Sunday, March 18, 2012

Workers World newspaper: a few notes on the latest issue

Before I begin my nit-picking and gripes about the latest issue of Workers World newspaper [Vol. 54, No. 11, 22 March 2012], I must take a moment to place my cards on the table.  A little over a year ago WWP rejected my request for candidate membership.  My end of the experience is depicted in my pamphlet Doorknobs in the Pillowcase.  In the year since then, I have made a donation to the WWP, and have refrained from treating the party's politics to public criticism on this blog.  This was not a consciously imposed silence or detente, since as readers of the blog will realize I usually don't post my own writing here.  I have posted a few arrows aimed at the more retrograde middle class radical groups, like Party for Socialism and Liberation and CPUSA, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  But even when tempted to review publicly some of the more retrogressive formulations and lines of the WWP, I was concerned that my motivations might be based on personal and not objective calculations.

But 13 months is long enough.  I do not intend to launch into any tirades or vendettas.  But the 22 March issue of Workers World newspaper does offer a few jumping-off points.

Let us begin with the banner article above the fold on page one, "Women Fight Back: Mass outrage vs. rightwing attacks" by Kris Hamel.  The article does an excellent job with the sequence of events during the last month concerning contraception and abortion rights.  Oddly, it leaves out a significant preceding event, the public outrage and immediate mobilization that stopped the Susan G. Komen charity from reducing its Planned Parenthood contributions.  Activists in defense of womens' reproductive rights were in a better position to meet the Republican attacks because they had an initial victory over Komen, and I think this has been a critical tactical factor.

The article also does a very good job on state level attacks on reproductive rights.  But at each turn, the article refers to these attacks as a "right-wing offensive".  The fact that there is a bipartisan attack on living standards and health care, and that this bipartisan offensive includes a propaganda offensive and legal trial balloons against reproductive rights, is not brought sharply into focus.  Limbaugh, Romney, and Santorum are mentioned by name as instigators of anti-woman rhetoric.  But when it comes to President Obama, we are only told that he "caved in" to Catholic Church pressure.

At the end of the article we are treated to four paragraphs of rather abstract formulation:

   Working-class, poor women, women of color and women from oppressed nationalities have been singled out for attack by the right-wing and are now participating in a growing fightback demanding reproductive and health care justice for all.

  In this presidential election year, the Democratic Party has confirmed that it is campaigning to win women's votes — which should not be difficult, given the anti-woman record of the Republicans.

   However, the Democrats were responsible for one of the meanest attacks on poor women in recent times: so-called welfare reform, initiated under Bill Clinton, which has forced almost 2 million women and their children into "extreme poverty" — defined as trying to survive on less than $2 a day. (See WW editorial this issue.)

   The struggle must stay in the streets and address the crimes of capitalism — homelessness, unemployment and racism — which must be eradicated for there to be real reproductive freedom and justice for all women.

Phrases like "the Democrats" and "under Bill Clinton" soften and partially obscure the role of the Democratic Party and its presidents.

The fact that WWP has long had a reputation for this kind of rhetorical soft-pedaling leads me to think these formulations were intentional, as was the use of hot-button words like "right-wing offensive".


On page 4, the headline "FDNY must hire people of color, payback wages" should read "FDNY must hire people of color, pay back wages".


I was going to use a few more article excerpts to reference an over-use of the 1% vs. 99% metaphor. But the articles I selected from the print edition of 22 March are not to be found online. The search option for the website does not bring up the articles desired, even when the title is entered verbatim. The non-PDF Archive section has not been updated with material from the 22 March issue. Nor do the articles appear on the homepage article list. Updates to the "Red Hot" section likewise seem to have gone without updates for some time. Now that is worth griping about.


1 comment:

  1. Socialism and Liberation follows a Marxist-Leninist party not a middle class radical group.