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March 2006 (Volume 57, Number 10)

Notes from the Editors

On January 19–23 the African session of the Polycentric World Social Forum— held separately in 2006 in Africa, Asia, and the Americas—took place in Bamako, Mali. On January 18–19 on the eve of the World Social Forum in Mali a group of around eighty antiglobalization political activists and intellectuals, including Marxist economists and organizers, met to conduct sessions independent of the World Social Forum itself, under the auspices of the Third World Forum, the World Forum for Alternatives, and the Forum for Another Mali. Samir Amin, director of the Third World Forum and author of the Review of the Month in this issue of MR was the leading organizer of the pre-WSF gathering, which he referred to as a “Peoples’ Bandung Conference” in honor of the recent fiftieth anniversary of the conference of nonaligned nations in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955 | more…

Sustaining Equality and Justice in the Struggle for Socialism

Every socialist has surely indulged in speculation about an ideal society from time to time. The realities of our own society certainly encourage such flights of fancy. But they should not be considered entirely fanciful: without imaginative thinking, it is quite impossible to see how the world might be changed for the better. Yet without any practical grounding, such exercises cannot take us any nearer to the “realistic utopia” that should be our goal | more…

February 2006 (Volume 57, Number 9)

Notes from the Editors

The victory of Evo Morales, presidential candidate of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), in Bolivia’s December elections was a world-historical event of the first order. Its extent was unexpected, certainly by us. Morales won well over 50 percent of the vote. He vanquished his closest rival, former president Jorge Quiroga (the favorite of international capital) by a margin of more than 20 percentage points. Morales openly opposes neoliberalism and U.S. coca eradication policies, insists on national control of Bolivia’s natural gas and other natural resources, and promises to aid those at the bottom of the society. Bolivia is currently the poorest nation in South America, but it has the second largest natural gas reserves on the continent | more…

Struggle Is a School: The Rise of a Shack Dwellers’ Movement in Durban, South Africa

On November 9, 1993, the African National Congress (ANC) issued a press statement condemning the housing crisis in South Africa as “a matter which falls squarely at the door of the National Party regime and its surrogates.” It went on to describe conditions in the informal settlements as “indecent” and announced that

Nelson Mandela will be hosting a People’s Forum on Saturday morning in Inanda to hear the views of residents in informal settlements….The ANC calls on all people living in informal settlements to make their voices heard! “Your problems are my problems. Your solution is my solution.” says President Mandela | more…

Heroes and Villains in the Cold War Battle for the United Electrical Workers

John Hoerr, Harry, Tom, and Father Rice: Accusation and Betrayal in America’s Cold War (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), 344 pages, cloth $29.95.

The image still haunts me: a man in his thirties, eyes glassy, blood streaming from a head wound. A foot soldier in the domestic Cold War, this union stalwart had been beaten by anticommunist thugs who imagined that changing unions in the Westinghouse Electric plant in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would be a blow against Stalin. Mistaking assault on a volunteer organizer for damage to a Soviet leader is just the kind of tragically stupid error one might expect in a period generally befuddled by fear. Fifty-five years later, confusion as to the meaning of these events continues to hang over the era like an early-morning fog | more…

Lost and Found: The Italian-American Radical Experience

Philip V. Cannistraro and Gerald Meyer, eds., The Lost World of Italian-American Radicalism: Politics, Labor, and Culture (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2003), 346 pages, cloth $79.95, paper $29.95.

When, almost ten years ago, I came from Italy to study in New York I was shocked by the discrepancy between Italian-American and Italian politics. To my amazement, I discovered that the left, which has always played, and still plays, an important role in Italian politics, occupies a marginal, if not nonexistent, place in Italian-American political culture. Even worse, I learned that Italian Americans are perceived as a basically conservative group, whose only ties to Italy appear to be the Mafia and food. How did Italian Americans end up identifying themselves, and being identified, with such conservative values and reactionary political forces? Why did their political consciousness diverge so markedly from their Italian counterparts? | more…

Labor, the State, and the Struggle for a Democratic Zimbabwe

When Zimbabwe attained its first independent government in 1980, led by President Robert Mugabe and liberation fighters of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), there were reasons to hope for a bright future. The new country inherited significant infrastructure from the prior Rhodesian settler regime, including relatively modern transportation and communications systems and an impressive set of import substitution industries. The economy had been built with extensive state support and planning (along with capital controls) to evade UN sanctions. By way of reconciliation, Mugabe sought good relations with local and regional capital, while establishing economic ties to China and East Bloc countries that had supported the liberation struggle. Roughly 100,000 white settlers remained in the country, operating the commanding heights of commerce, finance, industry, mining, and large-scale agriculture, as well as domestic small businesses. The 1980s witnessed rapid growth at first, then droughts, with 5 percent GDP growth when rainy seasons were average or better. Thanks to the construction of thousands of new clinics and schools, indices of health and education showed marked improvement | more…

Nepal—An Overview: Introduction to Parvati

Nepal lies on the south side of a five-hundred-mile-long section, east to west, of the Himalayan mountain range. China (Tibet) is its northern neighbor, and on the east, south, and west Nepal is surrounded by India (Sikkim, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh). Nepal’s width north to south averages about one hundred miles—from the Himalayan ridge and the highest point on earth (Mt. Everest, at 29,035 feet) down to a thin strip of the Gangetic plain (the Terai), where Nepal’s second largest city, Biratnagar, is less than 300 feet above sea level | more…

People’s Power in Nepal

While communications about the military successes of the People’s War in Nepal have been regularly disseminated, little information has been made available at the international level about the achievements of people’s power in the country. This article aims to rectify this situation somewhat by highlighting the emergence of people’s power side-by-side with the progressive dissolution of the old monarchical state (ruling since 1769), with particular reference to achievements made in the Central Command area, which includes the main base area, Rolpa | more…

October 2005 (Volume 57, Number 5)

Notes from the Editors

The much-anticipated split in the AFL-CIO, the labor federation in the United States, took place in Chicago, at the federation’s annual convention. Three unions—the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Teamsters, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW)—left the federation, and more will likely follow. The dissident unions call themselves the Change to Win Coalition, and they have suggested that what they have done parallels the formation of the CIO in 1935, which resulted in the organization of the nation’s mass production industries. They will be holding their inaugural convention in late September | more…