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New Politics, Vol. X, No. 2, Whole Number 38
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California: The Late Great Golden State, David Jacobs
The 2004 Elections and the Collapse of the Left, Thomas Harrison
The U.S. Occupation of Iraq: Three Perspectives
We are pleased to present three distinct viewpoints on the ongoing U.S. occupation of Iraq. Each contribution . . .
While the labor movement in the United States is a beacon for democracy, too often it fails as a beacon of democracy. Herman Benson makes this clear in his remarkable personal memoir, Rebels, Reformers and Racketeers: How Insurgents Transformed the Labor Movement.
Books reviewed in this essay
After Brown: The Rise and Retreat of School Desegregation
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004
216 pp. $24.95
The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class are Undermining the American Dream
New York: Public Affairs, 2004
320 pp. $26
It is difficult to know just what Paul Buhle is driving at; it's even more difficult to figure out what relevance his remarks have to what I wrote in New Politics about the undemocratic leanings of the New Unity Partnership.
Anything Herman Benson writes on the labor movement is provocative and useful for discussion — even if on occasion, in my view, it also happens to be somewhat skewed. When organized labor faces the prospect of a turning point as potentially large and also as disappointing as that of ten years ago, the implications loom before all of us.
With overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans, the Bush administration rewrote the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 2001, drastically changing public education. One of the key initiatives of the Johnson-era "war on poverty," ESEA has been the main source of federal aid to schools serving children in poverty.
Neo-liberalism and neoconservatism are in the driver's seat right now and this is not only happening in education.
It is a measure of how far the right is reaching that the left today finds itself defending the very existence of public education from the forces of privatization, commercialization, and even federal policy. Just four years after 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole campaigned on a platform of abolishing the Department of Education, the Bush administration came into office with a massive expansion of the federal role in education as its number one domestic priority.
Thank God for Utah. The potential triumphalism of George Bush and his hold the course view of No Child Left Behind can be blunted. The Utah legislature set the tone in early 2004 with its frontal assault on the arrogance of the federal government in micromanaging the accountability standards of Utah's classrooms. The Utah legislature was on the verge of totally rejecting the federal funds following NCLB before the U.S. Department of Education sent emissaries to Salt Lake City to calm down the cry for state control.
Ask any parent what their hope is for the education of their child and they will tell you "a good education is one that provides my child with a broad range of opportunities and experiences to gain the knowledge and skills to be successful in life." Parents, especially those in disadvantaged communities and parents of color, whose children attend underperforming schools, want accountability.
With overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans, the Bush administration employed the rhetoric of equity and accountability to forge a legislative package called “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB). NCLB was an omnibus bill that contained numerous provisions that made federal aid to low-income schools and children dependent on schools’ accepting new regulations on a host of school policies, from qualifications for teachers to the kinds of instructional materials that can be used.
Iraq, as one long conversant in its fervent political history remarked to me, is much like the earth resting underneath a giant rock laid there for a very long time. The U.S.-led invasion of 2003 destabilized — if not moved — this rock and unleashed a multitude of organisms that were unknown even to local residents.
The demand for national liberation, for the right of self-determination of a people, is understood by socialists to be a demand for radical, consistent democracy. This at once separates us from those who, such as the Buchananite paleocons, place the inviolability of the national principle above all other considerations and who may consistently oppose imperial interventions on that basis.
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