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You are here: Platypus /Archive for category Issue #19
Despite unrelenting state repression, there have been rumblings throughout the 2000s of renewed labor organizing inside the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). One result of this upsurge in labor organizing was the May 2005 re-founding of the Syndicate of Workers of the United Bus Company of Tehran and Suburbs, a union that has a long history, albeit one that was interrupted by the 1979 “Revolution,” after which the union was repressed. The unions’ leader, Mansour Osanloo, was severely beaten and thrown in the Rajaei prison where he remains in a state of deteriorating health. Osanloo is an Amnesty International “prisoner of conscience.”
Ben Blumberg For the American Left in the first half the 20th century—commonly referred to as the “Old Left”— the task of advancing freedom entailed a thoroughgoing critique of the racist institutions in American society, a socioeconomic and historical analysis of their origins and contemporary function, as well as practical efforts to eradicate these structures. In other words, racism was the challenge faced by the American Old Left. However, to a large extent it evaded the very challenge it set for itself by accepting the characterization of the black population’s political situation as “the Negro problem.” Only the best of the Old Left pushed against this characterization. The New Left, seeking to overcome the Old Left’s shortcomings and receiving a great impulse from the demands of the Civil Rights movement to do so, would nevertheless come to reenact the previous generation’s failings. This brings forth an uncomfortable question: if Marxists in the United States were unable to meet the challenge of raising racism to the level of a transformable reality, then to what extent can we speak of an American tradition of Marxism—a Marxism adequate to the situation of American capitalism—at all?
ONCE ACCLAIMED BY FIGURES as diverse as Eugene O’Neill, Henry Miller, and A. Philip Randolph, but later forgotten, the West Indian radical Hubert Henry Harrison is enjoying renewed prominence as a result of Jeffrey B. Perry’s recent biography, Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883–1918, the first of two projected volumes. Perry’s achievement in resuscitating his long-forgotten subject should not be understated, for Harrison’s significance has been largely overlooked. For example, Harold Cruse’s The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual deals extensively with the radical West Indian Harlem milieu but mentions Harrison only briefly. Perry’s research, using many untapped primary sources including Harrison’s private diary, will likely remain definitive for a long time to come, at least as regards the man himself, from his reading habits and sexual conquests to his uncompromising radicalism.
IN 1926, HISTORIAN CARTER WOODSON inaugurated “Negro History Week.” Negro History Week bred Black History Month, and Black History Month bred the many diverse “Heritage” months of our American calendar: Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and American Indian Heritage Month, to pick just a few. But along the way, the justification for studying history changed.