The first third of 2008 should have been a wake-up call to those who, in the short-lived days of capitalist triumphalism, were inclined to lose sight of the immediacy of the internal contradictions of capitalism and of the resistance that the system continuously regenerates. The enormous extent of today’s combined world food-and-economic crisis is now patently obvious. Anti-imperialist and anticapitalist initiatives are once again mushrooming around the globe.
Volume 60, Issue 02 (June)
I am certain that, like many people these days, the first thing on your mind is the question of the referendum on reform of the Bolivarian Constitution — what the defeat means and where do we go from here. What I want to talk about today is not on that topic specifically, but it is related.
In trying to comprehend the virus of Islamophobia now infecting Europe, the small country of Denmark offers powerful insights. Shakespeare’s phrase that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” seems appropriate to describe the transformation taking place in this former bastion of tolerance and conviviality.
Crowded on the beaches were the inductees, some twenty million silent black men, women, and children, including babes in arms. As the sun rose, the Space Traders directed them, first, to strip off all but a single undergarment; then, to line up; and finally, to enter those holds which yawned in the morning light like Milton’s “darkness visible.” The inductees looked fearfully behind them. But, on the dunes above the beaches, guns at the ready, stood U.S. guards. There was no escape, no alternative. Heads bowed, arms now linked by slender chains, black people left the New World as their forbears had arrived.
Since ancient times, people have dreamed of a City of Youth, where the population never ages, and where any outsider who comes to live there will remain forever young. They probably did not have in mind, however, the “agelessness” of today’s Shenzhen, China. Lying just over the border from Hong Kong, this “instant city” has grown in just over twenty-five years from a small fishing village to a sprawling metropolitan region approaching ten million people. As the first Special Economic Zone in China, it was a model for the capitalistic “market reforms” and “opening to the world” initiated in the late 1970s by Deng Xiaoping. One of its most striking aspects is the low average age of its residents, which has hovered for years at around twenty-seven. This stands in ever sharper contrast to China as a whole, where the population is rapidly aging.
Andre Gunder Frank’s very long itinerary as a critical social scientist was marked by one unbudgeable constant. He was always committed to a left political agenda, and he was always analyzing the evolving current world situation as a left scholar-activist. I believe that the best tribute I can offer him is to do the same. Gunder’s father, Leonhard Frank, a distinguished novelist and man of letters, wrote toward the end of his life a novel based on his own life. Its title was Links, wo das Herz ist (“My Heart Is on the Left”). This would have been the most appropriate title for Gunder’s own never-written autobiography.
The poet, dramatist, and politician, Aimé Césaire, who died on April 17, aged ninety-four, saw this work, indeed all his work, as a weapon, perhaps best exemplified in Une Tempète. In his introduction to it, Robin G. D. Kelley, wrote “the weapon of poetry may be Césaire’s greatest gift to a world still searching for freedom.”