press, 490 pages, $24.

AS A 35-YEAR veteran of union activity in America, I can personally attest that Tony Mazzocchi of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers (OCAW) was a rare bird, perhaps the last of his kind...

Globalization in the Academy

— John O'Connor

A Systematic Marxian Account
By Tony Smith
Brill Academic Publishers, 358 pages,
$120 hardcover.

WITH THE SOCIAL movements of the 1960s, it was a good thing that Marxists pushed their way into the academy after being excluded for so long. Generations of college students were exposed to and benefited from Marxism’s challenge to mainstream social science...

Letters to Against the Current

Response to George Fish

— Malik Miah

GEORGE FISH RAISES an important point about the “taking personal responsibility” debate taking place within the Black community, especially at the academic and leadership level. But his criticism of my argument that it is a “secondary factor” to prevalent institutional racism is way off.

Racism and Responsibility

— George Fish

MALIK MIAH WRITES in Against the Current 131, “[Orlando] Patterson, and others in Black academia and middle-class civil rights organizations, are right to point to internal problems within the Black community. But the ‘take personal responsibility’ critique targets only a secondary factor. It has little to do with addressing racist attitudes still prevalent among many whites, even as a large majority of whites and society oppose blatant racial discrimination.”