Bulletin #40

10 November 2002
Grenoble, France

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The Grenoble Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and
Social Movements has received numerous articles and essays in recent weeks,
describing fierce ideological attacks against the traditional values of
American liberalism (i.e. progressive political thought) that have left the
Democratic Party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt bereft of ideas and mass
support. It would appear to many Americans that liberal capitalism has
outlived its usefullness (i.e. the mass production and distribution of
goods and services via the private-profit motive.) And yet a superior
system has failed to take root.

Lately, we at the Grenoble Center have been extremely busy: In addition to
our regular teaching loads, we have committed ourselves to numerous public
speaking engagements, the most recent of which was at a local cinema, where
Elisabeth Camorand and I led a discussion of Michael Moore's latest film,
Bowling Four Columbine --where for two hours nearly 200 people discussed
violence in the United States, and its relationship with contemporary U.S.
foreign policy. [For an interesting reflection on the question of violence
in America by our research associate, James Stevenson, readers are
encouraged to visit our web site  and see Atelier No.12 :

Meanwhile, the mid-term elections in the U.S. have come and gone, and they
represent a national victory for the Republican Party, which now
constitutes the majority in both houses of the U.S. Congress (51/100 in the
Senate and 230/435 in the House of Representatives). Also, a majority of
the state governors are Republican Party officials (26/50).

We are living in an era of confrontation today, and the losses for working
families are great: job insecurity in America is on the rise, with a
growing market for temporary and part-time jobs, characterized by low
wages, no benefits, and no retirement pensions; the national welfare
system, including federal aid for dependent children, has been effectively
dismantled; freedom of the press and of speech is increasingly threatened;
and Affirmative Action programs, representing an historic struggle against
the worst effects of racism in America, have been gutted. In a word, the
small but powerful vested interests that control over 50% of the wealth in
America and attempt to control government policy to their advantage have
won significant victories over the interests of the vast majority of
Americans. For some observer/participants, like Michael Moore, the stakes
are even higher. (Please see the Attachment: "Moore-2Doc".)

In the 1930s, it was widely believed that capitalism had run its course,
and would soon be superseded by a different system. The clear choice for
many observers of the western democracies was between "Socialism or
Barbarism". Last January at our Grenoble conference on Transnational
Corporatrions, economic historian Professor Douglas Dowd offered a
different vision: "The capitalists of today," he told a crowd of some 1,200
in Stendhal University, "are producing huge profits, at the social cost of
limiting production of goods and services. They will never acknowledge a
crisis in the system, and capitalism will continue as a snail might,
crossing a barren landscape until it dries up, hard to determine whether it
is dead or alive." --Not with a bang, but a whimper!

We teachers, students, and scholars associated with the democratic left are
facing a hostile environment, where grinding out private profit requires
curtailing traditional freedoms. We can easily foresee the creation of new
institutions to perform this necessary work, and we anticipate an increased
mass resistance to it by a coallition of people whose interests are not
being served by this accumulation of power and wealth in the hands of a few.

In his recent book, "Terrorism and War,"  Howard Zinn quoted Pastor Martin
Niemöller's famous statement about the Nazis seizure of power in German:

                    First they came for the Communists, but I was not
                    a Communist --so I said nothing. Then they came
                    for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social
                    Democrat --so I did nothing. Then came the trade
                    unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And they
                    they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew --so
                    I did little. Then when they came for me, there was
                    no one left who could stand up for me.

"It's not only the Muslims who will be affected," warns Professor Zinn.

At the end of this courageous book, Zinn lists 17 Anti-War Organizations
and Resources in the US [please see below] :

                                 1) CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RIGHTS
                                     Brooklyn, NY
                                     E-mail : rights@cesr.org

                                 2) EDUCATION FOR PEACE IN IRAQ CENTER (EPIC)
                                     Washington, DC
                                     E-mail : epicenter@igc.org

                                 3) FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION
                                     Nyack, NY
                                     E-mail : fornatl@igc.org

                                 4) INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST ORGANIZATION
                                     Chicago, IL
                                     E-mail : contact@internationalsocialist.org

                                 5) IRAQ ACTION COALITIION
                                     Raleigh, NC
                                     E-mail : iac@leb.net

                                 6) PEACE ACTION
                                     Washington, DC
                                     E-mail : info@peace-action.org

                                 7) PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
                                     Washington, D.C.
                                     E-mail : psrnatl@psr.org

                                 8) VOCIES IN THE WILDERNESS
                                     Chicago, IL
                                     E-mail : kkelly@igc.org

                                 9) WAR RESISTERS LEAGUE
                                     New York, NY
                                     E-mail : wrl@warresisters.org

and alternative information sources :

                                 10) ALTERNATIVE RADIO
                                      Boulder, CO
                                      E-mail : ar@orci.org

                                 11) FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS
                                      Washington, D.C.
                                       E-mail : leaverfpif@igc.org

                                 12) INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST REVIEW
                                       Chicago, IL
                                       E-mail : business@isreview.org

                                 13) IN THESE TIMES
                                       Chicago, IL
                                       E-mail : itt@inthesetimes.com

                                 14) NO WAR COLLECTIVE

                                 15) THE PROGRESSIVE
                                       Madison, WI
                                       E-mail : circ@progressive.org

                                 16) SOCIALIST WORKER
                                       Chicago, IL
                                       E-mail : letters@socialistworker.org

                                 17) Z MAGAZINE
                                       Boston, MA


Francis Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research