Against the Current, No. 220, September/October 2022

Against the Current, No. 220, September/October 2022

It's All Out in the Open

— The Editors

Resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling immediately took to the streets. Facebook

EVERYONE KNEW IT was coming: the unhinged Alito Supreme Court ruling that trashed a half-century of Constitutional abortion rights was leaked on May 2, seven weeks ahead of time. The grassroots reproductive rights movement began mobilizing immediately to confront the crisis — from outraged street protests, to expanding clinics to meet the desperate needs of interstate traveling patients, to mobilizing....

Fighting for Reproductive Justice

— Shui-yin Sharon Yam

SINCE THE DRAFT Supreme Court judgment to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked, reproductive rights activists have been rallying around legal access to safe abortion. The official release on June 24, of course, unleashed explosive struggles now erupting between, as well as within, states and cities.

In mainstream public discourse, the controversy surrounding abortion care is often simplified into binaries: “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” Both those terms, however, are misnomers...

California's Reparations Task Force

— Malik Miah

”AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AT all levels, including in California, has historically criminalized African Americans for the purposes of social control, and to maintain an economy based on exploited Black labor.

“This criminalization is an enduring....

The "Bruce's Beach"

— Malik Miah

LOS ANGELES COUNTY officials have presented the deed to prime Manhattan Beach oceanfront property to the heirs of a Black couple who built a “Bruce’s Beach” resort for African Americans, but were stripped of the land nearly a century ago. The Associated Press reported that the handover “marked the final step in a complex effort to address the long-ago wrong suffered by Charles and Willa Bruce.”...

2022 Labor Notes Conference

— Dianne Feeley

Starbucks panel (from left): Bill Whitmire, Phoenix; Will Westlake, Buffalo; Jaz Brisack, Buffalo; Michelle Hejduk, Mesa; Laila Dalton, Phoenix; Alydia Claypool, Kansas City; Kylah Clay, Boston; and Mason Boykin, Jacksonville. jimwestphoto.com

THE JUNE 17-19 Labor Notes conference in Chicago confirmed a new spirit of confrontation at the workplace. Will this develop into a broad challenge to the last 40 years of concessions? Will it be able to launch a successful attack against the corporations and the politicians who back them?

It’s too early to tell but certainly the level of enthusiasm, militancy and youth exhibited at this 4000-strong conference gives a sign that the pandemic taught many workers how they are in fact “essential” to a healthy economy, then piled work on them while generally refusing to provide essential safety protocols....

Bill Gates and Techno-fix Delusions

— M.V. Ramana and Cassandra Jeffery

Looking for a technological fix? Graphic: Greenbiz

BILL GATES, THE businessman, made one of the world’s biggest fortunes by designing, selling and marketing computer technology. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when it comes to climate change, he’s pushing more technology....

The Fight Over Inflation

— Suzi Weissman interviews Robert Brenner

Amazon workers discussing strategy at the Labor Notes conference.jimwestphoto.com.

SUZI WEISSMAN INTERVIEWED Robert Brenner for the August 7, 2022 edition of her “Beneath the Surface” program on Jacobin Radio, KPFK in Los Angeles. Both are editorial board members of Against the Current.

Robert Brenner is a professor of history emeritus at UCLA and author of The Economics of Global Turbulence,...

UAW Convention: Change in the Wind

— Dianne Feeley

Delegates forced a discussion onto the floor of the UAW convention -- a first since the days of New Directions! Photo: Vail Kohnert-Yount

THE 38TH CONSTITUTIONAL Convention of the United Auto Workers (UAW), held July 25-28, 2022 in Detroit, saw the most organized opposition to the rule of the Administration Caucus (AC) since the days of the New Directions caucus 30 years ago.

It was also the first convention since the two most recent UAW presidents — Gary Jones and Dennis Williams — were convicted of embezzling union funds. Just a couple of days before the convention they were released from prison to serve the rest of their sentences from home....

International Tribunal Verdict: "Guilty of Genocide"

— Steve Bloom

Jalil Muntaqim speaking about political prisoners. Photo: Abbas Muntaqim

“GUILTY ON ALL counts” was the verdict issued in May by a panel of international jurists who heard testimony at the “Tribunal on US Human Rights Abuses Against Black, Brown, and Indigenous Peoples” held from October 23-25, 2021 at The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in Washington Heights, New York City.

A preliminary “guilty” verdict was rendered the day after the close of the tribunal. The more detailed findings, which had been anxiously awaited,...

Philippines: Continuity of Violence

— Alex de Jong

The old dynasty hitches its star to the new one.

IN 1986, MASS protest overthrew Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Thirty-six years later, his son was elected president. The 2022 elections have crowned a decades-long project aimed at returning the Marcos dynasty to power and shown the support for Rodrigo Duterte’s authoritarianism.

A late surge in the campaign of Marcos’ main rival, the liberal candidate....

"Can I at Least Have My Scarf?"

— Anan Ameri

IF YOU HAVE never been to Jerusalem, you might not know what I am talking about.

Jerusalem is not like any other city; I do not think there is any place like it in the whole world. Jerusalem has its own colors, its own noise and its own smell — and I love it all.

I love the walled city of Jerusalem, or the old city as we the Palestinians call it. I love the Palestinian peasants and the way they guard their own niche.

The women with their tanned faces (even in February) fill the entrance to the...

Echoes of Money in Times Past

— Daniel Johnson

Sir Francis Bacon: "Money is like muck...."

THE PHILOSOPHER FRANCIS Bacon once wrote that “money is like muck, not good except it be spread.” Known today primarily as Renaissance England’s foremost advocate of modern scientific methods, Bacon was also not averse to dispensing folksy medieval proverbs.

Indeed, for most people in the later Middle Ages and....

Reviews

The War Upon Us

— Jerry Harris

Global Civil War:
Capitalism Post-Pandemic
By William I. Robinson
Oakland, CA: PM Press/Kairos, 2022, 224 pages, $17.95 paperback.

WILLIAM I. ROBINSON’S Global Civil War is a call to the left to get ready for battle. This book follows Robinson’s Police State, diving more deeply into the post-pandemic world, the fourth industrial revolution, and what the left needs to do to meet the challenges ahead.

More than in any of his previous works, Robinson devotes space to the types of political organization, theory and practice needed to win against authoritarian capitalism, a discussion that takes up most of Chapter Three.

Robinson wants this work to be an intellectual weapon....

Texas: Darkness Before Dawn

— Joshua DeVries

Civil Rights in Black and Brown:
Histories of Resistance and Struggle in Texas
Edited by Max Krochmal and J. Todd Moye
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2021, 488 pages, $35.

DOWN HERE IN Texas, there is a new law restricting the teaching of race, slavery and history in public or charter schools. In an apoplectic response to the notion that Black Lives Matter, the Texas legislature passed and the governor signed a law prohibiting districts from requiring teachers to cover “a widely debated and currently controversial issue.”

Claiming that more needed to be done to abolish critical race theory in Texas schools, the state overrode its previous attempt which was apparently too weak....

New Veterans, New and Old Problem

— Ronald Citkowski

Our Veterans:
Winners, Losers, Friends, and Enemies on the New Terrain of Veterans Affairs
By Suzanne Gordon, Steve Early and Jasper Craven
Duke University Press, 2022. 352 pages, $24.95 paperback.

SUZANNE GORDON’S EARLIER book Wounds of War (Cornell University Press, 2018) gave an eye-opening picture of the Veterans’ Administration, detailing its success as a single-payer system providing efficient, high-quality health care services to veterans.

Now, in Our Veterans: Winners, Losers, Friends, and Enemies on the New Terrain of Veterans Affairs (Duke University Press, 2022), Gordon and co-authors Steve Early and Jasper Craven consider the unique problems and challenges facing a new generation of veterans....

Anan Ameri, Life and Community

— Dalia Gomaa

The Wandering Palestinian
a memoir
by Anan Ameri
BHC Press, 2020, 242 pages, $15.95 paper.

THE WANDERING PALESTINIAN by Dr. Anan Ameri is the second volume in the author’s autobiography covering her life journey from Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria to relocating in the United States. The first, The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus (Interlink Publishing, 2017) is her account of growing up in the Arab world, her close family relationships and...

Joe Burns' Class Struggle Unionism

— Marian Swerdlow

Class Struggle Unionism
By Joe Burns
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2022, 180 pages, $17.95 paperback.

Sara Nelson (center, green mask), president of the Association of Flight Attendants, with Starbucks workers at the 2022 Labor Notes conference. jimwestphoto.com

MORIBUND, DECREPIT, SCLEROTIC — all describe the current state of the U.S. labor movement. Labor activists have been seeing “green shoots” for decades. Today, they are pointing to the growing number of Starbucks shops that are unionizing and an independent union’s victory in a certification election in one Amazon facility....

Radical Memories of Two Generations

— Paul Buhle

The Blast
A Novel
By Joseph Matthews.
Oakland: PM Press, 2022, 416 pages, $20 paperback.

Summer on Fire
A Detroit Novel
By Peter Werbe
Detroit: Black and Red Books, 2021, 262 pages, $15.95 paperback.

IN A BYGONE age when the eldest radicals could remember the pre-1920 era, some of them would write to me at Radical America saying that, for at least a moment, they could vividly recall the cheerfulness and humor of the optimistic time when socialism seemed inevitable.

The 1960s felt like that, if only for a little while.

The Blast gives us a rich sense that the history of the Left has moved on from a history of the Socialist Party and its electoral successes or failures — the traditional field of research — into a broader field of diverse activities....

In Memoriam

Leo Frumkin, 1928-2022

— Sherry Frumkin

Leo Frumkin. Photo: Edmon J. Rodman

TO HIS GRANDCHILDREN and great-grandchildren, Leo Frumkin was the funniest man on the planet. With sparkling blue eyes and a full head of silver hair, he told jokes that made them giggle with glee up until weeks before his death. With a natural ease and a smile that would light up the room, he lived his life dedicated to creating a more just, equitable and sustainable world for them, his entire family and for the world....

Living with Political Clarity: A Tribute to Xiang Qing

— Au Loong-yu and translated by Promise Li

At the same time, Xiang continued to strongly criticize Maoist and Stalinist brands of communism. Hong Kong socialist and activist Au Loong-yu (區龍宇) was deeply influenced by Xiang and wrote the following tribute reviewing and commemorating the life of this late “movement mentor.” The article, written on July 19, 2022, was originally in Chinese and was published by the online media Linking Vision.]

MY MENTOR, XIAN Qing, passed away at age 100 this year on July 9th. I first traveled...

Alain Krivine, 1941-2022

— John Barzman

March 21 march of 2,000 to the Père Lachaise cemetery, honoring Alain Krivine. Photothèque Rouge /Martin Noda / Hans Lucas

I was among the 2,000 people who marched on March 21, from the Place de la Nation to his funeral at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, behind a banner “Merci Alain.” Tributes from a wide variety of figures, many of whom had parted ways with him but wanted to salute his memory, were collected at a memorial meeting organized by the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) on April 30....