Against the Current No. 226, September/October 2023

Palestine and Empire

— The Editors

THE BRUTALITY OF the Israeli Occupation, the scale of Israel’s continuing political turmoil, the undisguised Ku Klux Klan-ish murderous Israeli settlers’ attacks on Palestinian civilians and towns, the deepening rage within the Palestinian population of the Occupied Territories and inside Israel — and the visible unease among the rulers of the United States’ Middle East Arab allies — have pressured the U.S. government to pretend that it cares about Palestine....

Supreme Court Outlaws Affirmative Action

— Malik Miah

Members of NAACP march to the Michigan state capitol in defense of affirmative action.

to oppose Proposal 2 on the November ballot. The so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative would ban affirmative action by state agencies and public universities.
So wrote Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in her dissenting opinion in Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, one of two cases decided June 29 that centered on affirmative action. Brown is the first African American woman on the court.

The hard conservative super majority on the Supreme Court, 6-3, falsely ruled that the United States is and has always been a “color blind” country. Race does not matter according to SCOTUS. While expected, the decision is a major blow to Black freedom...

Supreme Court Denies Black Voting in Mississippi

— Malik Miah

Mississippi legislature, 1890. The president of the constitutional convention commented, "We came here to exclude the Negro." And they did.

SO MUCH FOR the “color blind” society proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court in ruling June 30 to outlaw university affirmative action policies. That same day, but under the news media and public radar, the unelected body with lifetime appointment, made its full objective crystal clear....

Chile 1973 -- The Original 9/11

— Oscar Mendoza

Salvador Allende articulated the hopes of Chileans for social transformation and justice.

AS THE DATE nears when we’ll be marking half a century since the overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in Chile on September 11th, I’m taken back to that gray drizzly day when the future we had dreamt of disappeared in a wave of violence, death and repression. Fifty years on from the coup, does Allende’s dream live on?,,,

Oppenheimer: The Man, the Book, the Movie

— Cliff Conner

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Universal Pictures, 2023.

American Prometheus:
The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
By Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin,
Vintage Books, 2006.

OPPENHEIMER IS A biopic that spans the cultural spectrum from the sacred to the inane, from Armageddon to Barbenheimer. It is a Picassoesque time warp of dazzling images and sonic booms that some will find brilliant and others disorienting and confusing.

The cast of famous actors....

"Imperial Decline" in the Ukraine War

— David Finkel

"NATO Summit Leaves Ukrainians Frustrated," says the Atlantic Council, but Washington's authority is alive and thriving.

MY SHORT PIECE ON “imperial blowback” posted on the Solidarity webzine, June 28, 2023) was primarily intended to draw parallels between the Prigozhin putsch (or whatever that thing was) in Russia and the domestic consequences in the United States of the calamitous U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan....

Free Boris Kagarlitsky!

— Russian Socialist Movement

A FEW HOURS ago [July 26, 2023] it became known that the FSB [Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation — editor] had opened a criminal case against well-known left-wing political scientist and sociologist, editor of the Rabkor online magazine Boris Kagarlitsky. The formal reason for initiating the case was the alleged “justification of terrorism,” but we are absolutely sure that the persecution of Kagarlitsky is a political reprisal for his views....

Banking for the Billions

— Luke Pretz

"Mr. X of the United States," (1926) Frans Masereel

OVER THE COURSE of March and April 2023 three banks failed, the result of a cocktail of interest rate increases and poor risk management strategies by bankers, spooking venture capitalists and start-ups who withdrew their money en masse.

The failure of Silicon Valley Bank, First Republic Bank, and Signature Bank and their subsequent inability to cover the debts they owed, including deposits, exceeded the scale of the first year of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Compounding the crisis was the fact that the vast majority of deposits in the three banks that failed were uninsured. Having most or, in the case of Silicon Valley Bank, virtually all deposits in excess of the $250,000....

AMLO's Mexico: Fourth Transformation?

— Dan La Botz

Has AMLO's "Fourth Transformation" stalled?

MEXICO’S PRESIDENT ANDRÉS Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO) has now been in power for five years, long enough to assess the successes and failures of his administration and to look toward the future. AMLO was elected to his six-year term in 2018 by a landslide, with 54.71%....

A World on Fire

“WITH GLOBAL TEMPERATURE records breaking and fires and floods raging around the world, our house is truly on fire.” Kristina Dahl, principal client scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, made this statement in an interview with CNBC.

This summer wildfire season in Canada provides a stunning sample of the global climate disasters that scientists were predicting to occur by the end of this century — now occurring 75 years ahead of schedule. The country has never experienced...

Hot Labor Summer

Introduction to Two Articles on Teamster-UPS Contract

These two articles — by Barry Eidlin and Kim Moody — evaluate the decision of the IBT General President O’Brien to accept the UPS offer. They summarize the importance of the campaign for a good contract and the willingness to strike if necessary. Both see the year-long campaign key to winning a number of the union­’s demands. Could they have gone out on strike and ended two-tier wages? Or at least narrowed the gap?...

The UPS Contract in Context

— Barry Eidlin

Can the enthusiasm in building for the 2023 contract be channeled into enforcing its provisions? Photo: Matt Leichenger

AT NOON ON July 25, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) issued a press release announcing that the union had reached a tentative agreement with package giant United Parcel Service (UPS)....

Why the Rush to Settle?

— Kim Moody

Teamsters' practice picketing at UPS terminals made the strike threat real.

THREE HUNDRED AND forty thousand Teamsters at UPS will not join the “hot summer’s” rising tide of strikes. Despite militant rhetoric from the leaders and the most massive rank-and-file strike preparations ever, the strike at logistics giant UPS that would undo the James Hoffa legacy of surrender to UPS, sound a Joshua-level blast that would bring down the walls of Amazon to unionization, and set new standards for the entire labor movement, was cancelled without further notice.,,,

GEO vs. the University of Michigan

— Kathleen Brown

Day One of the GEO strike, March 29, 2023. Photo: Geo Communications Committee

GRADUATE STUDENT WORK­ERS at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, organized as the Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT Local 3550, have taken on their employer in a months-long campaign struggle. Their six-week strike, the longest in the local’s history, began on March 29 and continued through the end of the winter semester...

UAW Strike Continues to Expand

— Dianne Feeley

August 20 rally: Stellantis worker Kiada Shanklin (wearing T-shirt saying "I have three major reasons to strike") and her three children with UAW President Shawn Fain (far right). Photo UAW

OCTOBER 23 UPDATE: This morning 6800 autoworkers at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) in Metro Detroit joined the picket line. This is Stellantis' most profitable U.S. plant, and one that operates with a significant number of what the corporation terms "supplemental" workers. The starting wage is $16.29 an hour, forcing many to take second and even third jobs while they hold on to the hopes of being offered a permanent job...


Revolution in Retrospect & Prospect

— Michael Principe

An Intellectual History
By Enzo Traverso
Verso, 2021, 464 pages, $34.95 cloth.

REVOLUTION, ENZO TRAVERSO’s impressive engagement with revolutionary theory, practice and imagery, is filled with noteworthy insights and nuanced connections between ideas and events that will cause the reader — even when familiar with the subjects — to pause, reflect and reconsider the material.

Traverso states his intent regarding the expansive topic of revolution: “[M]y book does not pretend to transmit the lessons of the past; it is simply an attempt at critical knowledge and interpretation. This is the main task that my generation can accomplish today.” (xv)....

The Red and the Queer

— Alan Wald

Love’s Next Meeting:
The Forgotten History of Homosexuality and the Left in American Culture
By Aaron Lecklider
University of California Press, 2021, 354 pages, $19.95 hardback.

Edward Melcarth, creating a sculpture of the English actor Leonard Whiting

AARON LECKLIDER’s DAZZLING and disarming book is nothing less than the excavation of a crime scene. In sleuth-like fashion, the author has tracked down overwhelming evidence of a disquieting cover-up of the sizable presence of sexual dissidents within the mid-twentieth century Communist Left.

Pithy and provocative, Love’s Next Meeting is the culmination of Lecklider’s years long deep dive into the question of why sexual dissidents were attracted to the Old Left....

The Novel as Biography

— Ted McTaggart

A Novel
By Stefan Heym
Monthly Review Press, 2022, 616 pages, $28 paper.

KARL RADEK IS best known to the world for his role in the Russian Revolution and the early years of the Soviet state and Communist International. A sometime ally of Leon Trotsky’s Bolshevik-Leninist Opposition, Radek capitulated to Stalin following a period of exile in Siberia in the late 1920s before eventually perishing in the Great Purges of the following decade.

Born Karl Bernhardovich Sobelsohn in 1885 to a Lithuanian-Jewish family in what is now Lviv, Ukraine (then known as Lemberg, part of the....

Anarcho-Marxism, Anyone?

— Paul Buhle

Revolutionary Affinities:
Toward a Marxist-Anarchist Solidarity
By Michael Löwy and Olivier Besancenot, Translated by David Campbell
Oakland: PM Press, 2023, 192 pages, $18.95 paper.

WHAT HAPPENED TO the anarchists? Or the sometimes — seemingly strong — links between anarchists and socialists in specific struggles and on specific issues?

We could ask the question across much of the past century, not just in the United States or Europe but across parts of Latin America, Asia and the Global South as well as before and after 1920.

Up until the First World War — it is fair to generalize — an optimism about a post-capitalist future, and a kind of good-cheered openness of radical perspectives existed....

The Myth of California Exposed

— Dianne Feeley

California, A Slave State
By Jean Pfaelzer
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2023, 520 pages, $35 paper.

Indian Boarding Schools trained Indigenous children for low-wage jobs and striped them of their cultural identity.

EDUCATED IN SAN Francisco schools, I was brought up on the romantic vision of Father Junipero Sierra and his work with the Indigenous population. (He was canonized by the Catholic Church in 2015 over the strenuous objections of Native People.)

For six years I attended school directly across from Mission Dolores,, often exploring its small cemetery. On our family vacations from San Francisco to Santa Monica, we stopped at various missions....