In an interview with Democracy Now! Dr. Cornel West accuses Obama of "looking for the wrong Lincoln." The greatness of Lincoln, he argues, lies instead in the way he repsonded to the demands of social movements led by the likes of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe. These movements were not responding to some professed American value, but rather fighting against the construction of race and racism though the ideas, policies and institutions that reproduced its fundamental logic. This is the argument David Roediger advances in How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon. A reviewer in The Journal of American History praises the book as "a compact survey of race in U.S. History."
Viewing race as part of a series of dialectical formations, the author unravels a number of paradoxes at the heart of American history, explaining, for example, how the democratization of white citizenship was accompanied by a dramatic expansion in black bondage and the dispossession of native lands, how a capitalist system that was only supposed to see profit (and labor as an abstraction) organized some of the most racially stratified workforces on the planet, how a "color-blind" liberalism gave rise to deeply entrenched racial inequalities in the postwar period, and why race will likely survive the election of a black president.
In the latest edition of Against the Current, Steve Downs, a longtime rank-and-file union activist in the New York subway and author of the inspiring solidarity pamphlet Hell On Wheels, reflects on his own politicization and the legacy of labor struggles during the "long 1970s." Far from a simple book review, Downs' article draws from the essays in Rebel Rank and File: Labor Militancy and Revolt from Below During the Long 1970s to explain the current impasse of the US labor movement and the urgent need for democratic, bottom-up renewal.
As employers pushed for greater production and profits, workers pushed back. When their union officers failed to lead the fight against management, members built rank-and-file movements with which to resist, until mass unemployment set in with the recessions and the onset of deindustrialization. In hindsight, this period marked the beginning of the end for the U.S. industrial economy and unions that depended on it.
Following a string of arguments and rebuttals over Erik Olin Wright's Envisioning Real Utopias, a reviewer in Choice declares that Wright "builds a strong case for an emancipatory social science." The Progressive's Editor, Matthew Rothschild, described the book as a "vision of a radically democratic and egalitarian society—and some ways we might get there."
Sociologist Wright (Univ. of Wisconsin) uses critiques of capitalism and commitment to social justice as his starting point and builds a strong case for an emancipatory social science investigating what he calls desirable, viable, and achievable alternatives to capitalist social, political and economic organization. He clearly states analytical distinctions and definitions and supplies excellent examples; discusses capitalism and its critiques; and contrasts socialism (emphasizing the social), capitalism, and statism in his discussion of economic, state, and social power and the potential for social empowerment through civil society. Wright acknowledges challenges to achieving social justice goals in social transformation and gives examples of projects that he sees as indicative of democratic egalitarianism: Wikipedia; participatory city budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil; Spain's Mondragon cooperatives; community land trusts; and the fair trade movement. Of interest for sociology, labour studies, anthropology, political economy, and social work collections. Recommended. [E. Kingsolver, University of South Carolina]
"George Perec's books in English are always the best looking," declares Laird Hunt in a recent review of The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise. Stylistically, Verso's 2011 edition of Perec's neurotic and pessimistic vision of office work "is every bit as handsome as its predecessors."
Handsome presentation isn't the only good news here. If The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise isn't likely to engender a significant reenvisioning of the Perec archipelago, it at least adds an outlying island of genuine interest.
Internships, those much-touted indicators of "work experience" in the post-industrial economy, come at a heavy cost for students—particularly those who still pay tuition while performing unwaged work. As Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation, argues in his latest piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, colleges and universities are complicit in this process of tuition-theft, commonly known as "a foot in the door."
At institutions across the country, full-time, unpaid internships required for graduation are often charged at or near the normal tuition rate. In many cases, students seeking to avoid this expense are not permitted to find and complete the needed internship on their own. The result is tantamount to outsourcing part of a student's degree while still sticking them with the bill (which can run upward of $14,000).