Against the Current No. 229, March/April 2024

What Genocide Looks Like

— The Editors

Travellers aboard the "Pacific World", sailed by Japan-based luxury cruise operator and NGO "Peace Boat," gather with signs in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as the ship is docked at the port of Port Said in northeastern Egypt, November 8, 2023. Photo: AFP

THE TELEVISED AND live-streamed war in Gaza following October 7th gives new insights into things that previously couldn’t be seen in real time. In their essay “Gaza: A Ghastly Window into the Crisis of Global Capitalism” William I. Robinson and Hoai-An Nguyen observe:

“The twentieth century saw at least five cases of acknowledged genocide, defined by the United Nations Convention as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group,...

Middle East Tensions Grow

— Joseph Daher

Israeli artillery shells hit Lebanon village al-Zahajra as conflict escalates.

THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION army is continuing more than 125 days after its outbreak to wage a genocidal war against the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. This immediately followed the October 7th Hamas attack, which led to the death of 1,139 persons, including 695 Israeli civilians, 373 members of the security forces and 71 foreigners.*

The 2.4 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are living under a constant Israeli bombardment of....

Charges of Antisemitism Weaponized

— Peter Hudis

THE RISE OF a new McCarthyism in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world, fueled by the drive to quell criticism of Israel over its genocidal war against Palestine, is producing an unprecedented level of suppression of free speech and expression — both inside and outside of the academy.

In some respects, it is even more dangerous than the McCarthyism of the 1950s, which tended to target well-known figures in government, entertainment and education. The effort to stifle expressions...

Campus Restrictions & Resistance

— Purnima Bose

Indiana University campus activists made their position clear: Reinstate Sinno!

FOLLOWING PAMELA WHITTEN’s installation as President of Indiana University and her appointment of Rahul Shrivastav to serve as Provost and Executive Vice President of the university, all but one of the exterior doors to Bryan Hall, which houses their offices, were permanently locked.(1)...

Refusing Colonial Constructs

— Cynthia G. Franklin

Where should we go after the last frontiers?
Where should the birds fly after the last sky?
Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air?
We will write our names with scarlet steam.
We will cut off the hand of the song to be finished by our flesh.
We will die here, here in the last passage.
Here and here our blood will plant its olive tree.

— Mahmoud Darwish,
from “Where Should the Birds Fly After the Last Sky?”(1)....

Puerto Rican Solidarities with Palestine

— Sara Awartani

Puerto Rican-Palestinian solidarity has deep roots. 2017 Puerto Rican Day parade in New York City. Note Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, well-known educator (in sun glasses.)

SINCE OCTOBER 7, an unprecedented number of Puerto Ricans across the archipelago and the diaspora have taken to the streets to organize and march in solidarity with Palestinians.

Whether calling for a ceasefire to halt Israel’s siege on Gaza or demanding the liberation of Palestine, many Puerto Ricans describe being called to action because Puerto Rico, ...

Sergey Lavrov and Vulgar Anti-Imperialism

— Howie Hawkins

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Hamas must be destroyed as a whole and as a military force. It sounds like demilitarization [of Ukraine]. He also said that extremism must be eliminated in Gaza. It sounds like denazification [of Ukraine].” — Russian Foreign Minister Servey Lavrov, December 28, 2023

Sergey Lavrov proclaims Russia's aims in Ukraine are like Benjamin Netanyahu's in Gaza.

THERE IS A longstanding critique of Vulgar Marxism as a simplistic economic determinism that claims that the ideological and social superstructure of a society is determined by its economic infrastructure or mode of production.

Vulgar Marxists (notably Stalinists) have tended to support as societies as “socialist” simply because they had state ownership of the means of production, no matter how much that state exploited its workers and denied democratic rights to its people in violation of the socialist values of freedom, equality, and democracy....

Free Boris Kagarlitsky!

BORIS KAGARLITSKY, PROMINENT Russian sociologist and a leftwing critical analyst, has been snatched from court and sent to a prison camp on a five-year sentence for criticizing Russia’s annexationist invasion of Ukraine.

Kargarlitsky’s jailing is especially alarming in light of the February 16....

Promised Land: Dimensions of the Agrarian Issue

— Hobeth Martínez Carrillo

Colombian President Gustavo Petro signs the land purchase agreement.

AFTER A LONG period, land reform has returned to public debate in Colombia. This resurgence is primarily a direct outcome of the Final Peace Agreement signed between the Colombian state and the agrarian and communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army (FARC-EP), in November 2016....

Mechanics of Colombia's Land Reform

— Hobeth Martínez Carrillo

Colombia's 16 Development Plans with a Territorial Approach (PDET). CC BY SA4.0

LAND AND TERRITORIALITY in Colombia are quite complex because of the various layers of constitutional and legal regulations, the concrete juxtaposition of different types of lands (i.e. conservation and indigenous reserves), and the interests involved.

The 2016 Final Peace Agreement, while attempting to tackle structural problems facing rural Colombia, mirrors such complexity. Its Comprehensive Rural Reform encompasses three main programs,...

Women in Struggle

Ohio's Citizen-Led Reproductive Rights Victory

— Marlaina A. Leppert-Wahl

The author and one of her four daughters at a reproductive rights rally. Her sign reads, "I'm here for my 4 daughters. Keep your bans off their bodies."

WITH THE SUPREME Court’s blessing, ultra-conservatives in the Ohio government tried hard to take away 50 years of reproductive rights using political manipulation and illegal tactics.

But Ohioans rose to the challenge to successfully regain those rights through a citizen-led initiative on the ballot on November 7, 2023. The passage of Issue 1 amended the Ohio Constitution to enshrine abortion and reproductive rights....

Sanba: Chinese Feminists in Struggle: Maoist Past, Coercive Present

— Jiling Duan

Feminist activists standing in front of the statue of Qiu Jin (秋瑾), a Chinese revolutionary and feminist who was beheaded at 31 for attempting to overthrow the Qing imperial government.

SANBA (三八), LITERALLY TRANSLATING to “Three Eight” or March 8th, has long been a discriminatory term for women (funü, 妇女) in Chinese, as this date marks International Women’s Day and thus has become associated with women, and particularly, working class married women. “Sanba” is part of a lexicon, associated with women, that has acquired derogatory meanings and reveal attitudes about gender roles, age and social class....

Women's Activism in Romania--An Overview

— Maria Bucur

Filia demonstration.

ROMANIA, TODAY THE largest Balkan country, has undergone profound changes in gender norms and relations since its founding as a state in 1864. Until 1932 most women were second-class citizens, and suffrage for the entire female population came with the communist takeover after 1944.


Leader in a Time of Change

— Malik Miah

A Life
By Jonathan Eig
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 669 pages, $35 cloth.

“A SINGLE SHOT rang out.

“The bullet struck King in the face, ripped through his neck, and knocked him backward onto the balcony floor….He died there [St. Joseph’s Hospital] at 7:05 p.m. on April 4, 1968.” (Chapter 45: “Please Come to Memphis”)....

King's Real View of Malcolm X

— Malik Miah

AN IMPORTANT REVELATION in King: A Life is the author’s discovery of King’s real view of Malcolm X. Eig’s research exposes a false narrative circulated in political and academic circles. As Eig reveals, King and Malcolm were more similar in outlook than most people believed....

Chandler Davis: Dissent and Solidarity

— David Palumbo-Liu

The Prosecution of Professor Chandler Davis:
McCarthyism, Communism, and the Myth of Academic Freedom
By Steve Batterson
Monthly Review Press, 2023, 200 pages, $16 paperback.

I FIND IT find it both rewarding and difficult to write this review. Rewarding, because Batterson’s study of this remarkable individual tells us much about how radical activists, so often out of step with their times, can come to be vindicated and their causes recognized as worthy and just.

The difficulty I find myself in is that times have changed again, and whatever victories we may be witnessed coming out of the Red Scare have been replaced by a fresh set of challenges....

Socialism Past, Socialism Present

— William Smaldone

Reform, Revolution, and Opportunism
Debates in the Second International, 1900-1910
Mike Taber, editor
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2023, 272 pages, $21.95 paperback.

ONE OF THE positive results of the multi-faceted and deepening crises of capitalism in recent years has been renewed interest in “socialism” as an alternative to the system. Although this has not resulted in the growth of the traditional socialist parties in most of the western world — indeed, it is the parties of the far-right that have flourished in Europe, often at the expense of the socialists — in the United States the traditionally miniscule socialist movement has grown markedly following the economic collapse of 2008, the rise of the Occupy Movement, and, as a counter-pole to the Tea Party and Trumpism, the candidacy of Bernie Sanders in 2016....

An Eco-Suspense Thriller

— Frann Michel

How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Film by Ariela Barer, Daniel Garber, Daniel Goldhaber, Jordan Sjol Neon, 2023

IT’S NOT AN instruction manual; it’s a heist flick and a discussion prompt. How to Blow Up a Pipeline offers thrilling suspense and engages compelling questions; it avoids pitfalls common to mainstream films about left movements, although its mainstream genre conventions sometimes jar against its claims to authenticity and its political aspirations.

The film may also be, like the book (by Andreas Malm, Verso Books 2021) that inspired it, a kind of cultural radical flanking maneuver....

A World of Collateral Damage

— Donald Greenspon

War Made Invisible
How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine
By Norman Solomon
The New Press, 2023, 197 pages + notes and index, $27.99 hardcover.

VETERAN PEACE ACTIVIST and author or co-author of a dozen previous books, Norman Solomon’s most recent book documents the many ways that the United States’ endless wars of the 21st century are kept hidden from the American public. First and foremost are the many U.S. military operations of which the public is unaware. (Until just recently, who knew about our expanded bombing operations in Yemen?)

The conduct of wars by so-called “precisions weapons” and drones, rather than “boots on the ground,” ,,,,

In Memoriam

Last of the Hollywood Blacklistees: Norma Barzman

— Paul Buhle

A LARGE STORY in American culture has now drawn to a chronological end with the death of sometime screenwriter Norma Barzman, age 103.

Her actual screen credits were few, in part because she left Hollywood for Paris with her better-known husband, Ben Barzman, as McCarthyism made further film work impossible. In part, she wrote later, few women had ever been taken seriously as screenwriters until much later. The writing that she did after the couple returned to Hollywood in the late 1950s never got produced.

Yet Norma played a vital role in the little-understood community of creative screenwriters struggling to find a place for themselves, mostly in Europe during the worst of the Blacklist, but also earlier and later, in Hollywood itself....