If Farmworkers Are “Essential,” Why Are They Treated So Badly?

On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spurred to action by the coronavirus pandemic, issued a memorandum that identified the nation’s 2.5 million farmworkers as “essential” workers.  Soon thereafter, agribusinesses began distributing formal letters to their farm laborers, also declaring that that they were “essential.”

Of course, it shouldn’t have required a government-business effort to establish this point.  Without farmworkers, there is no food.  And the read more

Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Help Curb War and Militarism?

Decades ago, when I began teaching international history, I used to ask students if they thought it was possible for nations to end their fighting of wars against one another.  Their responses varied.  But the more pessimistic conclusions were sometimes tempered by the contention that, if the world’s nations faced a common foe, such as an invasion from another planet, this would finally pull them together.

I was reminded of this on March 23, when the UN Secretary-General, António read more

The Coronavirus Pandemic, Like Other Global Catastrophes, Reveals the Limitations of Nationalism

We live with a profound paradox.  Our lives are powerfully affected by worldwide economic, communications, transportation, food supply, and entertainment systems.  Yet we continue an outdated faith in the nation-state, with all the divisiveness, competition, and helplessness that faith produces when dealing with planetary problems.

As we have seen in recent weeks, the coronavirus, like other diseases, does not respect national boundaries, but spreads easily around the world.  And how is it being read more

The World’s Major Military and Economic Powers Find Happiness Elusive

Long before the advent of the coronavirus pandemic left people around the world desperate for survival, a popular assumption emerged that national governments are also supposed to promote the happiness and well-being of their citizens.  This idea was expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed that governments are instituted to secure humanity’s “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

What are we to think, then, when we find that read more

Trump’s Budget Proposal Reveals His Values

It is often said that government budgets are “an expression of values.”  Those values are clear in the Trump administration’s $4.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2021, unveiled early this February.

The budget calls for deep cuts in major U.S. government programs, especially those protecting public health.  The Department of Health and Human Services would be slashed by 10 read more

Trump Betrays His Promise to Protect and Fight for American Workers

Campaigning for the presidency in 2016, Donald Trump promised that, if he was elected, “American worker[s] will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.”

Has he kept this promise?

When it comes to protecting workers’ health and safety, his administration has been a disaster.  Once in office, Trump packed the leadership of U.S. regulatory agencies with pro-corporate zealots, read more

A Historian Reflects on the Rise of Fascism

Back in 1941, the year of my birth, fascism stood on the brink of conquering the world.  During the preceding decades, movements of the Radical Right―mobilized by demagogues into a cult of virulent nationalism, racial and religious hatred, and militarism―had made great strides in nations around the globe.  By the end of 1941, fascist Germany, Italy, and Japan, having launched massive military invasions of other lands, where they were assisted by local rightwing collaborators, had conquered read more