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September 2001 (Volume 53, Number 4)

» Notes from the Editors
September 2001 (Volume 53, Number 4)

The Economist (June 23, 2001) contained an item that we thought would interest and amuse MR readers. Under the title “More Tomatoes, Please,” it humorously observed:

It’s tough being a world leader these days. Once upon a time, you could meet a couple of your counterparts in some pleasant seaside town, forge a union or divide a continent over dinner, and then issue a grateful public with a photograph and a communiqué….Wherever you go, now, thousands of ungrateful yobs turn up, slinging bricks at the police and soundbites at the cameras….[H]ow is anybody to have a quiet pow-wow…?

Employ a more imaginative locations manager.…The glamour names that punctuate the history of summitry—Versailles, Yalta, Potsdam, Rome, Nice—betray the weakness of summiteers for sun, sea, sand and palaces. Even Seattle and Gothenburg have a low-key marine charm…Advertising a summit in that sort of place is pure provocation to a bored anarchist….

The world is full of alternative locations guaranteed to discourage the soft-bellied young of today….Those far-sighted folk at the World Trade Organisation have already taken the hint, by holding their summit this November in Qatar, which most anarchists will think is a throat problem. But there are also seriously nasty places, such as Lagos….For summiteers, Lagos might have a few major disadvantages, such as filth, crime, a horrible climate and a shortage of hotels with proper plumbing, but those are not the sorts of things to put off a statesman determined to forge a better future for the planet (p. 13).

The Economist goes on to thank the anti-globalization movement for making economics once again a front-page story. “Ideology,” it claims, “has infused economics for the first time since Karl Marx wrote (and nobody read) ‘Das Kapital.’” Mainstream pundits, who used to be seen as mere scribes or bureaucrats are now viewed as front-line combatants in the war between global capitalism and “the forces of something-or-other.”

It is impossible to greet this report without hoots of laughter of our own. Think of the WTO, with its world-class capitalist planners, unable to meet anywhere in the center of the system for fear of “the forces of something-or-other,” and forced to hole up in a feudal petroleum sheikdom—a desert peninsula that can only be approached by land through Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (a region closely guarded by the U.S. military). How the Old Mole, author of that weighty tome Das Kapital (the book that no one in The Economist’s circle will admit to having read) would roll over in mirth! For once we find ourselves fully in agreement with The Economist—“More tomatoes [more protests], please.”

Searching for what animated the protestors in Genoa, more than 100,000 of whom mobilized in late July against the summit of the G-8 nations (leading to the death of one protestor at the hands of the authorities), The New York Times in its July 22 issue quoted a Norwegian activist, Atle Mikkola Kjosen, age twenty-five (a university student in Britain and a Socialist Workers Party member):

“We don’t really care about globalization,” Mr. Kjosen said, in the fluent if carefully chosen cadences of someone who has learned English at school. “Globalization is just a manifestation of capitalism.”

“Globalization is fashionable at the moment, just the way the environment or health care were in recent years,” he went on. “But we are targeting the system and globalization is one chapter.”

We recently received the following note from an MR supporter who wishes to remain anonymous:

Today came a letter from the IRS that we will be receiving a $600 check on 9/17/01. We [my wife and I] kidded around on what we should buy with this manna from Bush. The answer turned out to be simple: send it to MR with the hope that others will do the same. No doubt the $300 or $600 received by many MR readers will have immediate use: shoes for children, etc. But there are others who will be in a position to think of luxuries. What better “luxury” than supporting MR and helping to put it on a better footing. Besides what an irony for $ that might otherwise have found their way into the Pentagon’s coffers!

Naturally, we couldn’t agree more!

We record with sorrow the death, on Saturday, June 16, 2001, of Carol Bernstein Ferry, at age seventy-six. She was born as Carol Underwood in Syracuse on July 29, 1924. She grew up in Portland, Maine and was a graduate of Wells College in Aurora, New York. In 1946, she moved to New York and became a copyeditor and proofreader for various publishers. In 1953, she married Daniel Bernstein, a successful stockbroker. Carol and Dan were radicalized after a visit to Cuba following the revolution, and she and her husband bought full-page advertisements in the New York Times in opposition to the Vietnam War. Together Carol and Dan provided funding for various left causes until his death in 1970. Carol continued to give financial assistance to left individuals and organizations and in 1973 married Wilbur H. Ferry—called Ping by everyone. A noted critic of capitalist society and MR author, Ping served as Vice President for the Center for The Study of Democratic Institutions. Carol and Ping persevered together in the mission of supporting the left until Ping died in 1995. The generosity of Carol and her two husbands was unconditional. They never attached strings to the funds they handed out. They gave to the Black Panthers, opponents of the Vietnam War, prisoners’ rights organizations, and Britain’s striking miners.

Carol was a committed, principled backer of legalized euthanasia, and died by lying down in the company of loved ones and taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Only a year before, doctors told her that she was terminally ill. “My decision has been arrived at after many years of contemplation, and not casually,” she was to write in a final letter quoted in The New York Times (June 17, 2001). “I hope it will help others to feel all right about preferring a peaceful, benign path into death.”

Over the years Carol was a strong supporter in every sense of Monthly Review. One of her special causes was that of prisoners, and she visited numerous prisons, including Sing Sing, where she taught reading to prisoners. She was therefore able to give us advice and assistance in preparing the July-August 2001 special issue of Monthly Review on “Prisoners and Executions: The U.S. Model.” Carol corresponded regularly with Michael Yates, MR’s Associate Editor, during the planning stages for the issue. She insisted that people who had actually been in prison should be an integral part of the issue. She put us in touch with Gregory Frederick, and assisted in the initial copyediting of his article. Her overall contributions to the making of the special issue were of immense importance. We will miss her.

We are grieved to note the death at age sixty-eight on April 7, 2001 of Robert Heifetz, a long-time friend of MR and MR author. The son of silent screen star Florence Arto Vidor and violinist and conductor Jascha Heifetz, Robert was born in Los Angeles, and was educated at Claremont’s private Webb school, William and Mary and Antioch colleges, and Columbia University. He taught urban studies at the Hampton Institute, the University of Illinois, UC San Diego, and finally at San Francisco University, and worked as a city planner. In 1985 he was among twenty-nine U.S. peace activists held captive on the Nicaraguan border by Contra (anti-Sandinista) rebels. He was an avid sailor, a charter captain, and one of the founders of the Bay Area Peace Navy, a group of local boat owners who engage in creative political activity in San Francisco Bay. We were very pleased to publish Robert’s important article “The Role of Professional and Technical Workers in Progressive Social Transformation” in the December 2000 issue of MR, where he provided a strategy for ending “corporate America’s control over the hearts and minds of technical and professional workers.”

We are sad to note that Aleine Austin Cohen, an educator, historian, and labor activist, who worked with Leo Huberman in promoting labor education in the 1940s, and who later became an active supporter and volunteer for MR in its very early years, died on June 2, 2001. She was seventy-eight.

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