It was particularly hard to put this issue together in early January as we watched the ferocious Israeli attack on Gaza, amid layoffs and "official" unemployment figures approaching 10 percent in the U.S. (although likely much higher). This, and more bad news, after an election that gave so many people hope that things would change for the better, made it difficult to think positively.
We have tried to find some good news in all this: the uprising in Greece may offer some hope that the world’s population has finally had it with the U.S. empire and its repressive, business-uber-alles, allies. This December, after police shot a 15-year-old in Athens, Greek students and others took to the streets, occupying buildings, a TV station, and municipal halls. Solidarity marches sprang up all over Europe—and continue at this writing. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Food Not Bombs won a small victory in their mission to establish food as a basic right through challenges to attempts by various cities to pass ordinances prohibiting feeding the homeless in public spaces.
Not so good news was the recent UN Climate Conference in Poland which, as Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle report, failed to "avert an ever-worsening climate crisis." On the positive side, alliances such as Climate Justice Now! are determined to continue the fight for "radical change."
Phyllis Bennis provides talking points for the "Gaza Crisis," one of which is Israel’s serious violation of international law and U.S. complicity. She calls for people to do everything they can to protest. Justin Podur tries to make sense of the Mumbai attacks last November, which he feels were "part of a troubling trend of attacks that maximized civilian deaths without making demands…." He looks, in part, at religious, ethnic, and caste violence and fragmentation under the rubric of "communalism" and how these exacerbate the attacks, pointing to some hopeful responses to lessen the threat of war in that region.
Mina Khanlarzadeh is hopeful that if external factors—war, threat of war, economic sanctions—are removed, Iranian women and the women’s rights movement there can stop the strengthening of patriarchy and patriarchal culture brought on by a repressive government in the guise of protecting "national security."
Edward S. Herman gives a history of NATO up to today’s new version, which he describes as "a U.S. pitbull…helping to rearm the world" as well as "encircling Russia," and carrying out "joint maneuvers with the so-called Mediterranean Dialogue (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, and Algeria.)"
Bruce E. Levine looks at the psychological "slow death" caused by consumer culture as he tries to make sense of the holiday Wal-Mart shoppers’ stampede that trampled a worker to death. When asked to leave by Wal-Mart management, many refused, "some yelling, ‘I’ve been in line since yesterday morning’."
James Petras tries to find some cracks in capitalist economics as he takes a close look at Bernard Madoff’s swindle, which Petras describes as "the biggest fraud in history, a $50 billion scam."
In our review section Hans Bennett looks at three AK & PM Press books on prisons and the prisoner support movement. Seth Sandrosky interviews David T. Roediger about the latter’s book on race, Gabriel San Roman writes about surprising historical (sort of) accuracies of the recent movie Che, and Joshua Sperber raises questions about the premise behind the attempt to assassinate Hitler in Valkyrie.
Finally, we are publishing (in a pullout centerfold) in its entirety, Noam Chomsky’s 12-page piece on the "historic" elections last fall. He writes: "A good question is why the margin of victory for the opposition party was so small, given the circumstances? One possibility is that neither party reflects public opinion at a time when 80 percent think the country is going in the wrong direction and that the government, is run by ‘a few big interests looking out for themselves’." Chomsky then examines, based on the "rhetoric" and the "reality," what we might expect from "brand Obama" in the coming years. Topics covered are democracy claims, foreign policy (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel), and the economy. Chomsky closes by asking: "What would be the content of the ‘Obama brand’ if the public were to become ‘participants’ rather than mere ‘spectators in action’?"
We hope you take some of the more positive signs to heart, a difficult task when there is so much death and destruction going on in the world. We will try, in these pages, as always, to match the bad news with reports of resistance no matter how small.
UPCOMING: Jack Rasmus presents an alternative economic program; we’ll look at the anniversary of the movie Z, which inspired the name of this magazine (and, in part, the Greek uprising described in these pages; and we’ll present new articles for our section on vision and strategy. REMINDER: Z Media Institute applications are due February 16. Don’t miss a chance to attend what our graduates refer to (almost unanimously) as an event "that changed their lives."