Top Menu

2002

How I Became a Socialist

The story of how Helen Keller (1880-1967), struck blind and deaf while a toddler, overcame her disabilities with the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan, is a familiar one. William Gibson’s drama, The Miracle Worker, made into a movie, popularized that part of her story. She is remembered for accomplishments such as graduating cum laude from Radcliffe College; as an internationally famous advocate for the deaf and blind; and as a celebrity, writing books, appearing in films and on the vaudeville stage. Her friend Mark Twain described her, along with Napoleon, as one of the “two most interesting characters of the nineteenth century.” What is usually forgotten, however, is that she was also a prominent, articulate, and passionate voice for socialism. From a condition of profound isolation she grew into an inspired communicator, fully engaged with the world around her. She joined the Socialist Party in 1909 (later she’d join the Industrial Workers of the World, too) and championed her socialist vision while lecturing and writing on the issues of her day-in support of worker’s struggles, the Russian Revolution, and women’s suffrage, and against the First World War. There was no separation in her mind between her struggle on behalf of the disabled and her struggle for socialism. She attributed the greater portion of the ills experienced by the disabled, and the cause of these disabilities in many cases, to capitalism and industrialism. After 1921, she focused her energies on raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind but she remained a supporter of radical causes for the rest of her life. This essay appeared in the New York Call, a daily newspaper of the Socialist Party, on November 3, 1912.

—The Editors

A Student-Worker Alliance is Born

Liza Featherstone and United Students Against Sweatshops, Students Against Sweatshops (London and New York: Verso, 2002), 119 pages, paper $15.00.

Not long ago, the conventional wisdom was that capitalism was so completely triumphant that we were at the “end of history.” So strong and seemingly obvious was this view that many progressives embraced it. People’s imaginations shrunk and only the smallest and most local kinds of change appeared possible

July-August 2002 (Volume 54, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

Fifty-four years ago when MR was being planned, one of the questions that the editors, Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, had to decide was whether to have a section at the back of the magazine on literature and the arts, what in publisher’s parlance is called “the back of the book.” The MR editors decided not to do so, mainly for practical reasons. They did not feel that they had the necessary knowledge and training to do a good job editorially with such cultural material, and they felt sure that in the circumstances that the U.S. left then found itself they could not count on the support of enough serious socialist critics to sustain an arts section meeting the same standards as MR as a whole. In 1963, the first of these conditions changed temporarily, when Frances Kelly, who had been Business Manager of the New Left Review in London and whose special field of competence was the arts, came to work with the MR editors as Assistant and then Associate Editor. Under Frances Kelly’s editorship, MR published a cultural supplement called Review 1 as an experiment in 1965

The Cultures of Socialism in the United States

The little-understood roots of the left offer us the chance to demonstrate a vital continuity. A bridge just now being rediscovered exists between the nineteenth century Euro-American traditions upon which the modern Marxist movements were founded, and the cultures (i.e., the collective, including artistic, expression) of minority populations old and new to the United States

One or Two Things I Know About Us

Rethinking the Image and Role of the "Okies"

While at work on this paper, I glanced at the headline in the morning newspaper: “SWAT Team Kills Gunman at Sacramento Tax Office,” and I said to myself, “Probably an Okie.” I read the article and found no reference to Okies—that would never happen in California these days—but the evidence was there: A white man named Jim Ray Holloway, age fifty-three, from Manteca, wearing a cowboy hat, carrying a rifle, a shotgun, and a hand gun, ex-cop, mad about taxes. The name, the age, the hometown in the agricultural Central Valley, the cowboy hat, the kinds of weapons, the career, the lightening rage at the state, all point to his being an Okie

Mike Alewitz, Labor Muralist

The reappearance of the mural marks the return of painting from the museum to its public role in the human community. The work of muralist Mike Alewitz and the collective character of his projects draw upon centuries or eons of collaborative activity, from cave paintings to Michelangelo, the Dada and Surrealist movements to political graffiti. Alewitz’s approach is ideally suited to the postmodern and post-state socialist era when everything rebellious must be created anew and when “culture” along with “labor” is urgently needed to salvage a world from eco-disaster, perpetual war, and the plundering of human possibility. The art of Alewitz and Co. (with the Co. constantly changing) has already been part of labor’s recovery from decades of poor leadership, part of the struggle for democratic unions in a changing global marketplace and with a rapidly changing workforce

A Remarkable Journey

Doris Haddock (with Dennis Burke), Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year(New York: Villard Books, 2001), 285 pages, $21.95, hardcover.

Doris Haddock is a retired shoe factory worker and a member of the Episcopal Church in Dublin, New Hampshire, where her grandmother came in the nineteenth century to work in a textile mill. Doris married young, raised a family, and has twelve great-grandchildren

June 2002 (Volume 54, Number 2)

Notes from the Editors

In the May issue of MR, we published an article by James Petras, written in March, entitled “The U.S. Offensive in Latin America.” The article raised the issue of an impending military coup in Venezuela, then being actively promoted by Washington, aimed at replacing the democratically elected president Hugo Chávez with what the Bush administration had already been publicly calling a “transitional government” (or, as Petras termed it, a “transitional civic-military junta”). “Washington,” Petras wrote, “is implementing a civil-military approach to overthrow President Chávez in Venezuela….U.S. strategy is multiphased and combines media, civic, and economic attacks with efforts to provoke fissures in the military, all aimed at encouraging a military coup.” The object of the coup, from Washington’s standpoint, was threefold: to regain control of Venezuela’s oil industry which accounts for 15 percent of U.S. oil imports, to eliminate the indirect support that Venezuela has been giving to guerrillas in Colombia and to insurgent forces in Ecuador, and to put an end to Chávez’s attempt to break away from the imperialistic network—Venezuela’s step toward independence

Social Justice and Globalization: Are they Compatible?

In a speech in 1999, Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford, candidly remarked that “globalization” is another term for U.S. domination.1 Such clarity tends, in itself, to negatively answer the question posed in the title of this talk. How can anyone argue that U.S. domination—or using the less polite term, “U.S. imperialism”—is compatible with social justice?

FacebookRedditTwitterEmailPrintFriendlyShare