Year in Review: 2002

The year 2002 was a transition, as the fraudulent “war on terror” launched by the Bush administration in the United States after the attacks of September 11 was used to justify historic attacks on democratic rights and civil liberties. At the same time, the occupation of Afghanistan was followed by brazen preparations for the invasion of Iraq.


There were two major driving forces for the increasingly reckless and militaristic character of US foreign policy, which found echoes in the ruling classes throughout the world.

The first was the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade earlier, which removed the main obstacle to the projection of US military power. In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the administration of George W. Bush’s father stopped its advance a few miles into southern Iraq, rather than risk a confrontation with the Soviet Union, Saddam Hussein’s major international backer. By 2002 that was no longer a concern.

The second factor was the crisis of American capitalism, exposed most sharply in the collapse of Enron in December 2001, the most spectacular case of corporate fraud and looting up to that time. This was followed throughout 2002 by a wave of mass layoffs and corporate corruption scandals and a sharp fall in the stock market. For the US ruling elite, aggressive military action provided both an outlet for social tensions and a means of offsetting its long-term economic decline by seizing control of major sources of oil and gas, the most critical resources for modern industry.

US President George Bush introduces the resolution to authorize force against Iraq, October 2002

From Afghanistan and the “axis of evil”…

President George W. Bush summed up the shift in US foreign policy in his State of the Union speech in January 2002. The president singled out North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an “axis of evil” and threatened military action against these countries, despite the fact that they had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of four months before.

The WSWS characterized this speech as a declaration of “war on the world.” In an editorial board statement, the WSWS explained that Bush’s “program of world conquest” had deep social and economic roots:

There are real dangers confronting American imperialism, but they do not arise from small bands of terrorists or the governments of weak and impoverished countries on the other side of the world. These dangers stem from the deepening crisis of world capitalism, and in the ever-intensifying contradictions within the United States between the ultra-wealthy elite and the vast majority of the working people.

The bellicose program outlined in Bush’s speech was translated quickly into policy prescriptions. The administration delivered to Congress a classified Nuclear Posture Report that named seven countries as potential targets for US nuclear weapons, including two nuclear-armed states, Russia and China, and five which did not possess them—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea. In other words, the US government was preparing not only for actions that could trigger a world thermonuclear holocaust, but also for the unilateral use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries, acts of mass murder on a scale that would have no historical precedent.

The year began with tens of thousands of US troops occupying key positions in Afghanistan. The Taliban was ousted and replaced by a weak US-installed regime headed by President Hamid Karzai, with the vast majority of the Afghan population living under conditions of desperate poverty and oppression. Fighting continued throughout the year. Drawing a balance sheet of the US invasion and occupation, the WSWS detailed a devastating social crisis, a puppet government in the capital, and most of the countryside controlled by competing and corrupt warlords paid off by Washington.

Early in the year, Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by a Pakistani group allied with Al Qaeda. The WSWS editorial board issued a statement on January 31 calling for him to be freed. On February 21, a videotape was released showing the beheading of Pearl three weeks earlier, provoking shock and revulsion around the world. In a widely read statement, “The killing of Daniel Pearl,” the WSWS condemned the murderers, who “demonstrated not only an appalling degree of callousness, but also political bankruptcy.” At the same time, the WSWS pointed to the political roots of Pearl’s killing, which, as with those killed in the September 11 attacks, was the “consequence of reckless and reactionary decisions made in Washington, in pursuit of oil and other imperialist geo-strategic interests, over the last 20 years.”

In developing its propaganda campaign around the “war on terror,” the Bush administration relied on the support of the Democratic Party and the services of dominant sections of academia. An important episode was the release by 60 right-wing academics of an open letter, “Why We’re Fighting: A Letter From America,” which sought to provide a moral and “just war” defense for the eruption of militarist aggression. In an extensive analysis of the academic supporters of war, “Political reaction and intellectual charlatanry,” WSWS editorial board Chairman David North wrote:

The letter testifies to the debased level of what passes for intellectual life in the United States. To a degree that is shameful, the vulgar and specious arguments of the political right and their academic apologists go unchallenged and unanswered. There are many highly-trained academics, specialists in various fields of the social sciences, who are perfectly aware that the pro-war propaganda of the Bush administration consists of a tissue of lies... But they keep their heads down and their mouths shut. In this way, they contribute to the prevailing climate of political reaction and general backwardness in the United States.

But this will pass. Events themselves will deliver—much sooner than many imagine—shocks to the body politic that will arouse its desire and capacity for serious thought.


…To the build-up for war against Iraq

By the summer, the administration had begun to shift its public focus to war against Iraq, in speeches by Vice President Richard Cheney, and by Bush himself. In a speech at West Point in June, Bush outlined a policy of unending war, in which the military “must be ready to strike at a moment’s notice in any dark corner of the world.”

The unprecedented character of the decision to initiate an aggressive war against a far weaker country, one with no connection to the September 11 attacks and that posed no threat to the United States, made it necessary for Washington and its allies to fabricate a pretext. This was the claim that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction” which Saddam Hussein might supply to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, despite the ferocious hostility between Hussein and the Islamic fundamentalists.

In promoting these false claims, the American press, particularly leading newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post, and journalists like Thomas Friedman, played a critical role. Only days after Cheney’s speech the Times published a lengthy report co-authored by Judith Miller, claiming that Iraq had been buying aluminum tubes that could have no other purpose than as components in centrifuges. The entire report was false, spoon-fed to the Times by the CIA to give Bush’s decision to go to war greater credibility in the eyes of the public.

The WSWS and the Socialist Equality Party analyzed the true causes of the war, exposed the lies of “weapons of mass destruction,” and held meetings and published statements denouncing the pro-war campaign. We explained that a fight against war had to be based on a fight against the Democratic Party, through the independent political mobilization of the working class against imperialism and the capitalist system.

At a meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan in October, David North gave a report, “The war against Iraq and America’s drive for world domination,” which analyzed the “national security strategy” recently released by the Bush administration. North noted:

The document asserts as the guiding policy of the United States the right to use military force anywhere in the world, at any time it chooses, against any country it believes to be, or it believes may at some point become, a threat to American interests. No other country in modern history, not even Nazi Germany at the height of Hitler’s madness, has asserted such a sweeping claim to global hegemony—or, to put it more bluntly, world domination—as is now being made by the United States.

The report reviewed the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, at which Nazi leaders were prosecuted for waging aggressive war, which prosecutors, including American Robert Jackson, argued was the root from which all other crimes followed.

In meetings in Australia later in the same month, SEP National Secretary Nick Beams gave a report on “The political economy of American militarism in the 21st century,” which provided a detailed economic and historical explanation of the drive to war.

The pro-war campaign of the Bush administration culminated in the historic vote by the US Congress to support an undeclared, unprovoked war against a small and essentially defenseless country, with both Democrats and Republicans voting to authorize military action, including the entire congressional leadership of both parties, and all the presumed contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Blair Labour government in Britain faithfully echoed the arguments of the Bush administration and played the main role in boosting the drive to war in Iraq before an international audience. France and Germany had endorsed and joined in the Afghan war, but objected to the proposed attack on Iraq, fearing both that so flagrant a breach of international law might provoke revolutionary opposition below, and that an increasingly unhinged American imperialism was becoming dangerous to their own interests.

After the congressional vote to authorize the war, the Bush administration revealed plans to establish long-term military rule in Iraq. A WSWS editorial board statement characterized this plan as an open return to colonialism, trampling over the democratic rights of the Iraqi people in the name of “liberating” them from the Hussein regime, which until a few years before had been the recipient of US military support and diplomatic courtship.


War and democratic rights

To pave the way for its war plans, the Bush administration had to overcome the resistance of its main enemy, the working class in the United States and internationally, through a combination of “terrorism” scares to stampede public opinion and repressive measures to intimidate political opponents.

One key decision was to greatly expand the prison facilities at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, where hundreds of detainees were held indefinitely under inhuman conditions. The first were prisoners seized in Afghanistan, then others joined them, picked up by the CIA and allied intelligence agencies all over the world, in the vast majority of cases with no credible evidence.

The Bush administration sought the indictment of John Walker Lindh, an American citizen captured in Afghanistan and allegedly a member of the Taliban, on terrorism charges that carried a life sentence. The main evidence against him was Lindh’s own statements made to his military interrogators while he was wounded, held incommunicado and denied access to a lawyer. The goal was to set an example with a savage sentence, to announce to the world that any resistance to US aggression would be severely punished.

In March, press reports revealed that the Bush administration had created a “shadow government” of hundreds of officials who were expected to take power under martial law conditions in the event of a terrorist nuclear attack on Washington DC. The most significant aspect of this plan was that the secret government-in-waiting consisted entirely of executive branch officials. No officials of the legislative or judicial branches were included, and neither the elected party leaders in Congress nor those in the constitutional line of succession to the presidency were even aware of the program’s existence.

Meanwhile, under the Patriot Act that had been passed weeks after the September 11 attacks, police powers were expanded enormously. The rights of immigrants were attacked, especially those of Muslims of Middle Eastern and Central Asian origin, over 1,000 of whom were picked up in a dragnet in the months after the attacks. Two US citizens, Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi, were held indefinitely in brazen violation of their habeas corpus rights. In June, Bush announced he would seek to consolidate dozens of separate police agencies into a single, mammoth Department of Homeland Security.

On the first anniversary of September 11, the WSWS Editorial Board issued a statement that declared:

 In the space of just one year, this administration has carried out the most sweeping assault on democratic rights in the country’s history. What is involved is not merely a strengthening of police powers, but the dismantling of constitutional protections against tyranny that date back to the American Revolution. The very structure of the government is being radically altered, transforming the relationship between not only its three branches —executive, legislative and judicial—but between the people and the armed power of the police and military.


The crisis of capitalism in Europe and America

While imperialist war and the accompanying buildup of state repression was the main axis of global politics, the WSWS also focused attention on the deepening economic crisis in the United States and Europe.

The collapse of Enron in December was followed by a wave of bankruptcies and corporate corruption scandals in the United States, exposing the rot at the heart of American capitalism. The WSWS explained that the fall of the energy company was rooted in the increasing financialization of the US economy, in which the stock market and rising share values became the principal mechanism through which the ruling class accumulated wealth. In the process, the corporate elite engaged in a vast looting operation—of which Enron’s theft of billions of dollars from California was only one example. 

The WSWS analyzed the deep connections between Enron and the political establishment. Enron and the Bush administration were “kindred spirits in fraud and criminality,” and Enron’s CEO Kenneth Lay participated actively in the secret energy task force set up by Vice President Dick Cheney to discuss, among other things, Iraqi oil fields.

After Enron, corporate corruption scandals erupted in a whole series of companies that had sought to pump up stock values through accounting manipulations, including WorldCom, Tyco, Xerox, and others. Other corporate giants, including Kmart and USAir, filed for bankruptcy, leading to the destruction of thousands of jobs.

In Europe, the year began with the introduction of the euro, the common currency for 12 of the 15 countries in the European Union, with the significant exceptions of Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden. 

An analysis by Chris Marsden, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Britain, noted the deep divisions within the bourgeoisie over the euro, warning that the working class could not line up behind either the pro-euro or anti-euro factions. The euro would not resolve, but rather exacerbate, the class and national divisions within capitalist Europe.

The mere creation of a common currency does not provide the basis for the harmonious development of economic life across the continent. The capitalist class is organically incapable of overcoming the fundamental conflict between globally organised production and the division of the world into antagonistic nation states. On the contrary, within the framework of the Single European Market, competition between the rival powers of Europe for continental hegemony will continue and deepen….

What has brought the governments of Germany, France and the 10 other states together at this point is their pressing need to elaborate a joint strategy for trade war against the US, and the pursuit of a social and economic offensive against the European working class.

A focal point of this offensive was Italy, where billionaire media mogul Silvio Berlusconi had come to power in May 2001 and begun to implement sweeping attacks on workers’ rights and social benefits. On March 23, one of the largest public demonstrations in postwar European history took place in Rome, involving some three million people.

Peter Schwarz, secretary of the International Committee, explained that Berlusconi’s rise to power was the result of the betrayals of the so-called Olive Tree alliance, the political coalition that included both factions of the former Stalinists of the Italian Communist Party. There followed a detailed analysis of Berlusconi’s government and his personal political party, Forza Italia, and further reporting on the struggles of the Italian working class.

In Germany, the Social Democrats and the trade union bureaucracy enforced demands by the employers for a radical reduction in the living standards of the working class. The trade unions moved to sabotage major struggles of the working class, such as the metalworkers strike in March.

The coalition government of the Social Democrats and Greens appointed a commission under the Volkswagen manager Peter Hartz to draft a “reform” of social programs and the labour market aimed at creating a huge low-wage sector that could function as a lever to an all-out attack on the living conditions of the working class. On the basis of this program, the coalition government retained the support of big business and won re-election in September.

In the fall of 2002, the Labour Party government of Prime Minister Tony Blair denounced strikes by firefighters over pay and conditions. The dispute was the first test of a layer of trade union officials, many drawn from pseudo-left groups like the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Party, who claimed to be fighting to “reclaim” the Labour Party for socialism. The WSWS exposed these leaders and those who sought to promote illusions in them. This critique was quickly vindicated, as the firefighters’ union called off the strikes and entered talks with the employers. A so-called independent review recommended privatization of some fire services.


The WSWS and the French elections

The central political development in Europe, and the one in which the WSWS made the most important intervention, was the general election in France. It was held in four stages: two rounds of voting for president, on April 21 and May 5, 2002, and two rounds of voting for parliamentary seats a month later.

At the time of the election campaign, France had a divided government, with a right-wing Gaullist president, Jacques Chirac, elected in 1995, and a Socialist Party majority in parliament, led by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, elected in 1997. This division of power, described as cohabitation, left Chirac in charge of foreign and military policy, while Jospin’s cabinet was responsible for domestic policy and became identified in the minds of French workers with the program of privatization and job-cutting underway throughout Europe.

While Chirac was widely hated in the working class, and his reelection bid was viewed as precarious, Jospin and the SP represented no alternative. The ultra-rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen, candidate of the neo-fascist National Front, could posture as the only major candidate opposed to the ruling consensus. One third of voters stayed home, and both the SP and the Communist Party lost support to the candidates of the “far left” parties, who won 11 percent, almost three million votes.

In the first round of the election, Chirac placed first with less than 20 percent of the vote—a measure of his deep unpopularity—but Jospin unexpectedly failed to finish second and enter the runoff, losing out to Le Pen. This meant that in the second round scheduled for May 5, voters had to decide between Chirac and Le Pen, right-wing candidates who together received the support of less than a quarter of those eligible to vote. Hundreds of thousands of workers and youth took to the streets to show their hatred of the fascists and their concern that Le Pen might come to power.

The International Committee of the Fourth International issued a statement in response to the first round results, calling for a working-class boycott of the second round vote, in order to “deny legitimacy to the electoral fraud and provide a means for translating mass discontent into effective political action.”

The ICFI rejected the claims by the trade unions, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party that a vote for Chirac was necessary to prevent the neo-fascist Le Pen from coming to power. These forces were themselves responsible for the rise in Le Pen’s vote, which came largely in formerly industrialized working class areas that had once been strongholds of the SP and CP.

The statement argued that there were real dangers posed by the National Front, but these could not be averted through a vote for Chirac. On the contrary, the election results showed a crisis of confidence in the whole structure of bourgeois politics, including both the Gaullist right and the social-democratic “left.” The working class needed to present a clear political alternative.

A boycott is necessary to begin the political clarification of the working class and counter the disorientation created by the treachery of the Socialist and Communist parties. Workers, students and intellectuals who are smoldering in anger over the results of the election must not be left in isolation, or even worse, corralled into helping elect a government committed to attacking the working class. An active policy is required, including the organization of meetings promoting a boycott, demonstrations and political strikes. Those who claim that a vote for Chirac is the only means to defeat the National Front merely betray their own paralysis and pessimism. A political establishment that casts such a figure as the champion of democracy only exposes its own decrepitude.

The statement warned that the likely outcome of the “left” support for Chirac would be a right-wing president backed by a large right-wing majority in parliament—the preferred outcome for the bourgeoisie. It concluded:

Against the national chauvinism, xenophobia and protectionism promoted by Le Pen—and echoed by large sections of the so-called left—the working class must advance its own internationalist program to unite the struggles of workers throughout Europe in defense of living standards and democratic rights. The alternative for workers to the Single European Market of the transnational corporations is the struggle for a United Socialist States of Europe.

As the political crisis in France became the focal point of European and international attention, the role of the three “left” parties which had once claimed to be Trotskyist became critical. These were Lutte Ouvrière (LO), Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR), and Parti des Travailleurs (PT). The ICFI issued an open letter calling on them to join a working class campaign for a boycott, while warning those who voted for these organizations that they showed no intention of doing so.

ICFI supporters distributed the statement calling for a boycott of the runoff election widely during May Day demonstrations in Paris and other cities. Peter Schwarz, secretary of the ICFI, and WSWS arts editor David Walsh travelled to Paris to report on the momentous political events.

In the course of the two weeks between the first and second rounds of the election, the WSWS carried dozens of on-the-spot reports and commentaries on the French crisis, including interviews with Arlette Laguiller, the presidential candidate of Lutte Ouvrière, Olivier Besancenot, the presidential candidate of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, and Robert Hue, general secretary of the French Communist Party.

Our correspondents held discussions with factory workers, and rank-and-file members of the LCR and the Young Communists Movement. There were exchanges of letters and daily polemics over the course of action facing the working class in France.

The pseudo-left parties rejected or ignored the boycott proposed by the ICFI and either openly supported Chirac or essentially abstained, not challenging the pro-Chirac campaign of the SP, CP and trade unions. That helped the right-wing candidate to win the runoff by a huge margin, over 80 percent, and then the parliamentary elections in June. As the WSWS and ICFI had warned, the ensuing Chirac government intensified its reactionary austerity policies against the working masses and racist attacks on immigrants.


Other political developments

Throughout the year, the WSWS analyzed and commented on an increasingly wide range of political developments on every continent.

In February, former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. A three-part series debunked the claim that Milosevic was solely responsible for the bloodbath in Yugoslavia, a charge that was aimed at covering over the role of the Western powers in the breakup of the country.

Also in February, in Sri Lanka, the United National Party (UNP)-led government signed a formal cease-fire with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The WSWS explained that both sides had come under heavy pressure from the US and European powers to end the conflict and its destabilizing influence on the Indian subcontinent, but that the agreement was fragile and had resolved nothing.

As part of its intransigent defense of basic democratic rights, and for the unity of Tamil and Sinhala workers, the Sri Lankan SEP launched a campaign to demand the immediate and unconditional release of the nearly 1,000 Tamil political prisoners held under the country’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and emergency regulations.

The same month, the worst outbreak of communal violence in India in decades took the lives of more than 800 Muslims in Gujarat, fomented by the state government controlled by the Hindu chauvinist BJP. The WSWS explained that this tragedy was the responsibility not only of the BJP, but of the Congress Party and the rival wings of Indian Stalinism.

In March came the elections in Zimbabwe, in which the European powers, led by Britain, threw their weight behind the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) against the long-entrenched regime of Robert Mugabe. The imperialist powers mounted a campaign over Mugabe’s alleged breaches of democratic rights, violence against political opponents and takeover of white-owned farms, and imposed sanctions, wrecking the country’s economy.

Also in March came an Israeli military incursion into the West Bank, with the Sharon government sending in tanks to lay siege to the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and perpetrating a massacre in Jenin.

Commentaries in the WSWS examined Sharon’s role in the war crimes committed during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, culminating in the massacre of Palestinian refugees, and detailed the political bankruptcy of the PLO, representing the failure of secular Arab bourgeois nationalism, paving the way for the rise of the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist politics of Hamas. The WSWS also condemned a proposed international boycott of Israeli academics, opposing this as a politically reactionary effort to identify the entire Israeli population with the crimes of the Zionist regime.

The WSWS exposed Washington’s backing for the unsuccessful coup to remove Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in April, and analyzed its significance. The attempt at regime change, encouraged behind the scenes by the Bush administration and motivated partly by the desire to control the country’s large oil reserves, was a dismal failure, although the nationalist politics of Chavez remained a dead end for the working class of Latin America.

Throughout the year, the WSWS continued its reporting on the Howard government’s escalating attacks on refugees in Australia, which provoked hunger strikes and other protests. In a four-part series, the WSWS provided the only probing examination of the official Senate inquiry into the SIEV X, a refugee boat that had sunk in late 2001, killing 353 people. Testimony from naval commanders contradicted the government’s earlier claims that Australian authorities had no knowledge of the SIEV X before it sank.

In October came the terrorist bombings in the Indonesian island of Bali, which killed more than 200 people, including 88 Australians. Anger mounted over the Howard government’s failure to issue any warning to the public after it was revealed that intelligence agencies had prior knowledge of terror threats in Indonesia’s tourist hubs. Within days of the bombings, heavily armed police and officers from ASIO, Australia’s internal spy agency, mounted terrifying raids on the homes of working class Islamic families in Sydney and Perth.

The WSWS also examined the crisis within Canada’s ruling Liberal Party, which resulted in the August announcement that Jean Chretien would soon be stepping down as prime minister. Chretien had presided over the steepest social spending cuts in Canadian history, then introduced a $100 billion program of corporate, capital gains and income tax cuts. Yet big business supported an unprecedented leadership challenge from Chretien’s former finance minister, Paul Martin, in the expectation he would pursue even more right-wing policies.

The election of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, leader of the Workers Party (PT) in Brazil, brought to power a trade union-based government in the largest and most important country in Latin America. The WSWS explained that the populist promises of the former metalworkers’ leader were incompatible with the demands of the IMF, US imperialism and the Brazilian bourgeoisie, and that he would do their bidding.

The US political crisis found new expression in the first national voting since the theft of the presidential election in 2000. The WSWS analyzed the rout suffered by the Democrats, explaining that it reflected a continuation of the political cowardice and bankruptcy demonstrated by this party of big business in 2000, and before that in its response to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.


Art and culture

In addition to scores of film reviews—including, among others, The Royal Tenenbaums, Black Hawk Down, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frida, Insomnia, 8 Mile and The Quiet American—WSWS reviewers attended film festivals around the globe, including Berlin, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, and Cottbus, Germany.

Obituaries traced the careers of several important figures in film, including directors Billy Wilder and John Frankheimer, and actor Richard Harris

There were also appreciations of British comic and television performer Spike Milligan, jazz bassist Ray Brown, and the folk singer Dave Van Ronk, who had been associated with the Trotskyist movement in the 1960s.

There was an ever-greater range of artistic materials discussed in the arts coverage, including a comment on the origins of the anti-lynching song “Strange Fruit”, a review of the Ken Burns documentary profile of Mark Twain, and a review by Piyaseeli Wijegunasingha of a new Sinhala-language opera based on a traditional story of the life of Buddha.

David Walsh’s review of a staging of King Lear at the Stratford Festival in Canada discussed the social aspects of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, particularly as the king descends into madness and is cast out to wander among the poorest of his former subjects.

Several important art reviews appeared, including the review of an exhibition of surrealist art, which appeared in Germany, and the exhibition “Degas and the Dance” at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

One of the most important exhibitions of 2002, which appeared at a half-dozen locations across the United States, showcased the work of the African-American painter Jacob Lawrence. It included his series of 60 paintings of the great Negro migration from the South in the first half of the 20th century, as well as a series of 24 panels detailing the life and death of abolitionist John Brown.

Clare Hurley wrote in her review:

In showing the universal, art cannot resist the particular. However, Lawrence seeks an aspect of human experience undifferentiated by the individual, epitomized by the fact that he never seems to paint specific faces, or even faces at all. Heads are bowed, turned away, blank, or schematic in features.

This created artistic problems, which were bound up with the political environment in which Lawrence (1917-2000) worked throughout his career:

Even within the realm of socially committed art, Lawrence’s position was a difficult one. On one side, he was subject to the criticism of not being radical enough, and on the other censored by the white establishment, on which he was dependent, whenever he included anything even remotely suggestive of the violence of the black experience.

Arts editor David Walsh spoke on two separate occasions in the Michigan area. In January he spoke at a forum in Detroit at the Museum of New Art on art in the new millennium. In December he spoke at the same museum at a forum on the topic, “Artists and the War Against Iraq.”

Other cultural material included an obituary of the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould.

A review of the book “The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret War Against the World’s Most Famous Scientist,” discussed important issues raised by the Red Scare and McCarthyite witch-hunt of the mid-20th century, and the political role of Albert Einstein.