Archive | Commentary

  • Counting the after-math

    People penned to die in our instant concentration camps, just add water, bodies pushed to the side. Thirst hurts worse than hunger. It swells your brain against your skull. it sandpapers your gut from within. But hunger too makes people mad. Shoot the looters who are grabbing from flooded stores survival for hours more. Baby […]

  • Padilla v Hanft: A Very Dangerous Decision

    Today’s decision in Padilla v Hanft is bad news, though exactly how bad it is will depend on what the Supreme Court does with it — and who’s on that court. The long and the short of it is that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of the government to hold even […]

  • “We Went into the Mall and Began ‘Looting'”: A Letter on Race, Class, and Surviving the Hurricane

      [Peter Berkowitz is a long-time Monthly Review subscriber. He was in New Orleans bringing his son Ernesto to begin his freshman year at Loyola when they were caught in the hurricane. Peter and Ernesto spent five days on the street by the Convention Center. Below is a letter Peter sent to his mother upon […]

  • Neoliberalism, the New Social Darwinism, and New Orleans

    Numerous critics have noted the current administration’s lack of effective response to the New Orleans catastrophe and explained it merely in terms of incompetence and callousness. Something more fundamental, deeper than Katrina’s storm surge, is at play here, however. The administration’s “response,” especially regarding the poor (predominantly people of color) who lacked the wherewithal to […]

  • John Wayne and the New Orleans Indians

    “The cavalry is coming!” announced a reporter on the Fox News Channel when National Guardsmen finally trooped into downtown New Orleans on the fourth day of apocalypse. I said to myself, “There they go again, racist Fox News.” I switched channels and found reporters and government officials repeating the same phrase: “The cavalry has arrived.” […]

  • Paul Buhle Seeks SDS Graphics and Memoirs

    Paul Buhle, a distinguished historian, is scripting a graphic history (in comic art form) of Students for a Democratic Society. He welcomes visual contributions to it and also memoirs of SDS experiences. Potential contributors should contact Buhle at . He may be also reached at Department of American Civilization, Box 1892, Brown University, 82 Waterman […]

  • New Orleans Black Community Leaders Charge Racism in Government Neglect of Hurricane Survivors

    A national alliance of black community leaders will announce the formation of a New Orleans People’s Committee to demand a decision-making role in the short-term care of hurricane survivors and long-term rebuilding of New Orleans. Community Labor United (CLU), a New Orleans coalition of labor and community activists, has put out a call to activists […]

  • Labor Day Poses Hard Questions

    It’s impossible to celebrate Labor Day 2005 without asking some hard questions: How organized is “organized” labor? How much of a movement is the labor “movement”? The last six weeks have torn away whatever shreds of clothing the emperor might have been wearing.  We can deny the crisis no longer. In late July at the […]

  • Solidarity for Never? Northwest Mechanics Strike Against Deep Pay Cuts, Outsourcing

    Airline unions have made wave after wave of wage, benefit, and pension concessions since September 2001– often under the gun of bankruptcy threats. Now Northwest Airlines is upping the ante, pushing for a business model that copies non-union airlines like JetBlue and demanding to lay off more than half its maintenance workforce. So when 4,400 […]

  • Keep the “Labor” in Labor Day: Remembering the Lowell Mill Girls

    “In vain do I try to soar in fancy and imagination above the dull reality around me but beyond the roof of the factory I cannot rise.” — anonymous Lowell Mill worker, 1826 Lowell, Massachusetts was named after the wealthy Lowell family. They owned numerous textile mills, which attracted the unmarried daughters of New England […]

  • Britain to World: Shut Up

    I have often wondered about the legal and moral issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Armed resistance is permitted against an occupier, and there’s no rule requiring that attackers have a getaway planned. I’m not in favor of attacking civilians, of course — in fact, I find it hard to support attacking anyone. But as […]

  • Tributes to David Houston

    David Houston changed my life.  If it weren’t for Dave, I wouldn’t be a political economist, a political activist, and I wouldn’t have a sense of my life as part of a larger historical struggle for economic and social justice. Dave, along with his friend David Bramhall who concentrated on teaching undergraduates, were the sole […]

  • Waiting for the Outside World

    In the “old days” of the U.S. peace movement, when many people focused on the threat of a global nuclear “exchange,” an organization called Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) foretold what would happen if a major American city was actually blasted by an atomic bomb. Horrific scenarios extended far beyond the numbers of dead and […]

  • Europe, Capitalism, and Socialism

    In the Spring of 2005, workers’ votes in France and the Netherlands made the difference in defeating the draft European constitution and ending socialist party control of the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. In the few weeks after those momentous events, most politicians and reporters offered one basic explanation. It tells us much more about the […]

  • A Dream and a Nightmare

    Two films, Paheli and Matrubhumi: A Nation without Women, hit theatres in India within weeks of each other. Significantly, both the films, directed by Amol Palekar and Manish Jha respectively, have or claim to have women at the centre of their discourse. In the promos of Paheli, the producer-actor Shah Rukh Khan talked of the […]

  • The Front Lines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

    The Front Lines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. By Richard Bermack, Introduction by Peter Carroll. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2005. 120pp, oversize. $19.95pbk. This is a photo book with text, and Richard Bermack is the master photographer of veteran political activists on the West Coast. He has been on the job for […]

  • Toward an Organized Left in the Labor Movement

    The cold split that just occurred in the AFL-CIO has opened up a new page for US labor. As Bill Fletcher has observed in several excellent articles on the issue, the “debate” leading up to the split took place far over the heads of the members of the unions who pay the salaries of the […]

  • Where Have All the Farmers Gone?

    The United States was a land of farmers, from first settlement to the industrial revolution that took off in the 1830s.   European settlers, mainly from England, Scotland, and Ireland, were overwhelmingly farmers, peasants, from generations of the same.  They came to North America for land to farm.  With the support of the British colonial institutions, […]

  • Free Cindy Sheehan!

    I’ve heard from a couple of sources now that Fenton Communications, the “progressive” PR outfit that’s handling Cindy Sheehan‘s publicity, is keeping the press away from her, apparently because she’s given to making intemperately strong statements of the sort that embarrasses publicists. They’re only allowing organized press conferences, and not individual interviews. Free Cindy Sheehan! […]

  • Wolfowitz at the World Bank: A New Leaf?

    [The author has been a senior official in this field and must withhold his identity. — Ed.] I believe in redemption.  Never give up on anyone.  And besides, like many of us, I was told that Paul Wolfowitz might turn out to be another McNamara (well . . . ).  On June 1, Mr. Wolfowitz […]