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 Duane Campbell  Dolores Huerta

Active organizing for democracy is needed now                           

more than ever. For this to succeed, both working

and poor people – who are the majority – have to                    

have a voice. DSA is one of those voices.

-Dolores Huerta


This year is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the federal War on Poverty programs, in part inspired by DSA founder Michael Harrington's book, The Other America. Already in the last two weeks we have seen numerous print, radio and TV specials on whether the War on Poverty worked. 

Of course, we are told by right-wing talking heads that it failed, and too often the moderates agree and there is no strong left-wing voice to counter with an analysis of the true causes of rising inequality today. Such was the case Monday night on Chris Hayes' special on MSNBC.

Read DSA vice-chair Joseph Schwartz's review of the Chris Hayes show on our Democratic Left blog. He commends the special for demonstrating how the anti-poverty programs begun in the 1960s today keep tens of millions of people in the United States out of the ranks of the officially poor. The show also highlighted how addressing the needs of low-wage women, particularly by raising the minimum wage and publicly funding child care, would benefit men as well as women and children. 

Yet, as Schwartz explains, the show failed to analyze how 30 years of bi-partisan “neoliberal” economic policies of deregulation, regressive tax cuts, defunding of social welfare programs, and anti-union policies have driven poverty rates close to those that existed before the War on Poverty. 

By downplaying neoliberalism’s role in creating a massive working poor population, the Hayes special did not adequately convey the reality that poverty today is again a huge problem directly caused by our “race-to-the-bottom” low-wage economy. Without an adequate understanding of the causes of inequality today, we can never reverse the trend of upward redistribution of wealth and create a truly democratic economy.

Read more on the blog! And please share with your friends and family.

In solidarity,

Maria Svart

www.dsausa.org/donate

Democratic Socialists of America



It will take a powerful movement to protect Social Security for future generations, let alone demand a $15 minimum wage or win free higher education for all.


DSA’s important, and unique, role in the progressive movement has never been more clear than in our student UC_Davis_YDS_arrest_1_(2).jpggroup, the Young Democratic Socialists. We bring activists and intellectuals of all ages together as a school on the history and theory of movements, and training the next generation of left-wing activists is central to that role. Can you help us build that movement by supporting our upcoming student conference?

Andee Sunderland (pictured along with two other YDSers) is one of the activists who cut her teeth in YDS. With your help, she has learned the importance of both a solid understanding of power dynamics in the economic system broadly and in specific activist fights.

“Going to a YDS conference gave me a great sense of camaraderie and support. It connected me with an organization made up of like-minded activists all over the country, and helped me to hone my skills as a Socialist organizer. It sparked conversations and friendships that have continued online, and sent me home with energy that I could lend to our local chapter.”


Andee is an example of why investing in YDS is so important. Her experience in YDS exposed her to new ideas and a vision of an alternative world. She not only took on a leadership role in YDS, supporting other student activists around the country, but she also continued her commitment to our movement by becoming active in DSA this year when she graduated from university. She is now helping build the Sacramento DSA chapter.

Andee is the tip of the iceberg. Our student conference. Beyond Capitalism: Activism and Ideas for the Next Left will be in New York, and we expect students from as far away as California. We want to defray the cost of air fare, bus tickets, gas, and even conference registrations for low income students, but to do so we must raise scholarship funds.

The future of democratic socialism depends on having an organized presence in the U.S. Young people that we recruit today will play critical part in building that presence.


Can you make a contribution to the Young Democratic Socialists today?

Andee and I hope we can count on your solidarity!


Onward,

Maria Svart

DSA National Director


DSA Convention: “Coming Out Swinging in the Age of Obama”

By Duane Campbell

The 2013 DSA convention held in Emeryville, Cal. Oct. 25-27 brought together socialists from all areas of the country to build mutual support, solidarity and motivation to continue the activism needed in these difficult times. 


To see videos of the major speeches and the resolutions, go to http://www.dsausa.org/convention_2013_report

The Friday convention plenary began with reports from Maria Svart, our national director, as well as members of the National Political Committee and co-chairs of the Young Democratic Socialists, plus presentations on the politics of the current situation by Honorary Chair Gus Newport and Michael Lighty, political director of National Nurses United and former DSA national director.

Maria Svart

Maria Svart

The East Bay local chapter hosted a packed house of delegates and Bay Area supporters for a public event featuring rousing speeches by writer John Nichols, organizer Steve Williams and Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, followed by the local hip-hop artist Mario de Mira aka Nomi of Power Struggle. The Saturday banquet was addressed by David Bacon, author of The Right to Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration(2013); SDS founder and prolific author Tom Hayden; and political comedian Nato Green.

David Bacon
David Bacon

The NPC had set as a goal for the convention to initiate a two-year, grassroots member discussion of an updated political strategy for DSA, including  revising or replacing Building the Next Left-The Political Perspective of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Delegates and observers benefited from an impressive and diverse series of speakers and workshop leaders, including former national YDS chair Angie Fa; immigrant rights activist Alma Lopez; director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute Clayborne Carson; worker-owner and cooperative association board member Jenn Shepard, and many in the volunteer leadership of DSA.  The speakers, along with dialogue in workshops, hallways -- and the usually malfunctioning elevators – enriched the delegates’ discussion.

Bill Barclay
Bill Barclay

Personal sharing and exchanges at the convention strengthened our work by humanizing our activism.  We learn from each other.  Email, internet exchanges, and those painful conference calls can at times lead to divisions, while working together provides needed support for community building and to keep our energy and enthusiasm for the long haul to advance democracy and socialism in the U.S.

Joe Schwartz

Resolutions on our national priorities for the next two years and on the need to defend voting rights were passed after some healthy debate, and will soon be posted on this website. Finally, the new  16 member National Political Committee was elected including David Roddy of the Sacramento local.

Duane Campbell is the Chair of Sacramento DSA.

More reports at www.dsausa.org


Democratic Socialists of America

The Government is Open: Now fight for Just Government Policies

By Joseph M. Schwartz 

Progressives welcome the defeat of Republican efforts to use the government shutdown and the threat of government default  to overturn the Affordable Care Act.  This is a victory for majoritarian democratic government over an extreme minority’s attempt to overturn democratic legislation. 

But the democratic left should be aware  that a victory over minoritarian extremism could well be followed by a bi-partisan budget agreement  that would further gut anti-poverty programs such as Food Stamps, WIC, and Head Start, cut the real value of Social Security, and curtail Medicare and Medicaid funding.

The Senate bill that will reopen the government through Jan. 15 and extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 will be accompanied by a motion that instructs House and Senate negotiators to reach accord by Dec. 13 on a blueprint for taxing and spending over the next decade. The elite Washington consensus between Republicans and moderate Democrats in favor of fiscal austerity threatens to yield a bi-partisan long term budget agreement that would gut the historic gains of the New Deal and Great Society programs.

Already, the self-described bi-partisan “fix the debt” crowd  –  epitomized by Pete Peterson, the former Lehman Brothers and Blackstone Group executive, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman – have called for the House and Senate budget negotiators to raise the age for Social Security eligibility, cut the real value of Social Security through a new “chained CPI” cost of living index, and curtail the growth in funding for Medicare and Medicaid.  They claim that we cannot afford investment in our future – and in our young – if we don’t cut “overly generous” payments to the elderly.  

Absent pressure from below, President Obama is likely to endorse such a long-term budget accord. Both the President and the beltway bi-partisan elite have no idea what it means for blue collar and retail sales workers to be forced to work beyond the age of 67 nor do they understand  that 70 per cent of retirees get the bulk of their retirement income from Social Security. We could shore up Social Security funding if we simply raised the cap on the amount of income taxed for Social Security.  We could also afford a high-quality, universal health care system if we replaced our wasteful private insurance system with a single-payer “Medicare for All” program. Finally, we could increase funding for Head Start and institute publicly financed childcare if we cut our wasteful imperial military budget and restored effective corporate and upper-income tax rates to those of the pre-Reagan era.

Only if we overturn the bi-partisan consensus in favor of “austerity” budgeting can we achieve social justice for all.  Gains in the quality of life for the vast majority won’t come from corporate-backed Washington political elites but from the pressure of grassroots democratic movements on elected officials. That’s why progressive activists should work to build the immigrant rights movement and join the struggles of low-wage workers for dignity on the job. The United States remains the wealthiest country in the world. We can readily afford justice for all, but only if those who produce the wealth democratically control it.

Joseph M. Schwartz is vice-chair, Democratic Socialists of America and professor of political science, Temple University.

Attend the convention.

Preliminary report on the convention here.

http://www.dsausa.org/obama_is_not_a_socialist_but_we_are_convention_notes

Videos and more to come. 

 


“You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of the slums. . . . There must be a better distribution of wealth . . . and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

 

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speech to the SCLC staff, Frogmore, S.C., November 14, 1966

March on Washington



Join DSA at the 50th anniversary March on Washington  Saturday Aug.26, 2013.

Why We March

DSA is an official partner organization sponsoring the August 24, 2013 March on Washington50 years after activists, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., marched on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  That march, and the years of organizing which preceded it, built public pressure and helped lead to landmark civil rights legislation and later the expansion and protection of voting rights.

But we do not march simply to celebrate past victories.  Today the extremist forces that were defeated 50 years ago have regained new life. We face a moral, economic and political crisis illustrated by the legislation these forces have successfully implemented in many states:


 



My sister’s name is Teresa, and she recently graduated with an MSN degree. She’s living out her dream of providing quality health care in low income communities as a nurse practitioner.

But now she has $153,000 in debt to pay off.

Teresa’s not unusual – millions of student debtors are drowning, pinching pennies to just try to keep up with the interest on their loans. Meanwhile, Congress is deadlocked, lacking the political will to do what’s right. This week student loan interest rates doubled while Congress stood by.

Sign our petition to bypass Congress and ask President Obama to dramatically expand his existing Income Based Repayment Program.

You and I both know that our country can afford free or low cost universal public higher education
 like many other industrialized countries. Total public and private tuition costs are $170 billion per year – one fifth of what we spend on the military per year. Instead, people like my sister will be still be paying off her loans while trying to send her own kids to college, taking care of our parents and saving for her retirement.

But while we build a movement powerful enough to win free higher education, we can demand reforms along the way. President Obama could expand his program today, without Congress, using just an executive order.

Tell Obama: invest in our future. Throw a lifeline to student debtors.

Then help us build that movement. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

Thank you,

Maria Svart

Democratic Socialists of America

PS: To learn more about DSA’s Drop Student Debt campaign, check out our new campaign page.




This has been a roller coaster of a week, and we still haven’t heard how things are going with immigration reform and student loan interest rates.

On the Supreme Court decisions, I hope you will take a moment to read and share two new posts on the DSA website:

Defend and Expand Democracy: Statement on the Supreme Court Decision on the Voting Rights Act

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemns the partisan 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder that threatens four decades of gains in the protection of voting rights and rights to representation of citizens of color. Hundreds of thousands of civil rights activists put their lives on the line to win the expansion of the suffrage. We must not allow five Republican justices to overturn the right to vote, a civil right which underpins the defense of all other rights.

Read the entire National Political Committee statement here.

See the new A plan for a democratic California 

Marriage Equality and Beyond

Is marriage equality revolutionary? Well, the answer, as in so many things, is “it depends.” To some activists marriage equality is the be-all and end-all of LGBT rights, but perceiving this fight in this way ignores the other issues facing people who identify as LGBT.

Read the entire Democratic Left blog post by DSA Vice-chair Christine Riddiough here.

We've come a long way, but there is still much work to be done. Please join us in the fight.

In solidarity,


Maria Svart
DSA National Director
http://www.dsausa.org/ 

 

In defense of public schools, April 2013.

    In the current era of media downsizing and consolidation, when corporate domination of the news “business” has increased, the remaining reporters and editors rely more and more upon press releases, public relations campaigns and advocacy organizations. Public relations campaigns- including those of the government-  are regularly passed off as news.  ( See Robert W. McChesney, Digital Disconnect, 2013) The reduced number of journalists depend upon a narrow range of opinions of people in power with a bias toward seeing the schools through the eyes of the corporate elite.  The children of the corporate elite rarely attend public schools. 

 There are few institutions more directly rated to our state and national prosperity and our democracy than public schools.  Now, a few states, primarily in the South, are dismantling public funding in order to create for profit options for private schools. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/education/states-shifting-aid-for-schools-to-the-families.html.

It is not surprising that this rejection of  public education as a route to  prosperity for all comes from the South and states dominated by Republican legislatures.  In my opinion, Arizona, Indiana,  Texas, and Alabama can go ahead and decline if they so choose, however we need to set up some borders and tariffs, and perhaps trade agreements to prevent their move to “free market” choices from imposing vast new costs on the states which continue to want democracy and prosperity.  Remember, free market ideology is what brought us the economic crisis since 2007.

Public schools have  significantly contributed to U.S.  prosperity for the last 100 years  and they have fostered  our national unity.  It is accurate that some public schools are failing- particularly those serving low income and minority children.  But, there is no evidence that privatizing will improve these schools.  The  managerial models brought into public education from the corporate world have failed. They  have not improved student well being, student achievement, nor democratic opportunity.  

The arguments for privatization are based upon the myths of a “rational market”, or the rational market hypothesis.  Loyalty to this ideology  created the recent economic crisis.  There is no evidence that more competition leads to more equality.  It only leads to improved opportunity for selected groups – now funded at state expense. It doesn’t even seem to lead to improved schooling for the great majority of students.  There is no evidence that more competition leads to more democracy nor more democratic institutions. This is the neo liberal myth. 


Democratic
Socialists
of America
 
April 8, 2013

 

Take urgent action to tell President Obama: “Hands Off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

 

Now is the moment for action. There is a rumor - a leak - that as a sop to Republicans Obama will propose using the "chained CPI" to cut Social Security benefits as well as cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in his soon-to-be announced budget proposal.

 

Tell the President and Congress:

"Do not use the "chained CPI". That is simply a cut to future Social Security benefits that people have earned in full. If you need revenues, introduce a financial transactions tax and lift the cap on income subject to the Social Security tax. Do not cut Medicare and Medicaid. People's lives depend on them. For savings move to Medicare for All; save by cutting excessive private insurance executives' salaries, profits, useless advertising, and lots of paperwork."

You can go to the White House website here to type or paste in your comments.

Or call this number: (202) 456-1111

Contact your Congressperson as well as Democratic leaders Pelosi and Reid.

 

For an analysis of how the chained CPI would cut desperately needed benefits to seniors, the disabled, veterans, federal government retirees and others, see the Campaign for America's Future talking points at: http://www.ourfuture.org/fact-sheets-briefs/2013020608/case-against-shackling-seniors-chained-cpi


May Day
Defend Immigrant Rights

 International Worker's Day – May Day – 2013 took on special meaning this year, as the drumbeat for immigration reform got louder and louder. As part of an ongoing campaign, the Service Employees International Union and allied organizations – such as Mi Familia Vota, Community Center for Change and other labor unions and immigrants’ rights groups – celebrated May 1 with major actions in over 70 cities across the nation.

 

The current immigration bill proposed in the U.S. Senate has some positive provisions, but it falls short because it includes a guest worker program as well as an extensive further militarization of the border.  The bill being drafted in the Republican-controlled House will probably be worse.

 

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) favors both the permanent extension of the DREAM Act and broader immigration reform legislation that would grant immediate permanent resident status to all undocumented workers and their children and would establish an expeditious and non-punitive road to citizenship for those workers and their families.

 

We also oppose all workplace discrimination based upon immigration status, and oppose any and all guest worker programs because they exploit the workers and undercut all workers’ rights to secure humane wages and working conditions, especially in the service and agricultural sectors.

 

DSA participates in the global struggle for equitable economic development and labor rights to reduce the forces that push desperate people to emigrate. We understand that massive migrations of workers, refugees and asylum seekers are a consequence of a global political and economic system that works for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of the vast majority of the peoples of the world. We also believe that low-wage workers of color, including immigrants, will be central to the “movement of movements” that is critical to the development of a “new new Left.

 

See prior post: “A Working Class View of Immigration Reform,” by David Bacon.

Get involved at http://www.dsausa.org/current_campaigns.

 

Duane Campbell is a professor emeritus of bilingual multicultural education at California State University Sacramento, a union activist for over 40 years, and the chair of Sacramento DSA. He blogs on politics, education and labor at www.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com and www.talkingunion.wordpress.com.

 

 

 


DSA is the major organization on the American Left with an all embracing moral vision, systemic social analysis, and political praxis rooted in the quest for radical democracy, social freedom, and individual liberty.

Cornel West.  DSA Honorary Chair

See the renewed, vibrant new DSA national web site.  www.dsausa.org


An essay on Martin Luther King Jr.’s developing view on democratic socialism.

Spencer Resnick

“Sharply breaking with his earlier social democratic aspirations, King entered 1968 with the firm belief that the evils of capitalism necessitated a project of redistributing and reconstructing economic power relationships. He also entered his final year with an equally firm belief that the government would not lead this project as asserted by social democracy. Both of these elements led King to a democratic socialist ideology in the vein of  “Socialism-From-Below.” Capitalism was unjust not simply as a system with a side effect of inequity, but as a system of enforced misery and curtailed autonomy, one imposed on the powerless by those with control over the means of production. The government, rather than the means of redress, simply mirrored the asymmetries of power and reflected the priorities of the privileged instead of amplifying the voices of the dispossessed. The rioting of Watts, the ghettos of Chicago, the failure of the Great Society, and the disintegration of the liberal coalition spurred an ideological evolution that led King to reject social democracy and embrace democratic socialism.

While King’s democratic socialism was firmly established in theory, he remained programmatically and practically rooted in social democracy. Abandoning social democracy meant moving into uncharted waters for King. His career had been founded on mobilizing a liberal coalition to pressure federal intervention in localized civil rights conflicts. He not only stepped out of bounds by criticizing the economic heart of injustice in America, he dissented from the most acceptable method of rectifying that injustice; top-down redistributive efforts. He critiqued not simply capitalism and government, but undemocratic concentrations of power. This radical democratic ideology left King isolated. Garrow notes King’s growing depression during the last few months of his life,[31] which was likely rooted in a lack of direction he faced as he dealt with the failures of social democratic solutions. Until the end of his career, he still advocated the implementation of a “guaranteed income,”[32] a massive government program, the very “neat package” he rhetorically rejected. King’s analysis had advanced beyond his tools as an activist. He suffered a crisis of praxis. King did, however, grope toward a solution: a Poor People’s Campaign.”

http://pages.vassar.edu/theoakdoor/issue-3-2012/spencer-resnick/

 


Students Fighting Austerity
The Young Democratic Socialists held their Winter conference in Brooklyn, NY, on February 15 through 17 this year. Jackie Sewell's account of the conference was printed in Democratic Left, but videos of selected portions of the event are now posted the web:

  • What Happened to Occupy? -- Francis Fox Piven, Joe Schwartz, Sarah Leonard, Maria Svart. CLICK HERE.
  • Labor Strikes Back -- Skip Roberts, Sarah Jaffe, Liza Featherstone, Maria Svart. CLICK HERE.
  • A New Age for Radical Justice -- Nadia Mohamed, Patricia Gonzalez-Ramierez, Greg Basta, Ian Lee. CLICK HERE.
  • Can't Go Green Without Going Red -- Christian Parenti, Matt Porter, Patricia Gonzalez-Ramirez, Greg Basta, Ian Lee. CLICK HERE.
  • The Economics of the 99% -- Steve Max. CLICK HERE.
  • Drowning in Debt -- Joanne Barkan, Mike Konczal, Serge Bakalian, Beth Cozzolino. CLICK HERE.

  • Dolores Huerta. California Hall of Fame – 2013. Honorary Chair. DSA.

    Induction was  March 20, 2013

     

    Dolores speaking at Sac State 2004.

     Dolores Huerta  was  inducted into the   California Hall of Fame (2013) for her labor and community leadership.  She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

     

     Huerta has contributed to movements for union rights and  social justice  since the founding along with Cesar Chaves, Philip Vera Cruz   and others  of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union and she continues  through her current work in supporting union democracy,   civic engagement and empowerment of women and youth in disadvantaged communities. The creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing in the Southwest and contributed significantly to the growth of Latino politics in the U.S.  In her frequent public engagements at college, universities and high schools  she presents  a Latina feminist perspective to civil rights and immigration issues.  Dolores continues active as  a supporter on union picket lines and union struggles throughout the state.  

     

    Achievements:

    A staunch advocate for women’s rights and reproductive freedom, Huerta is a founding board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation and serves on the board of Ms. Magazine and she is an Honorary Chair of  DSA ( along with Cornel West).   She frequently speaks at universities and organizational forums on issues of unions,  social justice and public policy. Dolores  continues working to develop community leaders and advocating for the working poor, immigrants, women and youth as President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

    Some of her prior  awards.  Presidential Medal of Freedom
• U. S. Department of Labor Hall of Honor
• Smithsonian Institution – James Smithson Award
• National Women’s Hall of Fame
• American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award
• The Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award
• The Ellis Island Medal of Freedom Award
• Icons of the American Civil Rights Movement Award

    For more on Dolores Huerta’s activism see  www.MexicanAmericanDigitalHistory.org

     Not so grand of a bargain.

     http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/not-so-grand-bargain/content?oid=8518779

     

    To find out more about the Strengthening America's Values and Economy for All campaign and the Coalition on Human Needs, visit www.chn.org. To learn more about the Democratic Socialists of America, visit www.dsausa.org.

    Duane Campbell is the Chair of Sacramento DSA. https://sites.google.com/site/sacramentodsa/


    An Explanation of the current economic crisis.  

    The Crisis in Capitalism


    An Explanation of the current economic crisis.


    Why I Joined DSA. ( from an editor of Marxism Today).

    Joining Up

    Posted on October 14, 2012 

    Hi Readers,

    I few months back I decided to join a socialist organization. I was a member of Socialist Alternative in college, and I enjoyed that. This time I’m joining up with the Democratic Socialists of America, which I’m starting to learn seem to get a little flack for not being as focused on revolution as other socialist groups. I haven’t been a member long enough to comment on that, but perhaps it will make for a good episode later on.

    Anyway, the point of this post is to share a short article I wrote for the DSA newsletter upon joining, all about why I joined.

    Why I Joined the DSA
    I’ve considered myself a socialist for years. I starting reading Marx in college, but my participation in organized groups has always been limited. For only one semester, I joined the campus Socialist Alternative group, and now several years later I’ve decided to join up with another organized group, this time the Democratic Socialists of America.

    For many leftists in the Millennial generation, mass organizations are intrinsically suspicious – corporations are money sucking con-men, the government drags us into war and bails out banks, churches seem most interested in controlling our beliefs, and our exposure to unions is either non-existent or consists of little more than paying dues. In a certain light it’s no wonder that the young left is sometimes resigned to individualistic sequestered actions: listening to radical rock or hip hop music, watching Democracy Now!, or reading the latest Slavoj Zizek book while never joining up with other leftists in their community.

    I’ve made that step outside the walls of my own home to meet with others. To give up a portion of that precious commodity, free time, and joined the DSA. But why? Why now? And what am I expecting to get out of it?

    I joined the DSA because, in short, I needed to. It’s been five years since the start of “the Great Recession” and little has been done about the challenges we face. Millions of people are looking for work but are left unemployed, and millions more are employed in jobs that are underpaid and unfulfilling. Because capitalism seeks only to create employment to the extent that it serves to produce average or greater profits for the 1%, it is incapable of putting together the unemployed with our country’s unused capacities (places of work and machines laying idle) in order to meet the great social need that we see all around us. Anyone in the millennial generation knows at least a few people, if not dozens or scores, that are unemployed or (more likely) grossly underemployed – their minds unstimulated by their jobs and their talents not harnessed.

    I joined because we’ve had five years of recession and the banks have only gotten bigger than before. Because nothing has happened to change their basic structure or the structure of our economy. Because we’re all still waiting for a bailout for the middle and working class. At the very least we need to start discussing alternatives to a system that kicks people out of houses so they can sit empty, and workers out of jobs so workplaces can gather dust – a system that is prone to crises, that alienates us from the fruits of our labor and from each other, that barrels towards ecological destruction.

    What we have is a social problem, a societal problem, a systemic problem, and attempting to solve a problem like this in and individual way is a recipe for frustration and resignation. I joined the DSA because I could not continue to individually read, think, and watch without sharing and talking with others. The first step in any movement or change is to simply talk to others. Without meeting with others we are divided and weak. We are made to feel crazy or like outcasts by the corporate media. The small and simple step of meeting and talking with others has profound psychological implications. Just knowing that you are not alone in your worries, thoughts, and struggles is healing to your psyche.

    Of course, we know that while philosophers have interpreted the world, that the point is to change it, but we cannot change anything if we are divided and if we haven’t even taken the time to meet with others to discuss and work cooperatively. Only together can we save the world from the irrationality of capitalism.

    -Red Wagner




    Certain Problems Need Socialist Solutions : on the work and legacy  of Michael Harrington. 

    Maria Svart - October 3, 2012
    The following is adapted from a talk delivered at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Michael Harrington’s The Other America, held on September 10, 2012 at the CUNY Graduate Center.

    I’m told that Michael Harrington once wistfully commented to colleagues that he had written sixteen books, and on the dust jacket of the sixteenth, the publisher had put, “By the author of The Other America.” It is entirely fitting that Mike should be best remembered for his first work. It influenced President Kennedy, and President Johnson sent Mike a pen from the signing of the Economic Opportunity Act, the War on Poverty. The book has sold well over a million copies.

    We should remember, however, that Mike’s other fifteen books were about socialism. Unlike many on the left, Mike was not an impossibilist. He believed that through union organization and an expanded safety net, the lives of everyday people—both the poor and the middle class—could be vastly improved, even under capitalism. Indeed, Mike-the-Socialist was far more optimistic about this than many liberals are today.

    Nonetheless, in a subsequent essay, “Poverty and the Eighties,” Mike concluded: “There was progress; there could be more progress; the poor need not always be with us. But it will take a political movement much more imaginative and militant than those in existence in 1980 to bring that progress about.”

    What happened? Why, from 1962 to the present, has that movement not come about? Indeed, everything now seems to be moving in the wrong direction. Last July an Associated Press survey of economists predicted that the poverty rate in 2012 would rise to the same level it was in 1965, the year after President Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act.

    When Mike was writing The Other America, the United States was entering a period of prosperity and rising standards of living that many people now think of as the good ol’ days. The great economic boost from the Second World War had not yet crested. In addition, there was a stimulus program: $35 billion a month (in today’s dollars) for the Vietnam War. Of course, many people were left out of the rapid rise of family income—the elderly, people of color, often women, and those in impoverished regions such as Appalachia. But it seemed altogether reasonable then, and more important, non-threatening, to suggest that those left out be given a chance to get in. Rising prosperity would cover the costs. Government need only promote equal opportunity, and the income would take care of itself.
    But in the United States, nothing is ever straightforward.

    DEPENDING ON which numbers you stressed, poverty in the early 1960s was either a mainly white problem or a mainly non-white problem. (Non-white is the Census Bureau’s phrase.) In 1964, there were seven million white families in poverty and two million non-white families. Clearly, a white problem. But while the incidence of poverty for the whole population was 20 percent, it was 44 percent for non-white families. Clearly, a non-white problem.

    You and I know that poverty is poverty. But because white poverty was better hidden and less visible, and because the major social movement from the mid-fifties on was the civil rights movement, poverty began to be viewed as something pertaining to brown people, and anti-poverty measures were often seen as what the government did to help black people. Needless to say, this view was helped along by powerful economic and political actors.

    The civil rights movement rightly equated equal opportunity with integration, in schools, neighborhoods, and jobs. The movement sought access to what until then had been, in effect, affirmative action for white Americans. But for many whites, equal opportunity was one thing, and integration was something entirely different.

    The negative perceptions of integration were borne of racism and hysteria, but some industries learned to profit from that hysteria. In housing, the white working class had benefitted from postwar government mortgage support and other programs, and home ownership became one of its main forms of savings. The real estate industry’s criminal practice of blockbusting (to deliberately spark white flight) and the bank’s thieving practice of redlining (to automatically deny loans to certain communities) meant that housing integration often did result in reduced home values.

    In the labor market, people of color had long been relegated to the worst jobs and concentrated in sectors that were deliberately excluded from some legal labor protections. Professionals—doctors and lawyers—pass on their money and status by sending their children to graduate school. Skilled tradesmen couldn’t do that. Instead, white tradesmen got their children (at least the boys) into the union apprenticeship program, which transferred their skill to the next generation. Was it cronyism and unfair? Indeed, it was. Did the demand to open a limited number of apprenticeships to all comers cause some union members to feel that a benefit was being taken from them? Indeed, it did. And was this necessary integration a perfect opportunity for the Right to exploit? Indeed, it was. The white backlash against civil rights and, with it, the War on Poverty was rapidly in the making.

    Starting in the 1970s things got worse. The economic growth rate began what is now five decades of stagnation. Higher-wage, unionized, industrial jobs vanished as the Midwest became the Rust Belt. The U.S. balance of trade took a nose dive. Wall Street deregulation facilitated the rapid transfer of wealth from workers and homeowners to bankers. Today, the threat to the middle class is widely understood. But while working people felt the effects quickly, it took almost two decades for that perception to register in the public mind. During that period, many white middle-class people began to feel that their problems were being ignored, especially by liberals and Democrats who continued to advocate for the poor.

    Right-wing organizations and the Republicans, by virtue of their vociferous opposition to anti-poverty measures, were thereby able to pose as the champions of the white middle class, without actually doing anything to help them—just the opposite.

    In his introduction to the 1993 edition of The Other America, Irving Howe noted that poverty remains. “This is not the result of some decree of nature…nor the result of the ‘laziness’ of the poor,” he said. “It is due to social neglect and cynicism. It is also due to a failure of political will.” To this we must add that it is also due to a mass social base, mobilized in outright opposition, with well-funded political backing and ideological infrastructure.

    WHAT ARE we to make of this, as we look for ways to continue Mike’s legacy of combating poverty? In his essay “Poverty in the Seventies,” Mike said, “if we solve the problem of the Other America, we will have learned how to solve the problems of all of America.” In this case and at this time, the converse is also true. If, and only if, we can solve the problems of all of America can we solve the problems of the poor.

    The broader the problems we attempt to solve, the broader the base will be for progressive social change overall. This means that instead of thinking of poverty as a distinct and static category, defined by income, we need to think instead of the process—of impoverishment. This process effects far larger numbers than are officially poor. Impoverishment is people losing—their jobs, their homes, their health care, their pensions, their chance to go to college or send their kids. It has no upper or lower limits. Impoverishment doesn’t even have to occur; just living under the ongoing threat of it can ruin your life. Impoverishment is what is happening to the middle class. 

    Impoverishment allows us to talk about poverty with the middle class. And it is what will allow us to build that democratic, majoritarian movement we need to overcome poverty.

    This means that we should educate about race-based inequalities and be explicit about racial justice, and at the same time fight for greater security for all people. Increasing Social Security benefits, raising unemployment compensation, universal paid sick leave, moratoria on evictions and student loans, single-payer health care, investing in child and elder care, a living income for those unable to work, a massive green energy public works program, targeting the jobs to address the communities hardest hit by the recession, raising the minimum wage, and enforcing strong union rights to protect every workers’ rights, no matter their citizenship status or industry. This is not a shopping list. It is a new kind of comprehensive, universal social safety net program, if it is truly implemented for all. 

    Actually, it isn’t new at all. President Roosevelt thought of most of it, but the Democrats have forgotten.

    At the same time, we need to remember that there was a reason that Mike worked so tirelessly to build an explicitly socialist organization. We must stress that there are certain problems to which only socialists, and socialism, have solutions.

    Let me give you an example. “Skilled Work, Without the Worker” ran a recent New York Times headline, describing the new generation of industrial robots that surpass human dexterity and speed. We see mechanization in self-service cashier machines at the grocery store, but I’m talking about robots that assemble electric razors so rapidly that they have to be enclosed in glass cases to protect the human workers who service them. FoxConn, the brutal Chinese company that assembles Apple products (among others), plans to install over a million such robots. Speaking of his current one million workers, the Chairman of Foxconn said, “As human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache.” In addition to assembling goods, such robots are packing goods and farm products for shipment faster than people can. They retrieve orders from warehouse shelves almost as fast as an Olympic sprinter, and they do it twenty-four hours a day, every day, with no coffee break.

    This is just starting to happen, but even without the next generation of robots fully in place, the UN International Labor Organization reports that half of the world’s work force can’t find a regular full-time job. The fact is, we have reached the point where the satisfaction of material human needs no longer requires that every adult on the planet work a forty-hour week. The jobs are not coming back.
    This gives us a choice. We can go the capitalist route in which the new technology leads to unemployment and poverty, or we can go the socialist route where we all stay in school longer, work a shorter week, take longer vacations, and retire sooner. Those are the choices.
    “But,” you say, “why can’t we just work less and take longer vacations under capitalism?” My response is: “don’t ask me, just ask any capitalist.” They will explain why it isn’t possible, and hire an army of lobbyists to stop it, and an army of professors to teach your kids that it is a silly idea, and an army of media commentators to repeat their message.

    Of course it’s possible, but they won’t allow it! Capitalism is suicidal! Mike knew it, Dissent knows it, the Democratic Socialists of America know it. The future must be socialist!


    Maria Svart is the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America.


    __._,_.___

    Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders


    DSA Honorary Chair Dolores Huerta receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

     For more on this remarkable leader see.  https://sites.google.com/site/sacramentodsa/Home/dolores-huerta-2


    DSA on the Daily Show




    John Nichols at 2011 DSA Convention from Frank Llewellyn on Vimeo.



    50th Anniversary of The Other America.

    The Other America: Re-Discovering Poverty


    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the “discovery” of poverty in “affluent” 1960s America by democratic socialist Michael Harrington in his classic book THE OTHER AMERICA.   That book is credited with drawing the attention of the Kennedy administration to the problem of poverty, and helped launch LBJ’s “War on Poverty” in 1964.


    Contrary to the right-wing attacks on the “War on Poverty,” the poverty rate in the U.S. dropped from 17% in 1965 to 11% in 1978.  The War on Poverty created Medicare and doubled Social Security payments, indexing them to inflation, which lead to a dramatic drop in the poverty rates among the elderly, from 30% down to under 10%.  


    Since 1978, however, things have gotten worse, not better.  The poverty rate increased throughout the 1980s, reaching 15%, fell briefly back to 11% in 2000, and is now back up to 15%.  So while the initial anti-poverty programs of the Johnson administration had some success, ultimately the war on poverty failed to erase the scourge of poverty in America.


    First, as Dr. Martin Luther King pointed out, the Johnson administration waged the wrong war--in Vietnam.  Ever since, the U.S. government, both Democratic and Republican administrations, has been more committed to funding the “military-industrial complex” Eisenhower warned us about than to addressing poverty and it’s many underlying causes and consequences.


    Policy makers did latch on to one concept from Harrington’s book, the “culture of poverty.”  Harrington painted a bleak picture of the lifestyle and living conditions of the poor, but while he saw the “culture of poverty” as the consequence of deprivation and lack of resources, the American elites saw something else, a culture that creates and reproduces poverty.  The problem, they determined, was not the lack of good jobs, money or resources, or the growing inequality in U.S. society; it was a lack of “good values”.  Thus, since the 1980s, the U.S. government has been engaged in a war on the “culture of poverty,” not a war on poverty and its real causes.


    Today nearly 16% of the U.S. population (49 million people) are poor, according to the official government definition of poverty ($22,811 for a family of four, $18,000 for a mother and two children).  Nearly half of those official poor have incomes less than 50% of the official poverty level.  If we define poverty as half of the median household income ($25,000), over 19% of Americans are poor (it’s less than 10% for most western European countries).  In the U.S. 22% of children live in poverty (compared to under 5% in Western Europe), and 1 in 4 African Americans and Hispanics are poor.  According to the Brookings Institute, one-third of Americans live in or near poverty.  


    Like the 1960s, we were led to believe that with the economic growth of the 1980s and 90s a rising tide would lift all boats.  It did not.  While productivity increased dramatically the past 30 years, wages have not.  For most U.S. workers wages have been flat, or declined, over this time.  So where did all the rewards of that “productivity” go?  For the last 25-30 years, over 90% of total growth in income in the U.S. went to the top 10% of Americans (mostly the top 1%), leaving the other 10% of income to be shared by the bottom 90%.  The wealthiest 400 people in the U.S. have more net worth than the bottom 50%.  


    Given the growing disparities between the top 1% and the rest of Americans, shouldn’t U.S. policy makers be looking at the growing concentration of wealth and income, along with power, which has crippled the U.S. economy, and produced policies that benefited the top1% over the bottom 99%?  Instead, we have more calls to cut top tax rates further, from 70% before Reagan down to 25% or less!  Instead of more investments in successful social programs like Medicare and Social Security, we are being told that bottom 90% must sacrifice their “entitlements” to fund more tax cuts and reduce the national debt.


    It is time to re-discover poverty in the United States and wage a real “war on poverty.”  The “invisible poor” of The Other America are now very visible--they are working class families losing their jobs and their homes.  They lack money, not values. We lost the war on the “culture of poverty,” it’s time to focus on the roots causes of poverty.  The working class, including the working poor, has been losing the class war and it is time to fight back.  


    Jim Maynard,

    Memphis Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)


    Report on left common discussion.
      Continuing the activist tradition in Sacramento          by Michael Monasky  Saturday, February 25, 2012

    Breaking Bread

    The Sol Collective, a center for artists and activists, hosted an all-day meeting of elders and youth, sharing poetry, wisdom, and dreams. It was sponsored by the national Committees For Correspondence. CSUS Professor Eric Vega opened the event as an extension of activities from La Semilla Center over 30 years ago. He said there's a need for counterpoint to “the right wing agenda”, and an opportunity “to share knowledge with younger activists.”
     

    Here is the Nichols Speech. It is worth it.

     See the national web site at dsausa.org

    This article is permanently archived at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/main/article/12165/


    Maria Svart, national director of Democratic Socialists of America, on
    Thom Hartmann's program:

    http://www.youtube.com/


    watch?v=0QQoaN_Q-4o

    Let’s Talk Democratic Socialism, Already

    After 30 years of failed neoliberalism, we need a real alternative.

    By Maria Svart November 7, 2011

    "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." With all the right-wing hoopla about how President Barack Obama is waging class war, you might be surprised to learn that Warren Buffet said these words in 2006. The billionaire investor was acknowledging 30 years of a widening income gap--but I'll go a step further. I believe that unfettered capitalism is inherently undemocratic and that human action can significantly democratize our political system. That's why I'm a socialist.

    Corporate America's assaults on working people--seeking profits through offshoring jobs, busting unions, paying politicians to slash corporate taxes and deregulating the banks--have ruined our economy. Meanwhile, millions of workers have been thrown from their jobs while unions are scapegoated for manufactured budget crises at the state and local levels.

    The accident of birth should not determine the course of a person's life. Government expenditures are an indication of a society's priorities, and it is both economically and morally imperative to provide a safety net for those who suffer the most in a downturn. Without massive public investment in healthcare, education, infrastructure and green jobs--which could be funded by progressive taxation of income along with a tax on financial transactions--our future is bleak. With high unemployment and anemic demand, the economy will continue to limp forward. Those lucky enough to have work will likely remain afraid to agitate for better conditions.

    Right now, we need more jobs and better pay for less work. In the long term, ordinary people need more power--through unions, worker councils and seats on the board in the workplace, and in politics, through a public campaign finance system that provides sufficient exposure to all candidates. We need a political economy that allows everyone space and time for personal growth and thoughtful participation in the decisions that profoundly impact their lives.

    I feel so strongly about these values that I recently quit my job as an organizer for SEIU to become the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which has its roots in both the Socialist Party of Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington and the New American Movement, a nonsectarian organization that grew out of the American New Left and whose founders were instrumental in establishing In These Times back in 1976.

    DSA's strategy is to push American politics to the left by strengthening social movements such as Occupy Wall Street. Movements are the only force capable of making elites respond to popular demands. That doesn't mean we ignore elections. Among other races, the organization is looking forward to helping socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) win re-election.

    I was raised in a union family that directly benefited from the kind of government programs that DSA fights to protect and expand--like the GI Bill. As a bi-racial woman, I experienced oppression and learned that the world isn't fair, despite what I was taught in school about the American Dream. When I attended a DSA youth section event at the University of Chicago, I realized that the patterns I had seen all my life signal structural problems. Capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy--they are linked structures of oppression that must be dismantled.

    Analyzing these structures is critical to forging a political strategy to challenge corporate power. But doing so is not the only reason I decided to become DSA's national director. Some may argue that I should work in a more mainstream organization and "get more done," but without a clear alternative to the Tea Party narrative, national politics will continue to slide to the right. In the current climate, even the most moderate reforms are red-baited. We need a strong socialist organization in the United States to counter Republicans' (and often Democrats') dangerous buffoonery.

    As 30 years of neoliberal economic destruction come home to roost, more and more people are beginning to question the wisdom of capitalism and becoming open to socialism--DSA's membership has grown 60 percent since 2003. I believe that someday soon American politicians will stop fearing the s-word, and start enacting systemic change.


    Maria Svart, who joined the Democratic Socialists of America in 2004 as an undergrad at the University of Chicago, is now the group’s national director.

    DSA Students at Occupy Wall Street Demo.


    DSA has produced literature to help you get our messages out. It is in Word document format, so that you can add local contact information or adapt it to local needs.

    Please join us  in a new  campaign to build as and justice agenda and to oppose the conservative budget cuts and tax cuts agenda. 




     


    YouTube Video


    DSA Mission

    Democratic Socialists of America’s mission is to establish democratic socialism as a political force in the United States and around the world by training and mobilizing socialist activists to participate in a vibrant and diverse socialist organization at both the local and national level. DSA both educates the public about democratic socialist values and policies, and builds progressive coalitions to win victories that move the US and the world toward social democracy. In the near term, democratic socialists struggle for reforms that shift power andresources away from corporate elites and put them in the hands of ordinary citizens. In the long term, democratic socialists fight for a world in which all people share equally in the governing of the economic, political and cultural institutions and relationships that shape their lives.

    The right wing is playing its usual role:  Race-bait and attack immigrants and the poor to justify cutting taxes for the rich and the corporations.  Block legislation so that people come to expect nothing from their government except pain. Demand arrests of the undocumented and  new fences at the border. Shift the economic crisis to the states to   cut  health services for women who can't otherwise afford care and to families who can’t afford to feed their own children.  Blame teachers and unions for  failures in education caused by childhood poverty. Ignore  the foreclosure crisis and the jobs crisis.

    The right wing viewpoint has won another victory in the California budget crisis- even though Democrats control the legislature.  It is long past time for the various progressive  forces in the U.S. , each of which is being crushed by casino capitalism, to work together to defend democracy. This requires unions, teachers, academics, Democratic Party activists and others to recognize that what they have in common is the need for a powerful united front to defend against the right wing onslaughts.



     Media work.            

    An Alternative to Republican Budget Slashing and Bashing of Unions.


    Republican bashing of Unions


    See linked page.  The People's Budget. 

    We need an emergency jobs program - now. 

    Unemployment and underemployment remain at crisis levels. We need jobs—and we need them now.  Wall Street has gotten its bailouts. Now it’s past time for Main Street to get some immediate help.

    Counties, states and cities  are again cutting services; police, fire, health care.  And the state has cut k-12 education and higher education and now will cut more if Republicans continue to block  tax extension on the rich.  These cuts are a direct result of the looting of the economy by finance capital  in the economic crisis.

                At the same time,  GE, Bank of America, Exxon, etc. manages to evade taxes while off-shoring jobs.   In a struggling economy, these companies obtain tax refunds, while bringing in billions (GE earned 14.2 billion and received a tax benefit of 3.2 billion).  Offshore tax havens, tax loopholes and tax breaks (tax expenditures), allow these corporations to rake in billions while you and I   struggle to pay our  taxes. 

                And the shell game goes on –  Read the entire piece here

      

    Waiting for Superman – a film review

    In October the film, “Waiting for Superman” dominated the television talk shows, forums, and press with a message that public schools are failing, the teachers’ unions are to blame, and that charter schools are the answer to the problems of public schools.   Superman is not only a film about schools, it is also a part of a wider sophisticated assault on unions and particularly public sector unions.  In the Fall 2010  election in California  Meg Whitman extended the criticism of the teachers union and made it  a major issue in her  $160 million dollar self financed campaign  for Governor.  The film and the Whitman campaign  illustrate how corporate funding produces a political narrative.  The corporations and the foundations involved  are distinct, but the process of corporate or oligarchy funding to shape the political and economic dialogue are similar.

    See the entire film review in the linked pages. Look for links at the bottom of this page. 



     

    Change the USA.  Join the DSA!

     Yes, I want to join the Democratic Socialists of America. Enclosed is my dues payment of:

     Introductory $35                  r Sustainer $65                  r Student $20                   r Low Income $20

    For information on DSA and Democratic Socialism visit our web site: www.dsausa.org

    Name________________________________________________________

    Street Address____________________________________________________

    City___________________________ State___________ Zip_______________

    Email_________________________________________________________

    Mail to: DSA, 75 Maiden Lane #505, New York, NY 10038


    Tea Party activist seeks to qualify an Arizona  SB 1070 style proposition in California.

     The times are difficult.  In the middle of an economic crisis  in the nation and the world, we are facing an  anti immigrant  campaign again.  The world is experiencing a major restructuring of the global economy.  This restructuring is directed by the transnational corporations to produce profits for the corporate owners.  The impoverishment of the vast majority of people in pursuit of profits for the minority has pushed millions to migrant in search of food, jobs, and security.  Global capitalism produces global migration.  NAFTA produces a new wave of migration.

                Economic hard times often result in anti immigrant campaigns, they did so in 1878, in 1910, in 1930, in 1950, in 1994, and now in the crisis of 2007/2011. The nation  including California continues to  suffer a severe recession.  Twenty Six million  are unemployed and under employed. This crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street ,ie. Chase Banks, Bank of America, AIG, and others.   Finance capital produced a $ 2 trillion bailout of the financial industry, the doubling of the U.S.  unemployment rate and the loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in 2008.  Fifteen million people are out of work.  


    See the pages Jobs and Unemployment in the U.S. 

      

    See Inside Job.  See The Heist. ( videos)
    When you leave, you can be proud to be a DSA member.
    You can find more on our work by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page.   


    Barack Obama as not a socialist. - but we are. 


    Democratic Socialists of America

    www.dsausa.org 

       

    We can be contacted at campd22702@gmail.com

    See linked pages below. 

     

     






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