Wednesday April 23rd, 2014, 9:15 pm (EDT)

2006

2006 issues

Fixed, Footloose, or Fractured: Work, Identity, and the Spatial Division of Labor in the Twenty–First Century City

The combination of technological change and globalization is bringing about fundamental changes in who does what work where, when, and how. This has implications which are profoundly contradictory for the nature of jobs, for the people who carry them out, and hence for the nature of cities… | more |

Privatizing Education

Education is an essential part of modern economic progress, yet in recent decades, the right wing has consistently been unfriendly to public education. For example, the Walton family’s donation of $20 billion to help conservative causes was weighted toward the privatization of public education.… The economic effects of privatization will not be felt immediately. Over time, however, as a larger share of the workforce suffers the handicap of inferior education, the negative effect on all aspects of society will be unmistakable.… | more |

Rebel in the House: The Life and Times of Vito Marcantonio

Vito Marcantonio was the most consequential radical politician in the United States in the twentieth century. Elected to Congress from New York’s ethnically Italian and Puerto Rican East Harlem slums, Marcantonio, in his time, held office longer than any other third-party radical, serving seven terms from 1934 to 1950. Colorful and controversial, Marcantonio captured national prominence as a powerful orator and brilliant parliamentarian. Often allied with the U.S. Communist Party (CP), he was an advocate of civil rights, civil liberties, labor unions, and Puerto Rican independence. He supported social security and unemployment legislation for what later was called a “living wage” standard. And he annually introduced anti-lynching and anti–poll tax bills a decade before it became respectable. He also opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee, redbaiting, and antisemitism, and fought for the rights of the foreign born. He was a bold outspoken opponent of U.S. imperialism… | more |

Sustaining Equality and Justice in the Struggle for Socialism

Every socialist has surely indulged in speculation about an ideal society from time to time. The realities of our own society certainly encourage such flights of fancy. But they should not be considered entirely fanciful: without imaginative thinking, it is quite impossible to see how the world might be changed for the better. Yet without any practical grounding, such exercises cannot take us any nearer to the “realistic utopia” that should be our goal… | more |

February 2006, Volume 57, Number 9

February 2006, Volume 57, Number 9

» Notes from the Editors

The victory of Evo Morales, presidential candidate of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), in Bolivia’s December elections was a world-historical event of the first order. Its extent was unexpected, certainly by us. Morales won well over 50 percent of the vote. He vanquished his closest rival, former president Jorge Quiroga (the favorite of international capital) by a margin of more than 20 percentage points. Morales openly opposes neoliberalism and U.S. coca eradication policies, insists on national control of Bolivia’s natural gas and other natural resources, and promises to aid those at the bottom of the society. Bolivia is currently the poorest nation in South America, but it has the second largest natural gas reserves on the continent… | more |

Harry Magdoff, August 21, 1913–January 1, 2006

Harry Magdoff, coeditor of Monthly Review since 1969, socialist, and one of the world’s leading economic analysts of capitalism and imperialism, died in his home in Burlington, Vermont on January 1. He was ninety-two years old… | more |

Debunking as Positive Science

Reflections in Honor of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man

The physicist Alan Sokal laid a trap for postmodernists and anti-science scholars on the academic left when he submitted his article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” to Social Text, a left-leaning cultural studies journal. The trap sprang when the journal unwittingly published the article in its 1996 spring/summer issue. The article was intended to parody the type of scholarship that has become common in some sectors of the academy, which substitutes word-play and sophistry for reason and evidence. Sokal purposefully included in his article a variety of false statements, illogical arguments, incomprehensible sentences, and absurd, unsupported assertions, including the claim that there was in effect no real world and all of science was merely a social construction. He submitted the article to test whether the editors of Social Text had any serious intellectual standards. They failed the test, and the scandal that ensued has become legend… | more |

The NAFTA Corridors: Offshoring U.S. Transportation Jobs to Mexico

Capital’s relentless search for cheap labor constantly alters the flow of surface transportation in North America with widespread consequences. The end-of-century deindustrialization of the United States and importation of cheap commodities from the Far East through the West Coast reversed historical east-west transportation patterns and established Los Angeles and Long Beach as the largest ports in the nation. To minimize transportation costs, which for many products are higher than the cost of production, intermodal transportation of containerized imports was developed. Manufactured goods are packed into mobile shipping containers at factories in the Far East and travel by ship, train, and truck to distribution centers and, ultimately, consumer outlets across the United States. Currently, intermodal transportation of cheap imported commodities is the lifeline of the American economy. In 2004, the Port of Los Angeles processed 7.3 million container units and Long Beach handled 5.8 million. These two ports alone accounted for 68 percent of the West Coast total and are, by far, the largest employers in California. U.S. workers, who have seen so many lucrative manufacturing jobs moved overseas, assumed that import transportation and distribution jobs could not be offshored and were, therefore, relatively secure… | more |

Struggle Is a School: The Rise of a Shack Dwellers’ Movement in Durban, South Africa

On November 9, 1993, the African National Congress (ANC) issued a press statement condemning the housing crisis in South Africa as “a matter which falls squarely at the door of the National Party regime and its surrogates.” It went on to describe conditions in the informal settlements as “indecent” and announced that… | more |

Nelson Mandela will be hosting a People’s Forum on Saturday morning in Inanda to hear the views of residents in informal settlements….The ANC calls on all people living in informal settlements to make their voices heard! “Your problems are my problems. Your solution is my solution.” says President Mandela… | more |

The Bread of Conquest

Richard A. Walker, The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California (New York: The New Press, 2004), 382 pages, hardcover $27.95.

The agony and the ecstasy are intertwined in California’s countryside. Artichokes, freestone peaches, and Gravenstein apples are but a few of the vast number of crops grown in the Golden State, which were it a country, would be the sixth leading agricultural exporter in the world. For the workers whose hands create wealth out of nature, the agony has been ever-present, from the bloody repression of the 1913 Wobbly-led Wheatland hop pickers strike to the recent attempt by Southern California grocery workers to hold onto their health care and pensions.… | more |

Planting Seeds

Eve S. Weinbaum, To Move a Mountain: Fighting the Global Economy in Appalachia (New York: The New Press, 2004), 320 pages, hardcover $25.95.

It’s easy to feel discouraged about the state of the left today, especially in the United States. While there are a number of exciting victories to be found, it feels like defeat is much more common. But as Eve Weinbaum argues in To Move a Mountain: Fighting the Global Economy in Appalachia, there is a difference between “successful failure” and “failed failure.” Failure is an integral part of any social movement, so we need to find ways to make some of that failure part of a longer-term organizing project… | more |

January 2006, Volume 57, Number 8

January 2006, Volume 57, Number 8

» Notes from the Editors

The United States is currently engaged in what the media—with no trace of irony—is calling “the national debate on torture.” With the White House adamantly rejecting Senator John McCain’s amendment to ban U.S. use of torture, the morality of torture has suddenly become something that can be openly and respectably “argued.” Not only are certain torture techniques advocated on the grounds of their utility (see for example the November 30, 2005, column “Tortured Logic” by Jonah Goldberg, online editor for the National Review), but the executive branch is presenting arguments in court against releasing the latest photos of torture by U.S. operatives—on the grounds that public viewing of these photos would undermine the war effort. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been visiting European heads of state in early December 2005. Her diplomatic mission: to defend the present U.S. practice of stealing away “terror suspects” and taking them to undisclosed secret prisons in Europe and elsewhere for intensive interrogation and torture. For those seeking a grasp of the full moral and political dimensions of the current U.S. torture regime we strongly recommend the new Monthly Review Press book The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media by Lila Rajiva. Not only does Rajiva expose the reality of U.S. torture of prisoners, she also uncovers the media’s complicity in legitimating such practices… | more |

The New Geopolitics of Empire

Today’s imperial ideology proclaims that the United States is the new city on the hill, the capital of an empire dominating the globe. Yet the U.S. global empire, we are nonetheless told, is not an empire of capital; it has nothing to do with economic imperialism as classically defined by Marxists and others. The question then arises: How is this new imperial age conceived by those promoting it?… | more |

What Will We Do?: The Destruction of Occupational Identities in the ‘Knowledge-Based Economy’

Faced with the difficulty of “placing” a stranger, the most common opening gambit is to ask, “What do you do?” Except perhaps in a few small hunter-gatherer tribes, a person’s occupation is one of the most important delineators of social identity. In many European cultures this is reflected in family names. People called Schmidt, Smith, Herrero, or Lefebvre, for instance, had ancestors who were iron workers. Wainwrights and Wagners are descended from wagon makers, and so on with the Mullers (Millers), Boulangers (Bakers), Guerreros (soldiers), and all the myriad Potters, Butchers, Carters, Coopers, Carpenters, Fishers, Shepherds, and Cooks whose names can be found in any North American phone book… | more |

What Was the Matter with Ohio?: Unions and Evangelicals in the Rust Belt

It was a fittingly ironic end to an election full of grotesque twists: When George W. Bush was narrowly reelected president of the United States, it was the electoral votes of the state he had harmed most that gave him the final nudge across the finish line. Ohio went for the second election in a row to the Republican clown prince. But if the first Bush victory was tragedy, the one in 2004 was surely farce: has world history ever turned before on the artful elevation of gay bashing to an electoral tactic?… | more |

Heroes & Villains in the Cold War Battle for the United Electrical Workers

John Hoerr, Harry, Tom, and Father Rice: Accusation and Betrayal in America’s Cold War (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), 344 pages, cloth $29.95.

The image still haunts me: a man in his thirties, eyes glassy, blood streaming from a head wound. A foot soldier in the domestic Cold War, this union stalwart had been beaten by anticommunist thugs who imagined that changing unions in the Westinghouse Electric plant in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would be a blow against Stalin. Mistaking assault on a volunteer organizer for damage to a Soviet leader is just the kind of tragically stupid error one might expect in a period generally befuddled by fear. Fifty-five years later, confusion as to the meaning of these events continues to hang over the era like an early-morning fog… | more |

Lost and Found: The Italian-American Radical Experience

Philip V. Cannistraro and Gerald Meyer, eds., The Lost World of Italian-American Radicalism: Politics, Labor, and Culture (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2003), 346 pages, cloth $79.95, paper $29.95.

When, almost ten years ago, I came from Italy to study in New York I was shocked by the discrepancy between Italian-American and Italian politics. To my amazement, I discovered that the left, which has always played, and still plays, an important role in Italian politics, occupies a marginal, if not nonexistent, place in Italian-American political culture. Even worse, I learned that Italian Americans are perceived as a basically conservative group, whose only ties to Italy appear to be the Mafia and food. How did Italian Americans end up identifying themselves, and being identified, with such conservative values and reactionary political forces? Why did their political consciousness diverge so markedly from their Italian counterparts?… | more |