Issue number: 52

Whole Number: 52


The Consequences of Denial and Indifference

Anyone walking about in a large urban city today cannot help but see the overwhelming signs of the importance of race in our daily lives. Neighborhoods are segregated into black and white areas. The former are invariably blighted and unattended. The schools are almost totally segregated, black in the inner cities and white in the suburbs. The New York Times almost daily has a story on the impact of race on employment. Black resumes are often simply rejected without being read.


Planning the Neoliberal City

Radical planning theorists have long held that one of the defining activities of municipal government historically has been to physically shape the city in order to facilitate the circulation and accumulation of capital.


A Journey to Mean-spiritedness

This biography suffers from extreme hagiography and fanatical sycophantry. Norman Podhoretz is a notoriously opinionated ideologue (always denied) who expressed the most provocative statements on a world of ideas and issues. For more than fifty years there was a steady stream of books, three memoirs or autobiographies, and an endless list of articles from the early 1950s through the first decade of the 21st century.


The Fires Next Time

On December 3, 1967, Regina and Charles Schneibel were trapped by fire in their Lower East Side apartment. Charles was unable to open the wooden shutters he’d installed in their home after one of their children had fallen from the window and died. In the blaze, Charles, Regina, and their two oldest children suffered severe burns. Their three youngest children died of smoke inhalation. Incredibly, the death of the three children didn’t even merit its own headline, because it wasn’t the biggest fire tragedy to report.


The Situation of the Situationists: A Cultural Left in France in the 1950s and 60s

Most of us, if we know anything at all about the Situationist International, know Guy Debord’s brilliant and famous pamphlet The Society of the Spectacle and, if we are old enough, perhaps remember the striking cover of its English language edition showing rows of moviegoers sitting passively and expectantly in a theater wearing 3-D glasses.


German Resistance to the Nazi State

The book’s title translates a term, "Rote Kapelle," that the Gestapo applied to a relatively small circle of men and women in Berlin, active in seeking to weaken the political authority of the Hitler regime during the 1930s and early 1940s. The term, however, was meant to convey the notion that the group was involved in a Soviet conspiracy — a notion that survived the war and was perpetuated in the ensuing climate of a public opinion shaped by the cold war and hostility to the Soviet Union.


French Welfare

This is a study of two French welfare offices, done in six months in 1995. Dubois says that it is the first study of French welfare offices ever done. He calls it a "critical policy ethnography." Dubois observed interactions between workers and clients, mostly at the reception desk. He is a political scientist/sociologist (he says that political science in France was redefined on a sociological basis in the 1980s). He was not a specialist in welfare policy, which he claims as an advantage as it left him free of preconceptions.


The Inner Logic of Avatar

In March 2010, Žižek reviewed Avatar for the New Statesman; his conclusion was that, at its core, the film duplicates a time-honored "reactionary myth" that perpetuates "vampiric exploitation" in the guise of "compassion for the poor." In short, Avatar is racist and brutal in its implications.


Building the Party

A fair number of New Politics readers will have read one or more of Tony Cliff’s books, or perhaps even seen him deliver one of his stem-winding speeches. For more than half a century, Tony Cliff (1917-2000) played a leading role in the movement to rebuild the international far left in the wake of Stalinism and fascism. He was a proponent of the theory of Soviet state-capitalism, a biographer of Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky, and a central figure in the development of the International Socialist tendency.

On War Tax Resistance

Doing tax resistance has for me been connected with thinking about Thoreau, whose works I often teach in my classes. I used not to teach "Civil Disobedience," but only Walden I admired "Civil Disobedience" very much, but couldn’t bring myself to teach it.

The Bible on Community, Poverty, and Riches

The religious right is wrong on many points, but perhaps its most outrageous distortion of truth is its use of the Bible in support of predatory capitalism. The Hebrew prophets’ bombastic indictments of the exploitation of the poor by the rich are fairly well known outside the boundaries of right-wing fundamentalism.[1] What I emphasize in this article is a broader point: the centrality of economic justice in ancient Israel’s self-understanding as a community in covenant with God and in the New Testament as well.

The District of Columbia: From the Oldest Colony to the 51st State?

On a warm evening in early April, a rally on Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill took a turn for the dramatic when protestors surged into Constitution Avenue, blocking rush-hour traffic. U.S. Capitol police arrested 41 of the demonstrators, among them District of Columbia Mayor Vince Gray and six members of the DC Council.

Letter from Ireland: Queen Lizzy’s Tour of Shame

Here’s another one for the Irish history books: Queen Elizabeth II making a state visit to the Republic of Ireland, the first British monarch to do so since 1911. The visit began on May 18, and massive security made sure that most of the island was experiencing a lock down. She and her husband, Phillip, made Dublin their first port of call.

Why the Korean School System Is Not Superior

In trying to assemble my thoughts on comparing Korean and American schools, I have to start with my personal experience. In fact, please keep the following in mind: I am not better than you in evaluating education systems; I am just a middle-aged man who lives next door and has 9- and 11-year-old kids. This article does not aim to define the Korean school system or rigidly evaluate its pros and cons. My own analysis of some of the ideology behind the Korean school system is entirely based on experience, rather than any formal knowledge.

Occupy Wall Street Declaration

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.


CPD’s statement "End U.S. Support for Bahrain’s Repressive Government" was signed by more than 1900 people, including several hundred Bahrainis, and was widely circulated in this country and Bahrain.


"Our Movements Suffer as We Do": Ending Abuse in Activist Communities

My friend, a young, radical woman of color, is frustrated. She has been participating in our local contingent of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and has been accused of perpetrating "hate speech" for gently reminding white men in the group that they should share space with women. She has watched women and people of color leave meetings after being silenced. She can’t decide whether to keep fighting or quit. Across the country, in spaces occupied by "the 99%," women are finding themselves marginalized or harassed.


The Dialectical Biologist

It has been almost 10 years since the death of the Harvard paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould at the relatively early age of 60. Gould was not only a major figure in the life sciences, he was also one of the great popularizers of science. He wrote a monthly column for Natural History magazine from 1974 to 2001, generating exactly 300 essays that explained complex scientific ideas without oversimplifying them.


The Rise and Fall of ACORN

Most people never heard of ACORN (Association of Community Organization for Reform Now) until the conservatives attacked it. The media does not follow long and complicated organizing campaigns. It prefers more time limited dramatic news such as lawsuits or demonstrations. But even when ACORN organized large demonstrations, the media was not likely to credit ACORN.

Teacher Unionism Reborn

In the past five years, we have witnessed a demonization of teachers unions that is close to achieving its goal: destruction of the most stable and potentially powerful defender of mass public education. Teacher unionism’s continued existence is imperiled — if what we define as "existence" is organizations having the legal capacity to bargain over any meaningful economic benefits and defend teachers’ rights to exercise professional judgment about what to teach and how to do it.

In Sweden, When the Voters Turn Right, the Right Turns Left

With the electoral losses of left-leaning parties in the past year in Germany, the UK and even in the model social democratic country, Sweden, recent events do not seem encouraging for those engaged in progressive politics. Given the meltdown of the financial markets and the rising consensus against free-market policies, even within the business community and business magazines, such as the Economist, one might have expected the Left to do much better and even see some kind of renaissance.