Against the Current, No. 193, March/April 2018

Against the Current, No. 193, March/April 2018

#MeToo for All Women

— The Editors

“TIME’S UP” AND #MeToo have transformed the discussion on sexual harassment, abuse and assault in the halls of politics, the entertainment industry, and workplaces all over the country. But the issues aren’t new — quite the contrary. Sexual exploitation and rape have been features of American culture from colonial times. The legal doctrine — slaves were property — codified rape as one more right of the slaveowners and his overseers. The evidence was plain to see, yet accounts of indigenous and African-American women were irrelevant. Although the Civil War ended with the destruction of the slave system, within a decade Radical Reconstruction was shut down and the rape of Black women became a reassertion of power over not just the woman as an individual, but over her community.

There have always been women who demanded that society recognize that their bodies had been violated and the perpetrators held accountable. Yet their accounts were minimized and dismissed; they were vilified or threatened....

The New Poor People's Campaign

— Malik Miah

IN 1967, MARTIN Luther King, Jr. told a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) staff retreat:

“I think it is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights… [W]hen we see that there must be a radical redistribution of economic and political power, then we see that for the last twelve years we have been in a reform movement…That after Selma and the Voting Rights Bill, we moved into a new era, which must be an era of revolution…In short, we have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society.” (From Why a Poor People’s Campaign,

Essential Principles of the Poor People's Campaign

AN EXCERPT FROM the “Fundamental Principles” of the Poor Peoples Campaign:

“We aim to shift the distorted moral narrative often promoted by religious extremists in the nation from personal issues like prayer in school, abortion, sexuality, gun rights, property rights to systemic injustices like how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.

“We will build up the power of people and state-based movements to serve as a vehicle for a powerful moral movement in the country and to transform the political, economic and moral structures of our society....

A Window on Inhuman Detention

— Yihwa Kim

YIHWA KIM IS a Korean woman who fled her home country, South Korea, because of the extreme and prolonged domestic and sexual violence she suffered at the hands of her father and his friends. She was detained in April 2017 for seeking asylum in the United States.

In November, her right to a bond hearing was denied by a judge who was a former prosecutor for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). During her hearing, this judge openly said that he sympathized with the prosecuting attorney for DHS and understood his position.

With no end in sight to her detention — which has resulted in further trauma, medical neglect and the deterioration of her health — on December 1, Kim chose to withdraw her application for asylum and declared “Being forced to return to Korea is an act of suicide for me. But being imprisoned for another potential two or three years, like some others here ...

Single Payer: What Will It Take to Pass It?

— Lee Stanfield

SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH Care bill HR-676 covers 100% of everything with the least taxpayer money! What will it take to pass it? And why is neither S-1804 (see below), nor a “state-by-state” approach, the answer to the health care crisis?

President Truman proposed universal health care for the United States in 1945.Health care for everyone, covering every medical necessity and costing less than we now pay, has always been the goal of the single-payer movement. So why is it that 73 years later, we still don’t have it?

The short answer is that we keep being suckered into believing that we must settle for a compromise with the for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the only entities that will not greatly benefit from its passage. (Ironically, their own employees would benefit from having 100% comprehensive portable coverage,...

The Fight for Housing, 1967-68 & Milwaukee NAACP Commandos

— Mike McCallister

AS BACKGROUND, IT helps to start with an understanding of where the city of Milwaukee was in the summer of 1967.

Largely after World War II, Black workers came to Milwaukee in increasing numbers to get industrial jobs at AO Smith, American Motors, Harnischfeger and the like. Where were these folks going to live?

Through racial covenants, Black people were essentially restricted to a four-square-mile rectangle called the “Inner Core.” It was bounded by Juneau Ave on the South (just north of downtown), Keefe Ave on the North, Holton Street on the East, and 20th Street on the West.
By the early 1960s, because these neighborhoods were also in the oldest part of the city, urban renewal led to the leveling of many homes in this area....

After the Grenfell Tower Fire

— Sheila Cohen

MORE THAN SIX months after the horrific fire in London’s Grenfell Tower, which in mid-June 2017 killed 81 and wounded countless more in mind as well as in body. the ruins of the 20-story block still stand as a potent symbol of social injustice in one of the richest areas in Britain. And this neighborhood’s domination by wealth has undoubtedly influenced many aspects of the investigation into that unspeakable disaster.

As for the Inquiry into the fire, when its Chair remarked that he hoped it would provide “a small measure of solace” for the victims’ families, one journalist justly commented: “It’s an error of gargantuan, class-ridden insensitivity to talk in such terms to people some of whom have survived an inferno and have lost everything.”(1)

One particularly outrageous example of such insensitivity was the revelation....

Honduras: U.S. Support for Repression & Fraud

— Vicki Cervantes

RIGHT-WING HONDURAN PRESIDENT Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) was inaugurated in a January 7, 2018 ceremony in a nearly empty National Stadium in the capital Tegucigalpa. Since the stolen election of November 26, 2017, the country had been totally militarized to protect his fraudulent victory — with a death toll of more than 34 killed by military and police.

The anti-dictatorship movement and organizations declared a civic insurrection, vowing that Honduras would be ungovernable. Hernandez’s authority will not be recognized by the citizenry.

Not surprisingly, the fraudulent election and subsequent repression were ignored by the U.S. government. The Trump Administration congratulated Hernandez for his “election victory,” confirming Washington’s support for the dictatorship. Hernandez is especially close to the Southern Command of the U.S. Military, to Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff General John F. Kelly, and to far rightwing forces in the United States and Latin America....

Moroccan Catastrophic Convergence

— Jawad Moustakbal

“We must accept to live African, it is the only way to live dignified and free.” ­—Thomas Sankara, former President of Burkina Faso (1949-1987)

“The Third World today faces Europe like a colossal mass whose project should be to try to resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find the answers.” ­—Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961)

ON OCTOBER 28, 2016, IN Al Hoceima ­— a city in northeastern Morocco ­— Mohsin Fikri lost his life after a state official threw his wares into a garbage truck. When the desperate vendor climbed into the truck to reclaim his fish, “a local police officer ordered the garbage truck driver to start the compactor and ‘grind him’” according to activists and witnesses. The vendor was ground to death by the truck’s machinery....

MLK: To the Promised Land

— Charles Williams interviewing Michael Honey

Michael K. Honey is the author of the new study, To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice, to be published on the 50th anniversary of King’s April 4, 1968 assassination. He was interviewed by Charles Williams of the Against the Current editorial board. Their discussion of Michael Honey’s earlier book Going Down Jericho Road appeared in ATC 132 (

Against the Current: What is the significance of calling this book To the Promised Land?

Michael Honey: I wanted to present a different view of Martin Luther King, Jr. that focuses on his lifelong quest for economic justice for working and poor people.

He said that the civil rights movement and the voting rights struggle were....

Sex and the Russian Revolution

— Peter Drucker

THE BIG QUESTION surrounding the centenary of the October Revolution: Is this event a hundred years ago still relevant for the left today?

For decades now, there’s been a steady drumbeat of mainstream historians and ideologues telling us that the legacy of October has been, and deserves to be, dead and buried. Yet some people on the radical left persist in arguing for a critical recuperation of the heritage of 1917. I believe these arguments are well founded. In many ways, the strategic insights the October Revolution yielded have still not been surpassed, or in some ways even equaled.

But even on the far left, I’m afraid, there are many more people who appreciate what the Bolsheviks have to teach us about the value of grassroots democratic institutions forged in struggle, the dangers of bureaucracy, the possibility of even an underdeveloped country’s breaking with capitalism....

The 1970s: Finally Got the News!

— Charles Williams interviews Brad Duncan

FINALLY GOT THE News explores “the printed legacy of the U.S. radical Left, 1970-79,” combining written reflections from movement participants with over 250 images from radical publications of the period (also displayed in the exhibition of the same name that opened at the Interference Archive in January 2017). Charles Williams interviewed Brad Duncan on behalf of the ATC editorial board in December 2017.

ATC: Can you discuss the origins of your book and the associated exhibition?/p>

Brad Duncan: I’ve been collecting printed materials related to the Left and liberation movements for over 20 years. Part of that was becoming personally connected to dozens of activists and leftists in Detroit where I was living.

Historically Detroit is a major hotbed of the radical movements....

2018 International Women's Day

Readings: Intersectional Black Activists

— Alice Ragland

Domestic Worker Organizers, 1960s-1970s

In the mid-to-late 20th century, while the Civil Rights movement was well under way, Black domestic workers spearheaded a movement of their own. Dorothy Bolden, Geraldine Roberts, Josephine Hulett and other African-American household laborers fought for respect, professionalism, and improved working conditions for their profession.

When 1930s New Deal legislation expanded protections for workers, domestic laborers and farmworkers were completely omitted. Since the vast majority of African Americans were employed in these fields at the time, this was an intentional and racist exclusion.

Fed up with their exclusion from workers’ protections, domestic labor organizers formed unions and lobbied for the Fair Labor Standards Act,...

For International Women's Day: Honoring the Fighters

— The Editors

IN RECOGNITION OF International Women’s Day, Against the Current takes the opportunity to honor some of the heroic women fighters of the present and recent past. Obviously this is only a small list that symbolizes much larger movements of resistance. We cite them here both for their own contributions and for the freedom struggles they represent.

Ahed Tamimi: The young Palestinian turned 17 in an Israeli prison, awaiting a March 11 trial date for slapping an IDF soldier — who had struck her first and invaded her home — hours after he or another IDF soldier shot her cousin in the face with a rubber bullet, at close range. Her cousin was very severely injured, though he has survived, after nearly dying. Two of her cousins have been shot to death; her brother’s arm has been broken by IDF soldiers; her mother, who’s in a different prison, has been shot in the leg; and her father has been repeatedly imprisoned. (On a previous occasion, Ahed intervened to prevent the arrest of her brother by biting the hand of the soldier who tried to snatch him.)....

Reproductive Justice in an Age of Austerity

— Dianne Feeley

How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics
From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump
By Laura Briggs
University of California Press, 2017, 288 pages, $29.95 paperback.

Health Policy in a Time of Crisis
Abortion, Austerity, and Access
By Bayla Ostrach
Routledge, 2017, 190 pages, $44.95 paperback.

THESE TWO BOOKS about reproductive politics present contrasting situations. Health Policy in a Time of Crisis is focused, detailing how women are able to access publicly funded abortion in Catalunya [the region in Spain seeking its independence]. Politics, however, impinges on that story as we’ll see....

Dialectics of Revolutionary Learning

— Mechthild Nagel

Revolutionary Learning:
Marxism, Feminism and Knowledge
By Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab
London, Pluto Press, viii + 152 pages, $28 paperback.

THE MAIN FOCUS of Revolutionary Learning, articulated in the Intro­duction as well as all six chapters, draws on Lenin’s theory of imperialism as a stage that haunts the contemporary lifeworld (monopoly capitalism, dispossession, finance capital).

The authors argue that educational theory needs the standpoint of revolutionary feminist praxis to transcend the shortcomings of intersectional feminism focused on discourses and “micro-power” analyses. Furthermore, this book refocuses adult critical education on the process of humanization, foregrounding consciousness and praxis,...

The Patriarchal Stranglehold

— Elizabeth Burton

Down Girl:
The Logic of Misogyny
By Kate Manne
Oxford University Press, 2017, 337 pages, $27.95 hardback.

“From each, says the slogan, according to her ability; to each according to his needs.” —Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

KATE MANNE’S FIRST book is an ambitious work of analytic feminist and moral philosophy. Drawing examples from contemporary politics, classic literature, and sociology and psychology research, her writing also has an engaging, journalistic quality.

Prominently featured in her analysis are the 2014 Isla Vista murders....

"Embodied Materialism" and Ecosocialism

— Sandra Lindberg

Ecofeminism as Politics:
Nature, Marx, and the Postmodern
By Ariel Salleh
Forewords by Vandana Shiva and John Clark
London: Zed Books, 2017, 2nd Edition, 400 pages, $25 paperback.

In 1997 ZED Books of London released Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature, Marx and the Postmodern. Ariel Salleh’s book initially received high praise, but then was subsumed beneath Third Wave and post-cultural feminist theories.

In 2017 with climate change having become an existential threat, Zed Books published the second edition of Salleh’s treatise, opening the volume with two forewords. The first from John Clark, emeritus professor of philosophy at Loyola University, and activist director of La Terre Institute for Community and Ecology, New Orleans, characterizes Salleh’s approach as “a major theoretical breakthrough” in ecofeminist theory. (x)...


Worldwide Wobblies Remembered

— Fran Shor

Wobblies of the World:
A Global History of the IWW
Edited by Peter Cole, David Struthers and Kenyon Zimmer
London, Pluto Press: 2017, 312 pages, $28 paper.

THE BIRTH OF the Industrial Workers of the World came amidst working-class insurgencies, especially as a challenge to the impact of global capital on the circulation of labor. As the 1905 call to the IWW founding convention in Chicago made clear: “Universal economic evils afflicting the working class can be eradicated only by a universal working class movement … with the recognition of the irrepressible conflict between the capitalist class and the working class.”

Although at first marginal to the dominant labor movements in the United States and around the world, the IWW nonetheless captured the attention of workers either neglected or actively discriminated against by craft unions,...

One Hundred Years, "We" Past and Present

— Sam Friedman

STEVE BLOOM’S EXCELLENT and highly-readable One Hundred Years tells the story of the Russian Revolution and its degeneration in the classical form of epic poetry. It is available via and also posted on the Solidarity website at

As a poet and as a revolutionary, I wish I could have thought to write such a poem — and that I had Steve’s talent to do it so well. Steve’s inspired technique was to tell the history of 1917, and its later degeneration and negation via counterrevolution, in words he presents as spoken by the revolutionary people.

His main character, the revolutionary people, is framed as a “We” that acts as narrator, commentator and poetic voice....

In Memoriam

William A. Pelz

— Patrick M. Quinn & Eric Schuster

BILL PELZ, A well-known socialist activist and prolific scholar in the field of European and comparative Labor History, died at the age of 66 in Chicago on Sunday, December 10, 2017 following a heart attack. Bill was born into a working-class family on the South Side of Chicago. After graduation from high school he became a bus driver, aspiring to make as much money as his father had as a union machinist, “but later,” he said, “I lowered my expectations and became an academic historian.”

He joined the Chicago branch of the International Socialists (IS) at the beginning of the 1970s and soon became one of the best known leaders of the Left in Chicago. He was a founding member of the Red Rose Collective along with the historians Mark Lause and David Roediger, and a member of the New World Resource Center.

Both Red Rose and New World were radical book stores and important local....