Thursday April 17th, 2014, 8:21 pm (EDT)

Social Movements

Social Movements

Socialist Strategies in Latin America

The Latin American left is once again discussing the paths to socialism. The correlation of forces has changed through popular action, the crisis of neoliberalism, and U.S. imperialism’s loss of offensive capability. It is no longer relevant to juxtapose a revolutionary political period of the past with a conservative present. The social weakness of the industrial working class does not impede anti-capitalist progress, which depends on the exploited and the oppressed uniting in common struggle… | more |

Director’s Notes

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… | more |

The Latin American Revolt: An Introduction

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… | more |

ALBA: A New Dawn for Latin America

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… | more |

Mexico after the Elections: The Crisis of Legitimacy & the Exhaustion of Predatory Neoliberalism

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… | more |

Oaxaca: Rebellion against Marginalization, Extreme Poverty, and Abuse of Power

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… | more |

Venezuela: A Good Example of the Bad Left of Latin America

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… | more |

Bolívar and Chávez: The Spirit of Radical Determination

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.”… | more |

Indigenous Peoples and the Left in Latin America

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… | more |

The Struggle for Bolivia’s Future

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.”… | more |

Workers’ Power in Argentina: Reinventing Working Culture

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… | more |

Filming Fidel: A Cuban Diary, 1968

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… | more |

Drop Charges, Release Dr. Binayak Sen Forthwith

We, the undersigned, are dismayed at the continued detention of Dr Binayak Sen, General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), since May 14. Dr Binayak Sen is also the National Vice-President of the PUCL, one of the oldest civil liberties organisations in India … | more |

With Thanks to Hans Koning

Hans Koning died April 13 in his Connecticut home at the age of eighty-five. Monthly Review Press had the distinction of publishing three of his books. One of them, still a classic in many high schools, was Columbus: His Enterprise — Exploding the Myth, the first trade book to challenge the U.S. origin myth. That myth says that this nation was founded by brave white men fleeing oppression — not by genocide, enslaved labor, and imperialist expansion. Originally published in 1976, the U.S. Bicentennial year, it was reprinted in 1992, the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s voyage, when it sold 30,000 copies. MR Press also published The Conquest of America: How the Indian Nations Lost Their Continent (1993)… | more |

The Left Opposition in Germany: Why Is the Left So Weak When So Many Look for Political Alternatives?

The Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) is experiencing right now what the Social-Democratic Party (SPD) had to learn after the accession to power of a Red-Green Coalition in 1998: People’s parties are elected because they promise to reconcile the interests of businesses, working people, and the receivers of any sort of social assistance. They lose approval if they pursue policies that one-sidedly benefit the corporate sector. Although cabinet ministers occasionally bemoan the exorbitant salaries received by top managers and the unpatriotic behavior of a company that decides to relocate, most voters do not fail to notice that such company policies are encouraged by a politically driven redistribution of income in favor of profits. People who expected more socially oriented policies from the CDU are turning away from that party, but only some are turning toward the SPD. The latter gained somewhat in recent polls and was able to win state elections in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but it still is nowhere near its former approval rates. Moreover, the relative distribution of votes hides the absolute decline in voter turnout… | more |

The Nepali Revolution and International Relations

A revolutionary civil war in Nepal ceased de facto with the popular triumph over King Gyanendra in April 2006, and de jure with the peace agreement reached in November 2006. The Royal Nepal Army (“RNA”) now calls itself the Nepal Army, and the peace agreement requires its democratization under the authority of the new government that includes the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). As of the date of writing this has not yet occurred and the Nepal Army is still commanded by those, primarily of the quite literally feudal elite, who — with U. S. “advisers” — had pursued the civil war with lawless brutality and impunity. Yet it is important not to underestimate the extent of the revolutionary changes in Nepal. Today both Nepal Army and the revolutionary armed forces (the People’s Liberation Army or “PLA”) are given in substance equal status under a peace agreement negotiated by the Nepalis themselves, and administered with the assistance of the United Nations.… | more |

Rank-and-File Rebellions in the Coalfields, 1964–80

Rank-and-file rebellions began rumbling in the coalfields from Pittsburgh and down the Ohio River after 1964, when dissident miners first challenged incumbents in international and district United Mine Workers (UMW) elections. Concern and anger also seethed through the coalfields of southern West Virginia during those years, particularly over black lung, a painful and often-fatal occupational disease. Doctors Isadore E. Buff and Donald Rasmussen helped spark those rumblings with speeches in union halls, schools, and churches… | more |

Sensing Annie Sullivan

Denise Bergman, Seeing Annie Sullivan (San Diego: Cedar Hill Books, 2005), 100 pages, paperback, $15.00.

The part of the story that is well known is that, at the age of twenty and freshly graduated from the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, Annie Sullivan traveled to Tuscumbia, Alabama to become the teacher to the blind wild child Helen Keller. Through persistence, patience, and tough love Sullivan finally broke through to where Keller connected words and objects and entered the realm of language. Inseparable until death, anticapitalist and antiwar Sullivan and self-identified socialist Keller worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the issues facing blind people. Yet, the image and legacy of Keller greatly overshadows that of her teacher. Despite Keller’s attempt to direct attention to Sullivan in her book, Teacher, Sullivan’s pre-Keller life remains largely shrouded… | more |

A Son’s Reflections

Harry died in the early hours of January 1, 2006, at our house in Burlington, Vermont, where he had lived for three and a half years. As he died, I laid on the big double bed facing him and held his arms, with my wife, his caregiver, and his good friends Gladys and Percy Brazil there too. Talking with them after he died I reflected on how it had been an honor to have Harry live with Amy and me since my mother Beadie had died and to help him get the most out of his final years. It was also fun and intellectually stimulating, although sometimes a challenge because of my health problems and our work schedules… | more |

The Optimism of the Heart

The following intellectual biography of Harry Magdoff is a slightly revised and expanded version of a piece that was posted on MRzine a few days after Harry’s death on January 1, 2006. It evolved out of an earlier biography I wrote for the Biographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists in 2000. Since the aim of this biography was to present the basic facts of Harry’s intellectual career, personal feelings and observations were largely excluded. A brief word on Harry’s character and the warm emotions he engendered within those who knew him therefore seems essential here… | more |