From the Left



The Shattered Mirror: Democracy and Despotism on Both Sides of the Florida Straits, 2021 (Part II)

Historically, the United States and Cuba have shared, as former President William McKinley once said, "ties of singular intimacy"; ties ranging from amity and hardy alliance -- think World War II (Cuba declared war on Japan two days after Pearl Harbor) -- to spasms of deep hostility that peaked during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the ...Read more

The Broken Mirror: Democracy and Despotism on Both Sides of the Florida Straits, 2021 (Part I)

I was not even born when Fidel and Raul Castro's rebel army defeated strongman Fulgencio Batista's forces on New Year's Day 1959. And here I am, at the age of 61, writing once again about yet another economic and political crisis tearing through my tyrannized homeland. Ay, Cuba!

Last Sunday, July 11, 2021, the inconceivable happened in Havana ...Read more

The Summer Solstice, the Slavic Goddess Kupala, and St. John the Baptist (Part 2)

Ancient and pre-Christian medieval solstice celebrations in which fire and water played protagonist roles were intimately tied to fertility rituals across different parts of the world. Because of their critical role in procreation, women figured prominently in solstice rituals of courtship, marriage and childbirth.

Ancient Egyptians celebrated ...Read more

The Summer Solstice, Kupalo/Kupala and St. John the Baptist (Part 1)

In case you did not notice, this is summer solstice week.

Week? You may ask. Well, not quite, but as I recently learned, the longest day of the year (or the shortest, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere) is not always June 21; it can also fall on either the 20th or 22nd: between the just-officially-declared federal holiday Juneteenth and the...Read more

The Strange Etymologies of "the Left," "Liberals," "Progressives" and "Red Parties" (Part IV)

After peaking during the mid-1960s, the "liberal" political brand entered a prolonged crisis from which it has never recovered. Many blue-collar Democrats and increasing portions of the middle class rejected what they perceived to be the unpatriotic nature of the anti-Vietnam War movement and countercultural attacks on traditional morality and ...Read more

An Honest Response to a Colleague's Views on Cuba and US Policy Toward that 'Immiserated' Island (Part 2)

One-third of the way into the article "Biden Has Refused to Move an Inch on Cuba Policy," Medea Benjamin begins to lay out her criticism of the Biden administration's policy toward the island. She starts by quoting his presidential campaign promise to "promptly reverse the failed Trump policies that have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and ...Read more

An Honest Response to a Colleague's Views on Cuba and U.S. Policy Toward That 'Immiserated' Island (Part 1)

For this week's column, I planned -- actually, started writing -- the fourth and final installment of my column "The Strange Etymologies of 'the Left,' 'Liberals,' 'Progressives' and 'Red Parties.'" But I just received a link from a dear colleague to Medea Benjamin's June 3 article on AlterNet, "Biden Has Refused to Move an Inch on Cuba Policy -...Read more

The Strange Etymologies of 'the Left,' 'Liberals,' 'Progressives' and 'Red Parties' (Part III)

Despite the increased use of political attack labels like "leftist" and "right-wing" in contemporary American politics, throughout most of the 20th century, in terminology and practice, the dominant political scale was "liberal to conservative." This in contrast with Europe, where the political spectrum is wider, and rather than insults, such ...Read more

The Strange Etymologies of 'the Left,' 'Liberals,' 'Progressives' and 'Red Parties' (Part II)

Since its origins in revolutionary France, the definition of "the left" has continuously evolved in time and space, from anti-monarchical egalitarianism, through various industrial-age socioeconomic formulations, such as socialism, communism and anarchism, through Depression-era statism to the present, when it means sharply different things in ...Read more

The Strange Etymologies of 'the Left,' 'Liberals,' 'Progressives' and 'Red Parties' (Part I)

Languages, especially their vocabularies, are in constant flux. Like living organisms, they are born and evolve. And although some, such as English, seem immortal, they also die.

New, updated editions of dictionaries include neologisms. This year, for example, Merriam-Webster added 520 new words ranging from BIPOC, abbreviation of "Black, ...Read more

I Never Left the Classroom (Part I): An Introduction to the 7 Deadly Sins of the Modern American University

"I Never Left the Classroom." Someday I hope to publish a book with that title. In effect, from 1978, when I became a college freshman, until present day, as a professor at a large U.S. state research university, I have always been a student or a faculty member.

Those 40-odd years in the classroom -- including the past 14 months in the "Alice ...Read more



Scott Stantis Al Goodwyn Gary McCoy David M. Hitch Ed Gamble Gary Varvel