Archive | Commentary

  • 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). […]

  • We Will Not Be a Party to This Crime!

    The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighborhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews that have been ongoing for weeks. It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilized in wartime. As a result, the right to life, liberty, and security, and in particular the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment protected by the constitution and international conventions have been violated.

  • Germany: Icy Times and Rays of Hope

      2016 began here with an icy chill, not only with the weather but far worse, with human relations.  It also offered some, like myself, at least a few warm rays of hope. First the larger scene.  The huge influx of immigrants and asylum seekers, over a million in 2015, saw Germany effectively split in […]

  • A New Political Situation in Latin America: What Lies Ahead?

      “Venezuela defines the future of the progressive cycle” In your work on South America, you speak of the duality that has characterized the last decade.  What exactly is that duality? Claudio Katz: In my opinion, the so-called progressive cycle of the last decade in South America has been a process resulting from partially successful […]

  • The Leninist Moment of the Sanders Presidential Campaign

    The revelation of how election campaigns work and the fierce battle over Bernie Sanders’ access to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) database constitute a Leninist moment, even if for a very non-Leninist democratic socialist. The storm occurred within the confines of the presidential election, nowhere near the boundary of revolution.  Yet it was indeed a […]

  • Chavism Loses a Battle — Can It Recover and Rectify?

    Chavism received a serious blow in the parliamentary elections this last Sunday, December 6. The strength of the blow is such that the movement is still reeling. The Venezuelan opposition, loosely organized in an electoral bloc called the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), achieved not just a majority of seats in the National Assembly but also […]

  • Climate Change and the Summit Smokescreen

    Ian Angus is editor of the ecosocialist journal Climate & Capitalism.  He is co-author, with Simon Butler, of Too Many People?  Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis (Haymarket, 2011), and editor of the anthology The Global Fight for Climate Justice (Fernwood, 2010). He talked to Phil Gasper about what to expect from the Paris summit […]

  • Red Is the Primary Color of the Rainbow

    This paper was presented at “Color Revolution and Cultural Hegemony,” the 6th World Socialism Forum in Beijing, China, October 16-7, 2015. The term “color revolution” is code.  It is a code for regime change, and the term is often treated as synonymous with activities of the CIA and its assorted vehicles such as the National […]

  • The Trump Phenomenon

    Donald Trump is a wild card in the US presidential contest.  But his role reflects the loss of legitimacy of established US politicians. It is shocking — and perhaps peculiar to the United States — that a candidate can build up popular support while bragging of his immense personal fortune and his consequent ability to […]

  • An Open Letter to ASEAN Heads of State

    20th November 2015 Your Excellencies, the Honorable Heads of Government of ASEAN Nations, welcome to Malaysia.  We in the Parti Sosialis Malaysia wish you have a pleasant and productive summit.  We hope it would not be too presumptuous of us to put forward a few observations and suggestions that have a bearing on the main […]

  • “Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Albert Einstein

    Why should one seek socialism?  It is common to adduce that socialism would be more just and fair than capitalism, but that does not fully resolve the issue, since people are not always motivated by social justice.  Moreover motivation — especially for undertakings that are difficult and risky, such as changing a whole society! — […]

  • Emily: Edited 4 the Revolution

    Who says us white leftists have no feeling for High Art?  Hundreds of thousands of capitalist imperialist museum-going, opera-loving, overly literate fuck-faces, that’s who. To smash this top-down bourgeois conspiracy, I am taking a couple of months off from writing this column to start a highly classy — yet class-conscious — literary journal, to be […]