Archive | Commentary

  • Who Is to Blame?

    Back in 1963 Bob Dylan (soon to be 75) wrote a bitter song; Pete Seeger also sang it often.  It asks, after the death of a young boxer: “Who killed Davey Moore?  How come he died, and what’s the reason for?”  Then came the alibis of all those responsible, from the manager and media to […]

  • Strike at the Helm?  Clamors from a Makeshift Raft

    In a cabinet meeting in October 2012, months before his death, Hugo Chávez declared that the Bolivarian process needed to make a radical change of course, literally calling for a “golpe de timón” or “strike at the helm.”  From that moment forward the slogan “golpe de timón” began to circulate in the most varied contexts […]

  • Three Songs of the Crème de la Crème

    Plutocracy the Wonderful O beautiful, our properties Our lands and woods and grains Our fields and mines and factories Our ships and trains and planes! Accumulate, accumulate!  We never get enough Of profits, income, capital, and other lovely stuff. O beautiful, our trophy wives Their diamonds, furs, and shoes Our speedboats, cars, jets, limousines Our […]

  • The Cuban People Will Overcome

    Remarks by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, during the closing of the 7th Party Congress It constitutes, compañeros, a superhuman effort to lead any people in times of crisis.  Without them, the changes would be impossible.  In a meeting such as this, which brings together more than a thousand representatives chosen […]

  • The only force that can combat imperialism today is a worldwide struggle of workers

    Marxism as a philosophy of praxis is inescapable, since it sums up the revolutionary potential for human emancipation and sustainable human development.

  • We Stand with Palestine in the Spirit of “Sumud”

    At a moment of growing resistance to state violence and injustice the world over, a delegation of nineteen anti-prison, labor and scholar-activists from the United States traveled to Palestine in March 2016.  Our delegation included former U.S.-held political prisoners and social prisoners, former Black Panther Party members, prison abolitionists, trade unionists and university professors.  We […]

  • Are Sanders and Fair Trade a Threat to the Global Poor?

    On April 24, 2013, some 1,134 people died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex outside Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.  The building housed factories where low-wage workers, largely women, stitched garments for the U.S. and European markets. For several years before the disaster a number of U.S. opinion makers — notably New York […]

  • For a “Third Reconstruction”: An Interview with Bill Fletcher, Jr.

    As the 2016 electoral game here ratchets up to nasty polemics, the US media is mainly focused on the carnival atmosphere of the Republican Party candidates.  (The Democratic Party infighting is only now beginning to boil over.)  Meanwhile, the Obama administration, free from scrutiny, continues its airstrikes in Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and […]

  • Why Do We Have Unemployment?

    Unemployment has become so persistent a phenomenon in contemporary times that there is a common feeling that it is a “natural” state of affairs, that nothing can ever be done about it, and that the only way to have greater employment opportunities coming your way is either to oppose the system of job “reservations” for […]

  • Watch Out for Judicial Coup in Brazil

    The judicial coup against President Dilma Rousseff is the culmination of the deepest political crisis in Brazil for 50 years. Every so often, the bourgeois political system runs into crisis.  The machinery of the state jams; the veils of consent are torn asunder and the tools of power appear disturbingly naked.  Brazil is living through […]

  • Stop Lecturing Cuba and Lift the Blockade

    Surrounding President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba on March 20, there is speculation about whether he can pressure Cuba to improve its human rights.  But a comparison of Cuba’s human rights record with that of the United States shows that the US should be taking lessons from Cuba. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights […]

  • Failing to Connect the Dots on Immigration: The Democratic Debate in Miami

    The March 9 debate in Miami between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was the first chance the two candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination had to discuss immigration and its connections to trade and U.S. policy in Latin America.  Unfortunately, neither candidate took advantage of the opportunity. The mainstream “immigration debate” generally avoids mentioning the […]

  • How Most Aid to the Palestinians Ends Up in Israel’s Coffers

    Diplomats may have a reputation for greyness, obfuscation, even hypocrisy, but few have found themselves compared to a serial killer, let alone one who devours human flesh. That honor befell Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, last week when Jewish settlers launched a social media campaign casting him as Hannibal Lecter, the terrifying […]

  • Cuius Regio, Eius Religio

    Turkish Islamists used to dismiss the European Union as a “Christian club.”  Their claim has acquired greater plausibility now that EU leaders have appointed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Europe’s refugee gatekeeper, bolstering his Islamist government in order to keep Muslims out of Europe.  Such was the import of the agreement the two sides reached last November, […]

  • First Woman President Nukes Iran

    WASHINGTON — President Hillary Clinton, making good on her 2008 threat to “totally obliterate” Iran, celebrated her first week in office by ordering a nuclear strike on Iran’s capital city of Tehran.  As a squadron of F-35s streaked through the sky toward the Mideast metropolis of over eight million, President Clinton outlined her foreign policy […]

  • The Challenge Before the Latin American Left

      The Left upsurge in Latin America appears to be abating.  In October 2015 Jimmy Morales, the conservative candidate in Guatemala, defeated the Left-leaning Sandra Torres in the presidential elections.  On November 22, Mauricio Macri, the conservative presidential candidate in Argentina, defeated Daniel Scioli, his Peronist rival, by a narrow margin, to bring to an […]

  • Tunisia, As Expected

    Mass protests have returned in Tunisia, since the 20th of January, in Kasserine, then in Tunis, and in the rest of the country.  As expected, the pursuit of neoliberal policy by the so-called “national unity” government (ranging from Islamists of Ennahdha to leftists, including Bourguibists and survivors of the defunct Ben Ali regime) has not […]

  • Daniel Berger

    Fictionalizing Radical Activism of the 1960s, a review of Bryan Burrough’s book, Days of Rage

    [G]iven the many ways in which crime has been understood through race and racist stereotypes, the stock characterizations in true crime stories have ever more damaging implications. Such distortions are more than bad history. They are toxic justifications for continued police brutality, mass incarceration, and the surveillance state in the name of “fighting crime.”… This is what makes Bryan Burrough’s Days of Rage not just disappointing but ultimately dangerous. Its genre is history as “true crime.” Burrough chronicles six revolutionary underground organizations from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s: the Weather Underground (WU), which emerged out of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); the Black Liberation Army (BLA), an offshoot of the Black Panther Party; the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), whose best known act was kidnapping heiress Patty Hearst; the New World Liberation Front, a curious sequel of sorts to the SLA; the Puerto Rican independence group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional; and a New England group of working-class white radicals that ultimately called itself the United Freedom Front.

  • Ellen Meiksins Wood: Some Personal Recollections

    In my graduate class on Political Economy at the University of Oregon this term we are reading two books by Ellen Meiksins Wood: The Retreat from Class and Democracy Against Capitalism.  Tomorrow, when the class meets, I will have to inform the students of Ellen’s death on January 14.  I have been thinking about what […]

  • Ellen Meiksins Wood — Her Importance to Me

    I was extraordinarily saddened to hear last night of the death of Ellen Meiksins Wood and it took me a while to work out why.  After all, I hardly knew her.  We met a couple of times and I can recall in some detail only one conversation with her (in a taxi in New York). […]