Edward S. Herman
Obama vs. Romney
Pennies For Your Thoughts
Psychologists Subvert Democracy
Bruce E. Levine
Citizens United and Walker
Cocaine, Power, and Gaza
Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder
No Such Thing As Rape
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Books by Villar and Cottle, Connie Rice, and Chomsky and Pappe
Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror:
By Oliver Villar and Drew Cottle
Review by Seth Sandronsky
Why write a book about class, cocaine,
To this end, the authors present a strong counter-narrative that begins with cocoa plants and continues with the capitalist production and distribution of cocaine. The Cold War looms large, but Villar and Cottle don’t stop there. They explain how and why the U.S.-led war on the Third World—under the rhetoric of fighting communist insurgents—is now knee-deep in a cocoa-plant growing region in
The authors provide evidence of Uncle Sam’s anti-communist crusade (now the war on terror) in concert with illegal drug trafficking. Past sites of such operations include pre-revolutionary
This is a class war, thus, the basic motive is simple. The
In an introduction, ten chapters, bibliography, notes and an index, we learn much more about this Latin American nation and region. The authors lay bare the factors and forces that spawned
Chapters on the “narco-cartel system” and the “post-cartel system” help us to make sense of changes in the cocaine industry. Take the death of Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug kingpin. As the authors write, his demise heralds: “Sophisticated modes of production and distribution and technological developments (that) increased efficiency.”
Modernization in the cocaine industry occurs as a postwar era of
Some have called
If readers want to learn how “the war on drugs and terror is part of a counterrevolutionary strategy designed to maintain rather than eliminate the economic conditions that allow the drug trade to thrive,” Villar and Cottle’s book is an eyeopener.
Power Concedes Nothing:
One Woman’s Quest for Social Justice in
from the Courtroom to the Kill Zones
By Connie Rice
Review by Kristian Williams
Connie Rice’s memoir, Power Concedes Nothing, is an invigorating self-portrait of a smart, capable, extraordinarily driven woman. It recounts her adventures using both law and politics to confront some of the most intractable problems facing
Connie Rice (not to be confused with her cousin, Condoleezza Rice) made her career and built her reputation suing the Los Angeles Police Department for their indifference to the civil rights of Black people, but sometimes for discriminating against people of color, women, and gays within their own ranks. But by the end of the book, she is giving awards to Chief William Bratton and Sheriff Lee Baca—and gratefully accepting Bratton’s gift of a replica LAPD Chief’s badge engraved with her name.
Rice starts out fighting death penalty cases with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She then moves naturally to aggressive litigation to address police brutality and, shortly after the Rodney King riots, was asked to help with negotiations between rival gangs organizing a truce. The truce greatly reduced the number of shootings and Rice found herself in the position of intermediary as the gangs worked to enforce its terms. In 2000, Sheriff Baca called Rice and asked her to use her gang contacts to help quell a riot in the
The lesson that Rice took from these experiences was that you could win more working with the authorities than against them. She went on to draft a model program for gang interdiction, create an academy to train police in anti-gang strategies, and, eventually, to advise the Department of Defense on counterinsurgency warfare. In the book, she revels in her team’s influence: “Within the first eight months following our report, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had eight of our expert co-authors fly up to
The ironies here are numerous, but perhaps the greatest among them is that Rice doesn’t see the results as co-option, but as unalloyed success. She writes: “It wasn’t a bad tally: getting inside LAPD to figure out what was going on; winning their trust while reinvestigating the Rampart scandal; documenting Charlie Beck’s transformation of Rampart Division; learning the lowdown of policing from hundreds of officers; addressing their fears; forging ties between police and gang intervention; pushing the city and county to step up gang violence reduction efforts; boosting officer and gang intervention training; helping Baca and Bratton join forces; and helping Bratton reframe policing and racial reconciliation.”
She seems to assume, throughout her memoir, that her entrance into the institution signals a change, not in herself, but in the culture of policing. Such naiveté is strange, since she had realized, very early in her career, that the problems with the American criminal justice system were pervasive and systemic: “Law school’s pristine parsing of constitutional principles, lofty notions of liberty, and abstractions on the sanctity of due process had almost nothing to do with the mess I’d seen on the death circuit.... If we determined the most important decision of any legal system—whom to kill—with this bias-ridden, corrupt, error-laden system, then how much integrity could our legal system really have?”
Rice had also learned that good deeds have unintended consequences. She had come to regret, for example, her limited cooperation with the Grape Street Crips and her role in the truce negotiations, recognizing that the “community-friendly stuff” had served not only to reduce violence but also to “validat[e] the gang’s status.” But somehow she doesn’t see the parallels when her later gang work receives “vigorous support from more conservative bodies” and its “strongest support...from law enforcement,” while her liberal allies back away. Furthermore, being conversant in the theory of counterinsurgency, she must understand the strategy of co-opting opposition to help legitimize the state and expand its power. She certainly knows that the city’s “gang czar seeks gang cooperation” to limit violence. Yet she betrays no suspicion that she is being manipulated in the same manner.
And Rice maintains this blind spot, even as she recognizes how police leaders use reforms to increase their own power: studying the LAPD’s history, Rice had noted how one reform chief, William Parker, “transformed the force with a new credo of crisp professionalism,” but also “ignored civilian rule, flouted Supreme Court rulings, and denounced the U.S. Constitution as a shield for criminals.” She had personally seen another chief, Bernard Parks, claim credit for changes that were only forced through litigation, and use the court-mandated reforms to build support for his own tenure. She had later seen Chief William Bratton’s new “compassionate and constitutional” police force unscrupulously attack an immigrants’ rights demonstration in
One answer is sheer egotism. Everyone has the right to be the protagonist in their own autobiography, but Rice sometimes takes it to absurd lengths—comparing herself, at various points, to Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Elizabeth I. It is possible that her psychological need to be important has led her to crave validation from authority and once that validation has been granted, as she feels herself gaining personal influence, the authorities in question and the institutions they (and now, she) are a part of begin to seem increasingly legitimate. In other words, as her efforts to reform these institutions began to have an effect, Rice found herself invested in them and in the structures of authority that granted her some recognition.
A deeper reason may be her progressive ideology. Rice is a civil rights activist, but more particularly, she is a civil rights lawyer, and her lawyer’s mind seems less offended at the racism and brutality of the LAPD than at its lawlessness. If you see the problem as one of lawless policing, then it makes a certain amount of sense to think that lawful policing must be the solution. Likewise, Rice is a liberal, but she is a law-and-order liberal. For example, she calls “freedom from violence...the first rule of civilization” and “safety...the first civil right.” Later she adds, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are meaningless without safety.” Finally, she concludes, “The only thing worse than a racist and brutal LAPD was no LAPD.” But, of course, the notion that any government is better than no government has been the alibi for authoritarianism since Hobbes wrote Leviathan.
Whatever the cause, the result is that Rice does not oppose the police. On the contrary, in her own way, she wants to help them. (As Sheriff Baca joked, “Connie sues you to let you know she wants a relationship.” Rice herself states: “[The police] department tottered on the brink of disintegration. My job was to help save it from the abyss.”) She wants to fix these broken organizations, to make them better at what they do. It should, perhaps, give one pause that she describes what the police do as “keeping people safe in ‘good neighborhoods,’ [keeping] people in ‘bad neighborhoods’...contained,” and quotes one officer: “What we do down here is suppression; it’s not safety, it’s containment to make sure it doesn’t spread to good areas.” Of course, Rice wants to change that mission, but she thinks the way to do it is by improving the police strategy. That is, she assumes that the problem is with the means of policing, and not the ends. And so she has come to believe that she can accomplish more by collaborating than through resistance.
With this in mind, the book’s title—Power Concedes Nothing—becomes somewhat puzzling. It is a reference to Frederick Douglass’s 1857 speech concerning the abolition of slavery in the
Douglass saw a role for moral argument and Parliamentary procedure. But he also saw that it was the resistance of the slaves themselves that made the institution seem untenable. So long as slavery was merely wrong, it could survive. Only when it became a danger to the slave-owners was it abandoned.
From these observations, Douglass extrapolated a general principle: “If there is no struggle there is no progress.... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Kristian Williams is the author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in
Edited by Frank Barat
Haymarket Press, 240 pp.
Review by Azhar Ali Khan
The book denies that the Palestinians fled from their homes in 1948 to enable Arab armies to defeat
The UN Partition Plan, agreed to under
The Haganah-led and state-sponsored ethnic cleansing began in December 1947, before
The Israeli Arabs were kept under military rule for more than two decades. Even now, numerous laws in
Since 1967, the Israeli policy, having taken 80 percent of Palestine, has been to grab major chunks of the remaining 20 percent—Palestinians can have a mini-state in some arid Bantustans, which will also be controlled by the Israelis.
Chomsky and Pappe state that the Israeli policy of dispossessing Palestinians and subsidizing illegal settlers—who now number half a million in occupied territories—has made a two-state solution impractical.
To have its way,
Chomsky and Pappe assert that this has been possible because of
The authors assert that
Christian Zionists also support
Chomsky and Pappe feel that as the Internet and social media bring out the truth in the Middle East, world opinion will turn even more against
This is a depressing but thoughtful book written by two of the world’s eminent thinkers. It should be read widely by those who believe in human rights, equality, dignity, justice and peace for all human being.
Azhar Ali Khan is a freelance writer and activist.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.