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1999

October 1999 (Volume 51, Number 5)

Notes from the Editors

Many MR readers will remember when teaching the theory of evolution was prohibited by law in some U.S. states. This wasn’t just at the time of the infamous Scopes “monkey trial” in 1925 but still decades later. In the 1950s, during the McCarthy era, the anti-evolution law took on a new significance, symbolizing the suppression of intellectual freedom which was the hallmark of that grim episode in U.S. history. In 1955, the ACLU, which had initiated the original constitutional test of the Tennessee law that culminated in the Scopes trial, again called for repeal of the law, as a symbol of every attack on the freedom of thought. That same year, “Inherit the Wind” appeared on Broadway, presenting the “monkey trial” as a thinly disguised metaphor for McCarthyism … | more…

The Public Sector Strikes in South Africa

The strikes that have recently brought more than one million teachers and public employees into the streets in South Africa—culminating in a one-day strike on August 25, in which six hundred thousand public workers downed tools nationwide—have been brewing for the past few months … | more…

Prison Sentences

Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing (New York: Arcade, 1999), 349 pp., $27.95, cloth.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s old adage, about measuring a civilization by reviewing its prisons, if followed in the U.S. context, is a condemnation of this nation’s own version of the gulag archipelago. A cross-section of prisoner’s writings submitted to the PEN writing contest for the past quarter-century reveals the cold, dark underside of the American dream. Men and women, denizens of both state and federal prisons, write brilliantly about trying to stay human in the midst of places of marked inhumanity, and indeed, places that only succeed if they dehumanize … | more…

September 1999 (Volume 51, Number 4)

Notes from the Editors

We’ve received three letters from readers complaining about our articles on Kosovo. While this isn’t a groundswell of opinion, we assume that there are other readers out there who share the concerns of these critics, and since this is an important issue, we think it’s worth returning to it. We won’t go over the same ground again, but we want to take up at least one larger question raised by the critics … | more…

Powerful Compassion

The Strike at Syracuse

It is worth the trip to Syracuse University just to see Ben Shahn’s sixty-by-twelve-foot outdoor mural, “The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti.” Unveiled in 1967, the mosaic tile mural tells the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, executed in 1927 for a crime which they probably did not commit. Witnesses placed them miles from the crime scene when the murder of a paymaster occurred at a shoe factory in Braintree, Massachusetts … | more…

July-August 1999 (Volume 51, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

In his article on the U.S. economy in this issue, Doug Henwood quotes from a piece by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times Magazine on March 28, and points to the connection between Friedman’s view of globalization and his support for the bombing of Yugoslavia. Well, we read that article and were very much struck by it too. Anyone who thinks we’re over the top when we say things like Ellen did in June’s Review of the Month about the “new imperialism” should just read Friedman’s “Manifesto for the Fast World.” … | more…

Unhappy Families

Global Capitalism in a World of Nation-States

The word “capitalism” is typically applied to a very wide and diverse range of cases—from the United States to Japan, Russia, Brazil, or South Africa. We use the word in this way on the premise that, for all their diversities, all these cases have in common certain basic social forms and economic laws of motion, including a common tendency to crisis. And we talk about “global” capitalism on the premise that national capitalist economies are interconnected, that they are integrated in a global system driven by the same capitalist laws of motion, and that economic crises and prolonged downturns like the current one are not national in origin but are rooted in the general dynamics that drive the whole global economy and in the relations that bind all capitalist economies together … | more…

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