Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ahmed Mohamed—“Kathy”—Kathrada (21 August 1929 – 28 March 2017)

Twenty Congress Alliance leaders of the Defiance Campaign (a series of mass actions involving more than 10,000 protesters) appear in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on charges of contravening the Suppression of Communism Act, August 26, 1952. Ahmed Kathrada is in the upper row, second from the right. 

Please see my post at Religious Left Law

Monday, March 27, 2017

“Corky” Gonzáles and the first National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference

On this date in 1969, the first national Chicano youth conference was held in Denver, Colorado by Crusade for Justice, the civil rights organization founded by former boxer Corky Gonzáles. “Rodolfo ’Corky’ Gonzáles (June 18, 1928 – April 12, 2005) was a Mexican American boxer, poet, and political activist. He convened the first-ever Chicano youth conference in March 1969, which was attended by many future Chicano activists and artists. The conference also promulgated the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, a manifesto demanding self-determination for Chicanos. As an early figure of the movement for the equal rights of Mexican Americans, he is often considered one of the founders of the Chicano Movement.” 

According to Carlos Muñoz, Jr.,   

“[The conference] brought together for the first time activists from all over the country who were involved in both campus and community politics. The conference was also significant because it brought together young people of all types—students, non-students, militant youth from the street gangs (vatos locos), and ex-convicts (pintos)—to discuss community issues and politics. The majority in attendance, however, were student activists, and most of them were from California. The conference emphasized themes that related to the quest for identity as popularized by Gonzáles and [Luis] Valdez, which were eagerly received by students searching for an ideology for the emerging student movement. 

Corky Gonzáles and his followers in Denver had developed the image of the Crusade for Justice as ‘the vanguard’ of the rapidly growing Chicano Power Movement. The Crusade, originally a multi-issue, broad-based civil rights organization oriented toward nonviolence, came to symbolize Chicano self-determination and espoused a strong nationalist ideology that militant youth found extremely attractive. [….] 

During the week-long conference, Gonzáles and his followers stressed the need for students and youth to play a revolutionary role in the movement. Conference participants were told that previous generations of students, after completing academic programs and becoming professionals, had abdicated their responsibility to their people, to their familia de La Raza. This abdication of responsibility was attributed to the fact that Mexican American students had been Americanized by the schools, that they had been conditioned to accept the dominant values of American society, particularly individualism, at the expense of their Mexican identity. The result had been the psychological ‘colonization’ of Mexican American youth.”  

A brief biography of Gonzáles: 

[….] “During his final year in high school and the subsequent summer, Corky worked hard to save money for a college education. With a keen interest in engineering, Corky entered the University of Denver, but after the first quarter realized that the financial cost was insurmountable. Rodolfo then pursued a career in Boxing. An outstanding amateur national champion Rodolfo became one of the best featherweight (125 lbs.) fighters in the world. Even though Ring Magazine ranked Corky number three in the world, he never got a justly deserved title shot. 

In the mid-1960’s, Rodolfo Gonzáles founded an urban civil rights and cultural movement called the Crusade for Justice. Soon he became one of the central leaders in the Chicano movement and a strong proponent of Chicano nationalism. In the late sixties and early seventies, Corky Gonzáles organized and supported high school walkouts, demonstrations against police brutality, and legal cases. He also organized mass demonstrations against the Vietnam War. 

In 1968 Gonzáles led a Chicano contingent in the Poor People’s March on Washington, D.C. While there, he issued his ‘Plan of the Barrio’ which called for better housing, education, barrio-owned businesses, and restitution of pueblo lands. He also proposed forming a ‘Congress of Aztlán’ to achieve these goals. 

One of the most important roles played by Gonzáles was as an organizer of the Annual Chicano Youth Liberation Conference, an ambitious effort to create greater unity among Chicano youth. These Conferences brought together large numbers of Chicano youth from throughout the United States and provided them with opportunities to express their views on self-determination. The first conference in March 1969 produced a document, “Plan Espiritual de Aztlán,” which developed the concept of ethnic nationalism and self-determination in the struggle for Chicano liberation. The second Chicano Youth Conference in 1970 represented a further refinement in Corky Gonzáles’s efforts toward Chicano self-determination, the formation of the Colorado Raza Unida Party. 

During this time Corky and his wife, Geraldine Romero Gonzáles, raised a family of six daughters and two sons…. Corky is proud of his family, especially the twenty-four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Recently celebrating his fifty-sixth wedding anniversary, Corky attributed the closeness and strength of his family to his beloved wife, Geraldine, who has been his most enthusiastic and ardent supporter.

In many ways, Corky Gonzáles has greatly influenced the Chicano movement. His key to liberation for the Chicano community is to develop a strong power base with heavy reliance on nationalism among Chicanos. His contributions as a community organizer, youth leader, political activist, and civil rights advocate have helped to create a new spirit of Chicano unity.” [….]   

An introduction to the Crusade for Justice by James Mejia (for La Voz, October 14, 2015): 

[….] “Emerging from a non-partisan group called Los Voluntarios, the Crusade for Justice was born out of frustration of living in a system that did not serve the residents of Denver equitably. A former Democratic political captain had been fired from his patronage job working with area youth for protesting racist coverage by the Rocky Mountain News. When Denver Mayor, Tom Currigan, handed Rodolfo ‘Corky’ Gonzáles his walking papers from the Neighborhood Youth Corps, he catalyzed the movement toward an independent organization serving the Chicano community and gave the Crusade for Justice its leader, and personification of the entire Chicano movement in Colorado. ‘They didn’t buy me when they gave me this job,’ was Corky’s retort when asked how a City of Denver employee could organize a protest, according to Corky’s son, Rudy Gonzáles.

Corky was the natural chair of the organization given his status as suddenly available, his passion for serving his community, the reflection on the recent death of his father, and his notoriety for athleticism in the boxing ring – once winning the National Amateur Athletic Union bantamweight title in 1946. What César Chávez and Dolores Huerta were to California and Reies Lopez Tijerina was to New Mexico, Corky Gonzáles was to Colorado – the face and leader of the movement – brash, determined, independent, and decidedly moving toward self-determination of the Chicano community.

The founding board of the Crusade for Justice is a ‘Who’s Who’ in early Chicano activism and achievement, all leaders in their own right and all achieving positions of prominence in their fields of interest to give weight, professionalism and political influence to the positions that would be taken by the Crusade. From boxer, Ralph Luna, to entrepreneur, John Haro, and from War on Poverty representative, Charlie Vigil, to Democratic Party captain, Eloy Espinoza, the board was steeped with talented bootstrappers achieving in a system stacked against them. Their individual standing and unity as a board led the Crusade to Justice to almost immediate prominence and provided the ability to meet with local or national politicians and policy makers.

Founding Crusade for Justice board member, Desi DeHerrera, held a position investigating police brutality. Originally from the San Luis Valley, he, like many others came to Denver for work. What he found upon arrival was discouraging, ‘So many places didn’t hire Latinos. Coors, the Post Office, local utilities… When the Crusade started to question these practices, at least some of them started to open up. It took boycotting others to make change.’

The Crusade for Justice would hit their stride in the late 1960s when they protested against the Vietnam War, held demonstrations against racist media and police brutality toward youth of color, organized legal cases in employment discrimination and organized and supported high school walkouts across the state, most notably the Denver West High School walkout. The Crusade had a prominent place in the national movements of the day including the Poor People’s March on Washington, and the United Farm Workers protests and pickets in California. Closer to home, the Crusade produced ‘El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan’ outlining self-determination of the Chicano community and gave birth to the Colorado Raza Unida Party.

At its peak, the Crusade for Justice was a movement but also a substantial holder of property used to provide services for the Chicano community in Denver – job training, a food bank, book store, dance troupe, a Chicano-centric school, and the first Chicano art gallery in Denver founded by renowned artist and sculptor, Carlos Santisteva.

In the mid-1970s the Crusade for Justice disbanded. There are several versions as to why including a standoff with Denver Police over a jaywalking incident in front of Crusade headquarters where injuries on both sides seemed to cool momentum and prosecution of Crusade members on weapons charges took important players off the field. Other versions include Corky’s disagreement with board members on how the physical assets of the organization were to be operated and financed.

For Rudy Gonzáles, now Executive Director of Servicios de la Raza, the Crusade hasn’t ever died, ‘The Crusade for Justice was never about bricks and mortar, it is a movement, a behavior and a belief system. It was ingrained in us to continue the philosophy and the action. If anything, the issues facing our community have become more pronounced and our work continues.

Recommended Reading:

  • Castro, Tony. Chicano Power: The Emergence of Mexican America. New York: Saturday Review Press, 1974. 
  • Chávez, Ernesto. “¡Mi Raza Primero!”— Nationalism, Identity, and Insurgency in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966-1978. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002.
  • Elam, Harry J., Jr. Taking It to the Streets: The Social Protest Theater of Luis Valdez and Amiri Baraka. Detroit, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001. 
  • Esquibel, Antonio, ed. Message to Aztlán: Selected Writings of Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzáles. Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 2001.
  • García, Alma M., ed. Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings. New York: Routledge, 1997. 
  • García, Ignacio M. United We Win: The Rise and Fall of La Raza Unida Party. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1989.
  • García, Mario T. Memories of Chicano History: The Life and Narrative of Bert Corona. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994. 
  • García, Mario T. and Sal Castro. Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • Gomez-Quiñones, Juan. Mexican Students por la Raza: The Chicano Student Movement in Southern California, 1967-1977. Santa Barbara, CA: Editorial La Causa, 1978. 
  • Marin, Marguerite V. Social Protest in an Urban Barrio: A Study of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1974. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991. 
  • Mariscal, George. Brown-Eyed Children of the Sun: Lessons from the Chicano Movement, 1965-1975. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2005. 
  • Mariscal, George, ed. Aztlán and Vietnam: Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999. 
  • Muñoz, Carlos, Jr. Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement. London: Verso, 1989. 
  • Navarro, Armando. Mexican American Youth Organization: Avant-Garde of the Chicano Movement in Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1995. 
  • Navarro, Armando. The Cristal Experiment: A Chicano Struggle for Community Control. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998. 
  • Navarro, Armando. La Raza Unida Party: A Chicano Challenge to the U.S. Two-Party Dictatorship. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2000. 
  • Oropeza, Lorena. ¡Raza Si! ¡Guerra No!: Chicano Protest and Patriotism during the Viet Nam War Era. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005. 
  • Rendon, Armando B. Chicano Manifesto: The History and Aspirations of the Second Largest Minority in America. New York: Macmillan, 1971. 
  • Rosales, Francisco Arturo. CHICANO! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, University of Houston, 2nd ed., 1997. 
  • Vigil, Ernesto B. The Crusade for Justice: Chicano Militancy and the Government’s War on Dissent. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.
 I have a separate bibliography for César Chávez & the United Farm Workers.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rodolfo Walsh: revolutionary Argentine journalist

March 24, 1977: On this date Rodolfo Jorge Walsh (January 9, 1927 – March 25, 1977) an Argentine writer, journalist and revolutionary of Irish descent, published his “Open Letter from a Writer to the Military Junta” (excerpts from which are below) accusing them of disappearing thousands of Argentines. The next day he was murdered. 

“In 1976, in response to censorship imposed by the military dictatorship, Walsh had created ANCLA, (Clandestine News Agency), and the ‘Information Chain,’ a system of hand-to-hand information distribution whose leaflets stated in the heading: 

Reproduce this information, circulate it by any means at your disposal: by hand, by machine, by mimeograph, orally. Send copies to your friends: nine out of ten are waiting for them. Millions want to be informed. Terror is based on lack of communication. Break the isolation. Feel again the moral satisfaction of an act of freedom. Defeat the terror. Circulate this information.

While US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger congratulated Argentina’s military junta for combating the left, stating that in his opinion “the government of Argentina had done an outstanding job in wiping out terrorist forces,” fulfilling Kissinger’s earlier wish for the military junta to stamp out “terrorism.” As Christopher Hitchens writes in The Trial of Henry Kissinger (New York: Twelve, 2012/ first published by Verso, 2002),

“When Kissinger and [Admiral] Guzzetti first met, the number of ‘disappeared’ was estimated at 1,022. By the time Argentina had become an international byword for torture, for anti-Semitism, for death-squads and for the concept of the desaparecido, a minimum of 15,000 victims had been registered by reliable international and local monitors. In 1978, when the situation was notorious, Kissinger (by then out of office) accepted a personal invitation from the dictator General Videla to be his guest during Argentina’s hosting of the soccer World Cup. The former Secretary of State made use of the occasion to lecture the Carter administration for its excessive tenderness concerning human rights. General Videla … has since been imprisoned for life. One of the more specific charges on which he was convicted was the sale of the children of rape victims held in his secret jails. His patron and protector, meanwhile, is enjoying a patriarchal autumn that may still be disturbed … by the memory of what he permitted and indeed encouraged.”

Hitchens also reminds us that Argentina’s “Dirty War” was but one component of Operation Condor, “a machinery of cross-border assassination, abduction, torture and intimidation, coordinated between the secret police forces of Pinochet’s Chile, Stroessner’s Paraguay, Videla’s Argentina, and other regional caudillos.” Among the objectives of this “campaign of political repression and state terror,” “nominally intended to eradicate communist or Soviet influence and ideas,” was the suppression of “active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments’ neoliberal economic policies, which sought to reverse the economic reforms of the previous era.” The U.S. government under several successive presidential administrations provided technical assistance, intelligence information, and military aid to the participating governments in South America: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil.

*           *           *          

From the “Open Letter:”

The first anniversary of this Military Junta has brought about a year-end review of government operations in the form of official documents and speeches: what you call good decisions are mistakes, what you acknowledge as mistakes are crimes, and what you have left out entirely are disasters. [….]

Illegitimate since birth, your government could have legitimized itself by reviving the political program that 80 percent of Argentines voted for in the 1973 elections, and that continues to be an objective expression of the people’s will—the only thing that could possibly be denoted by the ‘national being’ that you invoke so often. You have gone instead in the completely opposite direction by returning to the ideas and interests of defeated minority groups, the ones who hold back workforce development, exploit the people, and divide the Nation. This kind of politics can only prevail temporarily by banning political parties, taking control of unions, silencing the press, and introducing Argentine society to the most profound terror it has ever known. [….]

Fifteen thousand missing, ten thousand prisoners, four thousand dead, tens of thousands in exile: these are the raw numbers of this terror.

Since the ordinary jails were filled to the brim, you created virtual concentration camps in the main garrisons of the country which judges, lawyers, journalists, and international observers, are all forbidden to enter. The military secrecy of what goes on inside, which you cite as a requirement for the purposes of investigation, means that the majority of the arrests turn into kidnappings that in turn allow for torture without limits and execution without trial.

The refusal of this Junta to publish the names of the prisoners is, moreover, a cover for the systematic execution of hostages in vacant lots in the early morning, all under the pretext of fabricated combat and imaginary escape attempts.

Extremists who hand out pamphlets in the countryside, graffiti the sidewalks, or pile ten at a time into vehicles that then burst into flames: these are the stereotypes of a screenplay that was written not to be believed, but to buffer against the international reaction to the current executions. Within the country, meanwhile, the screenplay only underscores how intensely the military lashes back in the same places where there has just been guerrilla activity.

Seventy people executed after the Federal Security Agency bombing, fifty-five in response to the blasting of the La Plata Police Department, thirty for the attack on the Ministry of Defense, forty in the New Year’s Massacre following the death of Colonel Castellanos, and nineteen after the explosion that destroyed the Ciudadela precinct, amount to only a portion of the twelve hundred executions in three hundred alleged battles where the opposition came out with zero wounded and zero forces killed in action.

Many of the hostages are union representatives, intellectuals, relatives of guerrillas, unarmed opponents, or people who just look suspicious: they are recipients of a collective guilt that has no place in a civilized justice system and are incapable of influencing the politics that dictate the events they are being punished for. They are killed to balance the number of casualties according to the foreign ‘body-count’ doctrine that the SS used in occupied countries and the invaders used in Vietnam. [….]

These events, which have shaken the conscience of the civilized world, are nonetheless not the ones that have brought the greatest suffering upon the Argentine people, nor are they the worst human rights violations that you have committed. The political economy of the government is the place to look not only for the explanation of your crimes, but also for an even greater atrocity that is leading millions of human beings into certain misery.

Over the course of one year, you have decreased the real wages of workers by 40 percent, reduced their contribution to the national income by 30 percent, and raised the number of hours per day a worker needs to put in to cover his cost of living from six to eighteen, thereby reviving forms of forced labor that cannot even be found in the last remnants of colonialism.

By freezing salaries with the butts of your rifles while prices rise at bayonet point, abolishing every form of collective protest, forbidding internal commissions and assemblies, extending workdays, raising unemployment to a record level of 9 percent and being sure to increase it with three hundred thousand new layoffs, you have brought labor relations back to the beginning of the Industrial Era. And when the workers have wanted to protest, you have called them subversives and kidnapped entire delegations of union representatives who sometimes turned up dead, and other times did not turn up at all.

The results of these policies have been devastating. During this first year of government, consumption of food has decreased by 40 percent, consumption of clothing by more than 50 percent, and the consumption of medicine is practically at zero among the lower class. There are already regions in Greater Buenos Aires where the infant mortality rate is above 30 percent, a figure which places us on par with Rhodesia, Dahomey, or the Guayanas. The incidence of diseases like Summer Diarrhea, parasitosis, and even rabies has climbed to meet world records and has even surpassed them. As if these were desirable and sought-after goals, you have reduced the public health budget to less than a third of military spending, shutting down even the free hospitals while hundreds of doctors, medical professionals, and technicians join the exodus provoked by terror, low wages, or ‘rationalization.’

You only have to walk around Greater Buenos Aires for a few hours before quickly realizing that these policies are turning it into a slum with ten million inhabitants. Cities in semi-darkness; entire neighborhoods with no running water because the monopolies rob them of their groundwater tables; thousands of blocks turned into one big pothole because you only pave military neighborhoods and decorate the Plaza de Mayo; the biggest river in the world is contaminated in all of its beaches because Minister Martinez de Hoz’s associates are sloughing their industrial waste into it, and the only government measure you have taken is to ban people from bathing.

You have not been much wiser it comes to the abstract goals of the economy, which you tend to call ‘the country.’ A decrease in the gross national product of around 3 percent, a foreign debt reaching $600 dollars per inhabitant, an annual inflation rate of 400 percent, a 9 percent increase in the money supply within a single week in December, a low of 13 percent in foreign investment—these are also world records, strange fruit born of cold calculation and severe incompetence.

While all the constructive and protective functions of the state atrophy and dissolve into pure anemia, only one is clearly thriving. One billion eight hundred million dollars—the equivalent of half of Argentina’s exports—have been budgeted for Security and Defense in 1977. That there are four thousand new officer positions in the Federal Police and twelve thousand in the Province of Buenos Aires offering salaries that are double that of an industrial worker and triple that of a school principal—while military wages have secretly increased by 120 percent since February—proves that there is no salary freezing or unemployment in the kingdom of torture and death. This is the only Argentine business where the product is growing and where the price per slain guerrilla is rising faster than the dollar.

Martinez de Hoz’s 1976 policy was similar to the formula prescribed by the IMF that Walsh mentions here. The general idea was to restructure the States economic program, cutting down on domestic spending and any State regulation, to allow for growth through the international economy. The old ranchers’ oligarchy (‘oligarquia ganadera’) refers to cattle-ranching families that owned Argentine land and gained high social status starting in the nineteenth century. De Hoz himself came from such a family.

The economic policies of this Junta—which follow the formula of the International Monetary Fund that has been applied indiscriminately to Zaire and Chile, to Uruguay and Indonesia—recognize only the following as beneficiaries: the old ranchers’ oligarchy; the new speculating oligarchy; and a select group of international monopolies headed by ITT, Esso, the automobile industry, US Steel, and Siemens, which Minister Martinez de Hoz and his entire cabinet have personal ties to.

A 722 percent increase in the prices of animal products in 1976 illustrates the scale of a return to oligarchy, launched by Martinez de Hoz, that is consistent with the creed of the Sociedad Rural as stated by its president, Celedonio Pereda: ‘It is very surprising that certain small but active groups keep insisting that food should be affordable.’ [….]

These are the thoughts I wanted to pass on to the members of this Junta on the first anniversary of your ill-fated government, with no hope of being heard, with the certainty of being persecuted, but faithful to the commitment I made a long time ago to bear witness during difficult times.

Rodolfo Walsh—I.D. 2845022

Buenos Aires, March 24, 1977

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The legal crystallization of Republican contempt for and condescension toward the working-class


 Alphonse Maddin
Watch Al Franken shut down Gorsuch’s cruel decision in the ‘Frozen Trucker’ case

I had a career in identifying absurdity. And I know it when I see it.”

Al Franken’s questioning crystallizes the haughty contempt and condescension Republicans generally and Judge Gorsuch in this instance often have—patriotic populist rhetoric notwithstanding—toward the everyday lives of working people, their “lived experience” as the phenomenologist would say. Gorsuch claims to have “empathy”* for the trucker but, as he forthrightly admits, he refused at the time, and refuses here once more, to imaginatively put himself in the shoes of Alphonse Maddin** on the day in question. See the decision in TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board (2016).

Click on the video in the link for the full transcript of this portion of the confirmation hearing. 

* “I empathize with him entirely.” 
** “I don’t know, I wasn’t in the man’s shoes.Translation: I made no attempt to imagine myself in his shoes, in other words, I made no genuine attempt to empathize with his concrete situation (which posed undue risks to his personal health and endangered the safety of others on the road that day).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, 21 March 1960

Painting of the Sharpeville massacre, which took place 21 March 1960, Sharpeville, (today) Gauteng province, South Africa, currently located in the South African Consulate in London. Godfrey Rubens (painter and photographer)

Please see my post today at Religious Left Law

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Contract Theory & Promises: Recommended Reading (updated)

This list goes a bit beyond “promises and contract theory,” strictly speaking, but where that occurs, the material is thought to have some bearing on the subject. Please let me know of any conspicuous omissions, as I’m relying on this material to revise an introductory essay on promises and contract theory.*

  • Atiyah, Patrick S. “Contracts, Promises and the Law of Obligations,” 94 Law Quarterly Review 193 (1978), reprinted in Linzer (below): 78-91.
  • Atiyah, P.S. Promises, Morals, and Law. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, revised ed., 1983. 
  • Atiyah, P.S. Essays on Contract. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • Atiyah, P.S. An Introduction to the Law of Contract. New York: Oxford University Press, 5th ed., 1995.
  • Austin, J.L (J.O. Urmson and Marina Sbisà, eds.) How to Do Things with Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2nd ed., 1975.
  • Ayres, Ian. And Gregory Klass. Insincere Promises: The Law of Misrepresented Intent. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.
  • Baier, Annette C. Moral Prejudices: Essays on Ethics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
  • Barnett, Randy E. “A Consent Theory of Contract,” 86 Columbia Law Review 269 (1986).
  • Benson, Peter, ed. The Theory of Contract Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Bix, Brian H. “Contract Rights and Remedies, and the Divergence between Law and Morality,” Ratio Juris, Vo. 21, No. 2, June 2008: 194-211.
  • Bix, Brian H. “Law and Economic Explanations in Contract Law,” in Mark D. White, ed. Theoretical Foundations of Law and Economics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009: 203-213. 
  • Bix, Brian H. “Contracts,” in Franklin G. Miller and Alan Wertheimer, eds. The Ethics of Consent: Theory and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Bix, Brian H. Contract Law: Rules, Theories, and Context. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Bix, Brian H. Review of Klass, Letsas & Saprai (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law, The Cambridge Law Journal, Vol. 74, 3 (November 2015): 619-621.
  • Bix, Brian H. “The Promise and Problems of Universal, General Theories of Contract Law,”(no date)
  • Calamari, John D. and Joseph M. Perillo. The Law of Contracts. St. Paul, MN: West Group, 4th ed., 1998.
  • Collins, Hugh. Regulating Contracts. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Craswell, Richard. “Two Economic Theories of Enforcing Promises,” in Benson (above): 19-44.
  • Cunningham, Lawrence A. Contracts in the Real World: Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Eisenberg, Melvin A. “The Theory of Contracts,” in Benson (above): 206-64.
  • Ellickson, Robert C. Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.
  • Foot, Philippa. Moral Dilemmas. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 2002.
  • Fried, Charles. Contract as Promise. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.
  • Fuller, Lon L. The Morality of Law. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, revised ed., 1969.
  • Gilbert, Margaret. “Is an Agreement an Exchange of Promises?,” Journal of Philosophy 60 (12) (1993): 627-649.
  • Gordley, James. Foundations of Private Law: Property, Tort, Contract, Unjust Enrichment. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Hardin, Russell. Liberalism, Constitutionalism and Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Hardin, Russell. Trust and Trustworthiness. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2002.
  • Hardin, Russell. David Hume: Moral and Political Theorist. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1978.
  • Kraus, Jody S. “Philosophy of Contract Law,” in Jules Coleman and Scott Shapiro, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002: 687-751.
  • Kreitner, Roy. Calculating Promises: The Emergence of Modern American Contract Doctrine. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.
  • Linzer, Peter, ed. A Contracts Anthology. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publ., 2nd ed., 1995.
  • Markovits, Daniel, “Theories of the Common Law of Contracts,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  • McMahon, Christopher. Collective Rationality and Collective Reasoning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 
  • Pratt, Michael. “Contract: Not Promise,” Florida State University Law Review, Vol. 35 (2008): 801-816.
  • Posner, Eric A. Law and Social Norms. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.
  • Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.
  • Raz, Joseph. The Morality of Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • Raz, Joseph. Practical Reason and Norms. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999 ed.
  • Scanlon, T.M. “Promises and Contracts,” in Benson (above): 86-117.
  • Searle, John R. Rationality in Action. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.
  • Shiffrin, Seana Valentine. “The Divergence of Contract and Promise,” Harvard Law Review, 120 (2007): 708-753. 
  • Shiffrin, Seana Valentine. Promising, Intimate Relationships, and Conventionalism,Philosophical Review, Vol. 117, No. 4, 2008: 481-524. 
  • Shiffrin, Seana Valentine. Could Breach of Contract be Immoral,Michigan Law Review, Vol. 107, No. 8, June 2009: 1551-1568.
  • Shiffrin, Seana Valentine. “Are Contracts Promises?,” in Andrei Marmor, ed. Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Law. New York: Routledge, 2012.
  • Slawson, W. David. Binding Promises: The Late 20th Century Reformation of Contract Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.
  • Smith, Stephen A. Contract Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Wood, Allen W. Kant’s Ethical Thought. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Zaibert, Leo. “Intentions, Promises, and Obligations,” in Barry Smith, ed., John Searle. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
* Brian Bix graciously recommended a couple of articles, as did Steve Shiffrin. 
Update: This compilation is now available for preview and/or download on my Academia page

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Paris Commune: 18 March to 28 May 1871



The way people, particularly young people, live now resembles in its economic instability the situation of the nineteenth century workers and artisans who made the Commune, most of whom spent most of their time not working but looking for work.
After 2011, with the return virtually everywhere of a political strategy grounded in taking up space, seizing places and territories, turning cities — from Istanbul to Madrid, from Montreal to Oakland — into theaters for strategic operations, the Paris Commune has become newly illuminated or visible, it has entered once again into the figurability of the present.
Its forms of political invention have become newly available to us not as lessons but as resources, or as what Andrew Ross, speaking about my book, called a useable archive.” The Commune becomes the figure for a history, and perhaps of a future, different from the course taken by capitalist modernization, on the one hand, and utilitarian state socialism, on the other. — Kristin Ross
The Paris Commune was a radical socialist and revolutionary government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871. Following the defeat of Emperor Napoleon III in September 1870, the French Second Empire swiftly collapsed. In its stead rose a Third Republic at war with Prussia, which laid siege to Paris for four months. A hotbed of working-class radicalism, France’s capital was primarily defended during this time by the often politicized and radical troops of the National Guard rather than regular Army troops. In February 1871 Adolphe Thiers, the new chief executive of the French national government, signed an armistice with Prussia that disarmed the Army but not the National Guard.
Soldiers of the Commune’s National Guard killed two French army generals, and the Commune refused to accept the authority of the French government. The regular French Army suppressed the Commune during ‘La semaine sanglante’ (‘The Bloody Week’) beginning on 21 May 1871. Debates over the policies and outcome of the Commune had significant influence on the ideas of Karl Marx, who described it as an example of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat.’”
As for the notorious locution (at least in the Liberal tradition but often beyond that as well), “dictatorship of the proletariat:”
“After the exhaustive researches of Hal Draper and Richard Hunt we have a fairly clear idea of what Marx meant by that phrase—and what he did not mean by it. As these authors point out, and is clear from Marx’s own writings, dictatorship at his time and in his work did not necessarily mean anything incompatible with democracy. Rather it involved a new form of extra-legality, a political rule in breach of the existing constitution. That violation of a constitution need not involve a violation of democracy is easily shown by using as an example the extreme case in which the existing constitution requires unanimity for constitutional change. If a majority of 95 per cent of the population takes matters in their own hands and set up a new constitution requiring only a two-thirds majority [for constitutional change], they act unconstitutionally but hardly undemocratically. I am not suggesting that constitutional guarantees for should never be respected in a democracy…. My point is simply that there must be some correspondence between how difficult it is to change the constitution and the proportion of citizens who want it to be that difficult to change it. If this correspondence does not obtain, there is some need for a political revolution and a new constituent assembly. [….] The dictatorship of the proletariat, then, is characterized by majority rule, extra-legality, dismantling of the state apparatus and revocability of the representatives.” Jon Elster, Making Sense of Marx (Cambridge University Press, 1985): 447-448
Another and related issue that comes up with regard to Marx’s reflections in the The Civil War in France (1871) follow from his oft-quoted insistence that “the working class cannot simply lay hold on the ready-made state-machinery and wield it for its own purpose. The political instrument of their enslavement cannot serve as the political instrument of their emancipation.” As Elster reminds us, the Critique of the Gotha Programme likewise finds Marx opposed to any “Lassallean attempt to reenlist state aid for the building of socialism.” But this does not exhaust Marx’s thoughts on the use of the state and existing political institutions by workers or would-be socialists, for
“Marx also had to demarcate himself from the anarchists on his left, to steer a middle course between state socialism and the anarchist opposition to all state activities. [In an] article on ‘Political indifferentism’ … he warns against the ideal that any involvement with the state is contrary to the interests of the workers. To prove the falsity of this view, he cites the English Factory Acts as instances of what can be achieved by political means. In his ‘Instructions’ to the Geneva Congress Marx also insists on this idea. In the section dealing with the need for education of working-class children, he first state that under the given circumstances it can only be realized by ‘general laws, enforced by the power of the state.’ He then answers the obvious objection from the left by asserting that ‘in enforcing such laws, the working class do not fortify government power. On the contrary, they transform that power, now used against them, into their own agency.”(Elster: 444-445)
In short, it seems the degree of democratic legitimacy of the state had some bearing on Marx’s views in this respect, as he warned against workers using or relying on existing political institutions “in the authoritarian German and French regimes, but accepted it in the more democratic English system:” “In Germany, Marx was afraid octroyed measures would involve the cooptation of the workers. In France he feared that the state machinery was so strong that, if left in existence, it would end up asserting its own interests and not those of the workers.”(Elster 445) Marx’s attitude toward the state apparatus in democratic countries had thus evolved from an earlier stance in which he was more skeptical about the revolutionary or socialist value of conventional political opposition, his later views entailing even “the possible peaceful transition to socialism,” as evidenced, for example, in “an interview with an American journal in 1871 [in which] he makes a distinction between the countries where the transition to socialism my proceed peacefully and those in which this does not seem possible,” with England and America, and possibly Holland, mentioned as exempla of the former case.
The Paris Commune: Suggested Reading
  • Abidor, Mitchell (ed. and tr.) Voices of the Paris Commune. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2015. 
  • Gluckstein, Danny. The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2011 (London: Bookmarks Publications, 2006).
  • History of the Paris Commune” page at the Marxist Internet Archive. 
  • Horne, Alistair. The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune, 1870-71. London: Penguin Books, 2007 (Macmillan, 1965).
  • Lissagaray, Prosper-Olivier. The History of the Paris Commune of 1871. London: Verso, 2012 (first published in French, 1876). 
  • Marx, Karl. The Civil War in France. Peking: Foreign Language Press, 3rd ed., 1977.
  • Merriman, John. Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune. New York: Basic Books, 2014. 
  • Ross, Kristin. Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune. London: Verso, 2015.
  • Ross, Kristin and Manu Goswami. “The Meaning of the Paris Commune,” Jacobin, 5.4.15.
  • Sánchez, Gonzalo J. Organizing Independence: The Artists’ Federation of the Paris Commune and Its Legacy, 1871-1889. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Trump administration’s variation on the theme of nauseating American arrogance and the bombing of Cambodia

At Opinio Juris, Kevin Jon Heller brings us news that the Trump administration is “demand[ing] that Cambodia pay back $500 million it owes the US for providing support to Lon Nol’s unpopular regime.” As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald a couple of days ago:

“The debt started out as a US$274 million loan mostly for food supplies to the then US-backed Lon Nol government but has almost doubled over the years as Cambodia refused to enter into a re-payment program.

William Heidt, the US’s ambassador in Phnom Penh, said Cambodia’s failure to pay back the debt puts it in league with Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe. ‘To me, Cambodia does not look like a country that should be in arrears … buildings coming up all over the city, foreign investment coming in, government revenue is rapidly rising,’ Mr. Heidt was quoted as saying by the Cambodia Daily.”

Let’s recall some salient and indisputable facts, the first being Nixon’s emphatic instructions to Kissinger:

“I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?”

Then, Kissinger “to his military assistant, Gen. Alexander Haig: ‘He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything. It’s an order, it’s to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves.’”

As Mark Selden notes in his chapter on “the American way of war” (beginning with WW II) in Bombing Civilians: a twentieth century history (2009): “Yet the bombing of Cambodia began not with Nixon in 1970 but on October 4, 1965. The records released in 2000 reveal that between October 4, 1965, to August 15 1973, the United States dropped far more ordinance on Cambodia than was previously known” 2,756,942 tons, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites.”

In the words of Professor Heller, “It is difficult to overstate the horrors the US inflicted on Cambodia from the air during the Vietnam War. [….] [The] bombing campaign, along with the US-backed coup against Prince Sihanouk in 1970, is widely credited with helping bring Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to power, and we know how that turned out — at least 1.7 million Cambodians murdered, an auto-genocide of epic proportions.”

Heller’s discriminate and measured conclusion:

“I have little doubt that Cambodia’s debt to the US is valid under international law. But that does not mean the US has the moral right to demand payment — much less to compare Cambodia to debt scofflaws like Zimbabwe. (How much does the US owe the UN right now? It was almost $3 billion at the end of 2015.) As James Pringle, Reuters bureau chief in Ho Chi Minh City during the Vietnam War, recently wrote in the Cambodia Daily, ‘Cambodia does not owe even a brass farthing to the U.S. for help in destroying its people, its wild animals, its rice fields and forest cover.’”

When I first learned of this report my response was nowhere near as discriminate and measured as Heller’s, believing the bombing of Cambodia to be yet another exemplary instance of a “war crime” under international criminal law during the Vietnam War, that is, a “serious violation[ ] of customary or treaty rules belonging to the corpus of the international humanitarian law of armed conflict (IHL).” Moreover, as I said in a comment to his post, one is at a loss of words when it comes to expressing the depths of moral outrage this attempt at debt collection calls to mind. Insofar as hubris was once thought to result in nemesis (something akin to ‘instant karma’), one can only hope such “divine retribution” awaits those responsible for instigating this action.

Suggested Reading:

  • Branfman, Fred, ed. (with essays and drawings by Laotian villagers) Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2nd ed., 2013 (1972). 
  • Browning, Frank and Dorothy Forman, eds. The Wasted Nations: Report of the International Commission of Enquiry into United States War Crimes in Indochina, June 20-25, 1971. New York: Harper Colophon, 1972. 
  • Cassese, Antonio. International Criminal Law. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003. 
  • Cassese, Antonio, ed. The Oxford Companion to International Criminal Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 
  • Clapham, Andrew and Paola Gaeta, eds. The Oxford Handbook of International Law in Armed Conflict. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 
  • Coates, Karen J. (photos by Jerry Redfern) Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos. San Francisco, CA: ThingsAsianPress, 2013. 
  • Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars. The Indochina Story: A Fully Documented Account. New York: Pantheon Books, 1970. 
  • Conboy, Kenneth (with James Morrison) Shadow War: The CIA’s Secret War in Laos. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 1995. 
  • Dinstein, Yoram. War, Aggression and Self-Defense. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 1992. 
  • Duffett, John, ed. Against The Crime of Silence: Proceedings of The Russell International War Crimes Tribunal. New York: O’Hare Books, New York, 1968. 
  • Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York: Viking, 2002. 
  • Falk, Richard A., ed. The Vietnam War and International Law, 4 Vols. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (sponsored by the American Society of International Law), 1968-1976. 
  • Falk, Richard A., Gabriel Kolko, and Robert Jay Lifton, eds. Crimes of War. New York: Random House, 1971. 
  • Fleck, Dieter, ed. The Handbook International Humanitarian Law. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2008. 
  • Hensel, Howard M., ed. The Law of Armed Conflict: Constraints on the Contemporary Use of Military Force. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. 
  • Kiernan, Ben “The American Bombardment of Kampuchea, 1969-1973,” Vietnam Generation, 1, 1989 (Winter): 4-41. 
  • Kiernan, Ben. How Pol Pot Came to Power: A History of Communism in Kampuchea, 1930-1975. London: Verso, 1985. 
  • Kiernan, Ben. The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 3rd ed., 2008. 
  • May, Larry. War Crimes and Just War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 
  • May, Larry. Aggression and Crimes against Peace. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • O’Connell, Mary Ellen. International Law and the Use of Force: Cases and Materials. New York: Foundation Press, 2005. 
  • Okimoto, Keiichiro. The Distinction and Relationship between Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello. Oxford, UK: Hart, 2011.
  • Russell, Bertrand. War Crimes in Vietnam. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967. 
  • Rust, William J. Eisenhower and Cambodia: Diplomacy, Covert Action, and the Origins of the Second Indochina War. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2016.
  • Sartre, Jean-Paul. On Genocide. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1968.
  •  Shawcross, William. Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia. New York: Simon & Schuster, revised ed., 1987.
  • Smith, Charles Anthony. The Rise and Fall of War Crimes Trials: From Charles I to Bush II. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 
  • Tanaka, Yuki and Marilyn B. Young, eds. Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History. New York: The New Press, 2009. 
  • Young, Marilyn B. The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.