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Correspondence

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…

Post-Apartheid South Africa

Reply to John S. Saul

John Saul has had an extensive and committed involvement with Southern Africa. His analyses are taken seriously in left circles in South Africa. Sadly, perhaps understandably, his most recent extended visit to this country has left him feeling deeply disappointed (“Cry for the Beloved Country: The Post-Apartheid Denouement,” Monthly Review 52, no. 8, January 2001, pp. 1–51). This sense of disappointment is rooted, I would guess, partly in the intellectual, organizational and even emotional energies that Saul, like many others, invested in the solidarity struggle against apartheid, and in legitimate expectations for a post-apartheid South Africa. There is also, and I want to underline my own empathy with his irritation on this score, a hint of personal hurt: “The most startling thing I personally discovered about the New South Africa is just how easy it has become to find oneself considered an ultraleftist!” (p. 1) This sense of disappointment, even of betrayal, is also present in many progressive circles within South Africa, and indeed among many cadres of our movement. Despite all of this there is, I believe, something seriously off-beam in Saul’s analysis | more…

Starting from Scratch?

A Reply to Jeremy Cronin

It is interesting that, on one of the two main fronts of inquiry opened up in my original essay, Jeremy Cronin professes—despite the wounded tone he adopts throughout and for all his talk about my “frozen penultimates,” “sneers,” and “derision”—to be in considerable agreement with me. This concerns my reading of the overall trajectory of socioeconomic policy that the African National Congress (ANC) government has adopted since 1994. As he puts the point, “Saul goes on to argue that the ANC liberation front has erred seriously on two critical fronts—the choice of economic policies, and the relative demobilization of our mass constituency (except during electoral campaigns). I agree with Saul on both counts.” Indeed, he adds, “I agree substantially with the broad analysis of the last twelve years or so in South Africa that Saul makes in his pessimism of the intellect mode,” including, it would appear, my criticisms of the “government’s macroeconomic policy (the Growth Employment and Redistribution framework—GEAR), privatization policies, excessive liberalization measures, the failure to mobilize our mass base, or concerns about the growing bureaucratization and the influence of an emerging black bourgeois stratum on policy”  | more…

Response to Acker and Eisenstein

Barbara Epstein’s answer to “What Happened to the Women’s Movement?” (Monthly Review, May 2001) explains much of the decline of the intense, exciting, radical and socialist feminist organizing of the 1960s and 1970s, with its visions of societal transformation and women’s emancipation. However, I think that she underemphasizes, or even ignores, some important parts of a comprehensive answer. These have to do with the daunting reality facing revolutionary visions, the strength of opposition to women’s equality with men, and changes in economic and political relations that now seem to require new visions and ways of organizing | more…

The Broader Picture

I take it as given that in publishing this piece Barbara Epstein sought to stir up controversy. I take it also that her effort seeks to revive feminism, rather than to bury it. And I agree with her notion that the situation of the women’s movement should be a subject for critical analysis. But I am surprised that such an acute observer of social movements should paint a picture so isolated from the larger political and economic context. In this response I will try to add some pieces of the broader picture. | more…

Response to Acker and Eisenstein

I’m very pleased that Joan Acker and Hester Eisenstein have responded to my article. Since the questions that they raise overlap, I will address their responses together. I think that the questions they have raised are important for a discussion not only of the current state of the women’s movement, but more broadly, of the current state of progressive politics in the United States. I want to thank them for having taken the discussion that I started further | more…

We Make the Road by Walking

Lessons from the Zapatista Caravan

Imagine Times Square filled with more than a hundred thousand people of all ages and backgrounds. Some have climbed telephone poles, others have reserved spaces on balconies. Imagine them waiting there together, peacefully, not to see the ball drop on New Years Eve, but to listen to the words of poor black women from West Virginia talking about the need for dignity and respect for poor people of all colors. Imagine Columbus, Ohio (the rough geopolitical equivalent of Iguala, Morelos in Mexico), the whole town decorated in colorful murals, posters, and flags welcoming the rural poor. Impossible? Okay, let’s say 50,000 in Times Square. Let’s say Detroit instead of Columbus. It’s still a stretch. We’re not even close. To appreciate the recent Zapatista march from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas to the plaza at the heart of Mexico City—a caravan that drew over 1,500 participants, 100,000 supporters along the way, and over another 100,000 who braved the scorching sun to welcome the Zapatistas on their arrival in the capital—you have to acknowledge the uniqueness of this event, which has no easy parallels in either U.S. or Mexican history | more…

California’s Electrical Crisis and Conservation

Your March 2001 Notes from the Editors convincingly explains the failure of the deregulation of the electric industry to protect residential ratepayers, and the excessive profits garnered by electricity generators. However, you omitted the environmental dimension, which is like analyzing the economics of the tobacco industry without mentioning the health impact | more…

Reply to Khalil Hassan

Khalil Hassan’s contribution to your July/August 2000 issue (“The Future of the Labor Left”) attempts to categorize leftwing union activists based on their past or present relationship to “the labor bureaucracy ” | more…

James Galbraith, Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin

In the early summer of 1999, libertarian John Stossel from ABC Television interviewed me at length on my views of unemployment and inequality in Europe and the United States. In the end, only a tiny video bite aired. In it, I stated that I did think Europeans might learn something from recent U.S. experience. Stossel portrayed this as a conversion to his own free-market views. It was a gross misinterpretation of the views I actually hold, as was quickly pointed out by the advocacy group FAIR, and eventually also in a story on Stossel by Brill’s Content early this year  | more…