New Politics Vol. XV No. 2, Whole Number 58

  • From the Editors
  • Ferguson and Staten Island: Exemplars of America’s Racialized Capitalism, Dan La Botz, Stephen R. Shalom, and Julia Wrigley
  • The Left We Need
    • Towards A Transformational Strategy, N’Tanya Lee, Maria Poblet, Josh Warren-White, and Steve Williams on behalf of the LeftRoots Coordinating Committee
    • An ISO View of the Future of the Left, Jennifer Roesch and Sharon Smith
    • Solidarity Statement: Rebuilding the Left, Greg Chern, Susan Schmitt, and David Finkel
    • Connecting the Dots: The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office, Albert Scharenberg and Ethan Earle
    • Austerity, Collapse and the Rise of the Radical Left in Greece, Yiannis Bournous and Giorgos Karatsioubanis
    • The Left Party in Germany, Cornelia Hildebrandt
    • The Left Unity Project of Britain, Kate Hudson
    • Elections in Chile: Historic Defeat of the Right or a Win for Post-Pinochet Neoliberalism?, René Rojas
    • Brazil: Lula, Rousseff, and the Workers Party Establishment in Power, Dan La Botz
    • The Workers Party’s Contradictions and the Contours of Crisis In Brazil, Meleiza Figueroa
  • Syria, Iraq, ISIS, and the West
    • Revolution, Reaction, and Intervention in Syria, Interview with Joseph Daher
    • ISIS, Kobanê, and the Future of the Middle East, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
    • Syria and the Left, Interview with Yassin Al Haj Saleh
  • Crime and the Left
    • Rethinking the Left’s Approach to Crime, Lynn Chancer
    • Crime, Incarceration, and the Left, Brenden Beck
    • The Right Anti-Death Penalty Movement? Framing Abolitionism for the Twenty-First Century, Colleen Eren
  • Articles
    • Tribute to Betty Reid Mandell, Scott McLemee
    • Words & Pictures, Eli Valley, Paul Buhle
  • Reviews
    • A Broken Romance? Israel and American Jews, David Finkel, review of Norman Finkelstein, Old Wine, Broken Bottle and Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much
    • Reflections on Crisis: Capitalism, Climate Change, and Resistance, Donald Hanover, review of Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos
    • Science and Sex: Hirschfeld’s Legacy, Peter Drucker, review of Ralf Dose, Magnus Hirschfeld: The Origins of the Gay Liberation Movement
    • What’s Fair About Fair Trade?, Riad Azar, review of Ndongo Samba Sylla, The Fair Trade Scandal
    • Atoning for Vietnam, Ali Zaidi, review of Nick Turse, Kill Anything That Moves
    • The New “Russian Question” of the Twenty-First Century, Dan La Botz, review of Ruslan Dzarasov, The Conundrum of Russian Capitalism
    • Nonfiction Comics , Kent Worcester, review of Ilan Stavans, A Most Imperfect Union

 

In this issue:

From the Editors

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Contemporary capitalist society faces multiple crises: environmental catastrophe, proliferating wars, multiplying authoritarian governments, inequality, poverty, and failing health and education systems. Everywhere new democratic and progressive social movements continue to arise, from Ferguson, Missouri, to the Climate March in New York City, to the movement for democracy in Hong Kong. And yet, in most countries the democratic socialist left is small, weak, and divided.

Ferguson and Staten Island

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The killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, by police who were not indicted by grand juries in Missouri and New York, represent only the latest in a string of such police or vigilante killings—sometimes clearly murders—of African-American or Latino men.

Towards a Transformational Strategy

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200We are living in times of great instability and crisis. Everywhere there are troubling signs of collapse: mass shootings, widespread unemployment, potentially irreversible ecological devastation, and the consolidation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands.

An ISO View of the Future of the Left

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ImageThe fate of the socialist left is tied to that of the working class movement—and the last four decades of one-sided class war have had dire consequences for both. The thread linking today’s generation of young workers to U.S. labor’s proud history of class struggle has been effectively broken and must be developed anew. This is a daunting but necessary task for rebuilding the working-class movement. 

Rebuilding the Left

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ImageRebuilding a U.S. socialist left requires, first of all, coming to grips with the full magnitude of the social crisis and decline in this society.

Connecting the Dots

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ImageIn the first days of August 2014, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office brought together one hundred influential leftists from across the United States, Canada, and Europe for an “un-conference” on socialist strategies. The retreat was held at the Edith Macy Center, located in Westchester County about an hour north of New York City.

Austerity, Collapse, and the 
Rise of the Radical Left in Greece

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ImageThis article and its title are based on a presentation made at the Mapping Socialist Strategies Conference, hosted by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York Office at the Edith Macy Conference Center, New York, August 1-4, 2014.

The Left Party in Germany

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ImageThe Left Party is fighting for “a society in which no child has to grow up poor, in which all men and women can live a self-determined life in peace, dignity, and social security and can democratically shape social relations.” In order to achieve this, it demands “a different economic and social system: democratic socialism.”1 That is how the Lef

The Left Unity Project of Britain

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ImageThe origins of the Left Unity project came out of the common struggle across Europe against austerity. The specific moment was the first coordinated general strike across Europe on November 14, 2012. Many of us active on the left, already working with the anti-austerity movement across Europe, saw the need for British engagement too, and from that day onwards, Left Unity has been in development. 

Elections in Chile

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Image“¿Qué Nueva, Qué Nueva, Qué Nueva Mayoría? ¡Si van a gobernar pa’ la misma minoría!” (“What New Majority? They’ll rule for the same old minority!”)

FEL student demonstrators

 

Brazil: Lula, Rousseff, and the Workers Party Establishment in Power

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ImageDilma Rousseff of the Workers Party (PT) won Brazil’s presidential election on October 26, meaning that when her term ends her party will have held the nation’s top office for a remarkable 16 years, longer than any party in Brazilian history.

The Workers Party’s Contradictions and the Contours of Crisis in Brazil

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ImageElection day came lazily in Santarém, a mid-sized city and trading entrepôt at the junction of the Amazon and Tapajós rivers, the halfway point between Amazônia’s primary metropolises of Manaus and Belém. The internet was out of service in this sleepy Amazonian town, as were two out of the four major cellphone carriers, and the streets were nearly empty.

Revolution, Reaction, 
and Intervention in Syria

By:

Joseph Daher is a member of the Revolutionary Left Current in Syria. He is the writer and editor of Syria Freedom Forever, syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com, a blog dedicated to the struggle of the Syrian people in their uprising to overthrow the Assad authoritarian regime and to build a democratic, secular, socialist, anti-imperialist, and pro-resistance Syria. A Ph.D. student in Development, he works as an assistant at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He was interviewed in Geneva on October 22, 2014, by New Politics board member Riad Azar, with some email updates. For additional questions on Kobanê and Turkey, see the New Politics website here

ISIS, Kobanê, and the 
Future of the Middle East

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As we write on Sunday, October 19, it appears that ISIS [Islamic State] forces have begun to retreat from their vicious assault on the Kurds in Kobanê. We hope that this is a resounding defeat for ISIS, and that it inspires a wave of grassroots resistance to ISIS throughout Syria and Iraq. 

Syria and the Left

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Yassin Al Haj Saleh is one of Syria’s leading political dissidents. He spent from 1980-1996 in Syrian prisons and became one of the key intellectual voices of the 2011 Syrian uprising. He spent 21 months in hiding within Syria, eventually escaping to Istanbul. He was interviewed via email by New Politics co-editor Stephen R. Shalom in early November 2014.

 

Rethinking the Left’s Approach 
to Crime

By:

In 1994, Pamela Donovan and I wrote an article for the journal Social Justice called “A Mass Psychology of Punishment: Crime and the Futility of Rationally Based Approaches.” We argued that the crime issue had become in that decade—as mass incarceration grew exponentially, and while rates of violence were steadily and contradictorily declining—a key psychosocial mechanism that facilitated redirecting and displacing anger at broad inequalities felt by lower- and middle-class people, among others, onto “criminals” (who were more than likel

Crime, Incarceration, and the Left

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Those disturbed by the United States’ largest-in-the-world incarceration rate have some new reasons to be cautiously optimistic. President Obama nominated an opponent of the drug war to the Justice Department’s highest civil rights position, signaling the possibility that the costly and counterproductive imprisonment of drug users may be coming to an end.

The Right Anti-Death Penalty Movement?

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Since the year 2000, victories claimed by death penalty abolitionists have seemed significant. In 1999, the United States executed 98 death-row inmates, the highest number since capital punishment’s reinstatement following the Gregg v. Georgia Supreme Court ruling in 1976. Subsequently, however, executions have been on the decline, with 39 inmates killed in 2013.

Tribute to Betty Reid Mandell

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ImageThe editorial board of New Politics is saddened by the loss of one of our own: Betty Reid Mandell, who, with her husband Marvin Mandell, served as one of the journal’s co-editors for most of the past decade.

The Highest Art Form

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The most vivid and without a doubt, the most disliked (make that, hated) comic-artist critic of Jewish power plays, from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles, Eli Valley ranks high among the most Jewish comic artists anywhere in the world today.

review

A Broken Romance? 
Israel and American Jews

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Norman Finkelstein has made his career taking the nasty assignments. It’s been dirty work, but presumably someone had to do it: plowing through the works of Joan Peters, Daniel Goldhagen, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, and a small army of official and unofficial Israeli state propagandists.

review

Reflections on Crisis: Capitalism, Climate Change, and Resistance

By:

“My baby saw the future; she doesn’t want to live here anymore. It’s lousy science fiction, gets on your skin and seeps into your bones…” 

David Byrne, Dance on Vaseline

 

review

Science and Sex: Hirschfeld’s Legacy

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In the mostly forgotten history of early twentieth-century movements for sexual freedom, Magnus Hirschfeld’s name is one of the most familiar—and one of the most contested. As a Jewish scientist who championed sexual deviants, he made a perfect target for the Nazis, who were tragically successful in extirpating much of his life’s work.

review

What’s Fair About Fair Trade?

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The idea of “voting with your pocketbook” is giving rise to a new global movement of ethical consumption. Industrial capitalism and its ills, it is thought, can be redeemed through personal consumer choices. “If only I bought the biodegradable bag of potato chips,” one may think to oneself watching a column of waste management vehicles pass on their way to the dump. 

review

Atoning for Vietnam

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Three photographs in particular have come to define the decade-and-a-half-long U.S. military intervention in Vietnam. They show the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk, burnt children in tears as they flee an aerial napalm attack, and the Saigon police chief executing a captive in the street.

review

The New “Russian Question” of the Twenty-First Century

By:

The “Russian question,” that is, the question of the nature of the Soviet Union, dominated much of Marxist debate throughout the twentieth century as first anarchists and Leninists, and later Trotskyists and Stalinists, and then Maoists argued about the economic, social, and political character of Soviet Russia (and then also of Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea). 

review

Nonfiction Comics

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The cartoonist Will Eisner used to say that there are two kinds of comics, entertaining and instructional. Over time, he speculated, instructional comics would become the more popular of the two, as teachers and everyone else finally figured out that comics convey information more efficiently than ordinary prose. Eisner passed away in 2005 but presumably would have regarded the past decade’s outpouring of graphic nonfiction as confirming his thesis.

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