[In my] examination of struggle…from the side of workers.… I constantly came back to the Marxist concept of revolutionary practice, that simultaneous changing of circumstance and human activity or self-change—how people transform themselves through their struggles. But not only through struggles; they produce themselves through their daily activity. People are formed by what they do. So, for example, a person who is a wage laborer under capitalism is produced and produces himself in a certain way, as a person who is alienated, as a person who simply wants to consume because of the emptiness of capitalist production. We always have to ask the question, “what kinds of people are produced under particular relations of production?” What kinds of people are produced in an exchange relationship, which is “I will do this for you, if you do that for me” as opposed to functioning in a communal society in which people act in solidarity? You produce certain kinds of people under those conditions.
Civil rights lawyer Jeffrey Haas, a founder, in 1969, of Chicago’s People’s Law Office, has written one of the top books of the year: The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2009). The story could not be more worth telling. Police response to the 1960s upsurge of the black community was immediate and brutal, especially after the growth of a mass student and youth movement opposed to the Vietnam War. The FBI, as the leading U.S. secret police force, engaged in a nationwide campaign of provocation, infiltration, and assassination, code named the Counterintelligence Program, or “COINTELPRO.” The resulting murders, on December 4, 1969, of charismatic, twenty-one-year-old Chicago Black Panther state chairman Fred Hampton and twenty-two-year-old Black Panther Mark Clark were a pivotal event in the suppression of militant black resistance and the emergence of today’s U.S. police/prison state. The gradual collapse of the Nixon presidency and public outcry against White House-ordered burglaries opened a window permitting the exposure of secret police crimes, including the Hampton assassination. Jeffrey Haas and his partners at the People’s Law Office made good use of this opportunity through determined and creative litigation, and uncovered the story recounted in his book. But the window was slammed shut in succeeding years, and was finally removed entirely—to be replaced by the blank prison wall of the USA Patriot Act. Hampton’s story is no longer primarily a U.S. concern, but one that affects everyone in the world. It is the story of the path to Abu Ghraib. We interviewed Jeffrey Haas in late September 2009.
Eduardo Galeano, who was born in Uruguay in 1940, has written big, thick books. Open Veins of Latin America (1973), which Hugo Chávez of Venezuela handed to Barack Obama in May, hoping it would teach him history, is more than 300 pages. Then there’s Galeano’s Memory of Fire Trilogy: Genesis, Faces & Masks, and Century of the Wind that adds up to nearly 1,000 pages. More recently, he has written shorter books, and practiced a kind of ecology of the word. Mirrors, his newest work, contains more than one hundred short entries about almost everything — from salt to maps and money, and almost everyone, from Cleopatra to Alexander Hamilton and Che Guevara. None of the entries is longer than a single page. Not surprisingly, Galeano’s answers to the questions in this interview are pithy, poetic, humorous, and sometimes oblique. “I’m fighting word inflation, which in Latin America is worse than monetary inflation,” he says. “I try to say more with less — because less is more.” -J.R.
Noam Chomsky is an Institute Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His most recent books are Interventions (City Lights, 2007), Failed States (Metropolitan Books, 2007), and Inside Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky (Monthly Review Press, 2007). Gabriel Matthew Schivone is an editor of Days Beyond Recall: Alternative Media and Literary Journal and winner of the 2007 Frederica Hearst Prize for Lyrical Poetry.This article is based on an interview conducted by telephone and e-mail November 27, 2007–February 11, 2008. The interviewer thanks Mary Elizabeth Barnes for help with editing and transcribing this interview…
Pete Seeger is one of the world’s quintessential activists, having played such an important role in singing the songs and engaging in the struggles of civil rights, free speech, human rights, anti-Vietnam War, environmental, peace, anti-nuclear, and social justice movements. (David Kupfer, “Longtime Passing,” Whole Earth Magazine, 104, 2001, p. 19.)
David Barsamian: What are the regional implications of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq?
Noam Chomsky: I think not only the region but the world in general perceives it correctly as a kind of an easy test case to try to establish a norm for use of military force, which was declared in general terms last September. Last September, the National Security Strategy of the United States of America was issued. It presented a somewhat novel and unusually extreme doctrine on the use of force in the world. And it’s hard not to notice that the drumbeat for war in Iraq coincided with that. It also coincided with the onset of the congressional campaign. All these are tied together
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
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.
Evrensel Kultur: Postmodernism’s advice to us was to have doubts towards all kinds of information acquired. The “security syndrome” following September 11 has spread these doubts to daily life. In other words, the twenty-first century has begun as an age of doubts/suspicions. How does the suspiciousness of the new century differ from that of past centuries? If we take “suspicion” as a metaphor, what kind of real relations/connections can be described or hidden with this metaphor?
Doug Henwood, author of Wall Strr£t:How It Works andfur lWIom (Verso, 1997) and publisher and primary author of the newsletter Left Business Observer; is a fre- quent contributor to Munthly Review. Doug was interviewed earlier this year for the San Francisco Ba:y Guardian by another good friend of ours, Christian Parenti-author of 1.JxiuJnam Ameriaz (Verso, 1999), reviewed in last month’s MR At the end of February we asked a few additional questions of Doug. The composite interview follows