Against the Current, No. 217, March/April 2022

Against the Current, No. 217, March/April 2022

Roe v. Wade: Blood in the Water

— The Editors

October 2, 2021 Detroit march to defend legal abortion. It was one of hundreds of rallies across the country two days before the U.S. Supreme Court began its new term.

THE FRONTAL ATTACK on abortion and reproductive freedom in the United States is the cutting edge of the general right-wing assault on democratic rights. And although the Roe v. Wade decision has been in effect for almost half a century, access to medical care has always been limited.

The Roe decision parallels the 1965 Voting Rights Act, with both under attack from day one. A runaway right-wing Supreme Court has effectively gutted voting rights in a one-two punch and is poised to do the same with abortion rights.

In the case of the right to abortion, the feminist movement’s demand has been legal, free and accessible....

Teamster Election: New Openings, Real Challenges

— Barry Eidlin

UPSers opposed two-tier wages on their 2019 contract, which they defeated but was imposed anyway by the Hoffa administration. TDU

BIG CHANGES ARE afoot in one of the largest labor unions in North America. Last November, following a three-year campaign, the Teamsters United (TU) slate led by Sean O’Brien defeated the Teamster Power (TP) slate led by Steve Vairma by a two-to-one margin in the election for top leadership of the 1.3-million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)....

Billions for Philippine Military & Police

— John Witeck

A murderous president and his military men: U.S. tax dollars at work. Socialist Project

HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES in the United States and around the world are calling for an end to military aid to the Philippines in solidarity with the people of the Philippines. Now finally the U.S. Congress has the opportunity to pass the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA), which would suspend aid to the Philippines until the repressive measures and killings are halted....

bell hooks -- Fiery Black Feminist

— Malik Miah

bell Hooks University of California at Santa Cruz

A RADICAL FEMINIST, scholar and activist born in the segregated town of Brea, Kentucky, bell hooks died December 15. She was 69.

She rose to prominence during the “second wave of feminism” in the 1970s. It was at the height of the women’s rights movement that won important victories including nationwide legal abortion rights, now under fierce attack by the right.

Adopting lower case to stress her writings over her individual status,...

In the Classroom: Reparations Won

— an interview with William Weaver & Lauren Bianchi

Some of the survivors of the Chicago police's torture machine gather together as the reparations campaign gathered steam. Sarah Jane Rhee

In ATC’s July-August 2021 issue, we reviewed the history of documented, racially motivated police torture in Chicago under the direction of Commanding Officer Jon Burge and the subsequent fight for reparations. We included interviews with principal participants in the struggle to expose the torture and win justice for survivors. Over the course of the struggle, many demands were made on the Chicago City Council....

The British Labour Party's Quest for the Past

— Kim Moody

Sir Keir Starmer, leader of Britian's Labour Party

WITHIN A WEEK of Tony Blair’s New Year’s Day induction into the Most Noble Order of the Knights of the Garter, the United Kingdom’s most prestigious order of chivalry, a million Britons had signed a petition demanding the knighthood be withdrawn.

Another knight rode to Sir Tony’s aid: Sir Keir Starmer, Knight Bachelor (Kt) and leader of the Labour Party following the demise of the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn. “I don’t think it’s thorny at all — I think he deserves the honour,” Starmer unashamedly told British television.(1)...

Free Leonard Peltier Now!

AMONG THE HALF million prisoners in the U.S. carceral state suffering from COVID-19 is Leonard Peltier, “the longest-held Indigenous political prisoner in the United States,” write Janene Yazzie and Nick Estes (The Guardian, February 2, 2022)....

Stop Thief!

The Taliban enter the Afghani capital. AFP

IN A BRAZEN act of theft, president Joe Biden signed an executive order to seize $7 billion in Afghanistan’s government funds frozen at the New York Federal Reserve Bank since the Taliban took control of that country.

The action threatens to completely collapse Afghan’s tottering banking ....

International Women's Day

Poland: Women's Mass Protests

— Justyna Zając

ON OCTOBER 3, 2016, I was about to teach my regular Monday morning class at the University of Warsaw, a day in the life of a college professor. This Monday would be different, though.

When I entered the university campus, I was astonished to see my female colleagues and female students all dressed in black — the color of mourning....

Intersectional Feminism

— Alice Ragland

“When feminism does not explicitly oppose racism, and when anti-racism does not incorporate oppposition to patriarchy, race and gender politics often end up being antagonistic to each other, and both interests lose.” —Kimberle Crenshaw

Oksana Briukhovetska's graphic is a contemporary remake of Soviet posters of the 1960s. She reversed the order of the women to highlight the role of black women in the world.

AS A BLACK and working-class mom when my children were first born, I spent time in activist spaces and organizations that seemed to have made a conscious decision to ignore the concerns of working-class families and children. Many members seemed to have adapted the neoliberal “it’s not my fault you had kids’’ mentality, self-righteously asserting that they refuse to bring kids into such a messed-up world and creating an unwelcoming and toxic environment for the folks who did have children.

Meanwhile, these organizations did not discuss or advocate for “family-friendly” policies that would benefit the society at large such as family leave, health insurance, a better education system, and affordable childcare....

Lives of Enslaved Women

— Giselle Gerolami

An Intimate Economy:
Enslaved Women, Work, and America’s Domestic Slave Trade
By Alexandra J. Finley
University of North Carolina Pres, 2020, 200 pages, $22.95 paperback.

AN INTIMATE ECONOMY: Enslaved Women, Work, and America’s Domestic Slave Trade, by University of Pittsburgh historian Alexandra J. Finley, examines the economic contributions of enslaved women between 1840 and 1861 in Richmond, Virginia and New Orleans, Louisiana where two of the largest slave markets were located.

While the extensive economic studies of this time period have been dominated by men, the economic value of work performed by women has gone unrecognized....

Challenging the Comfortable

— M. Colleen McDaniel

The Right to Sex:
Feminism in the Twenty-First Century
By Amia Srinivasan
Macmillan: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021, 304 pages, $18 paperback.

Amia Srinivasan University of Oxford

AMIA SRINIVASAN’S THE Right to Sex is a riveting retelling of feminist theory on sex and sexual liberation. In a collection of essays following a 2014 publication (also titled “The Right to Sex”), Srinivasan asks the questions: “Who has a right to sex?” and “What does it mean to have a right to sex?”

Her 2014 essay was written in response to Isla Vista mass shooter Elliot Rodger’s incel (“involuntary celibate”) manifesto, which claimed that “hot blondes” must die because they refused to have sex with him, leaving him sexless and alone....

The '60s Left Turns to Industry


— The Editors

WE ARE CONTINUING a series of articles written by leftists who, under the direction of their socialist organization, took working-class jobs in order to root themselves and their organizations deeper into the U.S. working class. In recent years, an emerging generation of socialist labor activists has become keenly interested in the history of that experience, and lessons to be learned for today....

The Movement, the Plants, the Party

— Dianne Feeley

Dianne Feeley in the late 1990s

IN 1967, WHEN I was invited to join the Socialist Workers Party’s youth group, the Young Socialist Alliance, I didn’t hesitate. I was ready to join an activist political organization. I’d already worked as a teacher in African-American schools in Harlem, set up a Headstart program with the Child Development Group of Mississippi and been arrested in anti-Vietnam War direct actions.

The SWP group was an interesting mix of older trade unionists who had cut their teeth in an earlier radicalization and younger members....

Miners Right to Strike Committee

— Mike Ely

Police attack Revolutionay Union cadre leading miners' right-to-strike march of thousands in Charleston, August 25, 1975.

I HAVE TWO stories to tell.

The first is about a massive wave of militant working class struggle.

For 10 years, between 1969 and 1979, coalminers in the United States waged relentless class struggle centered in southern West Virginia. Their weapon was the wildcat strike — thousands of illegal walkouts broke out at hundreds of scattered worksites. They built into explosive nation-wide strikes spread by picket movements....


Times of Rebellion

— Micol Seigel

America on Fire:
The Untold Story of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s
By Elizabeth Hinton
NY: Liveright, 2021, 416 pages, $18.95 paperback.

ELIZABETH HINTON BEGINS her magisterial America on Fire with no flames at all. A seemingly opposite scene, the determined serenity of the lunch counter sit-ins, provides her introductory tableau, dexterously staging the argument.

These famously nonviolent protests, clearly directed at identifiable policies, are often set as the converse of unrest called “riots” and described as “senseless,” supposedly lacking in political objective or explicable grievance. Not at all, Hinton shows....

New Light on the Young Stalin

— Tom Twiss

Stalin: Passage to Revolution
By Ronald Grigor Suny
Princeton University Press, 2020, 857 pages, $39.95 hardback,
$29.95 paperback.

“Consider the improbability of Ioseb Jughashvili, a small, wiry child whose affections circled around singing, wrestling, poetry, Georgian Orthodoxy, and nationalism, who could have died from typhus or Siberian frost or a well-aimed bullet, but who was lifted through adversities and reversals to the pinnacle of power in a faltering revolutionary state” (705).

IT IS THE first leg of this improbable journey that is recounted by Ronald Suny in his recent massive biography of the young Stalin —....

A Russian Civil War Chronicle

— Kit Adam Weiner

The Hammer and the Anvil:
Dispatches from the Frontline of the Russian Civil War, 1918-1919
By Larissa Reisner, translator Jack Robertson.
London: Bookmarks Publications, 2021.

THE HAMMER AND the Anvil brackets 100 pages of Larissa Reisner’s eyewitness reports from the Red Army front from 1918 to 1919, when the author covered the Russian Civil War for Bolshevik newspapers, with essays about Reisner and an excerpt from Trotsky’s autobiography describing the same events.

Reisner had lived parts of her early life in Germany and eastern Europe, and was a dedicated Bolshevik when the Russian Revolution broke out when she was only 22....

Art Overoming Divisions

— Matthew Beeber

Comintern Aesthetics
Amelia M. Glaser and Steven S. Lee, editors. University of Toronto Press, 2020, xxi + 563 pages. $95 hardcover.

IN 1919 THE Soviet avant-garde artist Vladimir Tatlin designed a monument to the Third (Communist) International, a grand, slanting helical tower that was also intended to house the Comintern’s headquarters in St Petersburg.

The structure was never built, but its design endures as a symbol for the meeting place of aesthetics and politics, and for the unrealized dream of world Communism.

It is fitting, then, that Tatlin’s Tower serves as the central figure....

In Memoriam

Mike Parker (1940-2022)

— Dianne Feeley

Mike Parker speaking from the floor at the 2014 Labor Notes Conference.

AFTER MORE THAN 60 years of labor and revolutionary socialist activism, Mike Parker died after battling pancreatic cancer. Probably best known for his critique of the corporate restructuring of work with the introduction of “team concept,” just-in-time production and lean production methods, he made a number of contributions beyond these labor-management cooperation schemes....