Letter from the editor

This issue of the ISR comes on the cusp what will likely be an historic event—the election an African-American president. The election also marks a political changing of the guard, away from the failed policies of the Bush administration and of the Republican party, toward something different. There are reasons, however, to question whether anything else about this election will be so groundbreaking. In his article on Obama and the coming elections, Lance Selfa explains that Obama’s campaign represents more a triumph of style over substance. “While marketing himself as a candidate of change, he is assuring the movers and shakers of American politics that he is committed to a status quo hardly different from what we have known at least since the end of the Cold War.”

Lance’s second article, “Can the Left Take Over the Democratic Party?,” is a chapter from his new book The Democrats: A Critical History (Haymarket, 2008). His key argument is that rather than effecting any change in the party’s essentially pro-capitalist character, efforts to change the party from within always end up being vehicles for extinguishing third-party movements by “keeping hope alive” in the Democrats.

Gilbert Achcar, in an interview for the Marxist magazine La Brèche in Europe, reviews the shifts in U.S. foreign policy over the past few decades, and describes the extent to which the balance of power in world affairs has changed since Washington’s “unipolar moment” after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Arundhati Roy notes in her interview with David Barsamian that the image of the United States as a beacon of democracy is largely discredited in the rest of the world; not so India’s image. Roy’s interview takes a look at India’s underbelly to reveal how beneath India’s democratic façade lie a “war on terror” used to silence dissent, mass suicides of economically-distressed farmers, and Special-Economic Zones reaping fantastic profits at the expense of displaced millions.

Noam Chomsky’s broadly-titled This Century’s Challenges, reviews the various threats to human survival, from environmental devastation to nuclear weapons proliferation, the latter made more frightening by the growing international tensions between the old and new centers of international power.

We are pleased to publish part of a chapter from David Zirin’s new book, A People’s History of Sports, on the 1968 Olympics, when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in the famous Black Power salute.

There are also a number of short reports to which we would like to draw the readers’ attention.

Lee Sustar dissects the war between Russia and Georgia, providing the context to understand its deeper significance—that Russia is drawing a line against the years-long effort by the U.S. to secure control of the southern rim of the former USSR.

Tom Lewis describes Bolivia’s Evo Morales’ electoral defeat of a campaign to recall him as president as a “hollow victory.” Though he remains in power, the right continues to grow in power and Morales has been unable to challenge the growing centrifugal regionalism that the right wing has stoked to weaken his rule.

Marlene Martin tells the story of Troy Davis, a Black man on Georgia’s death row fighting to clear his name. Derek Wright, explaining how Chrysler murdered his uncle in a preventable workplace “accident,” announces the creation of the Jon Kelley Wright Workers’ Memorial Fund, and asks for your support.

David Rowlands explains how “for the past seven years, the Peruvian state and its financial backers have been waging a largely unreported war against the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.”

In our featured review article, Kristian Williams, in a review of  Darius Rejali’s Democracy and Torture, connects the practice of torture with society’s need to maintain inequality.

Issue #103

Winter 2016-17

"A sense of hope and the possibility for solidarity"

Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
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