Adrienne Rich is the author of more than sixteen volumes of poetry and four nonfiction prose books. She is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the 1999 Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
During November 13–14, 2006, I participated in an “International Conference on Ownership & Property Rights: Theory & Practice,” in Beijing. This was not just an academic conference, it was related to a sharp debate taking place in China at that time over a proposed new law on property rights.1 Although none of the presentations at the conference made any direct reference to the proposed new law, everyone knew that it was the subtext of the conference debate
At the end of May the Bush administration announced that the United States is planning on maintaining permanent military bases in Iraq on a model like that of South Korea, where U.S. troops have been deployed in massive numbers for more than fifty years. Despite the failures associated with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Washington is openly proclaiming to the world that it intends to do everything it can to maintain a lasting military presence in that country. By doing so it hopes to retain the main spoils won in the war and to declare it a partial victory. The strategic objectives are obvious: to control Iraq and Iraqi oil, threaten Iran, and dominate the geopolitically vital Middle East. Thus Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declared on May 31 that he did not expect the United States to withdraw from Iraq as from Vietnam “lock, stock and barrel” and invoked the example of South Korea. Earlier that week White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, conveying the views of President Bush, said U.S. troops would remain but would be in an “over-the-horizon support” role to maintain security in Iraq—with permanent bases on the South Korean model. Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, in charge of daily military operations in Iraq, stated on May 31 that he supported the creation of a South Korean type U.S. military presence in Iraq. The message could not be clearer and can be summed up as: Naked Imperialism: The U.S. Pursuit of Global Dominance (see John Bellamy Foster’s book with this title for an analysis of the larger forces at work).
The revolt against U.S. hegemony in Latin America in the opening years of the twenty-first century constitutes nothing less than a new historical moment. Latin America, to quote Noam Chomsky, is “reasserting its independence” in an attempt to free itself from centuries of imperialist domination. The gravity of this threat to U.S. power is increasingly drawing the attention of Washington. Julia Sweig, Latin American program director at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the twenty-first century is likely to be known as the “Anti-American Century,” marking a growing intolerance of the “waning” U.S. empire. Outweighing even the resistance to the U.S. war machine in Iraq in this respect, Sweig suggests, is the political realignment to the left in Latin America, which, in destabilizing U.S. rule in the Americas, offers a “prophetic microcosm” of what can be expected worldwide.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the political and economic system it headed brought about an excessive euphoria that caused many — both on the right and within a “left” subordinated to that failed project — to believe in the final and definitive triumph of capitalism. So much was said about the fall of the Berlin Wall that few realized that at the same time the Caracazo was taking place
The Mexican general elections of July 2006 produced an official result that some felt was “very typical of advanced democracies.” But this result defied Mexican political experience, resulting in a major legitimacy crisis. With over forty million voters turning out this time, the proclaimed winner of the presidency was Felipe Calderón, the rightwing National Action Party (PAN) candidate, who in the official count beat the center-left candidate of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), Andrés Manuel López Obrador, by 0.58 percent. Calderón took 35.89 percent of the vote while Obrador took 35.31 percent
In the last five years, millions of people have taken to the streets in Mexico challenging the political system and economic policies. In Atenco, in the state of Mexico, the population prevented the construction of the new Mexico City airport in 2002. Atenco became a center of resistance which has supported numerous struggles. Over a million people participated in protests in the year 2005, when the right-wing government of Vicente Fox attempted to eliminate Andrés Manuel López Obrador from the presidential elections of 2006 by way of a “legal” maneuver. More than two million protested against the election fraud with which Fox’s government imposed the presidency of Felipe Calderón. Thousands of citizens of Oaxaca rebelled against the corrupt and oppressive state government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. Despite assassinations, disappearances, beastly abuse, and imprisonment, the protest, which began in May of 2006, continued until April of 2007. In retaliation for the events of 2006, the federal police repressed hundreds of protesters and arrested dozens of people. They broke into homes without warrants, and raped women
Fair wages, a fair day’s work! Through their struggles within capitalism, it has often been possible for workers and citizens to secure themselves some share of the benefits of social labor. Capitalist globalization and the offensive of neoliberal state policies, however, have encroached upon all those gains from past struggles; and the answer to those who were surprised to find those victories ephemeral was the mantra of TINA — there is no alternative
In the summer of 2005 Venezuela commemorated the bicentenary of Simón Bolívar’s oath, made in the presence of his great teacher, Simón Rodríguez—a man who later in Paris, well before Marx, frequented socialist secret societies and returned to South America only in 1823. Bolívar’s oath took place on August 15, 1805, on the outskirts of Rome. Already the place itself—the hill of Monte Sacro—which they had chosen together for this solemn occasion, was indicative of the nature of the young Bolívar’s historical pledge. For precisely on the hill of Monte Sacro, twenty-three centuries earlier, the rebellious protest of the plebeians against the patricians in Ancient Rome, under the leadership of Sicinio, was supposed to have taken place. At that time the rebellion of the Roman populace is said to have been brought to an end by the rhetoric of that notorious pillar of the established order, Senator Menenius Agrippa, who was preaching the forever familiar wisdom of the ruling classes according to which the people “not destined to rule” should willingly accept “their place in the natural order of society.”
What has been left out of reports and analysis in both the mainstream press and among anti-imperialists and leftists about the triumph of Evo Morales’s election as president of Bolivia is the role played by the over three-decade-long international indigenous movement that preceded it. Few are even aware of that powerful and remarkable historic movement, which springs from generations of grassroots organizing
After five hundred years of domination and colonialism, more than fifty years since the introduction of universal suffrage, and following five years of intense social struggle, the indigenous majority of Bolivia, for the first time in December 2005, elected one of their own as president — the coca grower leader and head of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) Evo Morales. The victory — winning more than 50 percent of the vote — was more than an indication of the rejection of twenty years of neoliberal rule. Peruvian activist Hugo Blanco summed up the significance of this event when he wrote, “the new president is not the result of a simple ‘democratic election’ like the many that frequently occur in our countries, it is an important step in the path of the organized Bolivian people in their struggle to take power into their own hands.”
Nearly six years since Argentina’s worst economic crisis in 2001, both the level of popular participation in struggles and the breadth of the political spectrum have been radically transformed. There has been a resurgence of struggle inside the workplace and Argentina’s working class has turned to its historical tools for liberation: direct democracy, the strike, sabotage, and the factory takeover. Labor struggles in public hospitals, public universities, the bank sector, recuperated enterprises, and the Buenos Aires subway have resulted in new visions and victories for the country’s working class
In May 1968, I received a call in San Francisco where I worked for the local public television station. From Havana, Dr. Rene Vallejo, Fidel Castro’s doctor and confidante, said: “Come down with your crew as soon as you can.” In other words, Castro was ready to cooperate on a film portrait for public television. We arrived shortly thereafter and waited for seven weeks. What follows is a diary and commentary about the jeep trip with Fidel through Oriente Province in July 1968
In January 2007 the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre of the UK Ministry of Defence published a ninety-page report, entitled Global Strategic Trends, 2007–2036, highlighting a wide array of potential dangers to the prevailing order over the next thirty years. The report is organized around three “Ring Road Issues”: (1) climate change, (2) globalization, and (3) global inequality (p. xiii). Global warming and the possibility of abrupt climate change, together with the end of “the golden age of cheap energy,” are seen as placing increasing strains on populations throughout the planet (p. 31). The globalization of the world economy, embodying “particularly ruthless laws of supply and demand,” is viewed as creating new interdependencies, contradictions, and conflicts. Expanding global inequality, the UK Ministry of Defence insists, could lead to “a resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies . . . but also to populism and the revival of Marxism” (p. 3)
egrettably, there are all too many candidates that qualify as imminent and very serious crises. Several should be high on everyone’s agenda of concern, because they pose literal threats to human survival: the increasing likelihood of a terminal nuclear war, and environmental disaster, which may not be too far removed. However, I would like to focus on narrower issues, those that are of greatest concern in the West right now. I will be speaking primarily of the United States, which I know best, and it is the most important case because of its enormous power. But as far as I can ascertain, Europe is not very different