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Notes from the Editors, February 2001

» Notes from the Editors
Notes from the Editors, February 2001
» Notes from the Editors

The attention given to the Florida elections in the US presidential race has highlighted the horrendous fact that in Florida and throughout the South thirty-five years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act there are numerous ways in which African Americans are prevented from voting. Thus Florida is one of fourteen states that bar ex-criminal offenders from voting even after they have completed their sentences. In Florida alone more than 400,000 ex-criminal offenders who at one time received felony convictions but who have now completed their sentences and are no longer in prison, on probation, or on parole have been barred from voting in this way. This includes almost one-third of black men in that state and more than 200,000 potential African-American voters, 90 percent or more of whom could have been expected to vote Democrat if they had voted. This situation in Florida and other states is documented in a 1998 report entitled Losing the Vote, issued by Human Rights Watch and the Sentencing Project, available on-line at http://www.hrw.org/reports98/vote/. Given the fact that under the present criminal injustice system African Americans are far more likely to be arrested and given felony convictions than their white counterparts this becomes an effective means of political control.

In Florida the exclusion of African American voters in this fashion was pursued much more energetically, beginning in 1998, when the state government decided that the Florida voter registry be systematically scrubbed and hired a private company, DBT Online, since merged into ChoicePoint of Atlanta, to carry out the cleansing process. It has been discovered that ChoicePoint (which has close connections to the Republican Party) made numerous errors, giving Florida officials a list of names to be excluded from the voter rolls prior to the 2000 presidential elections that included thousands of individuals (disproportionately African Americans) who did not have a felony record, but who were nonetheless to be dropped from the voter rolls on this basis. Estimates in some counties indicate that ChoicePoint’s overall scrub list, called the “central voter file,” contained errors in 15 percent of the cases, which would amount to more than seven thousand voters statewide. Florida is the only state to employ a private company to cleanse its voter registry. See: http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/12/04/voter_file/index.html.

In this issue we are printing Adolph Reed Jr.’s important introduction to the new edition of Oliver Cox’s, Caste, Class, and Race, which has been reissued in a shortened version entitled Race: A Study in Social Dynamics that includes the entire unexpurgated final section of Cox’s book. (This new edition has only just been released by Monthly Review Press and also contains an essay on “The Life and Career of Oliver C. Cox by Herbert M. Hunter.) Reed’s introduction points to the crucial importance of Cox’s long-neglected work, which sought to link race, class, and capitalism within a broad historical perspective. We are also pleased to note that the Summer 2000 issue of Review, edited by Immanuel Wallerstein and published by the Fernand Braudel Center, Binghamton University, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902, is devoted largely to Cox’s contribution to world system theory. That issue contains an important article by Christopher A. McAuley, entitled “Oliver C. Cox’s World-System: Insights, Omissions, and Speculations.” Among the passages quoted from Cox in that article is the following: “Although the social processes of the capitalist system may encourage imitation of the practices of the leading societies, the system itself cannot accommodate indiscriminate advancement of peoples. The development of ?underdeveloped’ countries cannot mean progress of those countries until they reach the status of the leader nations” (Caste, Class and Race, 171). We hope that this article and the reissue of the new edition of Cox’s book will help generate widespread renewed interest in Cox’s work.

We are pleased to announce that John Bellamy Foster’s book Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (Monthly Review Press, 2000) was chosen for the annual book award given in 2000 by the Marxist Sociology section of the American Sociological Association.

A Tribute to Daniel Singer will be held in New York City on Saturday, March 3, 2001. Please join his friends from 3 to 5 pm at Saint Peter’s Church on Lexington Avenue at 54th Street. Contact Percy Brazil at (860) 355-1723 for additional information.

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