March-April 2020 issue online; and a note on the pandemic

March 18, 2020

The March-April 2020 issue of News & Letters, Vol. 65, #2, is available on the web.

View the issue online or as pdf.

The serious harm being wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic was already made clear by our web article in late January. That was followed by the front-page article in the new issue, “COVID-19: A World-Historic Threat,” as well as the World in View piece “Notes on a Pandemic,” stressing that every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic can be expected to highlight the class nature of society and the need for solidarity. Now a document from the U.S. government has been leaked that warned not the public but insiders that the pandemic “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves.” (It was dated March 13, the day Trump said it might last until August, and just three days after he said, “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”)

We will continue to deal with its many ramifications—in public health, politics, economy, philosophy, and revolt, such as the strikes sweeping Italy—so stay tuned. Please keep in mind, dear readers, that we need to take the precautions being widely discussed, including social distancing. Locals of News and Letters Committees have suspended public gatherings for the time being and the deadline for our next issue has been set for April 19. Social distancing calls for us to be creative about how we continue movement and organizational work and cohesion.

Be safe! Don’t be swayed by the many people trying to downplay the damage, healthwise, economically, and politically. And remember that one of the best ways to combat anxiety—yours or others’—in times of danger such as this is to be engaged in thought and activities in the struggle to oppose the reactionary ways the pandemic is being used by the rulers and to aim for the foundation of a new human society.

In the March-April 2020 issue:

Lead article: Women’s movements reach for new global stage
What has become clear in 2020 is the global nature of the women’s movements. It is a new stage which has announced itself by the international fight against femicide; the Women’s Marches; and by the National Women’s Meetings in Latin America, also called Encuentros.

Editorial: Trump after impeachment
In the aftermath of Trump’s impeachment trial, impunity and purges rage while checks and balances failed. Armed with a philosophy of freedom, the opposition to Trump and to the capitalist system that spawned him would give Trump the challenge that fellow politicians could not.

COVID-19: A world-historic threat
Gerry Emmett analyzes the meaning of the current coronavirus pandemic from the point of view of what Karl Marx called humanity’s metabolism with nature, which formed the basis of his critique of capitalism.

Voices from the inside out: On becoming human
Faruq reflects on the question of social interaction in the modern capitalist world, seen from the point of view of someone who has spent several years in prison.

From the writings of Raya Dunayevskaya: African revolutions at the crossroads
This 60th anniversary of the “Year of Africa,” the turning point of the African revolutions, sheds light on today’s dilemmas. We reprint for the first time Dunayevskaya’s Weekly Political Letter written immediately after her 1962 trip to Africa.

Essay: Ecosocialism and post-Marx Marxism
Franklin Dmitryev explores the limitations of how “ecosocialism” rethinks, partially, post-Marx Marxism, focusing on theoreticians Michael Lowy and Joel Kovel.

Copper miners strike
The strike of more than 1,500 copper miners and smelters in Arizona and Texas against Asarco/Grupo Mexico has entered its fifth month, part of a new wave of labor solidarity and revolt.

Torture of immigrants in the U.S.
As millions of immigrants improve the U.S. in various ways, Donald Trump continues a crusade to keep his most vile campaign promises, like stopping dark-skinned immigrants.

World in view: France, Ireland, & ‘the idea of Europe’
With Brexit, the rise of the far right, Macron’s vacuous French nationalism, and Sinn Fein’s victory in Irish elections, the “idea of Europe” is under great strain.

Review of Joseph Daher’s ‘Syria After the Uprising’
Review of the book ‘Syria After the Uprisings: The Political Economy of State Resilience’ by Joseph Daher. The author situates the Assad regime and Syria’s three counter-revolutions into a broader trend of global neo-liberalism.


Page 2
‘Leftover Women’
Review of ‘Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China’ by Leta Hong Fincher, which debunks the Chinese government’s propaganda that the status of women has been soaring since the introduction of corporate capitalism.
Zapatistas host ‘Women Who Fight’
Report by two women who attended the Zapatista Second International Gathering of Women Who Fight in Chiapas, Mexico.
Women worldwide
Women worldwide column on Wet’suwet’en women fighting Coastal GasLink Pipeline; the Murang’a County Women savings and credit cooperative in Kenya; artist Jimini Hignett; dress codes for women in Japan; and Indian women demonstrating against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new racist citizenship law.

Page 3
Letter from Mexico: Indigenous create tools of resistance
Report on the Assembly from Oaxaca in Defense of the Land and Territory, held as part of the three Days of Action called by the Zapatistas and the National Indigenous Congress to commemorate one year since the murder of Indigenous activist Samir Flores.
Workers strike Aptiv!
More than 18,000 workers at the U.S. company Aptiv’s maquiladora plants in Mexico walked out because, after a 120-peso wage increase, Aptiv withheld much more than that for taxes.
Prison slave labor
Federal prisoner slave labor is producing comic books and other materials for the U.S. market. UNICOR corporation pays federal prisoners from 23¢ to $1.15 per hour, often working 15½-hour shifts, with unpaid lunch and dinner times, but no other breaks.
Mental health strike
Four thousand mental health workers at Kaiser Permanente HMO held a five-day strike, once again calling attention to a serious lack of resources to provide timely care.

Page 6
Readers’ views, part one
Readers’ views on climate struggles; labor struggles; racist politics; election contradictions; Modi’s Kristallnacht?; anti-abortion terror; rewriting history; and women and culture.

Page 7
Readers’ views, part two
Readers’ views on philosophy and the retrogressive changed world; pandemics and social control; mental illness and criminal ‘justice’; culture’s bizarre normal; and voices from behind bars.

Page 8
Voices from the inside out: Impeachment and injustice
Prisoner Robert Taliaferro’s column on the meaning of the Senate’s impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump.
Indigenous protest megaprojects
Report from Mexico on the three Days of Action “In Defense of Territory and Mother Earth,” by a participant in Mexico City.
Free Lyris Wolfe!
After almost three years in jail, Lyris Wolfe was finally released. There is video evidence that the offense was an accident.
Baridi speaks to Free the Caged Voices
Baridi, one of the signers of the 2012 “Agreement to End Hostilities,” talks about the contradictions of the U.S. prison system.

Page 9
AMLO and Trump join forces to oppress
Despite Mexican President López Obrador’s sweet words about humanitarian treatment of Central American immigrants entering Mexico, the truth is horribly different.
Queer notes
Queer notes on youth in Vietnam; anti-LGBTQ actions at the University of Louisville; and the firing of two teachers at John F. Kennedy High School after announcing their engagements to same-sex partners.

Page 11
A coalition of students and workers at Wayne State University in Detroit have been conducting a campaign since November 2019 for the elevators on campus to be repaired. It is a disability, safety, and working conditions issue.
Youth in action
Youth in action column on the Valentine’s Day’s Fridays 4 Future and Climate Strike protests, and the student group Teens Take Charge’s actions against segregation in New York schools.

Page 12
World in view: Notes on a pandemic
Every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic can be expected to highlight the class nature of society. The more important thing to remember is human solidarity.
World in view: In Syria, righteous hours expose evil years
Free Syrians continue to fight the regime and Russia, and regime supporters keep pressing for genocide. They cannot coexist.
World in view: South Africa cuts
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa plans to cut the wages of public sector workers. He has come to represent the contradictions of post-apartheid society.

Each issue of this newspaper, like all of our literature, is meant to be the beginning of a dialogue. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the articles you read in News & Letters, whether as comments you post on the website or otherwise.

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