Against the Current, No. 219, July/August 2022

Against the Current, No. 219, July/August 2022

The Rightwing's Supreme Court Coup

— The Editors

The struggle for free abortion on demand may match the length of time it took to win suffrage for women. Giselle Gerolami

JUNE 24 — THE OFFICIAL overturn of Roe v. Wade was announced as this issue of ATC goes to press. It didn’t require a white-nationalist riot, invading the Capitol at the instigation of Donald Trump, to tear huge holes in long-established constitutional rights in the United States. Where that frontal assault failed, a flanking maneuver by the right wing has met with success — including a blatant pseudo-constitutional coup by Court.

The overturn of Roe v. Wade not only declares war on women’s bodies and rights. As legal scholars immediately recognized, the leaked Alito Supreme Court majority opinion throws open a challenge to every basic right assumed to flow from the Fourteenth Amendment and the elementary principle of personal privacy — same-sex or interracial marriage, LGBT rights, incredibly even legal contraception...

Assange, Donziger and the DNC Media

— Cliff Conner

Julian Assange in 2014

FOR PEOPLE WHOSE primary political values are human rights, the public welfare, and elemental justice, the cases of Julian Assange and Steven Donziger are no-brainers: They are the most blatant current examples of why the words “American justice system” have come to represent their Orwellian opposite.

Assange and Donziger have been mercilessly victimized by the very society whose vaunted principles they have at great personal sacrifice labored to uphold. Unfortunately, however, progressive political opinion in the United States has in large part failed to recognize the outrageous miscarriages of justice their respective cases represent....

A Letter from California's Death Row

— Kevin Cooper

AGAINST THE CURRENT received this letter from Kevin Cooper at San Quentin Prison. For information on Kevin’s long struggle against a wrongful murder conviction and death sentence, visit www.freekevincooper.com and www.kevincooper.org (Media Website).

I AM RECEIVING the issues of your great magazine, and I do receive them on a regular basis, then share them with other like-minded inmates in my situation here at S.Q....

COVID & the Global South: the Nigerian Case

— Emilia Micunovic

Boss Mustopha, chair of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, announcing extended 2020 lockdown in Kano State. TV 360 Nigeria

EMILIA MICUNOVIC INTER-VIEWED Rafiat Atanda and Zigwai Tagwai, who volunteer with ONE in Nigeria. They are professional women in their 20s. This article has been edited from a longer version.--The editors

THIS MARCH MARKED the second anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration that COVID-19 is a global pandemic. Since then, we’ve developed life-saving tools and vaccines to protect our most vulnerable and get the world up and running again.

Now, governments are relaxing restrictions, essentially declaring....

Ukrainian Leftist Speaks

— an interview with Taras Bilous

Tarus Bilous

THIS INTERVIEW WITH Taras Bilaus,an editor at Commons magazine and activist in the Ukraine organzation, Social Movement, is reprinted ROSA LUXEMBURG STIFTUNG and abridged for space here. We encourage readers to view the full text with links.

IN THE DAYS following the Russian invasion, Ukrainian leftist Taras Bilous’ “Letter to the Western Left” in New Politics went viral, not only among left-wing circles but well into the liberal media sphere....

After Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

— Ashley Smith

Last February, with 40,000 Metro Detroit residents of Ukranian descent, hundreds of people and a long caravan of trucks paraded in downtown Detroit to oppose the Russian invasion. They are now focused on raising material aid. www.jimwestphoto.com

RUSSIA’S WAR OF imperial aggression against Ukraine is the most important geopolitical event since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It opens a new epoch of imperialism, one of intensifying rivalry, deglobalization, sharpened conflicts over trade blocs and geopolitical alliances, increased militarization, and proxy wars between great powers over spheres of influence and oppressed nations....

The Murder of Shireen Abu-Akleh

— David Finkel

Undated photo of Shireen Abu Akleh made available by Al Jazeera network. According to the Palestinian health ministry, Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed on May 11, 2022 by Israeli forces during an Israeli raid in the West Bank town of Jenin. AL JAZERRA EPA-EFE/AL

NORMS OF “OBJECTIVITY” and diplomacy sometimes block media outlets and governments from saying what they full well know.  Such is the case of the May 11 murder of the brilliant and beloved Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the Jenin refugee camp, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The veteran reporter, fully identified as a member of the press, was shot in the back of the head. That says it was a sniper’s bullet — an Israeli sniper, where contrary to the military’s initial lies there was no firefight or Palestinian militants present. Her colleague Ali al-Samoudi, who was also shot, survived.

While awaiting the official Israeli “investigation” result, we know what it will say: fog-of-war, no definitive conclusion  possible, can’t determine who fired, tragic loss of life....

The Case of Derrick Jordan

Derrick Jordan, imprisoned since he was a teenager.

“A CHILD IN Prison” is a video produced by the family of Derrick Jordan, serving a prison sentence of 86 years in Illinois for a 1993 murder in which he has always maintained his innocence.

The video recounts Jordan’s arrest at age 14, the abuse he received under questioning by a Chicago detective who was a close associate of the infamous police torture ringleader Jon Burge, his “identification” in a highly prejudicial police lineup, and grossly incompetent legal representation in his case when he was tried as an adult....

Struggle in the University

The Competence Curse

— Purnima Bose

May 9, 2022 special faculty meeting at Indiana University to support graduate student unionization and to demand no retaliation against strikers. The line to enter the meeting extended several blocks. IGOC-UE

CONTRARY TO THE cliché that universities are ivory towers disconnected from everyday matters, they are microcosms of the societies in which they exist.(1) The larger cultural and political ethos permeates universities, which are subject to shifts in what Raymond Williams calls “structures of feeling,” emergent ways of thinking not yet codified in policies or regulations.(2)...

Faculty Governance in Academia

— Eva Cherniavsky

Graduate student strike at Indiana University IGWC-UE

THE CONCEPT OF faculty governance — that faculty should have a meaningful say in the management of the universities where they are employed — is a recent and relatively fragile thing.

Within the academy, faculty governance is viewed with skepticism by a significant proportion of the professoriate, in large part, no doubt, because the practice of faculty governance has been so thoroughly vitiated and its mechanisms....

Renewal of Shared Governance?

— Benjamin Robinson

The graduate student strike at Indiana University will resume in the fall, with plans to make it deeper and broader when it resumes. IGWC-UE

GRADUATE STUDENT EMPLOYEES at Indiana University Bloomington, organizing with the United Electrical Workers, went on strike for campus recognition between April 13 and May 10, 2022. The strike was then suspended for the summer, with plans for broader and deeper participation when it resumes the fall.

I will share a timeline of key events relating to the Bloomington faculty’s participation in the graduate student efforts. Then I will move on to reflect on what union organizing tells us about how the terms of shared governance have changed....

Revolutionary Experience

An Introduction, A Conclusion

— The Editors

The 2020 HERE Local 2 successful slogan to explain the need for higher wages is increasingly important in a gig economy.

WITH THE JULY-AUGUST 2022 issue of ATC we conclude a series of articles (in issues ATC 215-219) written by leftists who, under the direction of their socialist organization, took working-class jobs in order to root themselves and their organizations deeper into the U.S. working class. In recent years, an emerging generation of socialist labor activists has become keenly interested in the history of that experience and lessons to be learned for today.

The Democratic Socialists of America's Labor Committee (DSLC) hosted three panels in early 2021....

To the Working Class, 1969-1980

— Dan La Botz

In April 1979, members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) picketing officials. Their demands included no forced overtime and direct election of top officers. https://jimwestphoto.com

IN 1969, THE International Socialists, of which I was a member, started a national discussion about how to move toward the working class. Our collective discussion, carried out over a couple of years in the IS discussion bulletins, convinced many of us that the only way to reach the American workers was to go to work, to get a job.,,,

Field Work

— Sam Friedman

I listened in wonder when
Alex first told of bobtailing his load
from PMT to Tarzana,
or John T recalled his years
being dispatched from the hiring hall
to haul doubles from the City of Industry
to West LA,
or Mannie Labastida moaned about
break-bulk barns that
stole the Local’s jobs....

Reviews

Migration Politics and Criminalization

— Cynthia Wright

Border and Rule:
Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism
By Harsha Walia
Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2021, 320 pages.
$19.95 paperback available from Haymarket Books.

HARSHA WALIA IS an anti-capitalist, feminist, abolitionist and anti-imperialist activist and writer who is well-known in organizing networks in Canada. For over two decades, she has been among those on the frontlines of migrant justice politics through her work in No One is Illegal.

Reflecting her understanding of the deep entanglements of border formation with Indigenous dispossession — one of the themes in Border and Rule — Walia has also collaborated extensively with Indigenous-led struggles. This includes, for example, working with Indigenous women and trans people in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, one of the country’s most disadvantaged urban neighborhoods....(1)

Disability Studies from South to North

— Owólabi Aboyade (William Copeland)

Disability in Africa:
Inclusion, Care, and the Ethics of Humanity
Toyin Falola and Nic Hamel, editors
Boydell & Brewer: Cambridge University Press, 2021,
452 pages, $155.25 hardcover.

“Some people think that it is only white people who can come up with new theories, and they’re wrong!” he said and all the ministers chorused back Yeees!!!!!” — Ngūgī wa thiong’o, Wizard of the Crow (2006)

IN THESE VIRUS days, more people than ever are familiar with or concerned about physical debilitation. Still, for those who think of themselves as regularly “healthy” or able-bodied, the lived experiences of those with impairments other than Corona or long-Covid are invisible at best and quite frequently, filled with exclusion, stereotypes and oppression....

Mass Misery, Mass Addiction

— Dave Hazzan

Killing Season:
A Paramedic’s Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Opium Epidemic
By Peter Canning
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021, 314 pages, $27.95.

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism
By Anne Case and Angus Deaton
Princeton University Press, 2020, 312 pages, Illus: 26 b/w illus. 2 maps, $27.95.

DRUG ADDICTION FOLLOWS misery, and where you have mass misery, you will often have mass addiction.

China at the turn of the last century was a devastated country, carved up by western powers and ruthless warlords, with tens of millions dead, homeless, and hungry from war and rebellion. Millions took to the opium pipe as a source of solace.

Following years of brutal combat and American bombing, including the atomic attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan was not so much defeated in World War II as obliterated. A million and a half survivors took to the stocks of amphetamine (speed) the Imperial forces had used to keep their personnel awake to fight....

A Giant Rescued from Oblivion

— John Woodford

Hubert Harrison:
The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927
By Jeffrey B. Perry
Columbia University Press, 2021, 768 pages plus notes and index.

One hundred years hence, what change will be made,
In politics, morals, religion and trade.…
Oppression and war will be heard of no more
Nor the blood of a slave leave his print on our shore.
Conventions will then be a useless expense,
For we’ll all go free suffrage, a hundred years hence.
Instead of speech-making to satisfy wrong,
All will join the glad chorus to sing Freedom’s song;
And if the Millennium is not a pretense
We’ll all be good brothers, a hundred years hence.

— from “One Hundred Years Hence,” an early “protest song” with lyrics by the women’s rights and abolitionist activist Frances Dana Barker Gage, and popularized by the Hutchinson Family Singers, circa 1850.

IT’S NOW ALMOST 100 years from the life of Hubert Harrison (1883-1927), one of the leading figures behind the emergence of the New Negro movement that propelled the advancement of Black Americans in all areas of life in the pre- and post-World War I era.

When I reviewed the first volume of Jeffrey B. Perry’s monumental double-barreled biography of Harrison in 2011 (see “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918,” I said it was the best biography I’d ever read. But this massive second volume is even better....

Three Mothers Who Shaped a Nation

— Malik Miah

The Three Mothers:
How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X,
andJames Baldwin Shaped a Nation
By Anna Malika Tubbs
Flatiron Books, 2021, 256 pages, $13.95 paperback.

Louise Helen Norton Langdon Little, a Garvey supporter.

THIS BRILLIANT AND insightful book discusses Black motherhood in a way rarely discussed in political and academic circles. The author, Anna Malika Tubbs, places the struggles of Black women in an historical context as she explains their influence on three prominent African-American men of the 20th century — Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin.

In her concluding section, the author explains why she had to write this invaluable book:...

The High Price of Delusion

— Guy Miller

The Brainwashing of My Dad:
How the Rise of the Right Wing Media Changed a Father
and Divided Our Nation — and How We Can Fight Back
By Jen Senko
Sourcebooks, 2021, 299 pages, $16.99 paperback.

IN NOVEMBER 2020, 74 million American voters pulled the lever for Donald Trump. Fifty-three percent of these 74 million believe the 2020 election was stolen. That means roughly a staggering 40 million Americans have crossed the bridge into fantasy land and burned it behind them.

Analyzing how this happened is essential in understanding contemporary America. The Brainwashing of My Dad makes a valuable contribution toward that goal.

Brainwashing, Jen Senko’s documentary film, was released in 2016.(1) Her book of the same name was published in October 2021. These two dates serve as bookends around the sea change that was the Trump presidency....

In Memoriam

Oscar Paskal, 1920-2022

— Nancy Brigham

Oscar Paskal marching in the Detroit Labor Day parade, 2011.

ALTHOUGH OSCAR PASKAL was a socialist for nearly all of his 101 years before he passed away this February, you probably won’t find his name in any history of Socialism. But no movement can survive without the courageous foot soldiers and behind-the-scene leaders. Through all those years, that’s who Oscar was, a remarkable man who fought for Socialist values.

When Oscar was born back in 1920, it was a different world. Women in the United States were still months away from winning the right to vote, mass production industries like auto and steel were not unionized....