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January 2006, Volume 57, Number 8

January 2006, Volume 57, Number 8
» Notes from the Editors

The United States is currently engaged in what the media—with no trace of irony—is calling “the national debate on torture.” With the White House adamantly rejecting Senator John McCain’s amendment to ban U.S. use of torture, the morality of torture has suddenly become something that can be openly and respectably “argued.” Not only are certain torture techniques advocated on the grounds of their utility (see for example the November 30, 2005, column “Tortured Logic” by Jonah Goldberg, online editor for the National Review), but the executive branch is presenting arguments in court against releasing the latest photos of torture by U.S. operatives—on the grounds that public viewing of these photos would undermine the war effort. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been visiting European heads of state in early December 2005. Her diplomatic mission: to defend the present U.S. practice of stealing away “terror suspects” and taking them to undisclosed secret prisons in Europe and elsewhere for intensive interrogation and torture. For those seeking a grasp of the full moral and political dimensions of the current U.S. torture regime we strongly recommend the new Monthly Review Press book The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media by Lila Rajiva. Not only does Rajiva expose the reality of U.S. torture of prisoners, she also uncovers the media’s complicity in legitimating such practices.

On November 19 John Bellamy Foster spoke at the Stop the War Conference at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. His talk (together with an interview that followed) was broadcast on KPFK radio in Los Angeles on November 28 on the daily radio program “Uprising.” The conference was organized by and for students and educators and also included veterans, Gold Star Mothers for Peace, and labor representatives. MR friends David Bacon and Michael Zweig gave plenary presentations geared to the forging of alliances between Iraqi and U.S. workers.

But the most remarkable aspect of this conference was the glimpse it gave into the antiwar organizing being conducted by high school students in the Los Angeles area through their human rights and peace clubs. This organizing, which was originally directed against military recruitment at high schools (targeting primarily low-income Latino/a and black students), has fanned out into a more general protest against the war. From what was evident at Manual Arts, this new youth antiwar movement at the high school level compares favorably with antiwar organizing within the high schools at the time of the Vietnam War—and reflects knowledge of antiwar organizing that has been handed down from teachers (and parents) to students. Some of these students had adopted explicit socialist critiques of capitalist society. There seems little doubt that the youth movement in this country is growing and becoming increasingly radical in response to the current era of naked capitalism and naked imperialism.

While in Los Angeles, John was able to meet briefly and have good exchanges with some of the members of the local Monthly Review discussion group, which gets together once a month to talk about a selected article from the magazine. We encourage MR readers in other localities to organize similar discussions groups. Those interested should contact Martin Paddio at mreview [at] igc.org.

Monthly Review Press first released its edition of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in 1964, in celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of the magazine—using a distinguished hand-set typography first produced in a limited edition in 1933. The MR Press edition, which includes Engels’s Principles of Communism, has remained continuously in print but was revised on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Manifesto—incorporating a new foreword by Paul Sweezy and a new afterword by Ellen Meiksins Wood. We think this Monthly Review Press edition represents a valuable presentation of Marx and Engels’s work in a context made meaningful for our times. Nevertheless, MR readers will be interested to learn of the release of a new edition of the Manifesto, published by Haymarket Books and edited by Phil Gasper, a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame de Namur University in northern California.

The new Haymarket edition is distinguished from all other English-language editions currently in print in two critical ways: (1) it is a fully annotated edition, and (2) it provides much needed corrections (based on Hal Draper’s 1994 translation and critique in Adventures of the Communist Manifesto) to the 1888 Samuel Moore translation supervised by Engels. Among the important corrections is the replacement of the mistranslation “idiocy of rural life” with the correct “isolation of rural life” (see Notes from the Editors,” Monthly Review, October 2003). Gasper has also Americanized the spelling and modernized the punctuation and capitalization. In addition to the text of the Manifesto itself and the annotations, the book includes a clear, accessible introduction by Gasper entitled “History’s Most Important Political Document” and a useful afterword, also by him, entitled “Is the Manifesto Still Relevant?” In the latter he replies to criticisms of the Manifesto (some emanating from the left) and demonstrates its continuing relevance. The numerous appendices to the book include all the prefaces to the Manifesto, Engels’s Principles of Communism, and a generous collection of extracts from Marx and Engels’s writings. Gasper’s annotations and references utilize research by numerous past and present MR authors, including (among others): Harry Braverman, Paul Burkett, Hal Draper, Barbara Ehrenreich, John Bellamy Foster, Doug Henwood, Edward Herman, James Loewen, Ernest Mandel, Michael Parenti, Dirk Struik, and Ellen Meiksins Wood. We are also pleased to note that MR is included among a handful of periodicals and Web sites recommended at the end of this new edition of the Manifesto.

“Activism and Repression: The Struggle for Free Speech at CCNY, 1931–42” is an interesting exhibit currently at Baruch College Library, 151 East 25th Street in New York City. The exhibit documents the student and faculty activism at the City College of New York during the turbulent years of the Great Depression and the ensuing repression in the early 1940s that led to the dismissal of over fifty faculty and staff. There are more than a hundred images, cartoons, graphics, flyers, and photographs including a cover of Frontiers, which was published by the Social Problems Club at CCNY and edited by Harry Magdoff. Publication of Frontiers was suspended because of its attack on ROTC on campus. The exhibit may be viewed online at http://www.virtualny.cuny.edu/.

From time to time we receive bequests from readers who want to contribute to the continuance of Monthly Review, Monthly Review Press, or the Monthly Review Foundation. Those who wish to do the same may simply state in their wills that the bequest is to “The Monthly Review Foundation, 146 West 29th Street, #6W, New York, NY 10001.” For additional information contact Martin Paddio at (212) 691-2555 or use our contact page.