Against the Current, No. 151, March/April 2011

Against the Current, No. 151, March/April 2011

Change of the Century

— The Editors

THE HEROES OF Tahrir Square in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, and in Tunisia, have already changed the course of 21st century history. They have torn a huge hole in the fabric of imperialist dominion over the Middle East. They have begun to reverse what has been 35 years of almost continuous “permanent counterrevolution” in the region. As we write this statement in mid-February, the uprising is spreading to some of the Middle East’s most brutal police states, with outcomes that are impossible to foretell.

It is difficult to comprehend all that the crowd in Tahrir accomplished in the battles of early February....

New Orleans' Police Death Squads

— an interview with Malcolm Suber

MALCOLM SUBER IS a New Orleans community activist and fighter for justice, and a former candidate for city council. Against the Current asked him to comment on the struggle around murders by police during Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing fight over police brutality.

ATC: It’s now out in the open that police death squads were operating in New Orleans during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina. What is now known about the extent of these operations and the number of victims?

Malcolm Suber: Even after the Glover trial in which three cops were found guilty and two exonerated, we don’t have a complete picture of the extent of police murder....

Whither Social Security?

— Malik Miah

FLAILING AFTER MUSLIMS is a convenient way for the right — extreme and mainstream — to prove their credentials as “genuine, God-loving Americans.” Islam, they charge, is not a religion of peace, of Western values; it’s an ideology of terror. “You can’t trust Muslims.”

Anything goes in this drive. Last year Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure barring “state courts from considering international or Islamic laws in deciding cases.” Who could have known that Islamic Sharia laws were taking over the state? How many Muslims live in Oklahoma?...

Campaigning with Issues

— an interview with Ann Menasche

ANN MENASCHE, WHO ran for Secretary of State in California on the Green Party ticket, was interviewed by Dianne Feeley for ATC. Menasche is a longtime activist and an attorney concentrating on disability rights.

ATC: Why did you decide to run for office?

Ann Menasche: I’ve been active in the Green Party since I moved to San Diego in 1998, but didn’t really think of running for office until a few years ago, when I seriously considered a run for City Council....

Renewing New York

— an interview with Howie Hawkins

HOWIE HAWKINS, A Green Party and socialist activist, ran for Governor of New York State. Dianne Feeley interviewed him for ATC.

ATC: You developed a set of proposals for turning the NY state deficit into a surplus. Could you outline them and give readers a sense of how people responded to them?

HOWIE HAWKINS: With the highest income inequality of any of the 50 states, in the industrial country with the highest income inequality in the world, New York State has a lot of very rich people with very high wealth and income....

Stieg Larsson in the Struggle

— Håkan Blomqvist

[Stieg Larsson is world famous as a result of his “Millennium series” of crime novels, all published since his death in 2004. His less known political history is sketched here by Håkan Blomqvist, editor of the Swedish revolutionary socialist paper Internationalen from 1979-1999. Blomqvist wrote in response to a query. — ed.]

STIEG LARSSON came to support the Vietnamese liberation struggle in 1968, when he was only 14 years old. He joined the Kommunistiska Arbetarförbundet — (The Communist Workers League), the Swedish section of the Fourth International –– around 1974 in the northern town of Umeå....

Arab World Uprising

Egypt and Beyond

— an interview with Gilbert Achcar

GILBERT ACHCAR, WHO grew up in Lebanon, is professor of development studies and international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, and author most recently of The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives, which is reviewed elsewhere in this issue. Farooq Sulehria interviewed him on February 4. The first question here is an excerpt from that interview, which is available at David Finkel from the ATC editorial board spoke with him on February 14, and posed the second question on the regional perspective....

The Meaning of the Revolution

— Nadine Naber

"...I’m making this video to give you one simple message: We want to go down to Tahrir Square on January 25. If we still have honor and want to live with dignity on this land, we have to go down on January 25.We’ll go down and demand our rights, our fundamental human rights...The entire government is corrupt —- a corrupt president and a corrupt security force! If you stay home, you deserve what will happen to you, and you’ll be guilty, before your nation and your people! Go down to the street, send SMSs, post it on the net.

"Make people aware! You know your own social circle, your building, your family, your friends, tell them to come with us. Bring 5 people, or 10 people...."

Women, Revolution and the Future

— Val Moghadam

VALENTINE MOGHADAM IS director of the Women’s Studies Program and a professor of sociology at Purdue University. She responded to some questions from Against the Current early on February 11, 2011, shortly before the announcement of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation.

Against the Current: The role of women in the Egyptian uprising and particularly at Tahrir Square has been notable. What have you observed, and do you think a lasting transformation of gender roles may develop from this struggle?

Val Moghadam: The historical record shows that women have been participants in many political struggles....

From Tahrir to Palestine

— Nabeel Abraham

Nabeel Abraham, a professor of anthropology and director of the honors program at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan, is a longtime Palestinian and Arab community activist. Against the Current asked him to comment on the following question: “What impact do you think the Egyptian events might have on the Palestinian struggle — both against the Israeli occupation and for internal democracy — over the next few months or maybe the next year?”

IN THE HISTORY of the Palestinian people, no single neighbor has loomed as large as Egypt....

A View from Israel

— Michael Warschawski

MICHAEL WARSCHAWSKI, A founder of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem, spoke with The Real News Network on Israeli reactions to the Egyptian uprising. The full interview appears at Below are some brief excerpts of Warschawski’s comments.

THE ISRAELI LEADERSHIP is much worried about what is happening, because there is a new actor which was never taken into consideration as an actor, meaning the Arab peoples, the Arab masses....

Egypt Shakes the World

— Susan Weissman interviews Yoav Peled & Mark LeVine

SUZI WEISSMAN INTERVIEWED Yoav Peled and Mark LeVine on her program “Beneath the Surface,” KPFK Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles, on February 11, 2010. The following are edited excerpts from those discussions. Thanks to Meleiza Figueroa for transcribing.

Suzi Weissman: I’m very pleased to have Yoav Peled join us right now to talk about the Israeli reaction to the events in Egypt, the relations between Egypt and Israel, and we’re going to ask Yoav about “Post-Post Zionism,” the title of Horit and Yoav Peled’s latest article in New Left Review, confronting the death of the two-state solution....

Crisis in Europe

FRANCE: Battling Over Pensions

— Jason Stanley

FRANCE WAS ROCKED in September-October 2010 by some of the country’s largest protests in recent memory, as workers fought to prevent cuts to their public pensions. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s agenda promised to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 and the age for a full pension from 65 to 67.

On eight different occasions, millions of workers filled the streets throughout the country in national demonstrations....

IRELAND: Slaying the Celtic Tiger

— John O'Connor

LIKE MOST NATIONS, Ireland has its share of myths and legends. Most of us know a few of them — Saint Patrick drove out the snakes, the Children of Lir were turned into swans, the ancient warrior Cúchulainn took on all comers. And, since the mid-1990s, Ireland and the international community trumpeted a new myth and legend, the so-called Celtic Tiger.

Unfortunately, myths and legends are no match for a global economic storm....

GREECE: The Crisis Continues

— Nikos Tamvaklis

WHAT’S HAPPENED IN Greece after the explosive strikes and street protests that erupted over the terms of the European bailout in 2010?

Following the district and municipal elections of November, the government of G. Papandreou saw its margins for political maneuver become very narrow....

UNITED KINGDOM: Students Fight the Fees

— interview with Ashok Kumar

ASHOK KUMAR WAS a student activist in Madison, WI. He is now the full-time Education Officer of the Student Union of the London School of Economics. Until recently, the LSE was under occupation in protest to the cuts, and the LSE Students’ Union has been central in the fight-back against austerity measures. Ashok has been a leading voice against the government’s policies appearing on ITV, Sky, CNN, BBC World, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, and The Times. In addition to sitting on the Steering Committee of the Education Activist Network (EAN), he is a founding signatory of the Coalition of Resistance (COR) and activist in the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC). Against the Current interviewed him in December 2010.

Against the Current: What issues are students facing in the United Kingdom and what are the principal demands of the new student movement?

Ashok Kumar: Until 1998, universities in the UK were entirely free and all students received maintenance grants...

SPAIN: Women's Crises

— Sandra Ezquerra

OVER THE PAST three years there have been numerous debates within the Spanish political and social left about the impact of the current economic crisis on working people, and the (in)efficacy of the measures the government adopted to ameliorate them. There has not been much talk, however, about the specific consequences that both the crisis and governmental response have had on women.

Before the initial worsening of male unemployment — the result of the massive job loss within the construction and industrial sectors — the mass media often stated that the crisis hit men more severely....

Women in the Struggle

Pakistan's Dark Journey

— Bushra Khaliq

THE RECENT VERDICT of a lower court sentencing a Christian woman to death in a “blasphemy” case, and the subsequent murder of the Punjab Governor who supported the imprisoned woman, has posed the very vital question of whether Pakistani society has become intolerant, violent and extremist to the point of incorrigible.

The Asia Bibi case occurred in June 2009 in Pakistan’s Punjab province when a group of female Muslim laborers complained that Bibi, a Christian woman and a fellow farm laborer, had made derogatory remarks against the Islamic holy book and Prophet Mohammed....

Interrogating the Feminine Mystique

— an interview with Stephanie Coontz

STEPHANIE COONTZ TEACHES history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Dianne Feeley interviewed Stephanie about her new book, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s. Her earlier books on the social history of the family include Marriage, A History; The Way We Really Are; The Way We Never Were; and The Social Origins of Private Life.

ATC: Why did you write this book, and what were your reactions to re-reading Betty’s Friedan’s classic The Feminine Mystique?

Stephanie Coontz: I was approached by an editor at Basic Books who said they were doing a series of biographies, not of individuals but of books, and asked if I’d like to write one on The Feminine Mystique....

Claiming the Power to Resist

— Mayowa Obasaju

Hard Knocks:
Domestic Violence and the Psychology of Storytelling
By Janice Haaken
Routledge, 2010, 208 pages, $26.95 paperback.

“Ideological readings of stories require that we uncover the role of social power in this narrative work of the ending and how ruling modes of story production may foreclose on the range of alternative resolutions.”— Hard Knocks (5)

STORIES AND STORYTELLING have power. Stories can help us understand each other as subjects...

Triangle Fire Remembered

MARCH 25 IS THE 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 145 workers, mostly young women immigrants. The factory, located on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the Asch building near Washington Square in New York City, employed 500 workers....


Arabs and the Holocaust

— David Finkel

The Arabs and the Holocaust
The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives
By Gilbert Achcar
Metropolitan Books, 2010, 400 pages, $30 hardcover.

THE PALESTINIAN TRAGEDY, a late product of 19th-20th century colonialism and imperialism in general, must also be understood as a very specific aftershock of the greatest industrial genocide in history, the Nazi holocaust, which shook the ways in which we view human society and history....

Toward A Queer Marxism?

— Peter Drucker

Sexuality and Socialism:
History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation
By Sherry Wolf
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2009, pages, $12 paperback.

The Reification of Desire:
Toward a Queer Marxism
By Kevin Floyd
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009, 271 pages,
$25 paperback.

SCHOLARLY APPROACHES TO sexuality since the 1980s have become increasingly divorced from practical sexual politics, and both have largely given up on earlier attempts to engage with Marxism....