Thursday October 23rd, 2014, 1:53 pm (EDT)

2002

2002 issues

The Argentine Crisis

Historically, monetary crises have been related to hyperinflation, from which Argentina has often suffered. Hyperinflation is generally viewed as a calamity leading to the destruction of the capitalist monetary system of circulation. In the present Argentine crisis, however, there has been a complete implosion of economic and monetary relations due to hyperdeflation. This is the strangulation of the economy by the requirement to pay an unsustainable debt… | more |

Argentina: An Alternative Proposal to Overcome the Crisis

Against the background of Argentina’s dramatic economic downfall, a meeting was held in January 2002 at the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires. The focus of the meeting was the need to work on alternative proposals to deal with the crisis… | more |

Porto Alegre 2002: A Tale of Two Forums

In large part, the increased mass media coverage and the more favorable reporting (except in the United States) were due to the presence of political notables embracing centrist positions (leading members of the French Socialist Party, representatives from the United Nations and World Bank, and leaders from the moderate/social democratic sector of the Brazilian Workers Party, etc.). The political advances and achievements of SF2002 noted in the Western European media were accompanied by a particular bias in the reporting. Most of the journalists and editors favorably quoted and featured the “serious ideas” of the more moderate notables and political leaders meeting at the Catholic University. Rarely were mass leaders and activists from popular movements quoted or shown in photographs. For example, the Financial Times (February 5, 2002, p. 8) caricatured the differences between radicals and reformists: “Behind the theatrical expressions of protest, the forum was marked by a serious exchange of ideas and proposals, such as reforms of the WTO’s intellectual property rights agreements. Most participants said they were not against globalization but for an equitable form of it with a broader international participation in decision-making” … | more |

March 2002 (Volume 53, Number 10)

March 2002 (Volume 53, Number 10)

In January, with no public discussion and little fanfare, Washington began the first major extension of its “war on terrorism” beyond Afghanistan by sending U.S. troops into the Philippines. The contingent of nearly 700 troops, including 160 Special Forces soldiers, was sent to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which consists of a number of islands and one major city, and is populated chiefly by a few million Moros (Muslim Filipinos). The mission of the U.S. forces has been to “assess” the military situation, provide military advice, and “train” the 7000 Philippine soldiers currently pursuing the guerrillas of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) operating in the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo… | more |

U.S. Military Bases and Empire

Empires throughout human history have relied on foreign military bases to enforce their rule, and in this respect at least, Pax Americana is no different than Pax Romana or Pax Britannica. “The principal method by which Rome established her political supremacy in her world,” wrote historian Arnold Toynbee in his America and the World Revolution (1962)… | more |

Understanding the Other Sister: The Case of Arab Feminism

One evening, shortly after September 11, I was conducting a college English class when one of my students asked a question about the accumulating body of information on women and Islam. It was one of many questions about the Middle East asked of me in the days after the tragedies; this one was about the veil, and why women in the Middle East “had to wear it.” I explained that not all women in the Middle East were Muslim (I myself am a Palestinian Christian), but that even many Muslim women did not veil. However, many did, and for myriad reasons: mostly for personal and religious reasons and, for some, upon compulsion… | more |

Technology and the Commodification of Higher Education

All discussion of distance education these days invariably turns into a discussion of technology, an endless meditation on the wonders of computer-mediated instruction. Identified with a revolution in technology, distance education has thereby assumed the aura of innovation and the appearance of a revolution itself, a bold departure from tradition, a signal step toward a preordained and radically transformed higher educational future. In the face of such a seemingly inexorable technology-driven destiny and the seductive enchantment of technological transcendence, skeptics are silenced and all questions are begged. But we pay a price for this technological fetishism, which so dominates and delimits discussion. For it prevents us from perceiving the more fundamental significance of today’s drive for distance education, which, at bottom, is not really about technology, nor is it anything new. We have been here before… | more |

Sweatshop Labor, Sweatshop Movement

Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Economy (Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 2001), 306 pages, $18.00 paper.

The reemergence of sweatshops in the United States has taken many people by surprise. It was commonly assumed that sweatshops disappeared years ago and that their presence would no longer be accepted. This proved to be fatally wrong… | more |

Unusual Marx

Karl Marx, Kevin Andersonand Eric Plaut (editors), and Gabrielle Edgcomb (translator), Karl Marx on Suicide (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1999), 147 pages, $49.95 hardcover and $14.95 paper.

There is a rather unusual document among Marx’s writings. It is titled, “Peuchet: vom Selbstmord” (Gesellschaftspiegel, zweiter Band, Heft VII, Elberfeld, Januar 1846), and it is composed of translated excerpts from Jacques Peuchet’s Du Suicide et de ses Causes (a chapter from his memoirs). The book under review is an English translation of this document, combined with introductions by editors Kevin Anderson and Eric Plaut. As we shall see, this small and almost forgotten article by Marx is a precious contribution to a richer understanding of the evils of modern bourgeois society, of the suffering that its patriarchal family structure inflicts on women, and of the broad and universal scope of socialism… | more |

February 2002 (Volume 53, Number 9)

February 2002 (Volume 53, Number 9)

The meltdown of Enron, the giant energy trading firm, which recently ranked as the seventh largest U.S. corporation—now its largest ever bankruptcy—is one of the most startling events in U.S. financial history. Only a few months ago Enron was the toast of Wall Street. It was the symbol of the New Economy and of the deregulation of both finance and energy markets. Its former CEO, Jeffrey K. Skilling, promoted the idea that assets were not what made a company valuable. Instead what counted was a corporation’s intellectual capital. He sold the idea of Enron as a nimble, highly-leveraged, “asset-light” company engaged in aggressive internet-based trading. The point is that this huge and highly regarded corporation did not make anything. Nor did it perform a service like distributing energy. It was in essence a purely speculative enterprise, making money through trading made possible by the deregulation of a basic consumer need (electricity). And U.S. business bought it! For six years in a row, the editors of Fortune magazine selected Enron as the “most innovative” among the magazine’s “most admired” corporations. Enron was a principal fundraising source for President George W. Bush’s electoral campaign. It was a big winner in California’s electrical deregulation crisis, which generated skyrocketing electricity prices and huge profits for big energy traders. Enron’s corporate empire was underwritten by some of the biggest U.S. banks, including J. P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup… | more |

Anti-Capitalism and the Terrain of Social Justice

Until recently, a pervasive sense of there-is-no-alternative left us with a
debilitating pessimism. Seattle was, arguably, the long-awaited antidote. Where social democracy had seen the power of capital and was cowed by it, the Seattle protesters recognized that building a decent world meant actively resisting it. In this defiant understanding that resistance creates the space for hope, the chain of protests initiated by Seattle fell in with a tradition that saw realism in historic terms, rather than in a fetishism of the present… | more |

The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism

The world changed on September 11. That’s not just media hype. The way some historians refer to 1914–1991 as the “short twentieth century,” many are now calling September 11, 2001, the real beginning of the twenty-first century. It’s too early to know whether that assessment will be borne out, but it cannot simply be dismissed… | more |

Japan’s Stagnationist Crisis

In this article we will argue that the Japanese economic crisis is connected to a process of oligopolistic accumulation and to Japan’s role as the regional economic hegemon in East Asia. The combination of these two factors generates a classic Baran-Sweezy-Magdoff perspective on the crisis in Japan… | more |

Antiwar Movements, Then and Now

Bill Ayers, Fugitive Days: A Memoir (Beacon Press, 2001), 292 pages, $24.00 cloth.

“It is difficult to communicate at a distance the sense of helplessness and suppressed rage we all felt by the end of 1967,” historian David Schalk recently recalled of the sixties U.S. antiwar Movement. I certainly would not know. I was not even born then. Yet, if organizing meetings held after September 11 are any indication, the legacy of just this movement looms large. Seattle veterans have started talking about a global peace and justice movement. A recent e-mail even proclaimed, “you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.” And one wonders if it’s time for a pause to consider the story of the underground struggle against the Vietnam war… | more |

January 2002 (Volume 53, Number 8)

January 2002 (Volume 53, Number 8)

The U.S. news media coverage of the current war has again drawn attention to the severe limitations of our journalism, and our media system, for a viable democratic and humane society. The coverage has effectively been stenography to those in power, and since the Democrats have offered dismal resistance to or even interrogation of the war policies, uncomfortable facts that undermine enthusiasm for the war, and the broader wave of militarism it is part of, appear only briefly on the margins. Dissident opinions, as they do not come from elite quarters, are all but nonexistent in the premier media outlets. The most striking admission of the propaganda basis of U.S. journalism came from CNN, when it insisted that its domestic coverage of the war be sugarcoated so as not to undermine popular enthusiasm for the war, while its international coverage would regard the United States in a more critical manner; i.e. exactly as credible journalists should regard it… | more |

Monopoly Capital and the New Globalization

We live at a time when capitalism has become more extreme, and is more than ever presenting itself as a force of nature, which demands such extremes. Globalization-the spread of the self-regulating market to every niche and cranny of the globe-is portrayed by its mainly establishment proponents as a process that is unfolding from every- where at once with no center and no discernible power structure. As the New York Times claimed in its July 7,2001 issue, repeating now fash- ionable notions, today’s global reality is one of “a fluid, infinitely expanding and highly organized system that encompasses the world’s entire population,” but which lacks any privileged positions or “place ofpower.” … | more |

The Unemployed Workers Movement in Argentina

Latin America has witnessed three waves of overlapping and inter- related social movements over the last twenty-five years. The first wave, roughly from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, was largely composed of what were called “the new social movements.” They included human rights, ecology, feminist, and ethnic movements as well as Non- Government Organizations (NGOs). Their leadership was largely lower middle class professionals, and their policies and strategies revolved around challenging the military and civilian authoritarian regimes of the time… | more |

Taking Exams, Taking on Capitalism

Bertell Ollman, How to Take an Exam…& Remake the World (Montreal and New York: Black Rose Books, 2001), 191 pages, $19.99 paper.

Bertell OIlman’s How to Take an Exam … & Remake the World has a double agenda, which OIlman candidly acknowledges: to offer advice about studying (which the student wants) and to make a powerful plea for socialism (which OIlman wants). As a study guide, the book offers suggestions for exam preparation that are mostly serious (persistently reminding the student of the importance of advance preparation and offering guidance about how to do that), sometimes cheeky (pre-exam sex is okay, drugs and cheating not), sometimes subversive (in the advice on how to get over on the professor), and at bottom deeply crit- ical of exams as a genre, especially the ones that discourage thinking. OIlman argues that the function of exams is to train submissive work- ers, a trenchant assessment that grows increasingly explicit as the book develops. These exam tips and observations form less than half the story of the book, which scatters them amongst a devastating political analysis. While his experience as a professor makes him a good adviser for exam taking, his commitment to progressive politics and his deep knowledge of Marxism and capitalism make the political and economic material the more powerful part of the book, as he intends… | more |

Wealth Gap Woes

Chuck Collins, Betsy Leondar-Wright and Holly Sklar, Shifting Fortunes: The Perils of the Growing American Wealth Gap (Boston: United for a Fair Economy, 1999), 94 pp., $6.95 paper.

It is a telling historical fact that during both the lean times of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the boom times of the 1990s, one thing has remained relatively constant: economic inequality in the United States has been increasing. During recessions it is workers who are asked to tighten their belts and who have to cope with falling wages, shrinking fringe benefits, or even massive layoffs, while everything possible is done to preserve corporate profits and income that is derived through ownership. During times of expansion one might expect the incomes of both owners and workers to increase. However, in the boom of the 1990s, while income derived through ownership increased, wages for most workers continued to stagnate and fringe benefits continued to be whittled down. About the only thing that kept the poverty rate at a respectably low level was the low unemployment rate. The boom now seems to have ended without workers ever making substantial gains… | more |

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