Eduardo Galeano Disavows His Book ‘The Open Veins’

May 29, 2014

It is really disappointing, terribly disappointing, to read Galeano’s comments regarding the masterful book that he wrote which presents the tragic history of Latin America and the forces responsible for its devastation in a clear and concise narrative.

“The Open Veins of Latin America” is a superb book. It is a book that not only has stood the test of time but continues to be relevant and speaks to the social, economic, and political conditions in Latin America today.

The influence of “Open Veins” on the masses in Latin America and other parts of the world is incalculable.

Is it possible that a writer, as brilliant as Galeano, can forget the power of his own work?

For more than 40 years, Eduardo Galeano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America” has been the canonical anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist and anti-American text in that region. Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s populist president, even put a copy of the book, which he had called “a monument in our Latin American history,” in President Obama’s hands the first time they met. But now Mr. Galeano, a 73-year-old Uruguayan writer, has disavowed the book, saying that he was not qualified to tackle the subject and that it was badly written. Predictably, his remarks have set off a vigorous regional debate, with the right doing some “we told you so” gloating, and the left clinging to a dogged defensiveness.

“ ‘Open Veins’ tried to be a book of political economy, but I didn’t yet have the necessary training or preparation,” Mr. Galeano said last month while answering questions at a book fair in Brazil, where he was being honored on the 43rd anniversary of the book’s publication. He added: “I wouldn’t be capable of reading this book again; I’d keel over. For me, this prose of the traditional left is extremely leaden, and my physique can’t tolerate it.”

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C.L.R. James and E.P. Thompson in Conversation

January 7, 2013

This is a truly priceless video of a long conversation between two great historians, C.L.R. James and E.P. Thompson.

Their meeting took place in the 1980’s hence their discussion of Reagan and Thatcher as well as a fascinating dialogue on the state of the international Left and peace movement.


Springsteen Embraces Occupy

January 21, 2012

The Boss embraces Occupy

Bruce Springsteen’s new single explores income inequality and captures the rage of the 99 percent
By Stephen Deusner

Bruce Springsteen officially announced today that his new album, “Wrecking Ball,” would hit shelves on March 6. Rumors had hinted that this would be his angriest album and that he would be addressing the current recession and the economic travails of middle- and lower-class America. If the first single, “We Take Care of Our Own,” is any indication, this will be to Occupy Wall Street what “The Rising” was to 9/11: the moment when Springsteen takes up a cause and makes sense of an event that has stymied other musicians.

Springsteen’s not the first artist to take up the occupiers’ cause, nor is he the first to filter his outrage through the iconography of Woody Guthrie, the Dust Bowl folkie who has become, 44 years after his death, the patron saint of the 99 percent. Tom Morello evoked Guthrie’s example when he strolled around Zuccotti Park singing “This Land Is Your Land,” which won MTV’s dubious award for Best #OWS Performance last year.

More recently, Jackson Browne debuted a folksy number at Occupy Wall Street that played against his soft-rock strengths in favor of talking-to-the-masses piety. Guthrie has proved to be a potent symbol of grass-roots dissent, yet these songs make it appear as though the folk singer has been thrust upon OWS rather than embraced by its demonstrators. And it’s a limited view of the singer as well, one that doesn’t accommodate his sense of humor or his sense of wonder.

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The Politics of Upton Sinclair

January 21, 2012

The Politics of Upton Sinclair
by RON JACOBS

I’ve always been a fan of the novelist Upton Sinclair. From the day in junior high that I finished his classic about the US meatpacking industry, The Jungle, up to last week when I finally read his novel about Wall Street and the coal-mining industry titled King Coal, I have always found his novels to be well-told tales of life in the domain of Wall Street.

Although the industrial processes he describes in his books are outmoded, the financial chicanery and greed of the financial giants he despised are only more refined. In my mind his works have taken on a new relevance in this period of market manipulation and destruction of the commons under the guise of a free market.

Biographer Anthony Arthur’s 2006 work on writer and activist Upton Sinclair is an engaging and well-researched discussion of the man that was Upton Sinclair. Like the character in Kris Kristofferson’s tune, “The Pilgrim,” Arthur’s Sinclair is “a walking contradiction/partly truth and partly fiction.”

Reaching into the personal papers of Sinclair, his first wife and a number of his friends and colleagues, Arthur has produced a book that is in fact more than a history of the man who was Upton Sinclair, it is a history of the time he lived in. That time spanned two world wars, several revolutions, at least one economic depression, and multiple episodes of governmental repression. Sinclair responded to them all.

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Could jazz provide the Occupy Wall Street soundtrack?

October 26, 2011

Could jazz provide the Occupy Wall Street soundtrack?

The civil rights movement had a jazz beat. Now a new generation of players wants to meld politics and protest
By Martin Johnson

In the late ’50s and ’60s, during the peak of the civil rights movement, marches and meetings had a jazz soundtrack. Masterworks like Max Roach’s “Freedom Now Suite,” Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus” and Sonny Rollins’ “Freedom Suite” were equal parts incendiary and innovative — brilliant music that reflected their times with precision and passion. As that era gave way to the heyday of Black Nationalism, political themes continued in the vibrant jazz of musicians like Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray and Julius Hemphill, among others.

Yet by the ’80s, fight-the-power odes died down in jazz, especially as rap and hip-hop emerged to carry the flag. Jazz veered toward easy listening instead. “I think jazz went through a period in the 1980s and 1990s where it was trying very hard to be ‘America’s Classical Music,’” says composer and bandleader Darcy James Argue. “The intentions behind this were laudable. The movement clearly succeeded in increasing respect for jazz in elite circles — but it also defanged the music by stripping away the social and political context, or by trying to frame it in broadly inoffensive terms.”

Argue is one of the most prominent of a growing number of jazz musicians whose work features overtly political themes.

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London’s Burning

August 10, 2011

ALL-SPORTS issue of the Nation Magazine

July 29, 2011



For only the second time in the magazine’s long history, The Nation’s upcoming issue will be all about sports.

There will be plenty of politics as well.

Politics have been present and held a prominent place throughout US sports history.

Even more so today.

From all the labor problems between the players and owners to athletes speaking out against war and social injustice. There’s also the economics side of sports and that is just as a political issue as anything else.

As a long time sports fan and as a person greatly interested in politics I am really looking forward to reading this special issue of the magazine.

Click here to view the list of articles in the All-Sports Issue of The Nation