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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Videos and more to come.
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speech to the SCLC staff, Frogmore, S.C., November 14, 1966
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:
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.
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.We've come a long way, but there is still much work to be done. Please join us in the fight.
DSA National Director
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.
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."
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
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.
“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, 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,” 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.”
Dolores Huerta. California Hall of Fame – 2013. Honorary Chair. DSA.
Induction was March 20, 2013
Dolores speaking at Sac State 2004.
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.
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
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.
An Explanation of the current economic crisis.
Why I Joined DSA. ( from an editor of Marxism Today).
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.
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
50th Anniversary of The Other America.
Report on left common discussion.
Continuing the activist tradition in Sacramento by Michael Monasky Saturday, February 25, 2012
Breaking BreadThe 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.”
Read the report here. https://sites.google.com/site/sacramentodsa/Home/breaking-bread
This article is permanently archived at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/main/article/12165/
Maria Svart, national director of Democratic Socialists of America, on
"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 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.
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.
An Alternative to Republican Budget Slashing and 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.
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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 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
We can be contacted at email@example.com
See linked pages below.