Archive | Commentary

  • Black Lives Matter in the Best Films of 2014

    More than 100 years after the birth of cinema, it sometimes feels like every story has been told.  But the best films of 2014 dared to break out of their genres, explore new ways of filmmaking, and inspire viewers.  Some of them even provided tools for popular understanding of our current political moment.  This year, […]

  • Outing Torture Queen Bikowsky

    Dear Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, So many people want to be famous.  Not you.  You were content to let Jessica Chastain portray a more competent version of your waterboarding and bin Laden-stalking self in the film Zero Dark Thirty.  You never asked for credit.  But now, thanks to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s Report on CIA […]

  • An Early Activist Critique of Stalin’s 1934 Antihomosexual Law: “A Chapter of Russian Reaction” by Kurt Hiller

      Introduction This article, titled “A Chapter of Russian Reaction,” translated into English here for the first time, was written in German by longtime homosexual activist Kurt Hiller (1885-1972) from London and published in the Swiss gay journal Der Kreis in 1946.  Hiller had been active in Germany’s first homosexual-rights organization, the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre Komitee (Scientific […]

  • Dresden and Its Dangerous Demonstrators

    Dresden, Saxony’s beautiful capital, has a distinguished history.  One ruler, August the Strong, could bend horseshoes with his bare hands and, so legend has it, sired 354 children.  In 1697 he pushed and bribed his way onto the royal throne of neighboring Poland, made possible by his quick conversion to Catholicism.  (His wife, refusing the […]

  • The “Responsible Nuclear State”: The United States and the Bomb

      In light of the revelations that the United States was prepared to use nuclear weapons in the event of war between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea, it may be worth revisiting the idea that America represents a “responsible” nuclear power, in opposition to countries like Iran and […]

  • “Today Is the Day Democracy Is Murdered”: Wave of Repression Sweeps South Korea

    On December 19, the South Korean Constitutional Court delivered a devastating blow against the progressive movement when it disbanded the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) with immediate effect.  That act came as the culmination of a long campaign by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to shackle the labor movement and smash political opposition. The Constitutional Court […]

  • Imperialism and The Interview: The Racist Dehumanization of North Korea

      The haze of political chaos in America surrounding the Ferguson protests, the Torture Report, and the “relaxing” of US-Cuba relations has been broken by a media spectacle almost too ridiculous to comprehend.  A hacker group called the “Guardians of Peace” conducted a “cyber attack” on Sony Pictures Entertainment, leaking emails, documents, presentations, and information […]

  • ‘Dreamed a Dream by the Old Canal . . . ‘: The Coming Centenary of Ewan MacColl’s Birth

    Next year marks 100 years since the birth of Ewan MacColl.  Born James Henry Miller in Salford on 25th January 1915, he adopted the stage name of Ewan MacColl to acknowledge his proud Scottish heritage. MacColl became a great influence on the folk music scene of the 50s and 60s, best known for songs about […]

  • Shummy’s Surrender: Dem Governor of Vermont Goes South on Single Payer

    “Vermont . . . is the only state with universal single-payer health coverage for its residents.” — James Fallows in The Atlantic, April 2014 For nearly four years, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has been basking in the glow of press accolades like the one above.  Unfortunately, what was often misreported nationally as a done deal […]

  • On the Relations Between Cuba and the United States

    Havana, 17 December 2014 Fellow countrymen, Since my election as President of the State Council and Council of Ministers I have reiterated on many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality, in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment […]

  • The Political Economy of Austerity Now

    Government austerity for the masses (raising taxes and cutting public services) is becoming the issue shaping politics in western Europe, north America, and Japan.  In the US, austerity turned millions away from the polls where before they supported an Obama who promised changes from such policies.  So Republicans will control Congress and conflicts over austerity […]

  • An Interview with Dawn Paley, Author of Drug War Capitalism

    Dawn Paley is a Canadian author.  Drug War Capitalism (AK Press, November 2014) is her first book.  We conducted an e-interview as protests grew against police and military policies in Mexico and the U.S.  The drug war on both sides of the border has played no small role in generating such dissent. Seth Sandronsky: Can […]

  • Drones, Prisons, and the Rehabilitation of an Abolitionist

    On December 10, International Human Rights Day, federal Magistrate Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in prison for having crossed the line at a military base that wages drone warfare.  The punishment for our attempt to speak on behalf of trapped and desperate people, abroad, will be an opportunity to speak with people trapped […]

  • Man Acquitted, 30 Years Later, for “Subversive Books” on Capitalism and Revolution

      This article was first published by the Hankyoreh on 25 November 2014; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.

  • Fracking Patria, Fracking Humanity: Capitalism and Its Doubles

    Many Venezuelans think that fracking — the dangerous extraction of oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing of sedimentary rocks — is a conspiracy on the part of the United States to drive them into ruin.  That is not the case, but it is an understandable error, in part because of the US’s long history of […]

  • Senator Sanders and the Impossibility of Reviving Democratic Party Liberalism

    Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont released a 12-step economic agenda on December 1, 2014.  Cyber Monday at the start of the holiday commercial frenzy is not the best time to capture public attention, but Sanders probably has a strict timeline as he decides whether to run for president. The goals of Sanders’ agenda are worthy. […]

  • The Red-Red-Green Victory in Thuringia

    Yes, “red-red-green” squeezed through to victory — by one single wavering vote. Political parties in the USA have animal symbols, donkey and elephant.  In Germany they have colors: the Christian-Democrats (CDU), due to clerical ties, are black, the Greens of course green, the Social Democrats (SPD) traditionally red.  When the redder Linke (Left) party came […]

  • “A Guernica of Political Prose”: Ashok Mitra’s Calcutta Diary

    Ashok Mitra.  Calcutta Diary.  Kolkata: Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, 2014 (first published in 1977 by Frank Cass, London).  pp xxvii + 300.  Rs 395. They do not trumpet their inspiration from the rooftops: “their identification with the cause is nevertheless total”.  Amal Sen, the homeopath, was one such sympathiser.  A dreamer of socialist dreams, he medicated, […]

  • A Fighter All My Life, the Memoir of Sam Johnson, a Black Auto Worker and Dissident Union Activist

    A Fighter All My Life is the memoir of Sam Johnson, a black man from the South who became a Detroit auto worker and dissident union activist.  Johnson was born and raised on the front lines of class conflict in America.  His everyday life was fraught with danger.  In the tradition of the memoirs of […]

  • Cops, Hooligans, and Neo-Nazis in Germany

    Confrontations with the police in Germany have not been quite the same as in Ferguson and other USA cities.  But some were dramatic enough.  Back in September 2010 mass protests in Stuttgart against a huge underground railroad station at the cost of a prized old building and a central park were hit hard by cops […]