In June Monthly Review Foundation director Fred Magdoff and his wife Amy Demarest traveled to Hong Kong for a conference entitled “The Fortieth Anniversary: Rethinking the Genealogy and Legacy of the Cultural Revolution.” The conference was dedicated to the memory of MR Press author Bill Hinton, who wrote Fanshen and many other works. It was jointly sponsored by the China Study Group, Monthly Review, and the Contemporary China Research Center of the City University of Hong Kong, and included participants from mainland China who had been active in the Cultural Revolution. Fred spoke on the long relationship of Bill Hinton with Monthly Review. Other MR authors—Yiching Wu, David Pugh, and Robert Weil—made presentations on the Cultural Revolution itself. Our friend Arif Dirlik, professor of history at the University of Oregon, spoke on the legacies of socialism in “the age of modernity.” For those interested in further details on this event a brief set of reflections on the conference by Fred appeared on MRzine.org in the beginning of July and can be accessed there.
This issue of MR includes an important Review of the Month by Michael Watts on Africa. This is our second article addressing Africa in recent months, following John Bellamy Foster’s “A Warning to Africa—The New U.S. Imperial Grand Strategy” in the June 2006 issue. Together these two articles signal what we expect will be a continuing discussion in MR of the New Scramble for Africa. “A Warning to Africa” drew appreciative responses from some of our friends in Africa plus supportive letters from Jan Burgess, managing editor of the Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE), which has for decades been a leading radical forum on Africa. “Many years ago,” she recalls, “we had Paul Sweezy here [Sheffield, U.K.] for a conference entitled, ‘U.S. Imperialism.’ We thought it would attract maybe a couple of hundred but when the numbers got to 750 we had to close the University Hall. After that on my visits to New York, I came and ‘brown-bagged’ it for lunch. Seems like a long time ago but we’re still here [at ROAPE] and after a period of reflection, we’re now going on the offensive. We’re publishing not just material that is specifically about Africa but also looking at the wider picture—the global dimension which impacts so disastrously on Africa.” Over the last several years, ROAPE has been running articles “documenting the global U.S. strategy in Africa” by such important writers and researchers as Daniel Volman, Michael Klare, Susan Willett, Ankie Hoogvelt, and a host of others. This has included “material on the huge range of disinformation ‘informing’ most [Western] military decisions in Africa and [on] the regional hubs which are…the focus of the U.S. military ‘lily pads’” (forward-operating locations). “We’re now,” she writes, “working on [the question of] ‘Out of Africa’—the amount of looting that’s been done by the West mostly and how the military sites are poised exactly in the right places” to allow the West to dominate and exploit Africa’s treasures. Information on ROAPE, including how to subscribe, can be found at: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/crea.
Our good friend and MR and MR Press author Cornel West gave a speech at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington on April 8, 2005, in which he described Evergreen (from which two of MR’s editors, John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney [editor, 2000–2004], graduated) as “the last great experimental college in the American empire.” Recently, MR author Alan Nasser, who has taught political economy at Evergreen since the 1970s and who retired at the end of this past school year, has written to us regarding some of his teaching experiences and the importance that MR assumed in his courses. He wrote that his class last school year on Philosophy, Society and Globalization consisted of “twenty dazzling students, more than half of them MR subscribers by the end of the class, and the best class I’ve taught in forty-three years. Most of them continued with me in U.S. Foreign Policy in the spring.” As a concrete illustration of MR’s impact on his students, Alan forwarded a recent e-mail message from a star Evergreen student, who was visiting Europe with his family. Feeling stranded, and agonizing on the continuing assault of the right in the United States, echoes of which were reaching him on the other side of the Atlantic, the student wrote: “I had a dream that somehow I had an extra MR with me and my entire night seemed lighter. It was silly and childish and indicative of how ironically insular I feel my life is right now. Help!” Although officially retired, Alan plans to continue teaching a few students each year for a few more years. Next year he will be working with three very lucky students in a course that he described to us as “a full-time program on MR’s Analyses in the Golden Age.” They will read and discuss back issues of MR in the University of Washington collection, as their core course material. Teachers who wish to discuss how to integrate MR’s analyses of political economy and foreign policy into their teaching (Evergreen style) may wish to contact Alan at alannasser [at] horbornet.com/.
Sophie Maslow, who died last June 25, was an MR reader and subscriber and a regular and lively contributor at the Wednesday lunches in the MR office in the 1980s and 90s. A choreographer and dancer with the Martha Graham company and the leftist New Dance Group and a driving force in the modern dance movement, she collaborated with Woody Guthrie on pieces based on his writing and the popular and working-class folkloric tradition. She also choreographed a dance cycle based on Guthrie’s humorous columns, called “Woody Sez” written for the Daily Worker and the California Peoples World. She famously choreographed a dance (performed by union members she trained) used in organizing drives by District 65, the office workers union in New York. A successor local represents the MR office staff. Nora Guthrie, Woodie’s daughter, has written an appreciation of Sophie Maslow that appears on the MRzine Web site at http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/guthrie110706.html.
Every year at this time MR sends out its annual appeal to subscribers. The appeal always contains a short assessment of the state of the world and a call on subscribers, associates, and sustainers to do something extra to help keep MR alive. Look for it in your mailbox.
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