In this issue, we shift our focus toward domestic concerns, though we also look abroad with anxiety and trepidation.
The American political system, so highly polarized between conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats, has experienced in the last year some interesting changes on the left-hand margin of the national political scene.
Universalism and Health Care in the Twenty-first Century
The Affordable Care Act commentariat—including those confidently awaiting the day when all its promises are vindicated, those rooting for its ignominious demise, and those of us in a separate camp—have been kept occupied in recent months. Between autumn’s website drama and winter’s enrollment saga, the news cycle has been full of stories of IT dysfunctions tackled, right-wing challenges thwarted, enrollment goals met, electoral prospects threatened, and individuals newly insured (or variously dissatisfied).
We are living in times of great instability and crisis. Everywhere there are troubling signs of collapse: mass shootings, widespread unemployment, potentially irreversible ecological devastation, and the consolidation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands.
Democracy, Social Justice, Mobilization
Across the United States, we are in the midst of a great struggle over the nation’s education system. On one side is a bipartisan effort to privatize schools and undermine the promise of public education. Opposing that effort are large numbers of parents and teachers.
Rebuilding a U.S. socialist left requires, first of all, coming to grips with the full magnitude of the social crisis and decline in this society.
A Memoir and Reflection on Badass Boffo Revolutionary Feminist Music
In Chicagoland, in 1970, almost every teenage girl listened to rock. They considered it their music—hormonal, quasi-outlaw, with screaming guitars and a heavy, driving beat. But it was sooo misogynist! This wasn’t the Beatles’ playful woman-affectionate songs.
The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office
In the first days of August 2014, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office brought together one hundred influential leftists from across the United States, Canada, and Europe for an “un-conference” on socialist strategies. The retreat was held at the Edith Macy Center, located in Westchester County about an hour north of New York City.
We’re here and we’re not going away
On February 7, 2014, I sat down with Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) in Atlanta, to talk about the organization’s history and achievements, as well as to reflect on the political role of Latino immigrants in the United States today.
This article and its title are based on a presentation made at the Mapping Socialist Strategies Conference, hosted by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York Office at the Edith Macy Conference Center, New York, August 1-4, 2014.
Foreign Policy in the Obama Era
The moral collapse of the Obama administration on so many fronts—Guantanamo, Palestine, drone warfare atrocities, mass electronic surveillance and brutal prosecution of whistleblowers, presidential-ordered assassinations, and so much more—has rightly drawn shock and outrage from the peace and global justice movements. Indeed, this presidency has been a civil and human rights travesty both domestically and globally. Alongside our horror, however, must be a clear material and political assessment of the underlying strategic purpose of this administration.
The Left Party is fighting for “a society in which no child has to grow up poor, in which all men and women can live a self-determined life in peace, dignity, and social security and can democratically shape social relations.” In order to achieve this, it demands “a different economic and social system: democratic socialism.”1 That is how the Lef
The crisis in Ukraine has raised grave problems for the people of that country, significant dangers for world peace, and many contending views on the left. Here we offer three articles that we think help us make sense of what’s going on, by Joanne Landy, Kevin B. Anderson, and Sean Larson.
The origins of the Left Unity project came out of the common struggle across Europe against austerity. The specific moment was the first coordinated general strike across Europe on November 14, 2012. Many of us active on the left, already working with the anti-austerity movement across Europe, saw the need for British engagement too, and from that day onwards, Left Unity has been in development.
Is There a Way Out?
The governments of the United States and Russia are attempting to shape events in Ukraine in their own interests, not for the benefit of the Ukrainian people. Ukrainians have long suffered from domination by Moscow, under the Russian czars and later in the Soviet Union, most horrifically under Stalin. With the end of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, millions hoped for freedom and a new beginning.
Ukraine constitutes a test not only for democratic movements, or the unevenly matched imperialisms of the U.S./EU and Russia, but also for the global left. As with other “difficult” moments like the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, Iran 2009, or the Libyan uprising, our support for democracy and human rights has in some quarters come into conflict with the long held stance that neoliberal capitalism, led by the United States, is the main danger confronting humanity.
Historic Defeat of the Right or a Win for Post-Pinochet Neoliberalism?
“¿Qué Nueva, Qué Nueva, Qué Nueva Mayoría? ¡Si van a gobernar pa’ la misma minoría!” (“What New Majority? They’ll rule for the same old minority!”)
FEL student demonstrators
Ukrainian capitalism today is distinguished by the most fortified oligarchy of the post-Soviet states. Politics in Ukraine have been subject to volatile lurches over the last decade, driven by the direct involvement of masses of Ukrainians. Meanwhile, shaping the economic, political, and ideological aspects of society and daily life in Ukraine is a ubiquitous inter-imperialist competition between Russia on the one side and the United States and the European Union on the other.
Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party (PT) won Brazil’s presidential election on October 26, meaning that when her term ends her party will have held the nation’s top office for a remarkable 16 years, longer than any party in Brazilian history.
[Ed. note: This essay by James Kilgore was the winner of the Daniel Singer Prize for 2013. Kilgore lived in South Africa from 1991-2002. During that time he was a fugitive from U.S. justice living under the pseudonym “John Pape.” He worked as an educator and researcher for unions and social movements. In 2002 he was arrested on the streets of Cape Town, then extradited to the United States where he served six and a half years in prison. In July 2012 he returned to South Africa for the first time since his arrest. Here he presents his reflections on the journey.]
A View of National Electoral Politics from Brazil’s North and Northeast
Election day came lazily in Santarém, a mid-sized city and trading entrepôt at the junction of the Amazon and Tapajós rivers, the halfway point between Amazônia’s primary metropolises of Manaus and Belém. The internet was out of service in this sleepy Amazonian town, as were two out of the four major cellphone carriers, and the streets were nearly empty.
Scholars have sometimes noted that Argentinian history seems unusually punctuated by periods of booming prosperity followed by dramatic collapse.
One of the most important issues in world politics today is China’s rise as a great imperialist power. Most left-wing writers consider China either as a “socialist country,” a “deformed workers’ state,” or as a “dependent capitalist country” exploited by Western monopolies.
Right-wing militias killed Rosa Luxemburg and dumped her dead body into the Landwehr Canal after the Spartacus uprising in Berlin. Social democrats and communists finished off her intellectual and political legacy by putting her on their respective pedestals. She became a principal witness against Bolshevik organizing practices for the former and was praised as a co-founder of the German Communist Party and a revolutionary martyr by the latter.
Doug Ireland, radical journalist, blogger, passionate human rights and queer activist, and relentless scourge of the LGBT establishment, died in his East Village home on Oct. 26. Doug had lived with chronic pain for many years, suffering from diabetes, kidney disease, sciatica, and the debilitating effects of childhood polio. In recent years he was so ill that he was virtually confined to his apartment. Towards the end, even writing, his calling, had become extremely difficult.
The gifted political cartoonist Phil Evans passed away earlier this year in the seaside town of Hastings, England. He was 68.
Inequality is the theme of our time. It should perhaps be said that it has always been so. But after the surge of globalization since the 1990s, the decreasing fortunes of the middle class, and the more recent shock of the 2008 financial crisis, it has come more sharply into focus. It is within this context that Thomas Piketty has published Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a book that is exhaustively researched and brimming with empirical data and interpretation.
In 1994, Pamela Donovan and I wrote an article for the journal Social Justice called “A Mass Psychology of Punishment: Crime and the Futility of Rationally Based Approaches.” We argued that the crime issue had become in that decade—as mass incarceration grew exponentially, and while rates of violence were steadily and contradictorily declining—a key psychosocial mechanism that facilitated redirecting and displacing anger at broad inequalities felt by lower- and middle-class people, among others, onto “criminals” (who were more than likel
Sit-ins at lunch counters by black students began in Greensboro, North Carolina, on February 1, 1960. Blacks had traditionally not been served there or anywhere in the South at that time. Within a week the sit-ins spread to Durham and Winston-Salem. Eleven of the first sit-ins were within 100 miles of Greensboro. After many arrests, and assaults by white hoodlums, on July 25 all Greensboro stores targeted by the sit-ins agreed to serve blacks on an equal basis.
Those disturbed by the United States’ largest-in-the-world incarceration rate have some new reasons to be cautiously optimistic. President Obama nominated an opponent of the drug war to the Justice Department’s highest civil rights position, signaling the possibility that the costly and counterproductive imprisonment of drug users may be coming to an end.
The mainstream media was never true to its pretension of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable—which was Gilded Age humorist Finley Peter Dunne’s point—but there were exceptions, and exceptional practices. “Accountability reporting,” or investigative reporting, is one of them.
Framing Abolitionism for the Twenty-first Century
Since the year 2000, victories claimed by death penalty abolitionists have seemed significant. In 1999, the United States executed 98 death-row inmates, the highest number since capital punishment’s reinstatement following the Gregg v. Georgia Supreme Court ruling in 1976. Subsequently, however, executions have been on the decline, with 39 inmates killed in 2013.
The labor- and third-party movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been studied and written about extensively by academics and writers on the left. Most readers of this journal are probably familiar with much of this material. This book, however, is of particular interest today for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the author concentrates on the South and emphasizes the biracial nature of the movement.
For many years the dominant trend in scholarship on C.L.R. James has been to emphasize his cultural and literary writings. Arguably the most popular way to frame his legacy has been to situate him as a forerunner to cultural studies, post-colonial studies, and identity politics. Grant Farred, for example, has criticized “earlier modes of James studies” that addressed “debates that occupied sectarian James scholars” and welcomed “the centrality of cultural studies within James scholarship,” while Brett St. Louis has argued that the “march of identity politics and post-modernism” is “irresistible,” and that James’s work is of value precisely because it “grapples with a proto-post-marxist problematic.”
Blogs & On-Line Features
New Politics interviewed Iannis Delatolas, an art photographer, a founding member of the Greek Solidarity Movement (AKNY), and a supporter of Antarsya and of the International Socialist Tendency. He has been involved in the antifascist solidarity movement with Greece and in struggles for LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, in anti-war activities, and in other social justice causes.
Here are some immediate thoughts. They include how we on the international and internationalist Left might respond. As well as what in my opinion we should say:
Syriza’s electoral triumph has brought hope to the European radical Left and workers’ movement, offering it an immense opportunity. We can also put that the other way around – to fail this test could have incalculable consequences.
There have been mostly two kinds of responses to the Charlie Hebdo killings. On one side are those who have simply seen it as a satire versus intolerance issue, with a subtext: Satire being seen as a western/universal (artistic) value and intolerance being a fundamental aspect of religion (more specifically: Political Islam).
Lebanese author Gilbert Achcar says the third revolutionary phase must be free of religious radicalism.
Lebanese Marxist intellectual Gilbert Achcar, author of The People Want (2013), Eastern Cauldron (2004) and The Clash of Barbarisms (2002/2006), says Egypt is at an historical and highly important crossroads in the development of the long-term revolutionary process— stressing the urgency in building leadership and formulating strategies appropriate for change.
INFAMY. That is the only word that can sum up how we feel about the the murder of our buddies at Charlie Hebdo. A crime made even more hateful because these comrade artists were people on the left, anti-racists, anti-fascists, anti-colonialists, sympathizers with communism and anarchism. It was only recently that they participated in an homage to the memory of a group of Algerians assassinated by the French police in Paris on October 17, 1961.
[This article is a reply to David Goodner's "Why Bernie Sanders Needs to Run for President—As an Independent."]
You want the excellent Bernie Sanders to run as an independent in the 2016 presidential. So do I!
Franklin Fried, who devoted more than 70 years to supporting and fighting for freedom, justice, equality, and liberation for working and oppressed people in the U.S. and around the world, died Tuesday, Jan. 13, at his home in Alameda, California. He was 87.
On December 24 a sixteen-year-old student named Mehmet Emin Altunses was arrested in the Turkish city of Konya. His crime? Apparently the youth insulted President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan, saying in a speech that the new president (who served two terms as prime minister between 2003 and 2014) was “the leader of corruption, bribery and theft,” as well as the owner of an “illegal palace.”
Julio Scherer, who worked as a journalist for 70 years, will be most remembered for founding Proceso, the weekly news magazine that transformed Mexican journalism and helped to contributed to the ongoing struggle for democracy in Mexico.
The time I saw Charb in Paris was January 24, 2010, the day of the crowded commemoration of the French philosopher and activist Daniel Bensaïd at La Mutualité. During the speeches, Charb kept drawing and projecting vignettes about his comrade Daniel, whose book, Marx: Mode d’Emploi, he had illustrated a year earlier.
Review of: Richard Steier, Enough Blame to Go Around: The Labor Pains of New York City’s Public Employees. Albany, New York: Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2014. 304 pp. US$24.95 (paperback).
Two things I know to be true about Richard Steier. He is the best full-time reporter on the New York City labor beat. He is also the only full-time reporter on the New York City labor beat.
The mass murder at Charlie Hebdo in Paris is the leading news story in the world, and is universally condemned – rightfully so. In the left’s condemnation of this brutal massacre of journalists and cartoonists for expressing opinions in satirical form, we need to express our dissent from some of what’s being preached under the foggy cover of “je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).
Following are the two statements issued by the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) of France after the January 7 killing of Charlie Hebdo joournalists in Paris. - Dan La Botz, Co-Editor
A Barbarous and Reactionary Act