Against the Current, No. 149, November/December 2010

Against the Current, No. 149, November/December 2010

After the Democrats' Debacle

— The Editors

HOW FAR HAVE politics “moved to the right” in the United States — and for how long? Although we’re going to press before the November 2 midterm elections, you’re probably reading it after the anticipated Democratic debacle and the attendant speculation about the viability of the Obama presidency. Whether the Democrats have retained slim majority control of one or both houses of Congress obviously matters for some legislative purposes and power relations, but our view of the broad trends is pretty much the same either way.

In fact, we do not believe that the political views of the mass of the population have shifted sharply rightward....

Race and Class: What About the Working Poor?

— Malik Miah

ONE STRIKING FEATURE of political debate in the country today is that — while every commentator, pundit and political observer talks about and focuses on the concerns of the super-rich and the middle class — few ever talk about the plight of the disadvantaged, those on food stamps and welfare and particularly the working poor.

Most welfare recipients, unemployed, underemployed and working poor don’t vote in large numbers. They’re trying to survive day by day. The civil rights groups once based “The Movement” on winning equality and helping the working poor. That changed as the old leaders became more integrated into mainstream politics and business....

Reflections on October 7th

— Wes Strong

STUDENTS, WORKERS, TEACHERS, parents and faculty throughout the country participated in the October 7th National Day of Action to Defend Public Education. As part of a growing movement, activists from 25 different states were involved.

With a total of 72 actions, October 7th represented months of organizing following March 4th, the first national day of action to defend public education. Many see the 7th as a huge step forward for the movement to fight back against budget cuts — brought on by 30 years of failed economic policy and expedited by the recent crisis....

Resisting Agent Orange

— Michael Uhl

FOLLOWING AN EARLY April round of visits in private residences and care facilities with children suffering from a range of debilitating birth anomalies, classified by the Vietnamese government as “victims of agent orange,” a delegation of six American veterans sponsored by Veterans for Peace (VFP) was received in Hanoi by Nguyen Tan Dung, the Prime Minister of Vietnam.

Mr. Dung used the occasion to insist that, with hostilities between our two countries now nearly 40 years behind us, the United States government must finally “take responsibility for the aftermath” of the Vietnam War....

Bob King and the "New" UAW

— Dianne Feeley

LAST JUNE THE 35th UAW Constitutional Convention in Detroit elected new national officers headed by Bob King. Even before his election, King had been heralded in the media as desirous of transforming the UAW into an activist union. He supported the US Social Forum, co-sponsored the August 28th Detroit march for “Jobs, Justice and Peace” and encouraged UAW participation in the October 2nd “One Nation Working Together” demonstration in Washington DC.

Clearly King’s encouragement produced results: My own UAW region sent 11 buses to the October 2nd rally....

Capital's War on the People

— Ismael Hossein-zadeh

INSTEAD OF CALLING the recent G-20’s brutal austerity declaration (issued at the conclusion of its annual summit in Toronto) an orchestrated declaration of class war on the people, many progressive/Keynesian economists and other liberal commentators simply call it “bad policy.” While it is true that, as these commentators point out, the Hooverian message of the declaration is bound to worsen the recession, it is nonetheless not a matter of “bad” policy; it is a matter of class policy....

A Tale of Two Social Forums

— Marc Becker

FROM JUNE 22-26, 2010, fifteen thousand social movement activists gathered in Detroit, Michigan for the second United States Social Forum (USSF). Less than two months later, about half that number met at the other end of the continent in Asunción, Paraguay for the 4th Americas Social Forum (ASF).

The contrasts between the two were more dramatic than the similarities. While the social forum process appears to have run its course in South America, it still continues to pick up steam in North America. Although politically the United States lags behind South America, lessons from the north can help rejuvenate the process in the south....

Subcontinent in Crisis

Pakistan Women's Voices

— an interview with Bushra Khaliq

BUSHRA KHALIQ IS general secretary of the Women Workers Help Line ( and a member of Labour Party Pakistan. She visited the United States in June, 2010 to speak at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, and spoke in several cities at meetings organized by Solidarity and the International Socialist Organization. While in Detroit, she spoke with Dianne Feeley and David Finkel from the ATC editorial board. We began by asking Bushra about her perspective on the World Social Forum and the USSF, then about her own political work.

After the Floods, the IMF

— Adaner Usmani

PAKISTAN IN RECENT years has found itself in the headlights of the international press with increasingly regularity. As Obama’s surge into Af-Pak has taken shape over the last 12 months, the country and its people have been thrust to the forefront of political discussion for forces left, right and center.

Almost without exception, of course, this attention has been framed by the idioms of the Great War on Terror — a narrative which pivots on breathless, asinine panic at beards and burkhas in a nuclear state....

Kashmir: A Brief Background

— David Finkel for the ATC Editors

KASHMIR WAS DIVIDED between India and the newly created Pakistani state in the chaotic division of the Indian subcontinent in 1947-48, with little reference to the wishes of Kashmir’s people. The larger part is occupied by India, with a volatile “Line of Control” separating it from the Pakistan-administered zone. The formal name of Indian-occupied Kashmir is Jammu and Kashmir; the Pakistan-controlled region is known as the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) and Azad Kashmir. The territory’s largest city is Srinagar....

Kashmir: A Time for Freedom

— Angana Chatterji

“FREEDOM” REPRESENTS MANY things across rural and urban spaces in India-ruled Kashmir. These divergent meanings are steadfastly united on one point: freedom always signifies an end to India’s authoritarian governance.

In the administration of brutality, India, the postcolony, has proven itself coequal to its former colonial masters. Governing Kashmir is about India’s coming of age as a power, its ability to disburse violence, to manipulate and dominate. Kashmir is about nostalgia, about resources, and buffer zones. The possession of Kashmir by India renders an imaginary past real, emblematic of India’s triumphal unification as a nation-state....

The Mexican Revolution at 100

1810, 1910, 2010 and Mexican Labor

— Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui

IN THE MIDST of a deep depression, an ongoing crisis of legitimacy and a brutal internal war amongst the different fractions of the drug cartel/state complex, Mexico is celebrating its two great revolutions, the Revolution of Independence (1810) and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).

The Revolution of Independence, which quickly took on a revolutionary popular character, was defeated — actual political independence came in 1821 as an attempt to maintain the old social regime. And the Mexican Revolution, while having a strong popular character that expressed hopes for fundamental social change,...

After Oaxaca's Popular Rebellion

— Scott Campbell

“THINK ABOUT IT,” a popular bumper sticker read, “6 more years would be 86.” On July 4, 2010, the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca held statewide elections. Despite open vote-buying and other fraud perpetrated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), it was not enough to ensure victory on this occasion, thereby ending 81 years of uninterrupted PRI rule in Oaxaca.

On December 1, 2010, the state will have the first non-PRI governor since the consolidation of the Mexican Revolution, which began 100 years earlier....

U.S. Socialists and the Mexican Revolution

— Dan La Botz

EUGENE VICTOR DEBS was America’s most impressive Socialist figure: founder of the American Railway Union and of the Industrial Workers of the World, a founder of the Socialist Party and its repeated candidate for president. He was jailed for his role in the Pullman strike in 1894 and for his opposition to World War I in 1918, and he strongly defended the Russian Soviet Revolution. If any person would stand for revolutionary socialism in the United States, surely it would be Debs....


Chronicle of a Labor Victory

— Freda Coodin

On the Global Waterfront
The Fight to Free the Charleston 5
by Suzan Erem and E. Paul Durrenberger
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008, 240 pages, $17.95 paper.

“You’re not gonna have huggin’ and kissin’ and glad-to-meet ya’s.” —Leonard Riley(1)

MOST UNION MEMBERS see nothing but hugging and kissing between their leaders and their bosses on a daily basis....

The Long War at Staley

— Dianne Feeley

The Fight for A New American Labor Movement
By Steven K. Ashby and C.J. Hawking
Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, $25 paper.

STALEY RECOUNTS THE epic struggle of workers in a corn-processing plant in Decatur, Illinois in the 1990s and provides insight into how a pivotal struggle ended in defeat. That ending was not inevitable....

Analyzing the Crash

— Jon Amsden

Epic Recession:
Prelude to Global Depression
By Jack Rasmus
Pluto Press 2010, Amazon Price $120 hardback, $25.20 paperback.

THE PRESENT ECONOMIC crisis, which began in the United States late in 2007 and picked up speed early in 2008, may have caused production in the American economy to fall precipitously, but had the opposite effect on the production of books seeking to analyze the world economic crisis....

In Memoriam

Abbey Lincoln and Freedom Now

— Connie Crothers

ABBEY LINCOLN — SINGER, composer, actor — left us on August 14 at age 80 A prolific and multidimensional artist (born Anna Marie Wooldridge), she took her performing name in the 1950s by combining “Westminister Abbey” and “Abraham Lincoln.” Composer and percussionist Max Roach, her partner in life — they were married from 1962-1970 — and in music and in political action, died on August 16, 2007.

Art and political action came together for these collaborators with their great 1960 recording, “We Insist! Freedom Now Suite,” a musical event of the first magnitude and an important political document that galvanized the African-American community....