- Professor of Sociology at State University of New York, Stony Brook
- Director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Book
- Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Working Class Life at Stony Brook
- “We as Americans have to hope America will lose the war in Iraq. If we win, we have to expect more wars, more destruction.”
A professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook since the mid-1970s, Michael Schwartz has written extensively on the topic of popular protest and insurgency, and on U.S. business and government dynamics. His work has appeared in such publications as Against the Current, the Asia Times, Contexts, the International Socialist Review, Mother Jones Magazine, the Marxist journal Science & Society, Socialist Worker, TomDispatch, Z Magazine, and ZNet.
Schwartz has authored and/or edited books on radical theory (Radical Politics and Social Structure, 1976); assaults on the American business community (Power Structure of American Business, 1985); and polemics against his ideological opponents (Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda).
In an ostensible show of solidarity with the working class, the Harvard-educated Schwartz (Ph.D. 1971) is also listed as an affiliate faculty member with the Center for Study of Working Class Life, a Stony Brook facility that promotes “multiple forms of scholarship, teaching, and activism related to working-class life and cultures.” The Center is headed by the Marxist economist Michael Zweig.
In addition, Schwartz regularly lends his signature to causes espoused by labor union activists. In September of 2001, for instance, his name appeared on a statement authored by New York City labor activists that opposed the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan, on grounds that the “United States and its allies have already inflicted widespread suffering on innocent people in such places as Iraq, Sudan, Israel and the Occupied Territories, the former Yugoslavia and Latin America.”
In 1986 Schwartz was awarded a $125,000 grant by the National Science Foundation. This grant allowed him to bring his Marxist insights to bear on the study of the “causes of industrial decline.”
Many of the sociology courses offered at Stony Brook bear the imprint of Professor Schwartz’s Marxist focus on class conflict and ruling-class oppression. For instance, a course titled “Stratification” purports to investigate the “causes and consequences of the unequal distribution of wealth, power, prestige, and other social values in different societies.” Special seminars in the Stony Brook sociology department regularly take as their subject issues like “Advanced Topics in Marxist Theory,” as though the decline and fall of such economic basket cases as North Korea and Cuba had never happened.
Schwartz’s Marxism has led him to side with America’s enemies in the war on terror. In November of 2004, just as U.S. troops were laying siege to the terrorist stronghold of Fallujah, Schwartz was leading a crowd of anti-war protestors rooting for an American defeat. “We as Americans have to hope America will lose,” he declared. “If we win, we have to expect more wars, more destruction. Iran is next, Syria is next, and this is only the beginning.”
These remarks were hardly spontaneous. Writing in the Asia Times in late September 2004, Schwartz entreated the “international community” to side with terrorists in Iraq in opposing the then-incipient U.S. offensive in Fallujah. Cautioning that “even the most ferocious Iraqi resistance may not be sufficient to deter the coming November offensive,” Schwartz wrote, “the Iraqis need and deserve the support of the international community; the best (and least destructive) deterrent against this impending onslaught would be the threat of uncontrollable worldwide protest, should the U.S. attempt to level either Fallujah or Sadr City.”
In defense of this forthrightly anti-American position, Schwartz sought to portray the terrorists in Fallujah as gallant “revolutionaries” fighting a rearguard action against “brutal” American tactics. He repeated terrorist propaganda, dismissing the “cover story” that U.S. military forces were targeting legitimate terrorist targets, a charge he purportedly substantiated by noting that “hospitals report daily that the vast majority of the casualties are civilians.” Schwartz declined to note that the majority of those casualties were caused not by U.S. forces but by the “insurgents” whose cause he urged the world to embrace.
This too was not a novel argument for Professor Schwartz. In August of 2004, writing in TomDispatch.com, Schwartz had inveighed against the U.S. offensive in Najaf, condemning the “agony” of the American campaign against the Shiite guerrillas of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and bemoaning “the death and destruction it is wreaking on an ancient and holy city.” The rhetoric was a logical leap from Schwartz’s June 2004 claim that the “Bush Administration plans to remake Iraq as an agent of American policy in the Middle East.”
Professor Schwartz now has his own taxpayer-funded personal pulpit on campus: he serves as the faculty director of a Stony Brook institution called the Undergraduate College of Global Studies (UCGS). Informing students that its function is “preparing you to be a citizen of the world,” the UCGS has its own unique conception of proper citizenship. A November 2004 UCGS-sponsored conference was titled “Could You Be Drafted? Forum on the Draft.” The conference featured a gallery of leftwing speakers. Among them were: Michael Foley, a professor of history at the City University of New York and the author of Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance During the Vietnam War; Brother Clarke Berge, an activist and Protestant chaplain at Stony Brook; and Anita Cole, a member of the Center on Conscience and War, a non-profit group that champions the “rights of conscientious objectors.”
Schwartz began this UCGS forum by asserting that the introduction of a military draft was not only possible but, indeed, imminent. So desperate was the beleaguered American military for additional manpower, according to Schwartz, that the U.S. government intended to enact a draft — which Schwartz called a “ticking time bomb” — in the spring of 2005. However, the draft was never implemented.