Thursday April 17th, 2014, 12:01 am (EDT)

Social Movements

Social Movements

The Parameters of Resistance

As imperialism spirals out of control, and as the manifestations of its wickedness penetrate every pore of human existence everywhere, the resistance against it also has emerged from every cell of social and political organization, taking many diverse forms that defy easy encapsulation. As the forms of protest and resistance have multiplied, the problem of choosing an appropriate political strategy has become that much more difficult. Is the resistance to be mounted only globally? Are we to fight only licentious finance and the greed of marauding transnational corporations and leave everything else to be settled after that global fight is won? Or are we to fight every little tyranny everywhere—the corruption of municipal officials, the arrogance of party bosses seeking to control local democracy, and the callousness of public hospital authorities? And are we to treat as enemies every political formation that provides succor and comfort to such petty tyrants and overweening bureaucrats? … | more |

‘Let Fury Have the Hour’: The Passionate Politics of Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer, the pioneering punk rock musician, former front man of the Clash, and political activist, died of a rare heart condition at his home in Somerset, Broomfield, England at the age of fifty on December 22, 2002. Barely twenty-five years earlier the Clash burst onto the London music scene to become one of the great rebel rock bands of all time-fusing a mélange of musical styles, with riotous live performances, and left-wing political activism, that inspires many to this day… | more |

Back to the Motherland: Cuba in Africa

Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959–1976 (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 576 pages, cloth $34.95, paper $24.95.

Angola is by most accounts a decimated, nearly hopeless land, ruined by more than three decades of war. But there was a moment in the mid-seventies when this former Portuguese colony shone as a beacon of hope for all Africa. It was here that the mythic power of white military supremacy was smashed by black troops from Angola and Cuba. And though the role of Cuban volunteers in this victory inspired Africans and left internationals everywhere, the details of the story have remained largely hidden and even in Cuba, uncelebrated… | more |

‘I Am in the Midst of a Genocide’: E-Mails from Gaza

I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what’s going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me—Ali—or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me, “Kaif Sharon?” “Kaif Bush?” and they laugh when I say, “Bush majnoon,” “Sharon majnoon” back in my limited Arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is crazy. Sharon is crazy.) Of course this isn’t quite what I believe, and some of the adults who have the English correct me: “Bush mish majnoon”—Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say, “Bush is a tool,” but I don’t think it translated quite right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware of the workings of the global power structure than I was just a few years ago… | more |

Dispatches from Durban

Eric Mann, Dispatches from Durban: Firsthand Commentaries on the World Conference Against Racism and Post-September 11 Movement Strategies (Los Angeles: Frontline Press, 2002) 245 pages, $14.95, paper.

It was as if someone pushed a giant delete button. The United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), held August–September 2001, was one of the most important conferences and social mobilizations to take place in years. Voices from the global South decried the continued presence of racism and xenophobia. Thousands of people assembled in Durban, South Africa with great symbolic importance after the successful anti-apartheid struggle… | more |

‘Unacknowledged Legislators’: Poets Protest the War

Earlier this year, Sam Hamill, poet and co-founder of the prestigious literary publisher, Copper Canyon Press, was invited to a White House literary symposium. Incensed by President Bush’s war plans, Hamill wrote in an open letter to his colleagues “I believe the only legitimate response to such a morally bankrupt and unconscionable idea is to reconstitute a Poets Against the War movement like the one organized to speak out against the war in Vietnam.” He asked “every poet to speak up for the conscience of our country and lend his or her name to our petition against this war.” The response was extraordinary. By March 1, when poetsagainstthewar.org, the web site Hamill and friends set up to receive poems, stopped accepting submissions, more than 12,000 poems had been posted. On March 5, a day of global anti-war poetry readings, the poems were presented to Congress by Pulitzer prize winner and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets W. S. Merwin, Pulitzer prize winner Jorie Graham, and author and poet Terry Tempest Williams, as well as Hamill… | more |

Land and Identity in Mexico: PeasantsStop an Airport

In a three-week period in the summer of 2002, national and international attention was drawn to a fast and furious clash between forces unleashed by the globalized world economy and peasants in a small village within the larger Mexico City urban area. The Mexican federal government attempted to expropriate the peasants’ land to make way for a sorely needed new international airport. The existing airport, with only two runways, was clearly inadequate. A new airport with six runways would bring the country’s air transport infrastructure up to modern standards, a necessity for any country seeking to be competitive in the global economy. The peasants balked at selling their land and in the end they prevailed, seemingly against all odds… | more |

LULA WON!

Many friends have written to me since the victory of “Lula” da Silva, elected as Brazil’s president. I thank you all. We need your good wishes, and especially we need your continuing vital opposition to the U.S. government’s aggression… | more |

Neoliberalism and Resistance in South Africa

An aspect of the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa was inadvertently captured at the opening of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting held at the International Convention Centre in Durban, in June 2002, as the police arrived with a massive show of force and drove protesters away from the building with batons and charging horses. One of the organizers of the WEF was approached by an incred- ulous member of the foreign media and asked about the right to protest in the “new South Africa.” The organizer pulled out the program and, with a wry smile, pointed to an upcoming session entitled “Taking NEPAD to the People.” He said he could not understand the protests because the “people” have been accommodated.… | more |

Don’t Mourn, Organize

Joe Hill's Children

Where were you during the “Battle of Seattle” in late November 1999? Due to my teaching schedule, I wasn’t able to be there, but like many other activists young and old around the world who weren’t there, I was thrilled, jumping with joy in front of my television watching CSPAN while listening to KPFA-Pacifica reporters on the ground, running to my computer to look up the latest IndyMedia news. I knew for sure that nothing would ever be the same. Not even the events of September 11, and their fascistic fallout have shaken that certainty. However, since September 11, I have felt the need for some evidence and encouragement, and I found it in From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization, a collection of compulsively readable analyses, first person stories, and interviews of forty-one activists brilliantly edited and introduced by Benjamin Shepard and Ronald Hayduk… | more |

Counter–Intelligent

The Surveillance and Indictment of Lynne Stewart

On June 14, 2000, radical attorney Lynne Stewart broke a signed agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. She released a press statement to the Reuters news service in Cairo on behalf of her imprisoned client, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted of instigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The statement said, in part, that the Sheikh, spiritual advisor to the fundamentalist Islamic Group [IG], wished to call off a cease-fire then observed in Egypt by the IG. Following this press release, the Clinton Justice Department admonished Stewart for violating the Special Administrative Measures [SAMs], which prohibited the Sheikh from communicating in any way with the outside world. Stewart admitted she had erred and signed the SAMs agreement again, assuming her work would proceed as usual… | more |

October 2002, Volume 54, Number 5

October 2002, Volume 54, Number 5

» Notes from the Editors

In late August and early September a number of MR and Socialist Register authors (including Patrick Bond, John Bellamy Foster, Gerard Greenfield, Naomi Klein, and John Saul) participated in forums in Johannesburg related to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. On August 24, they joined in a march led by antiprivatization activists from the black townships (in particular by Trevor Ngwane and Virginia Setshedi—whose role in the struggle in South Africa is discussed in Ashwin Desai’s new MR Press book, We Are the Poors). The march was organized to protest the arrest and jailing of political activists. The marchers lit candles and proceeded peacefully but were met within minutes by the South African police who exploded percussion grenades, injuring three of the protestors. The harsh and unprovoked actions of the police on this occasion pointed to the increasingly antipopular character of the South African state, which is imposing neoliberal economic policy on the society. It also underscored the repressive measures now commonly utilized at world summits in general. We will address the Johannesburg summit and the economic and environmental problems of southern Africa in an upcoming issue of MR… | more |

Creating a Just Society

Lessons from Planning in the U.S.S.R. & the U.S.

In early July 2002, I asked Harry Magdoff if he would be interviewed for the Statesman, a Kolkata, India newspaper for which I write political commentary. Our first interview was so satisfying that we continued for several sessions. What follows is a discussion of something Harry has considered, what we can learn from the experience of the Soviet Union. It is, characteristically, concerned with learning from history. Harry is methodologically committed to the actual world from which all theory springs, to which it must speak, and to meet whose specific particularities it must continually be reshaped.… | more |

Feminist Consciousness After the Women’s Movement

There is no longer an organized feminist movement in the United States that influences the lives and actions of millions of women and engages their political support. There are many organizations, ranging from the National Organization for Women to women’s caucuses in labor unions and professional groups, which fight for women’s rights, and there are many more organizations, many of them including men as well as women, whose priorities include women’s issues. But the mass women’s movement of the late sixties, seventies, and early eighties no longer exists. Few, among the many women who regard themselves as feminists, have anything to do with feminist organizations other than reading about them in the newspapers. Young women who are drawn to political activism do not, for the most part, join women’s groups. They are much more likely to join anticorporate, antiglobalization, or social justice groups. These young women are likely to regard themselves as feminists, and in the groups that they join a feminist perspective is likely to affect the way in which issues are defined and addressed. But this is not the same thing as a mass movement of women for gender equality. A similar dynamic has taken place in other circles as well. There are now very large numbers of women who identify with feminism, or, if they are reluctant to adopt that label, nevertheless expect to be treated as the equals of men. And there are large numbers of men who support this view… | more |

A Student-Worker Alliance is Born

Liza Featherstone and United Students Against Sweatshops, Students Against Sweatshops (London and New York: Verso, 2002), 119 pages, paper $15.00.

Not long ago, the conventional wisdom was that capitalism was so completely triumphant that we were at the “end of history.” So strong and seemingly obvious was this view that many progressives embraced it. People’s imaginations shrunk and only the smallest and most local kinds of change appeared possible… | more |

A View from New Mexico

Recollections of the Movimiento Left

If ever there has been a chapter of the U.S. left with deep cultural roots in every sense, it is the movimiento of New Mexico… | more |

A Remarkable Journey

Doris Haddock (with Dennis Burke), Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year(New York: Villard Books, 2001), 285 pages, $21.95, hardcover.

Doris Haddock is a retired shoe factory worker and a member of the Episcopal Church in Dublin, New Hampshire, where her grandmother came in the nineteenth century to work in a textile mill. Doris married young, raised a family, and has twelve great-grandchildren… | 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 |

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 |

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 |