Against the Current, No. 221, November/December 2022

Against the Current, No. 221, November/December 2022

Clarity on Ukraine

— The Editors

AS RUSSIA’S INVASION and its global impacts spread with ruinous impact, it’s high time for factual, political and moral clarity on what this war is about. That requires sorting out a great deal of ideological mythology on all sides. It shouldn’t be surprising, we suppose, that this war has cut through usual political dividing lines on the right as well as the left....

Reflections on “In Her Name”: The Meaning of Iran’s Uprising

— Catherine Z. Sameh

“Say her name!” Al-Monitor

ON WEDNESDAY, September 28, the Middle East news site Jadaliyya hosted a live conversation on its Facebook and YouTube channels with five feminist scholars of Iran and its diasporas to discuss the current anti-government protests, sparked by the killing of Jina/Mahsa Amini,...

Solidarity with the Protest Movement in Iran!

— Fourth International

THE FOLLOWING IS an excerpt from an October 18th statement of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International.

UNLIKE PREVIOUS UNREST, such as the rebellion against electoral fraud (2009) or protests against rising fuel prices (2019), the rallying cry in the forefront is “Down with the Islamic Republic!” After a month of protests the movement is still going strong and spreading.

Compared to past decades, the social hardship among the population is even greater today. More than half of the population lives below the subsistence level and....

Surveilling and Judging Women

— Dianne Feeley

Wisconsin's 19th century anti-abortion law went into effect once federal protection under Roe was overturned. On October 8 over 300 people marched at the state capitol in Madison. Marsha Rummel

PATRIARCHAL POLITICIANS AND rulers pass judgment on women and those who defy sexual stereotypes, imposing laws to empower “morality police” the world over — Iran, Afghanistan, India and Saudi Arabia; Poland, El Salvador and the USA.

Women’s struggles for bodily autonomy, reproductive freedom and security from violence are the center of today’s fights to defend democratic rights for all. Women (and those who define themselves as non-binary) face this gauntlet of restrictions because the patriarchy sees them as threatening the “public order” — by symbolizing men’s sexual desires, which need to be constrained by rendering women invisible....

Indiana's Abortion Ban: Lessons from Dystopia

— Maria Bucur

Indiana's passage of the SB1 abortion ban is rule by a minority. Photo: WFYI Indianapolis

I GREW UP as the effect of a near-total abortion ban. In the 1970s, Communist Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu briefly experienced a bumper crop of children like me, who came about because, starting in 1967, women could have legal abortions only after raising five children into adulthood....

Update on Indiana Ban

— Maria Bucur

AS SOON AS SB1 passed, several lawsuits were filed by groups and organizations dedicated to the protection of full rights for women. In a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood in Monroe County, Judge Kelsey Hanlon signed an injunction that pauses the implementation of the new law until the lawsuit is settled. Starting on September 23, 2022, abortion services resumed in Indiana....

Safe Reproductive Health Services in Indiana

— Maria Bucur

Places where reproductive health services can be accessed legally and safely for people who need them in Indiana:

National Abortion Federation for both funding & finding a clinic

Hoosier Abortion Fund for funding & finding a clinic

Chicago Abortion Fund for funding

All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center

I Need An A for finding a clinic

Find Verified Abortion Care and Support for finding a clinic

November-December 2022, ATC 221

UAW Members Vote at Last

— Dianne Feeley

FOR THE FIRST time in the history of the UAW, members will be able to vote for their top officers. A million members, including retirees, will receive mail-in ballots. Industrial workers represent 75% of the working members while nurses, state workers, graduate students and casino employees make up the rest....

Are Railroad Workers at an Impasse?

— Guy Miller

“The carriers maintain that capital investment and risk are the reasons for their profits, not any contributions by labor.” —Management’s opening statement to the Presidential Emergency Board

Stacked containers in rail yard behind Cincinnati Union terminal. David Brossard, CC BY SA 2.0

AS THE CLOCK wound down to the September 16 impeding strike of 12 railroad unions(1) (representing 140,000 workers), Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh entered the final marathon bargaining session. With hours to spare, negotiators signed a tentative agreement. President Joe Biden called it “a big win for labor.”

The fact that the U.S. union bureaucracy often functions....

Detroit Police Kill -- Again

— Malik Miah

Porter Burks at home

PORTER BURKS, 20, had a mental health emergency on October 2 when his family called for help. Detroit police found Burks with a pocketknife near his home. The five cops claimed they tried to talk to Porter, who was clearly stressed. But he refused to drop a knife they estimated was eight inches long. They alleged he then charged the five, which is when they fired 38 shots — in three seconds(!)....

Climate Change Makes You Sick

THE “2022 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: Health at the mercy of Fossil Fuels” issues a stark warning. According to the Executive Summary:

“Countries and health systems continue to contend with the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a persistent fossil fuel overdependence has pushed the world into global energy and cost-of-living crises. As these crises unfold, climate change escalates...

Global Crisis

China: The Henan Rural Banks' Scandal

— Au Loong-yu

Depositors protest at Zhengzhou Peoples Bank of China. Weibo

IN MID-APRIL 2022, four rural banks in Henan Province refused to allow depositors to withdraw their money. This situation was related to how China’s real estate bubble burst, with ominous economic effects rippling throughout people’s lives....

Chile: Analysis of a Defeat

— Oscar Mendoza

“Constitutional assembly now!! #Resign Piñera,” reads a sign during protests in Chile in October 2019. José Miguel Cordero Carvacho / Wikimedia

ON SEPTEMBER 4, 2022 Chileans voted decisively and by a large margin to reject the proposed new progressive constitution. The document had been drafted by a constitutional convention that worked over 12 months to deliver its proposals. The draft would have replaced the current one, which had been written by a small group of extreme right-wing “experts” and imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship via a fraudulent plebiscite in 1980....

Support Ukrainian Resistance

— European Leftists

THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT is taken from a statement by Ukrainian and other European leftists. The signers are Ilya Budraitskis, Oksana Dutchak, Harald Etzbach, Bernd Gehrke, Eva Gelinsky, Renate Hürtgen, Zbigniew Marcin Kowalewski, Natalia Lomonosova, Hanna Perekhoda, Denys Pilash, Zakhar Popovych, Philipp Schmid, Christoph Wälz, Przemyslaw Wielgosz and Christian Zeller.

THE KREMLIN WANTS to prevent any independent development of Ukraine. The Putin leadership considers Ukraine, together with Belarus, to be part of Russia. Ukraine’s independence contradicts Russia’s alleged historical claims....

Puerto Rico: Hurricanes & Neoliberal Ravages

— César J. Ayala

Fiona's devastation, compounded by colonialism.

PUERTO RICO WAS hit by two hurricanes in the last five years, both in the month of September.

• The first blow was María in 2017, a category 5 hurricane which devastated the island’s electrical grid and left some sectors of the population without electricity for up to a year.

• In September 2022 Hurricane Fiona struck. This time it was....

Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega & the Ghost of Louis Bonaparte

— William I. Robinson

Celebrating the Sandinista triumph, July 19, 1979. After Somoza's rout, could anyone imagine there could be another dictator?

In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx referred to the Napoleonic return to power in the French coup of 1851 as “first as tragedy, then as farce.” There could be no more fitting a characterization of the saga of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega’s conversion — in about as many years as had lapsed from the fall of the first Napoleon Bonaparte to the coup carried out by his nephew Louis —from a socialist revolutionary to a repressive and corrupt petty dictator.

Significant portions of the international left, however, have swallowed wholesale the Ortega regime’s legitimating discourse. These sectors claim that since he returned to power in 2007, Ortega has picked up where the Sandinista revolution of the 1980s left off, and is under siege by the United States....

Imperialism Today

Imperialism Transformed

— Peter Drucker

WHAT FOLLOWS IS an edited version of a talk given on August 20 as the first of four online lectures held by the Amsterdam-based International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE) on “the changing shapes of imperialism” after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. All four talks can be streamed online.

SINCE FEBRUARY 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, imperialism looks different. Not for the first time ,...

About Russian Neo-Imperialism

— Bernd Gehrke

The "oligarchs" bought up assets of the USSR at fire-sale prices, becoming billionaire and launching a kind of mafia capitalism.


THERE HAS RARELY been such an embarrassment of leftist positions: Russia’s war of aggression against independent Ukraine has made absurd the assessment expressed shortly before by many (and some prominent “campist” or pacifist) leftists that, despite the military saber-rattling on Ukraine’s borders, no threat of war emanated from Russia....


Veterans in Politics and Labor

— Steve Early & Suzanne Gordon

Grand Army of Labor: Workers, Veterans, and the Meaning of the Civil War
By Matthew Stanley
University of Illinois Press, 2021, 320 pages, $30 paperback.

IN 2005 PAUL Rieckhoff, an Iraq war veteran who co-founded Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) penned a memoir about his military service and involvement in U.S. politics afterwards. He denounced the entire “generation of politicians currently in power” who, in his view, had “failed America’s veterans and the American people.”

Criticizing the shortcomings of both major parties, Rieckhoff argued that “only veterans have the credibility to reach across party lines and represent all Americans.”...

Romance, Revolution and a World on Fire

— David McNally

Red Round Globe Burning:
A Tale at the Crossroads of Commons and Closure, of Love and Terror, of Race and Class, and of Kate and Ned Despard
By Peter Linebaugh
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019, 486 pages, $26.95 paperback.

PETER LINEBAUGH’s LATEST work Red Round Globe Hot Burning, arrived — as the title might suggest — as if in anticipation of a world in revolt against racist police violence and ecological crisis.

At the center of his text, Linebaugh has written us a love story of sorts. It involves the romance of Edward (Ned) and Catherine (Kate) Despard — the former an Irish revolutionary, the latter a Black woman from Jamaica.

Running through this romance, Linebaugh discloses ....

In Memoriam

Milton Fisk, 1932-2022

— Patrick Brantlinger and several ATC editors

Milton Fisk speaking in Venezuela, one of the many countries where he traveled to give lectures and offer solidarity.

MILTON FISK, WHO passed away Septem­ber 8, 2022 shortly after turning 90 years old, was widely known throughout the Midwest as a social justice activist with an emphasis on labor issues. Milton was also an astute intellectual and an exceptional human being who radiated kind energy to all those who knew him. His tall stature and quiet demeanor were a familiar and welcome presence to his Bloomington, Indiana political comrades and friends.

Milton grew up in Lexington, Kentucky as the son of two academics. His mother Lucy was a....

Remembering Tim Schermerhorn

— Marsha Niemeijer

Tim Schermerhorn (middle) with Steve Downs (left) and Corine Scott-Mack (right).

TIM SCHERMERHORN DIED September 11, 2022 at age 68. He was the son of a subway worker and in the words of one Daily News article, “entered the family business” where he became a powerful leader in the rank and file transit workers’ upsurge. Survivors include his wife Kay Schermerhorn, stepdaughter Alicia Archer, and grandson Jason Archer, age 4, who’s been described as “Tim’s heart” over these recent years. — The Editors

KAY ASKED ME to speak about Tim’s labor activism and class activism. Let me try to share some of his work with you — work that was so often done together with Kay, always together, side by side....

For Rank and File Power

— Steve Downs

Tim Schermerhorn's keys. Keys are sacred to train operators.

FOR ALMOST 20 years, Tim Schermerhorn was at the center of an effort by NYC transit workers to resist speed-up and harassment from management and to reform their union, Transport Workers Union Local 100, so that it would be more aggressively fighting for its members on the job and against racism both on the job and in the city more broadly.

Tim fought for a union led by its members, one where they would use....