Against the Current, No. 223, March/April 2023

Against the Current, No. 223, March/April 2023

Women's Rights, Human Rights

— The Editors

AFGHANISTAN. IRAN. POLAND. El Salvador and Nicaragua. Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi…

These are among the countries and states where ruling authorities take it upon themselves — in a variety of ways along a broad repressive spectrum — to curtail, suppress or outright nullify women’s rights if not their basic personhood. The ways and means of these attacks of course vary widely....

Lives Yes, Pipelines No!

— Rebecca Kemble

Marching for survival and justice at COP-15 in Montréal. Rebecca Kemble

THOUSANDS OF MARCHERS braved frigid temperatures and took to the streets of Montréal, Quebec on Saturday, December 10, 2022 in an Indigenous-led march outside the COP 15 Conference on Biodiversity.

They came to demand strong agreements to protect land, water and all who depend on them for life....

Salvadoran Water Defenders

FIVE PROMINENT WATER defenders in El Salvador were arrested on January 11: Miguel Angel Gamaz, Alejandro Lainez Garcia, Pedro Antonio Rivas Lainez, Arturo Pacheco, and Saul Agustin Rivas Ortega.

Several of the five helped organize the National Roundtable on Metals Mining, honored in 2009 by the Institute for Policy Studies with IPS’s Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award....

Killings by Police Rose in 2022

— Malik Miah

BLACK PEOPLE ARE 13% of the U.S. population but 24% of those murdered by police. Over 1100 were killed by the police in 2022, an increase from 2021. Yet it is rare that any cop is disciplined or prosecuted.

In fact, Congress has opposed mandating data collection, doing the bidding of the pro-gun lobby. But since 2015, Mapping Police Violence has collected data on police shootings and killings across the country. The non-profit research group maintains a database of reported deaths at the hands of law enforcement, including people fatally shot, beaten, restrained and tasered....

View from the Ukrainian Left

— Denys Bondar and Zakhar Popovych

INTRODUCTION: THE FOLLOWING article was originally published in Ukrainian on November 22, 2022.(1) Subsequent developments have only reconfirmed its arguments.

Recently, it has become a commonplace to cite polling showing the shift in the attitudes of the Russian people against the so-called “special military operation.” In addition, with polls reporting war fatigue among Americans, many left-leaning public figures have predicted that 2023 will be the year of peace negotiations. We believe that this is a deeply misinformed view....

Witness, Resilience, Accountability

— interview with Rabab Abdulhadi

AGAINST THE CURRENT editors Dianne Feeley and David Finkel spoke with professor Rabab Abdulhadi about her recent experiences and observations on the Palestinian struggle. Dr. Abdulhadi is the founder and director of the AMED (Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas) Studies program at San Francisco State University, where she has faced attacks by rightwing Zionist forces and bureaucratic obstruction from the university administration. She began by discussing her most recent trip. Dr. Abdulhadi would like to thank Anais Amer of National Students for Justice in Palestine and Saliem Shehadeh for editing assistance.

Rabab Abdulhadi: Last September, I co-organized with emergent scholars two international conferences and a delegation to Lebanon and Tunisia as part of our multi-year project, Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice....

Palestine Solidarity Activism Under Fire

IN A NEW and dangerous development, Zionist groups are moving more aggressively than in the past to ban criticism of Israel on campuses by deeming it antisemitic. One tactic deployed by such groups is to create “assessment reports” claiming dubiously that Jewish students feel uncomfortable about anti-Zionist activities and that those activities should be prohibited. It conflates antisemitism with criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism more broadly....

The Horror in Occupied Palestine

Raid on Nablus (AFP)

IN THE FIRST six weeks of 2023 alone, Israeli forces and settlers killed 50 Palestinians, including 11 children. Last year was the deadliest for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2004, and 2023 will surpass it — indeed these figures will be outdated before this issue....

Nicaraguan Political Prisoners Freed, Deported

— Dianne Feeley and David Finkel

Dora María Téllez, legendary FSLN guerilla and Minister of Health in the first Sandinista government. Expelled and deported from Nicaragua on February 9.

ON FEBRUARY 9 the unexpected happened! The Ortega-Murillo regime released 222 political prisoners, stripped them of their Nicaraguan citizenship and put them on a plane bound for Washington, D.C. They had no idea where they were going.

Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who had been under house arrest, refused to board the plane. Tried the following day, he was sentenced to 26 years in prison for being a “traitor to the homeland.” He, the first Nicaraguan bishop to be imprisoned in history,...

Stuck in the Mud, Sinking to the Right: 2022 Midterm Elections

— Kim Moody

Whatever the general rate of turnout, Black voters came out at a lower rate than white voters.

It’S GRIDLOCK. SPECIFICALLY, it’s still a right-versus-center impasse, but with a shift to the right. Trump/MAGA forces dominated the Republican primaries but stumbled in the November 2022 midterm elections.

After spending a lot of energy and money fighting their own tiny left flank in the primaries, the Democratic Party centrists lost the House by nine seats and barely held the Senate.(1) This they saw as some sort of victory, since the party in the White House traditionally loses seats....

Heading for the Ditch?

— David Finkel

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY clown car in Congress lurches from one outrage to the next, partially mitigated by its absurdity and incompetence — but potentially risking a collision course with the ruin of the U.S. economy and financial calamity....

Paths to Rediscovering Universities

— Harvey J. Graff

Mario Savio, leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, speaks to assembled students on the campus at the University of California, Berkeley, on Dec. 7, 1964.

BOTH SCHOLARLY AND popular writing about the experiences, on the one hand, and the short- and long-term impacts, on the other hand, of the 1960s on colleges and universities swing widely and wildly. They range from undiluted praise usually with a paean to a lost golden moment to unrelenting condemnation, with many voices between the extremes.(1)....

International Women's Day, 2023

Demanding Abortion Rights in Russia

— Feminist Anti-War Resistance/ FAS (Russia)

[The following is abridged from an article “Russia: Feminist Anti-War Resistance Abortion Rights Petition,” February 5, 2023, by Feminist Anti-War Resistance/FAS (Russia) and posted on the website of Europe Solidaire San Frontieres.]

“RUSSIANS ARE DYING out,” officials and parliamentarians tragically tell us from the rostrum. It would seem, indeed, that the birth rate is not rising, and that in April 2022 Russia recorded its lowest birth rate since 1943-1944. In January 2023, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin even instructed the government “to come up with a way to raise the birth rate as soon as possible” and gave a full two weeks to solve the problem....

Before & After Roe: Scary Times, Then & Now

— Dianne Feeley

1971 Women's Abortion Action Committee protest Austin, Texas Howard Petrick

TWENTIETH-CENTURY PRE-ROE America was a scary world for women. Pregnancy and childbirth were destiny. When I was in college in the late 1950s a sociology professor remarked that a woman wasn’t fully a woman until she became a mother.

Historically, what made U.S. reproductive health care different from England, for example, is the rise of doctor-centered care and the 1873 Comstock Law. That federal law forbad distribution of obscenity through the mail, interpreted to include information on preventing or ending pregnancies.

Terminating pregnancy before “quicken­ing” was common and legal until the latter part of 19th century America. The profession­alization of medicine altered that reality....

Abolition. Feminism. Now.

— Alice Ragland

Abolition. Feminism. Now.
By Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, and Beth E. Richie
Haymarket Books, 2022, 250 pages, $16.95 paper.

IN ABOLITION. FEMINISM. Now. Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, and Beth E. Richie make a compelling case for a feminism that is fundamentally inclusive, intersectional and abolitionist, and an abolitionist movement that is fundamentally feminist.

The four feminist authors have extensive experience with prison abolition and academic research on justice and liberation: Angela Y. Davis, Professor emerita of history of consciousness at the University of California....

#Adoption Is Trauma AND Violence

— Liz Hee

Visual notes of the "Dream Mapping Adoption and Foster Care Abolition" panel presented at the 2020 Allied Media Conference by Benjamin Lundberg Torres Sánchez, Emily Ann Levy, Genevieve Saavedra, Liz Latty, Suzi Martinez Carter, Schuyler Swenson and Mariama J. Lockington.

NATIONAL ADOPTION AWARENESS Month, aka NAAM, is a month for adopters, agencies, and Child Protective Services to promote adoption as an act of love. On the first day of NAAM 2022, adopted people on social media across the globe started the month by introducing the hashtag #AdoptionIsTraumaAND.

This was a “by us, for us” campaign with the goal of “shared language, different ways of thinking about adoption and other systems of family separation, and connecting them across other struggles for liberation.”

The campaign came out of a growing community of self-identified adopted and fostered abolitionists with shared analysis of the violence of systems of family regulation and policing....


Radical Memory and Mike Davis' Final Work

— Alexander Billet

Set the Night on Fire
L.A. in the Sixties
By Mike Davis and Jon Wiener
Verso Books, 2021, 800 pages. $24.95 paperback.

ANSWERING A QUESTION for the Los Angeles Review of Books in 2012, Mike Davis was asked “Title of the book you’re probably never going to write, but would kind of like to get around to?” Davis responded, “Setting the Night on Fire: L.A. in the 1960s.”

A decade later Davis is dead, felled by cancer late last year. But the book about setting the City of Angels ablaze is, thankfully, on bookshelves.

It comes with a slightly different title, and was written with collaborator, fellow historian and KPFK broadcaster....

A Revolutionary's Story

— Folko Mueller

In the Radical Camp
A Political Autobiography 1890-1921
By Paul Frölich
Haymarket Books, 2021, 270 pages, $30 paperback.

I WOULD ASSUME that most readers, if you are familiar with the author’s name at all, know Paul Frölich as the author of a Rosa Luxemburg biography. His most famous publication by far, it is a wonderful and very personal account of Rosa that has certainly withstood the test of time.

I first read that book as a young man in Germany, still trying to find my true political home. I knew little else about Paul Frölich, other than what appeared in the liner notes of the Luxemburg biography — that he was a founding member of the German CP (KPD) and later of the Communist International (Comintern).

This memoir will fill in many blanks, in particular regarding his early years and first political involvement....

James P. Cannon, Life and Legacy

— Paul Le Blanc

James P. Cannon and the Emergence of Trotskyism
in the United States, 1928-38
by Bryan Palmer
Leiden/Boston: Brill Publishers, 2021,1208 pages; $445 hardback.
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2022, $65 paperback.

WHAT JUSTIFIES A book of 1200 pages, which is only the second volume of the biography of someone generally seen as an obscure figure on the far left of the political spectrum? Is this a case of sectarian iconography gone mad? Is it an example of a scholar who has done an enormous amount of research but is not in control of his material? I don’t think so.

The answer: we are not dealing with a book. Between the covers of this volume are six books: (1) a continuation of Bryan Palmer’s biography of James P. Cannon in a key decade of his life....

The World of Professional Boxing

— John Woodford

The Bittersweet Science:
Racism, Racketeering and the Political Economy of Boxing
By Gerald Horne
International Publishers, 2021, 329 pages, $15 paperback.

THERE ARE FEW people on earth better qualified than this reviewer to assess Gerald Horne’s fact-jammed examination of the U.S. boxing industry and a few of its foreign tributaries.

That’s not bragging. It’s more of a confession that I’ve seen at least ninety-five percent of the televised boxing matches from the dawn of TV on, and most of the contests I’ve missed were pay-per-view specials that were not rebroadcast free....

A Powerful Legacy of Struggle

— Jake Ehrlich

“Revolutionaries, resistance fighters and firebrands. The radical Jewish tradition.”
By Janey Stone.

"Abolish Child Slavery" banner, May Day parade, 1906.

AMONG PROGRESSIVE JEWS in the United States, there is something of a reawakening of historical memory.

In 2014 Rachel Cohen maligned “The Erasure of the Jewish-American Left” in a Medium article of the same name, stating for example, “While most Jews today know The Jewish Daily Forward used to be published in Yiddish — many are unaware....

War and an Irish Town

— Joan McKiernan

War and an Irish Town
By Eamonn McCann
First publication Pluto Press, 1974. Chicago: Haymarket Books edition, 2018, $20 paperback.

“‘WE’RE GONNA WALK on this nation, we’re gonna walk on this racist power structure, and we’re gonna say to the whole damned government — “STICK ‘EM UP MOTHERFUCKERS.’”

WITH THIS QUOTE from a film of the Black Panthers, Eamonn McCann, launches the Haymarket edition of his classic study of Derry and the North of Ireland Troubles, War and an Irish Town, taking us back to those heady days when so much change not only seemed possible, but likely to happen.

This is an especially timely reissue when the question of a united Ireland is again on the table.

Those in Derry that 1968 night cheering the Black Panthers’ words shared a common goal:...

In Memoriam

Mike Rubin 1944-2022

— Jack Gerson

At a 2012 Oakland Green Party celebration, with Jan and Mike on the right. Orlerio Johnson

MICHAEL RUBIN DIED peacefully on December 17, 2022 at his Oakland home, at the age of 78. He is survived by his wife Jan Arnold and their son David Rubin, an assistant professor of physics and cosmology at the University of Hawaii.

For more than 50 of those years, Mike Rubin was active in the Bay Area left:

• In socialist groups: the Independent Socialist Clubs (ISC) and its successor, the International Socialists (IS), from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s; Workers’ Power (from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s); and Solidarity, since its founding in the mid-1980s....