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Notes from the Editors, January 2008

» Notes from the Editors
Notes from the Editors, January 2008
» Notes from the Editors

The victory of the No vote in the Venezuelan constitutional reform referendum in December is being treated by Washington as a major defeat for Chávez’s efforts to promote a socialism for the twenty-first century in Venezuela. But the opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution was so aware of its own weaknesses that it adopted as its final slogan “Chávez, Yes; Reform, No.” The defeat of the constitutional reform was guaranteed by the fact that 44 percent of the population, many of whom had supported Chávez previously, chose not to vote. This may simply be due to the fact that the proposed constitutional reforms were enormously complex with changes in 69 articles. But it is also true that a propaganda campaign authored and choreographed by Washington and the CIA, and implemented by the Venezuelan elites who control the private media, had a considerable effect in blocking the reform effort. Exposure of these imperial tactics is thus a top priority for those who support the liberation struggles of the Venezuelan people.

This month, Monthly Review Press is publishing Bush Versus Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela by Eva Golinger. This book reveals how Washington has been involved in an ongoing campaign to undermine—economically and politically—the democratically elected government in Venezuela. It details how millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been used to fund counter-revolutionary groups, how fabricated evidence is employed in an effort to impose sanctions to cause economic distress, and how the buildup of U.S. military troops in the Caribbean is being used as a threat to the people of Venezuela. All of this is done, in part, to undermine a government that has worked to share the nation’s wealth with the majority of people and to pursue a course of socialist and human development. To purchase the book visit http://www.monthlyreview.org or call 1-800-670-9499.

John Bellamy Foster’s book, Naked Imperialism: The U.S. Pursuit of Global Dominance (Monthly Review Press, 2006), was a finalist in December for the Oregon Book Award in the category of nonfiction. This award is decided on the basis of literary merit. Although Naked Imperialism did not win the award (which went to Garrett Epps for Democracy Reborn on the struggle for the Fourteenth Amendment) the high opinion of John’s book indicated by the judge, Robert Politio, is worth quoting: “Naked Imperialism: The U.S. Pursuit of Global Dominance tracks a singular instance of someone, John Bellamy Foster, paying close attention—and the results are terrifying, and necessary.” (See the paragraph above for ordering information.)

Our friend William Dugger, professor of economics at the University of Tulsa, writes: “Please keep up the good work with the Monthly Review. I have been subscribing to it for almost forty years now. MR is very important. It provides rays of hope and sound insights in a world so wracked by despair and insanity. MR will continue, but the despair and insanity will pass.”

A major new documentary on the life, work, and politics of the great folk musician (and occasional MR contributor) Pete Seeger will be broadcast on most PBS stations on Wednesday, February 27 as the first program in this season’s “American Masters” series. In its review of Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, directed by Jim Brown, the New York Times described Seeger as “a living presence whose best songs grow less quaint and more urgent every day”—an understatement to be sure.  The film has been shown—and hailed—in festivals worldwide. If it isn’t in your local station’s listings, call and ask them to schedule it. If you like it, call and tell them as well. These days, with increasing influence from corporate underwriters, public television is less inclined to air programs like this, not to mention news and information programming that is controversial or challenges the dominant points of view. This is one that does; you will not want to miss it.

MR’s friend and comrade, revolutionary lawyer Victor Rabinowitz died last November 16, aged ninety-six. A good portion of his legal and political career was coextensive with the life of this publication. In the 1940s and ’50s Victor, along with his longtime law partner, Leonard Boudin, waged a battle against antilabor legislation on behalf of left-wing trade unions. They also represented many hundreds of victims of the McCarthyite “red scare.” Victor went on successfully to confront Jim Crow in aid of student civil rights workers (including his own daughter) and provided aggressive representation for war protesters and draft resisters during the Vietnam era. But Victor always thought his biggest legal contribution to the struggle against imperialism was as lawyer for the Cuban Revolution. In the Sabbatino case, argued by Victor, the Supreme Court held that the “Act of State” doctrine prohibited it from passing on the validity of the nationalization of U.S. owned property in Cuba.

Victor was one of the founders of the National Lawyers Guild, the association of left lawyers in the United States, and played an important role in maintaining that valuable organization through difficult times.

We should also note that Victor and his sister, Lucille Perlman, administered a foundation established by their father, a successful inventor and entrepreneur—and also a socialist. In the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s the L. M. Rabinowitz Foundation supported research and writing for numerous articles that appeared in these pages and for many books published by Monthly Review Press. Both MR editor Harry Magdoff and MR director John J. Simon served on the foundation’s advisory committee. Victor was always available to Monthly Review on the occasions when we needed informal legal counsel. Unrepentant Leftist (University of Illinois Press, 1996), Victor’s autobiography, was reviewed in these pages in November 1996 (“Honest, Able, and Fearless”. We continue to recommend his memoir, an engrossing account by an admirable radical.

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