SINCE THE last issue of the ISR was published, world economic turbulence moved from the realm of dry statistics into the realm of stark choices. We are not just referring to the increasing calls from the top for greater regulation of financial markets and away from the neoliberal mantra of deregulation. We are referring to the spreading revolt against hunger that has swept the world, driven by the high price of basic foodstuffs. As Sharon Smith writes, “For the 3 billion people who survive on less than $2 a day, the upward spiral in global food prices has meant a struggle for the most basic of human rights—the right to eat.”
In Egypt, rising food prices and low wages have triggered strikes and mass protests—protests that threaten to spill over from economic to more political demands against the Mubarak dictatorship. This is the topic of a report by Egyptian socialist Hossam el-Hamalawy as well as three speeches from a workshop held at the Cairo antiwar conference in March. Reporting from Haiti, Mark Schuller delves into the background on Haiti’s food riots that the mainstream press is leaving out.
Though she does not refer directly to the current food crisis, Vandana Shiva discusses the underlying neoliberal globalization policies that are responsible for devastating the lives of workers and peasants in India—and the resistance to them.
Ashley Smith, in another update of the situation for U.S. imperialism in Iraq, argues, “the trumpeted success of the Bush administration’s surge was built on flimsy foundations.”
Readers may notice that there are two contradictory trends in electoral politics in Europe. Antonis Davanellos reports from Greece on the great success of the left electoral bloc there, whereas Yurii Colombo reports from Italy on the complete collapse of the Left in Berlusconi’s latest election victory. It will take time to sort out the full lessons of these disparate developments.
On the domestic electoral front, Phil Gasper analyses the way race and racism are playing out in the U.S. election, now that we have the unprecedented situation of a Black man who could become the next president.
Tibet is all over the news as protests dog the Olympic torch. David Whitehouse analyses the origins of the struggle in Tibet. He exposes the hypocrisy of those who are quick to denounce China but have nothing to say about the atrocities committed by the United States in Iraq and Palestine, but he also takes issue with some sections of the Left who side with China against Tibet’s right to self-determination.
If 1968 was the year of revolutionary upheaval, its most pivotal event was France’s May, when 10 million workers struck in what was (and still is) the largest general strike in world history. Joel Geier looks at the student and workers’ struggles in France—and in the United States—that defined 1968.
Perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood Marxist is Vladimir Lenin, who is the topic of three speeches reprinted here by Lars Lih, Helen Scott, and Paul LeBlanc. The panelists discuss everything from Lenin’s relevance today and the way Lenin’s relationship to Rosa Luxemburg has been distorted to the question of Lenin’s pre-and post-1914 attitude to Karl Kautsky.
For our ongoing series on Marxist Classics, Brian Jones delves into a little-read book that was once part of the essential equipment of socialists—Engels’ Anti-Dühring, probably the best (and funniest) single-volume introduction to Marxism every written.
Two reviews deserve particular mention here. Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor’s review of a new edition of David Roediger’s The Wages of Whiteness. A key criticism she makes is that “Roediger relocates the roots of racism in the psychology of white workers,” rather than in job competition and the impact of ruling-class ideology. Hadas Thier, in her review of Tom Segev’s book on Israel’s 1967 Six-Day War, writes, “The historic significance of this war and the mythology around it make Segev’s 1967 an indispensable contribution.”
Finally, we direct the readers to our increasingly lively letters page, which in this issue is chock-full of important debates—on Marxism and science, the dictatorship of the proletariat, sectarianism in Iraq, and the origins of institutional racism.