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New Ground 101

July - August, 2005


  • Abolitionists Meet by Tom Broderick
  • A Lesson in Solidarity by Bob Roman
  • Patriot Acts by Bob Roman
  • Matters of the Spirit Matter to Everyone by Gene Birmingham
  • Thickly Paved with Good Intentions by Will Kelley
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Illinois United to Protect Social Security

    DSA House Party

    Waging a Living Chicago Premier

    Mark Your Calendars: YDS National Conference

    The OPCTJ Wants You!

    DSA National Convention

    James Weinstein, 1926 - 2005

    Stop Torture Campaign

    New Ground 101.1

    New Ground 101.2

    New Ground 101.3

    New Ground 101.4


    Abolitionists Meet

    by Tom Broderick

    The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP) held its 2005 Annual Meeting on June 15th at the Spertus Museum in downtown Chicago. The meeting brought together participants in the Illinois abolition movement to socialize and celebrate. Awards were presented to some of those who made a contribution to the struggle for abolition. The ICADP also elected a board of directors.

    Although we still send people to death row in Illinois, the number of people being condemned has decreased. The message that the capital punishment system is fundamentally flawed and not fixable is getting across. That said, eight of our fellow human beings have been sentenced to death since former Governor George Ryan (R) emptied death row through pardons and commutations. The moratorium on execution is still in place and Governor Blagojevich (D) has pledged to continue it.

    Awardees this year were New York Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-Brooklyn), who was the legislative leader in the successful fight to end the death penalty in New York; Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-3rd), who is the chief sponsor of the Illinois abolition bill; Joey Mogul, a partner at the People's Law Office in Chicago and co-founder of Queer to the Left; and former Chicago Area 2 police detective Frank Laverty.

    During her acceptance speech, Ms. Mogul talked about the homophobia that runs through the criminal justice system. She referred to the closing argument to a jury by a prosecutor in a capital punishment case. He wanted a sentence of death because "sending a homosexual to prison for life is hardly punishment."

    Mr. Laverty was given the "Unsung Hero Award" for breaking the code of silence to save an innocent 18 year old from a wrongful conviction for murder. Mr. Laverty had evidence of the real killer but was prevented from introducing it. When the case went to trial, he blew the whistle on the long-standing policy of hiding exculpatory evidence in secret "street files." These files were off the record and were not presented to the defense in criminal trials. That is illegal.

    Former detective Laverty had the misfortune of working in the torture central district headed by infamous former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. Although there was a great deal of amusement at the idea that the ICADP was giving an award to a former member of the Chicago Police Department, Mr. Laverty received two standing ovations from the audience.

    Reverend Tricia L. Teater was elected as the President of the Board of the ICADP. Among those newly elected to the board was Reverend Calvin Morris, Executive Director of the Community Renewal Society.

    Chicago Democratic Socialists of America continues to support the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The ICADP website is www.icadp.org.

    A Lesson in Solidarity

    by Bob Roman

    The second year anniversary of the Congress Plaza Hotel strike brought several hundred people to picket and rally outside the hotel on June 14. This was partly a celebration of the ongoing strike, partly "shot across the bow" of the Chicago hotel industry whose contract with UNITE HERE Local 1 is up for renegotiation next year, and partly pressure on the Congress Hotel to start negotiating in good faith.

    This action was preceded by an action the previous week where a delegation from Chicago Jobs with Justice attempted to deliver a letter signed by dozens of community groups. The letter asked that the Congress Plaza Hotel resume negotiations with the union. Chicago Jobs with Justice Executive Director James Thindwa very nearly was arrested then, not for anything he did, but an employee of the security firm guarding the hotel panicked when she realized she was not in control of the situation. This may or may not have had something to do with the main entrance of the hotel being closed during the June 14 demonstration.

    Last year saw a similar, rather larger demonstration to mark the first year's passage. That demonstration brought a wide cross section of the labor movement and the community together as an act of solidarity (see New Ground 95 and http://www.chicagodsa.org/c040615.html). There seemed to be less effort at outreach this year though Jobs with Justice, Chicago DSA and others did postcard and email alerts. The crowd this year was dominated by UNITE HERE hospitality industry workers attending a regional conference in Chicago and SEIU members, though many others were present.

    One should not make assumptions about labor factionalism or the state of the strike based on the crowd. It had far more to do with the event being a celebration. Celebrate is an odd word to associate with a strike that has been so long and painful for the workers. But the mood of the picket line was buoyant and lively. There was a Mariachi band in full regalia. (They were often inaudible despite their best efforts. When the pickets chanted "No Justice! No peace!", they had the decibels to prove it.) There was recorded music. There was a stage from which speakers at a concluding rally spoke. One speaker was John Wilhelm, President of UNITE HERE's Hospitality Division. Wilhelm praised the strikers. He said he had just come from a meeting in Washington, DC, where the future of the labor movement was being discussed and debated. But the future of the labor movement is here in Chicago, he went on, you are the future of the labor movement. And after others had added to or ratified his sentiment, each of the striking Congress hotel workers was recognized by name. This was indeed a celebration of the courage, dedication, and endurance of a small band of people.

    Patriot Acts

    by Bob Roman

    The Bill of Rights Defense Coalition (BORDC) had promoted and helped organize the nationwide effort to get various units of government to pass resolutions against the USA PATRIOT Act. The Chicagoland Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CCCLR) had successfully led the effort to have the Chicago City Council pass such a resolution (see New Ground 91, 89, and 88). The CCCLR became inactive afterwards partly due to personnel changes in some of the participating organizations and partly because of a lack of consensus about what should be done next. As some of the more controversial parts of the USA PATRIOT Act approach their "sunset" expiration dates, the BORDC organized a "national week of action" around the 4th of July celebrations, resulting in the reactivation of the CCCLR.

    The CCCLR approached the task of organizing Chicago's participation in the week of action with a great deal of enthusiasm and rather limited resources. None-the-less, they successfully organized a response to the Chicago Tribune's pro-USA PATRIOT Act editorial (the editorial included an invitation to readers to debate the issue, and much of the published response was from CCCLR activists). The CCCLR also did considerable leafleting at a variety of venues, some sympathetic and some not, from the meeting of U.S. Conference of Mayors (where leafleting even on public property was essentially prohibited) to a coincidental rally at Chicago's Federal Plaza on July 5 to protest packing the Supreme Court with conservatives.

    Chicago's week of action was concluded with the July 8th showing of the documentary video State Secrets at Chicago Filmmakers. The documentary provided a concise discussion of the USA PATRIOT Act, including how it fits into the framework of prior legislation that compromises civil liberties and strips away official accountability. Some historical background is also provided, as this is not the first episode of repression and paranoia our country has gone through. The showing was followed by a lively discussion, with several lawyers from the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild on hand as a resource on legal issues and news.

    Despite all this activity, the CCCLR has very limited resources, and it shows. For example, CCCLR activist Brent Mesick designed a series of wonderful posters that would be ideal as advertising on rapid transit cars and busses. At present, they are only available as PDF files on the CCCLR web site; money is definitely one of the issues.

    Chicago DSA has supported the CCCLR through email announcements, targeted postcard mailings, participation in its activities, and by making the Chicago DSA office available for meetings at times when the Chicago Coalition to Defend the Bill of Rights' office is otherwise occupied.

    Coincident with the revival of the CCCLR is a new organization, the Civil Liberties Coalition of Illinois (CLCI). Membership in the CLCI and CCCLR overlap; some of the larger organizations that were initially active in the CCCLR are now part of the CLCI. Partly in deference to the predominately 501c3 IRS status of its member organizations and partly because its members range in opinion from repeal to reform of the USA PATRIOT Act, the CLCI is far more explicitly focused on public education. The political component (such as it is) is a campaign to have Illinois' Congressional delegation sponsor town hall meetings in their districts on the subject, the first of these thus far being one with Representative Jan Schakowsky on July 17.

    Normally, one would expect rivalry and disdain to arise from such a situation. Thus far that hasn't happened. Part of it is a result of the more prosperous and more mainstream situation of the CLCI giving it a fairly secure sense of its turf. Part of it is a highly pragmatic attitude by the CCCLR that its projects are basically public property.

    The CCCLR is now planning its next steps in the campaign to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act as well as considering one or more projects complimentary to that goal. If you'd like to be involved, call 773.250.3225 or email ccclr@ccclr.org or go to http://www.ccclr.org.

    Matters of the Spirit Matter to Everyone

    by Gene Birmingham

    God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, by Jim Wallis HarperSanFrancisco, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, 2005

    Jim Wallis is an evangelical Christian with a progressive politics and an inclusive stance toward other religions. He founded Sojourners, a nationwide network of progressive Christians, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and edits Sojourners, a monthly magazine covering faith, politics and culture.

    Wallis has taught faith, politics and society both at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government as an Institute of Politics Fellow, and at the very liberal Harvard Divinity School. Author of seven other books, he speaks over 200 times a year, writes columns in several newspapers, and appears on radio and TV talk shows. He lined up Christian leaders to meet with President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Archbishop of Canterbury, among others, to plead for an alternative to war in response to terrorism.

    God's Politics, his latest book, is addressed to the progressive religious community. The religious Right is wrong by trying to use the Republican Party for its private agenda. What the religious Left doesn't get is that the biblical teachings of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus are a political matter as well as a religious one. Denominational leaders are inspired to issue justice statements, with little effect. Rightwing Christianity wants to use public means to enforce its private religious beliefs. Religious Left politicians keep their faith to themselves, as though it did not apply to politics. The only way Wallis sees to make the social justice teachings of the Bible a political force is for the religious Left to make them so. His Call to Renewal campaign is an attempt to make it happen. His example is Martin Luther King's combining biblical justice with the U.S. Constitution in his civil rights campaign.

    Bad religion on the Right must be challenged by good religion on the Left, rather than allow the Right to continue to define its religion as the only alternative to secularism. Good religion will ask the questions Wallis uses as chapter titles, "When Did Jesus Become Pro-War?" "When Did Jesus Become Pro-Rich?" "When Did Jesus Become a Selective Moralist?" The biblical prophets did not preach for individual conversions, but spoke to the kings, the priests, and especially to the false prophets, to change their ways or face God's judgment. Good religion today would copy them.

    Wallis does not address the issue of economic systems, whether capitalist or socialist. Instead he presents the spiritual nature of the struggle between Right and Left as the problem. The losers in our political struggle become cynical, while the winners are ready to wield the power they have gained, leaving the issues without even conversation. He believes the loss of hope is at the root of voter apathy. It is up to the religious Left to restore hope by reclaiming the biblical basis of social justice. It remains a foundation for dealing with the issues of today, as Wallis sees them, race, poverty and peace.

    The most interesting example of his approach shows up in his moderate pro-lilfe position on abortion. He accepts the "seamless garment" approach of the late Cardinal Bernardin, who called for the end both of the death penalty and abortion as a consistent ethic of life. But instead of resisting all policy of choice, he calls for both Left and Right to make abortion "safe, legal and rare", with emphasis on rare. Neither Right nor Left put enough emphasis there. The Right plays to its constituency during elections, but does nothing afterward to help women in need of child care, health care and employment. The Left fights to preserve Roe v. Wade, while failing to say how abortion could become rare through education and economic policy. Wallis believes that millions of votes by those who agree with progressive issues, but have a religious view of the sanctity of life, are lost by Democrats because of a hard line pro-choice stance. The religious Left, he argues, needs to give expression to the value of all human life by presenting choice as a last ditch option which may be necessary at times, but can be made rare by other means of meeting the needs of women. Unfortunately, he offers no examples of those who share this hope.

    The subtitle of Michael Harrington's book, The Politics at God's Funeral, is "The Spiritual Crisis of Western Civilization". Coming from an atheist, it sounds strangely like what Wallis, the evangelical Christian, says. Harrington closed his book this way:

    "It is at this precise moment and the conjunction is not an accident that the political and social God of the Western tradition is dying. An atheism of fools could rejoice in the emptiness of the heavens he leaves behind; a theism of fools could keep on singing the old hymns. But the real issue is whether the horizon is being wiped away, not how it is defined. No politics can answer that question and only politics of all those concerned with the survival of the spirit, whether it is said to be holy or only human, can work to create the social structures in which people are more likely to answer it for themselves." [italics mine] (The Politics at God's Funeral, p. 218)

    Compare Wallis' call for a spiritual component in politics in his closing chapters:

    "Prophetic faith does not see the primary battle as the struggle between belief and secularism. It understands that the real battle, the big struggle of our times, is the fundamental choice between cynicism and hope.

    "...the commission I want to use to conclude this book... It's a commission that can only be fulfilled by very human beings, but people who, because of faith and hope, believe that the world can be changed. And it is that very belief that changes the world. And if not us, who will believe? After all, we are the ones we have been waiting for."

    Whether or not God is dead, religion is alive and kicking. Rightwing Christianity is trying to force a return to Christendom. Wallis believes God will be alive in the human spirit by action for social justice rather than by theological beliefs. He sounds like a theist who is singing new hymns. Whether or not there is hope for justice in the religious Left, it is true that matters of the spirit matter to everyone.

    Thickly Paved With Good Intentions

    by Will Kelley

    The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000, by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton. New York: Viking, 2005

    For the vast majority of us who are educated through the public school system, our knowledge of American military engagements is left with huge gaps. We all learn about the big wars, the "good" wars: the American Revolution, the Civil War, World Wars I and II. It often comes as a shock to us, then, to later learn about the other wars, the ones they hardly mention: the Seven Years' War (the "French and Indian War"), The Mexican-American War, and the Spanish-American War, to name just three. Sometimes there is a vague sense of embarrassment, and an indirect message that somehow these shouldn't be included in any evaluation of American history. Yet the first is how the British colonies secured their claim to Canada and the Old Northwest, the second yielded Texas, California, and everything in between, while the third turned the United States into a trans-oceanic empire. Surely, one wonders, there must be a way to integrate these wars, along with the many others, into a more comprehensive understanding of the growth of the American nation. And now, I am happy to report, Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton have given us such a book.

    Their goal is simple, nothing less than to see how various pieces of the history of North America all fit together. On the one hand, they are acutely aware of the "grand narrative" of American exceptionalism: that the United States is a uniquely peace-loving nation whose people only go to war when they have been forced to do so in order to defend liberty. They know this is incorrect, but they also are aware of the flaws in the common alternate narratives that portray the United States as an arrogant bully, willfully ignorant of the many cruelties that flowed, and continue to flow, from its violent domination of other people. Instead, they try to use stereoscopic vision, combining elements of both to create a more accurate, three-dimensional view.

    Their method is to examine military conflicts that involved an extension of the "dominion," or political control, of state entities. They begin by analyzing the contest among the three big European empires of Britain, France, and Spain (with a brief appearance by the Netherlands). This leads them to a remarkable inference: three unexpectedly easy victories in the "little" wars we don't learn about exacerbated tensions that, in short order, precipitated Anglo-American involvement in the "big" wars we do hear about. In the 18th century, a sweeping victory in the French and Indian War led the British to try to extend imperial control in their American colonies, resulting in the Revolution. In the 19th century, the huge territory acquired from Mexico in 1848 brought to a head the conflict over slavery, and with it the Civil War. In the early 20th century, an easy victory over Spain led to a national debate over what the limits of "America" should be.

    In order to show how the issues of the times were experienced by individuals, the authors explore their history through a study of the lives of people closely identified with the struggle for dominion, usually but not always through war: Champlain, William Penn, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Santa Anna, Ulysses S. Grant, and Douglas MacArthur.

    The result is a tremendous success. Without using any of the affected style of contemporary "theorists," and in the guise of a simple historical narrative, the authors have been able to mount a complex, sophisticated argument concerning the creation and expansion of the power of the United States. They find that the rhetoric and reality of "liberty" for those who are one of "US" does not contradict but is consistent with conduct that others experience as imperial aggression. If, as psychologists argue, one aspect of maturity is an ability to live with the ambivalence that arises when we simultaneously accept both good and bad sides of the same phenomenon, this is a profound effort to create a mature understanding of the history of American expansion.

    It is, of course, not a perfect book. Ignore the subtitle. There is a short summary of the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish, and a brief overview of Colin Powell's career up to his appointment as Secretary of State, but the study effectively begins in 1599 with the arrival Champlain in Canada and ends in 1952, when Eisenhower was elected president and MacArthur admitted that he was old. There is, in addition, one serious hole. In two of the "imperial" wars that saw sweeping victories over non-English speakers, the result was a war among Americans themselves, first between British imperialists and separatist colonials, and second between the North and the slave-holding South. What, though, was the effect of victory in the Spanish-American war?

    The narrative loses focus when it comes to the consequences of the Spanish-American War. The authors emphasize that the United States shifted from territorial expansion to "interventionism," an insistence that its wars were only for the purpose of liberating people who had been oppressed by tyrants, not the control of territory. This, they write, was because the leaders of the nation balked at trying to incorporate non-White, non-Protestant, non-Anglophone people into the United States. Yet what was the conflict among Americans that made such social diversity a threat? Though they hint at an answer through their mention of who ended up on the losing side of this battle, they never connect the dots and say it openly: there was a war going on in the United States. It was a class war, a war over liberty and authority that one amateur historian called the "Great Dissent" (see New Ground 94: Finnish Americans and the Great Dissent). This war was fought in part through arguments over what it meant to be "an American." Debate took the form of determining who could be disciplined: enjoined, fined, arrested, imprisoned, deported, killed, etc. The result was a complex blend. If elites gave up on the expansion of America abroad, they developed an ideology of Americanism at home. If the territory of non-White, non-Protestant peoples was not to be incorporated into the United States, no longer would many of these people be permitted to immigrate to the United States. If the government started to protect citizens against the power of large capitalists, movements in favor of other forms of political economy were destroyed, then dismissed as "un-American." Just as Anderson and Cayton identify distinctive "settlements," political compromises that both extended and delimited liberty after the Revolutionary and Civil wars, they could have identified a third settlement to accompany what they call the Age of Intervention, one established during the term of Woodrow Wilson and immediately thereafter. The book would have been a bit more intellectually satisfying if Anderson and Cayton had taken the additional step of characterizing this Settlement. It deserves as much because it is one we are living under still, even if it is unraveling.

    Yet no book is perfect and, given the sweep of their synthesis, their achievement is staggering. It may be the best one-volume history of the establishment and expansion of American dominion that we have today.

    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    Illinois United to Protect Social Security

    Organizing continues in the 15th and 11th Congressional Districts. On June 2, there were press conferences in Champaign and Bloomington announcing the organizing of the 15th District. 15th District Representative Johnson is a Republican who could be pried loose from the Republican caucus' machine on this issue; he's voted independently on other issues in the past and is beginning to make appropriate noises. The 11th District committee had a similar press conference in Joliet on June 6. Among those speaking was DSA member John Ormins, wearing his AFSCME Retiree Sub-Chapter 73 hat. A delegation from the conference visited Weller's District Office with their mascot, "Jerry the Duck", the point being that Jerry Weller needs to stop ducking the issue. The 11th District is particularly important as Representative Weller is on the House Ways & Means Committee, where most of the Social Security legislation is being considered. He has not been making appropriate noises. All three press conferences gathered considerable and favorable local coverage.

    The campaign to protect Social Security returned to Joliet on July 6 with a rally in that town's Bicentennial Park as the Alliance for Retired Americans' "Truth Truck" came through with its flat bed load of petitions. This was the start of the Illinois leg of the Truth Truck tour that has already covered much of the Eastern United States. About a hundred people attended the late morning demonstration. Chicago DSA sent a postcard alert to its members and contacts in Will County advising them of the event.

    In August, Illinois United to Protect Social Security is planning educational events around the 70th anniversary of start of Social Security. They are also continuing their efforts to have local units of governments adopt resolutions supporting the preservation of Social Security (the Illinois legislature and the City of Chicago are among those that have done so) and to have local elected public and party officials sign on to a petition supporting its preservation.

    While outright privatization of Social Security is becoming less and less likely, we should remain alert for legislation that subtly sabotage this institution.

    Bob Roman


    DSA House Party

    DSA is having a house party at the home of Ron Baiman, 205 S. Humphrey in Oak Park, on Wednesday, July 27, 7 PM, to raise badly needed monies. Our special guests will be Harold Meyerson (DSA Vice Chair and Editor-at-large of The American Prospect), Kent Wong (Director, UCLA Labor Center), and Frank Llewellyn (Director, DSA). Since before the election last fall, many non-profit organizations on the left have been the subject of false, even malicious accusations by the right wing. The IRS has responded to the charges and right wing political pressure by initiating a project investigating many non-profits on the left. Like the NAACP, DSA is one of the non-profit organizations that have been targeted. We will be completely exonerated; yet we still have to pay (excellent) lawyers thousands of dollars. And of course, the IRS won't pick up the tab when they clear us, even though they are the ones that are forcing us to incur these costs. Your financial support will enable DSA to both continue our campaign against the low-wage economy and shut down what is clearly a politically motivated administrative attack on us.

    To RSVP (or for more information), call the Chicago DSA office at 773.384.0327 or email chiildsaa@chicagodsa.org. If you cannot attend, send a contribution of any amount to the DSA Fund, 198 Broadway, Suite 700, New York, NY 10038. Your donation to the DSA Fund is and will be completely tax deductible.


    "Waging a Living" Chicago Premier

    The Open University of the Left is presenting the Chicago premier of Waging a Living, a documentary film by Roger Weisberg, produced by Public Policy Productions in association with Thirteen/WNET New York. This showing will be on Sunday, July 24, 7:30 PM, at the United Electrical Workers Hall, 37 S. Ashland in Chicago.

    The percentage of American workers trapped in poverty rose 50% between 1979 and 2000. Today, one in four workers (more than 30 million Americans) are stuck in low-wage jobs that do not sustain a decent or secure existence. This documentary follows four laborers as they struggle to support their families. Shot over three years in the Northeast and in California, Waging a Living offers a first hand view of life lived on the outskirts of the American dream. A $5 donation is requested, or more if you can, but no one will be turned away. For more information, email oulchicago@yahoo.com or call 773.384.5797.


    Mark Your Calendars!

    You won't want to miss the annual YDS national conference and activist retreat on the weekend of August 12-14. This year we will be meeting at a small castle surrounded by forest and ponds, conveniently located in Ossining, NY (only 30 minutes north of New York City).

    We come together at a time when Bush and the Republicans are on a rampage and greedy corporations are more powerful than ever. The right wing in the United States controls all three branches of government and is pushing forward a regressive agenda of tax cuts for the rich and attacks on unions, women, people of color, the LGBT community and our social programs. The labor movement, often the right wing's most formidable opponent, is at a weak point and is internally divided. Abroad, the violence in Iraq continues to escalate, destroying countless lives and draining billions of dollars from the public coffers. As young people, we see tuition costs and personal debt spiraling out of control and an uncertain future with fewer decent job prospects amidst the expanding low-wage economy.

    And yet, despite all these distressing realities, there are signs of hope. Bush's popularity ratings are at an all-time low. His administration faces considerable resistance to its domestic privatization schemes and its militaristic foreign policy. Progressive activists in and outside the Democratic Party are working to fight mostly defensive battles while also crafting a long-term strategy to advance our own agenda of social and economic justice. Internationally, the wave of opposition to capitalist globalization continues to grow as popular social movements and left-wing electoral victories spread, particularly across Latin America. The time to build a stronger democratic Left in the United States is now. Join us from August 12-14 as we work together to prove that a better world is possible.

    Our conference, entitled "Building the Next Left," is a unique opportunity for YDS members and activists to get away from it all, to remember why we do what we do and to learn how to do it better. There will be workshops and discussions on organizing strategies, the history of the left, contemporary social movements, mapping out political priorities for youth and students organizers, building a stronger progressive presence in mainstream US politics and more. Come to the castle to meet young and veteran activists from around the country in an affordable retreat setting. There will also be partying, video screenings, and plenty of out-door fun in between workshops and trainings. Most importantly, this is a great way to wrap up the summer, make new (and sometimes life-long) friends, and get ready for a fall of campus and community activism. For more information, go to http://www.ydsusa.org/confs/nyc_0805.html.


    The OPCTJ Wants You!

    The Oak Park Coalition for Truth & Justice (OPCTJ) is planning the First Annual Oak Park Peace Fair and Town Hall. The OPCTJ wants to project a view of a peaceful society. Though it will be a beautiful day when there are no more swords to beat into plowshares, the absence of war is not enough. The theme of the Fair is "What Does Peace Look Like?" This is an ambitious undertaking and one that Chicago DSA supports.

    This event will offer peace and justice groups from the greater Chicago area the opportunity to make visible a better world. Integral to this event, artists and artisans will be displaying their craft. There will be a performance stage where poets, spoken word artists, performance artists and musicians will entertain and enlighten. A Public Voice Area is planned. This will be a space where we can engage our elected officials in structured conversation on the topic of peace with justice. State and Federal officials are being invited. Speeches are not on the agenda, as dialogue is the focus.

    The Fair will take place Saturday, September 10 from noon to 5 p.m. at Scoville Park. The park is at the northwest corner of Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. For general questions about the Fair: Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net. Questions from artists and artisans about displaying at the Fair: Donna Bast, dsbast@majorscale.com. Questions from those wishing to step onto the Performance Stage: Laurel Lambert Schmidt, Llambertschmidt@yahoo.com. If you want to present, display or perform, you should get in touch with Bill, Donna or Laurel without delay. See you at the Fair.

    Tom Broderick


    DSA National Convention

    The 2005 DSA National Convention will be held November 11 through 13 in Los Angeles. A pre-convention conference on Wal-Mart organizing is also being planned. For more details, as they become available, go to the DSA web site.

    The Chicago DSA delegate election will be at our general membership meeting on Tuesday evening, September 13, at the Chicago DSA office. You do not need to be present at the meeting to run for a delegate position. While the specific apportionment has not been announced at press time, Chicago generally has many delegate positions to fill. So even if you are not sure you can go to the convention, we'd encourage you to run. For more information, or to file your absentee candidacy, call the Chicago DSA office, 773.384.0327, or email chiildsa@chicagodsa.org.


    James Weinstein, 1926 - 2005

    By now most of you have heard that James Weinstein died this June of brain cancer. I won't duplicate other obituaries here. Rather, I'll simply note that what impressed us when we chose him for the 1997 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Award was his record as a founder of institutions: the periodicals In These Times, Socialist Revolution (which later became Socialist Review then was last heard of as Radical Society), and the Modern Times bookstore. He was a founding member of the New American Movement (one story I've heard has him present in the Hyde Park living room where the idea for NAM is said to have been born). When it merged with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, he became a founding member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

    Over the past decade or so, Weinstein's relation with DSA was both supportive and cranky. He very helpful with the 1997 Dinner, and In These Times has cosponsored several events with Chicago DSA over the past few years. But it was no secret that he felt DSA had not fulfilled what he (and many others) had regarded as its potential. He felt this way about most of the left.

    James Weinstein was also a scholar and author. My own particular favorite was his history, The Decline of Socialism in America, 1912 - 1925. Others feel that The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State, 1900 - 1918 is his most significant work of scholarship. It is reported that he was most pleased with his most recent work, The Long Detour. In May of 2004, In These Times, the Open University of the Left, and Chicago DSA organized a forum to discuss this book.

    Losing someone like Weinstein is always bad news. If only there were more lefties like him: a builder of institutions.

    Robert Roman


    Stop Torture Campaign

    In its misguided war on terrorism, the illegitimate administration of George W. Bush is in violation of human rights on a massive scale. U.S. Courts, the Italian legal system, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are among the many groups who have taken action to stop the Bush administration and its abuse of human beings.

    This administration continues to hold U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in known and unknown locations without charges being filed against them. They are held without access to legal representation or to the evidence against them. It has disappeared captives to governments that are known to use torture. This is demurely referred to as "rendition." This administration has been linked to abuse, torture and murder of captives in its custody. These actions do not produce safety or security for anybody. They do make the status of captured U.S. military personnel (not to mention civilians) far more perilous.

    In the summer of 2004, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) initiated the Stop Torture Permanently (STOP) Campaign to spotlight U.S. involvement in torture. The focus of the campaign is the official authorization and use of torture, whether mental or physical, direct or by "proxy." Stating that there exists no justification of torture of any human being, the UUSC is calling for a "Justice Weekend" in Washington, DC for the days of September 24, 25 and 26, 2005.

    On Saturday the 24th there will be educational and panel discussions on the history, legal considerations and security consequences of U.S. involvement in torture. There will also be discussions of specific and appropriate reform measures.

    On Sunday the 25th there will be a Citizens' Trial of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former CIA Director George Tenet for violation of international and U.S. laws prohibiting torture. The trial will be based on actual laws and evidence. The lawyers will be real. There will be real testimonies given by Iraqi and Afghan survivors. There will also be testimonies from torture survivors from Latin America who suffered torture in their homelands, with a North American agent present in their cell. There will be an intelligence expert testifying that torture does not work, that it only creates rage against the United States. The goal of the trial is to teach the realities of torture, not create a fictional event.

    On Monday the 26th the Justice Weekend attendees will head to Congress and other government offices to share what they have learned about torture and to insist that all forms of torture be abolished.

    For additional information on the "Call for Justice Weekend," or the STOP Campaign in general, contact Jennifer Harbury or Nadya Khalife at UUSC at 800 388 3920 or at stoptorture@uusc.org.

    Tom Broderick 

    New Ground #101.1
    >>> Contents
    >> 0. A Note from the Editor
    >> 1. Politics
    > 3 Views on the AFL-CIO Convention and a follow up
    > Estate Tax Action Alert
    > CAFTA Consequences
    >> 2. Democratic Socialism
    > Some Lessons for the Future
    > Intentional Communities
    >> 3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    >> A Note from the Editor
    New Ground has been on the web for several years now, but it's been a web
    version of a print publication. This is a first step toward version that is
    more native to the media of email and web. I hope you'll find it to be a
    useful combination of ideology, politics, and organization.

    The format will be pretty typical of email newsletters: a teaser and a link.
    This note is probably the closest thing to an article that you'll see, and
    that only now and then. The main difference is that the content these links
    point to in the electronic edition of New Ground will not be exclusively or
    even mostly DSA. With all the web at our disposal, why should it? What I
    hope we can do is provide an unusual and useful mix of ideology AND politics
    with an emphasis on Chicago and Illinois.

    This is a project you can help without a great deal of work. If you run
    across an interesting article on democratic socialism or left history (once
    again, particularly regarding Chicago and Illinois), send me the link at
    ng@chicagodsa.org?subject=Content. Comments on the content are also welcome.

    The electronic edition of New Ground will be coming out approximately
    weekly. I do mean approximately. We're pretty regular with the print
    edition. The print edition will continue to be published bi-monthly
    (deadline for the next print issue is September 10). My hope is that the
    content of each edition will feed the other to some extent.

    Eventually (somewhere between right away and Real Soon Now), we'll be
    posting these electronic edition issues on a blog-style page at the Chicago
    DSA web site.

    In solidarity,
    Bob Roman


    >> Politics

    > 3 Views on the AFL-CIO Convention and a follow up
    Most of you missed Chicago DSA's house party featuring Harold Meyerson. Here
    are the views of three DSA members on July's AFL-CIO Convention, plus a very
    interesting late-breaking follow up. [BR]

    Steering and Splitting by Harold Meyerson

    AFL-CIO Convention Calls for Troop Withdrawal from Iraq by David Bacon

    Gods and Mortals by David Moberg

    Solidarity Creeps Back In by Harold Meyerson

    > Estate Tax Action Alert
    Chicago DSA is a member of the Fair Taxes for All Coalition
    (http://www.fairtaxes4all.org). Now that members of Congress are on their
    summer break, it's an ideal time to tell them exactly how you feel about the
    repeal of the estate tax. And it's a good time for letters to the editor as
    well! In particular, the Senate may be taking action on this the first thing
    in September. Do not assume Obama in particular will vote correctly! Call
    your Senators at 202.224.3121 and urge them to 1) Vote NO on estate tax
    repeal; and 2) Oppose any compromise proposals that will be nearly as costly
    as repeal. Some detailed talking points from OMBWatch can be found at
    http://www.ombwatch.org/budget/EstateTax/ETtalkingpoints.pdf [BR]

    > CAFTA Consequences
    New Ground 98 (http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng98.html) predicted
    CAFTA would pass, though the House Sugar Caucus played less of a role. Labor
    is vowing to remember with disfavor the 15 Democrats who defected (only one
    from Illinois). We heard this after NAFTA, too, but the Northeastern
    Illinois Federation of Labor has already disinvited freshman Democrat
    Melissa Bean (8th District) to what was to have been a dinner in her honor:

    Bean Bounced from Fete by Ralph Zahorik

    But even more troubling are the 6 Democrats from safe districts who
    defected. The Institute for America's Future is providing folks with an
    opportunity to let those miscreants know how they are regarded:



    >> Democratic Socialism

    > Some Lessons for the Future
    Robin Hahnel looks at the success and failure of social democracy, using the
    works of Michael Harrington and Magnus Ryner, and at the failure and success
    of libertarian socialism, for some guidance on how to create a truly
    transformative politics. [BR]

    Winnowing Wheat from Chaff: Social Democracy and Libertarian Socialism in
    the Twentieth Century by Robin Hahnel


    > Intentional Communities
    Utopian communities are also part of the socialist tradition though, of
    course, today they tend to be somewhat less ambitious than they were in the
    19th Century, and now they are called "Intentional Communities". You NPR
    junkies may have heard mention on a recent "Morning Edition" of The Farm in

    Tennessee Co-op Takes a New Look at Education by Andrea Seabrook

    You can also go to The Farm's own web site for more information:



    >> Upcoming Events of Interest
    For other events go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html

    MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 11 AM - 1 PM
    Happy Birthday Social Security!
    Roosevelt University 2nd Floor Congress Lounge, 430 S. Michigan, Chicago
    Illinois United to Protect Social Security celebrates Social Security's 70th
    Birthday! For a flyer: http://www.chicagodsa.org/70anvss.pdf . [BR]

    MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 11:30 AM - 1 PM
    The Campaign for Better Health Care's Health Care Justice Coalition will be
    meeting at Access Living, 614 W. Roosevelt, Chicago. For more information,
    call Megan at 312.913.9449 or email mmeagher@cbhconline.org. [BR]

    TUESDAY, AUGUST 16, 7 PM - 9 PM
    The Oak Park - Austin Health Alliance holds a community meeting concerning
    West Suburban Hospital at 3rd Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield, Chicago.
    For more information call 773.287.4570 or go to http://www.opctj.org. A fact
    sheet is also available at http://www.chicagodsa.org/WSHFact.html . [BR]

    WEDNESDAY, August 17, 6:30 PM
    The semi-monthly meeting of the Chicagoland Coalition for Civil Liberties
    and Rights
    at the offices of the Chicago Coalition to Defend the Bill of
    Rights, 1325 S. Wabash, Room 105, Chicago. For more information, call
    773.250.3225 or go to http://www.ccclr.org. [BR]

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 7 PM - 9 PM
    The Open University of the Left at Acme Art Works, 1741 N. Western Av,
    Chicago, presents Bruce J. Miller talking about his book "Take Them at Their
    Words". $5 tuition though no one will be turned away. For more information,
    email oulchicago@yahoo.com or call 773.384.5797. [BR]


    New Ground #101.2


    0. Yet Another Bloody Note From the Editor

    1. Politics
    Change to Win Reply to AFL-CIO
    September 24 Marches on Washington
    LabourStart - Gate Gourmet

    2. Democratic Socialism
    Socialist Feminism
    Chicago Women's Liberation Union
    Marx's Democratic Critique of Capitalism and Its Implications for China's Developmental Strategy
    Argentine Cooperatives

    3. Upcoming events of Interest


    A Note from the Editor
    This wasn't to have become a habit, but the electronic edition of New Ground continues to evolve and encounter bugs. Thus another note from me.
    First of all, we're going to a slightly fancier html format simply for readability. Some email lists only allow text (and strip "non-text characters" from postings), and I'll try to keep that in mind regarding formatting. (Thanks to Mark Weinberg for the push in this direction.) But please let me know of any difficulties you encounter using this newsletter, for example this next item.
    A few of you had problems with links to the Harold Meyerson articles:

    I can't find the Steering & Splitting article. When I log on to the link, I get an old Robert Reich article.
    Also, when I log on to the Solidarity Creeps Back in link, I get a different article on cloning come up, with the Solidarity article off to the side.

    This is the explanation:
    The problem seems to be that the address is too long: you're getting, for example, articleid#1004 rather than articleid#10048. This isn't a problem with many mail programs, but clearly it is a problem with more than I anticipated. Having the address wrap to another line also causes the message to bounce from a number of ISP and mail providers (most commonly hotmail.com and comcast.net) so that's something I'll need to be on the look out for.
    The bottom line is that the useable addresses are:

    FYI, I've added information about the 1984, 1985 and 1986 Thomas - Debs Dinners to the Chicago DSA web site. Aside from some pictures of a rather young Barbara Ehrenreich and an elderly Michael Harrington, the main item of historical interest is that the 1986 dinner took place during the centennial of the "Haymarket Affair". This was quite the big thing among lefties here in Chicago (though at the time, I was taking a break from politics and only attended the dinner) and over a month's worth of activities had been organized in the city. I've included images from the centennial calendar of events (it was a tabloid size document and our scanner is letter size):


    Finally, thanks to Gene Birmingham and Tom Broderick for content contributions to this issue. You can help too! Send items to ng@chicagodsa.org.
    In solidarity,
    Bob Roman



    Change to Win Coalition Chair Anna Burger responds to AFL-CIO proposal
    (If that link doesn't work for you, go to http://www.changetowin.org and you'll see a link to the article on the right, under "In the News").

    September 24 Marches on Washington
    Both International A.N.S.W.E.R. and United for Peace and Justice are organizing national demonstrations in Washington, DC, against the war. Neither could agree on the politics of the demonstration, and still can't, but (possibly by necessity?) both have finally agreed on having at least some elements in common between their events:
    Here in the provinces, relations are not so strained nor resources so plentiful, so both sides have been cooperating in organizing buses to the demonstrations from just about the start. This is being done through Chicago A.N.S.W.E.R. If you're interested in going, tickets are $80, check payable to "8th Day Center for Justice" (write "Sept. 24 bus" in the memo) and include your name, your phone number and (if you have one) your email address, and mail it all to A.N.S.W.E.R. Chicago, 27 N Wacker, Box 199, Chicago, IL 60606. You should get a response within 10 days. For more information, call 773.920.7545 or email answerchicago@gmail.com or go to http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/61553/index.php. At present, two busses have been reserved. If they need to charter more, the price of a ticket is likely to go up because of fuel costs. Make your reservation today.
    Chicago DSA has not formally endorsed either demonstration, but CDSA is a member of United for Peace and Justice: http://www.unitedforpeace.org.

    LabourStart - Gate Gourmet
    No, Virginia, not everyone has heard of http://www.labourstart.org. If you are among them, it is high time you visited the single best place for labor news on the web. LabourStart is run by Eric Lee, a past DSA member (out of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, actually). He emigrated to Israel where he was a persistent pain in various anatomical locations for conservative politicians. Now he is based in Britian doing LabourStart.
    LabourStart is not just about news. They also conduct Amnesty International type campaigns in support of striking or repressed trade unionists. Their current campaign, at last count generating over 5,000 messages in less than 3 days, is in support of the striking Gate Gourmet workers in Britian: the folks who evoked the "wildcat" sympathy strike by British Air employees.
    Check it out at http://www.labourstart.org/gategourmet.

    The Unfeeling President by E. L. Doctorow
    This says what many of us have said for a long time, but puts thoughts together in a withering attack that needs to be made:




    Democratic Socialism

    The July ­ August issue of Monthly Review discussed "Socialism for the 21st Century", the entire issue being devoted to the subject, some articles better than others. Check it out for yourself: http://www.monthlyreview.org. Of particular note to DSA members is a reprint of a 1976 article by Barbara Ehrenreich, "What is Socialist Feminism?":

    In 1976, of course, Barbara Ehrenreich was a member of the New American Movement (NAM), which later became DSA. NAM played a major role in developing socialist feminism in the 1970s, including holding a national conference in 1975 on the subject in Yellow Springs, Ohio, to which over 2000 people came. Closer to home, the Chicago Women's Liberation Union (CWLU) played a similar role earlier in that decade. Much of the history of CWLU is preserved online at the Chicago Women's Liberation Union Herstory Site: http://www.cwluherstory.com.

    David Schweickart attended the Fifth Forum of Humanities and Social Sciences of China at Renmin University in Beijing this past June. He presented a paper, "Marx's Democratic Critique of Capitalism, and Its Implications for China's Developmental Strategy":

    You may have heard of Argentine workers seizing factories and other enterprises to run for themselves during the recent economic disaster there. The War Resisters League's July ­ August issue of The Non-Violent Activist talks about their experience (though the article says too little about Argentine bankruptcy law): "A New Form of Resistance Argentina's Recovered Factories" by Yeidy Rosa:




    Upcoming Events of Interest
    For other events go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html

    TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 5:30 PM ­ 7 PM
    Protest for Women's Liberty!
    Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams, Chicago
    A demonstration in protest of the nomination of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court




    New Ground #101.3




    0. DSA News

    Thank You for Your Support
    DSA National Convention
    YDS Update
    "Democratic Left" Summer, 2005, issue

    1. Politics

    Is Melissa Bean a Liar?
    Must Labor Bureaucratize to Organize?
    Labor's New Foreign Policy
    The Estate Tax
    Chicago City Council Anti-War Resolution

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Guild Socialism Reconsidered

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    Thank You for Your Support!

    But sympathy won't pay the rent, our union printer, or for that matter, our web hosting service. Nor does much political organizing take place without funds to support it. Chicago DSA is low maintenance, but we need your help to keep on keeping on. You can help by participating in the 10th annual "New Ground" Labor Day issue.

    Your financial support will not only help us continue publishing a print edition of "New Ground", it will also help support our work in support of Social Security, do labor support work, help groups organize in support of civil liberties, and educate our country about the need for economic and social democracy.

    The deadline for ad copy is September 10! For more information on how you can participate, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org or call 773.384.0327.

    DSA National Convention

    The DSA National Convention will be November 11 through 13 at the Radisson Wilshire Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. For more information, go to http://www.dsausa.org. As usual, delegates will participate in a travel share arrangement that equalizes travel expenses among all delegates, so delegates from Chicago might reasonably expect some money back for travel.

    Chicago DSA will be electing delegates to the convention at the membership meeting on Tuesday, September 13, 7 PM, at the Chicago DSA office. If you would like to be a delegate and can't attend the meeting, or if you would like more information, email chiildsa@chicagodsa.org or call 773.384.0327.

    The Chicago DSA office is at 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, in Chicago. This is at the three-way intersection of Milwaukee, Damen, and North avenues, next to the Damen Avenue CTA Station on the Blue Line to O'Hare. (Yes you can attend the anti-war rally then the membership meeting! It's a straight shot up the Blue Line, maybe 25 minutes if you include waiting for the train.)

    YDS Update
    The latest news from the Young Democratic Socialists national office is online at

    "Democratic Left" Summer, 2005, issue
    The Summer, 2005, issue of Democratic Left is in the mail, but if you're not a member of DSA or if you're totally curious, the issue is available on line (in PDF format) at




    Is Melissa Bean a Liar?
    The CAFTA 15: Is Melissa Bean a Liar? by Jonathan Tasini

    Must Labor Bureaucratize to Organize?
    If you are a union member and haven't yet made acquaintance with the Association for Union Democracy, it's high time you did. This is a great resource for learning your rights as a union member and discovering other union members, possibly in your union, who are working on extending or defending union democracy. The organization was established by Herman Benson, an old DSA member. Go to:


    The Association for Union Democracy publishes the Union Democracy Review with news and commentary on labor democracy and integrity. Much of its content is posted on the Association's web site. Those of you with some familiarity with Herman Benson will not be surprised to learn that he is rather skeptical of the Change to Win Coalition's strategy, and he published a good summary of his arguments in the latest issue of Union Democracy Review. The article is posted on Benson's blog:


    Labor's New Foreign Policy

    There were actually two resolutions on foreign policy considered at this year's AFL-CIO convention. The second resolution didn't pass. Read about it here: Labor's Foreign Policy Heads in a New Direction by Tim Shorrock


    The Estate Tax

    Congress is set to return on Tuesday, September 6 and the Senate faces a dauntingly full schedule with many high priority issues to address. With the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, two reconciliation bills, more than half (7) of the appropriations bills to finish (not to mention a chaotic and tangled web of appropriations committee jurisdictions to sort out with the House), it is hard to understand why the first order of business will be a vote to permanently repeal the estate tax. But the Senate will vote on a motion to invoke cloture on H.R. 8, the House-passed estate tax repeal bill on September 6. Contact your Senators today:


    and urge them to vote NO on cloture on H.R. 8 and finish their more important work before passing more tax cuts for the super-rich.

    Chicago City Council Anti-War Resolution

    After considerable negotiation between the various factions and organizations of the anti-war movement in Chicago, a resolution demanding the withdrawal of troops from Iraq was introduced into the Chicago City Council, passed out of committee, and will be up for a vote by the Council at its next meeting on September 14. Please don't assume that because the resolution has 41 co-sponsors that it will pass; the Chicago City Council is funny that way. The text of the resolution plus links to email your alderman and other public officials can be found at:


    A rally and march in support of the resolution has been organized by Peace Pledge Chicago for the evening prior to the city council meeting. The rally will be at 5 PM in Daley Plaza. More information can be found at:

    http://peacepledgechicago.org or http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/62224/index.php


    Democratic Socialism

    Guild Socialism Reconsidered
    In this article, Dr. Roger A. McCain considers what can be learned from another obscure tradition in socialist thought, "guild socialism". McCain feels his article is not so good, and discusses his self-criticism in the preface, but I think its main difficulty is that the article is not quite complete. Nonetheless, it's a good introduction to a school of democratic socialism that was once quite popular but now more than a bit obscure. "Guild Socialism Reconsidered" by Roger A. McCain:



    Upcoming Events of Interest

    For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html

    Democrats, Lakoff, Chicago & Neoliberal Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era
    Acme ArtWorks, 1741 N. Western, Chicago
    Scholar & activist Paul Street discusses the state of black Chicago, the Democratic Party and more.
    An Open University of the Left forum. Tuition $5. For more information call 773-384-5797 or email oulchicago@yahoo.com

    TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
    Rally to Save the Court
    Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams, Chicago
    Timed to coincide with the first day of the confirmation hearings on John Roberts. It is sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Fair Courts. Download a flyer at http://media.pfaw.org/stc/IL-Flyer.pdf or call Julie Sweet at 312.726.2179 or jsweet@pfaw.org

    Oak Park Peace Fair
    Scoville Park, Oak Park Av and Lake, Oak Park
    Music, art, "speakouts", organization exhibitions and more. For more information, go to http://www.opctj.org or call 708-386-1371 or 708-250-8970.

    Anti-War Rally and March
    Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, Chicago
    In support of the anti-war resolution pending before the Chicago City Council. Organized by Peace Pledge Chicago and others. For more information, go to:
    http://peacepledgechicago.org/ or http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/62224/index.php


    New Ground #101.4



    0. DSA News

    Update from the Young Democratic Socialists
    Chicago DSA Needs Your Help
    Membership Meeting

    1. Politics

    Estate Tax Repeal on Hold, But Only on Hold
    Lessons from a Social Autopsy
    More on New Orleans
    Hearings on the City of Chicago Anti-War Resolution
    New Book By Barbara Ehrenreich

    2. Jobs!

    Marijuana Policy Project

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Whatever Happened to Guaranteed Annual Income?

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    Update from the Young Democratic Socialists
    The latest update from the YDS national office:

    Chicago DSA Needs Your Help
    Well, so do many other people. But it's not too late to participate in the Labor Day issue of New Ground. The deadline for copy is Saturday, September 10, though Monday is probably still okay. For details, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org

    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    will be on Tuesday, 7 PM, September 13, at the Chicago DSA office. We'll be electing delegates to the November DSA National Convention in Los Angeles. You should have received the details via snail mail by now. If you'd like to be a delegate but can't attend the membership meeting, give the office a call at 773.384.0327 or email us at chiildsa@chicagodsa.org



    Estate Tax Repeal on Hold, But Only on Hold
    Disasters have a way of reordering priorities. Hurricane Katrina is no exception. The petition to invoke cloture against the filibuster been withdrawn, but Republican militants have made it clear that they intend to pursue their program later. This not only includes making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, but also cuts in Medicaid, Food Stamps, student loans- just to mention a few. Do not assume the destruction of the Gulf Coast is going to stop them.

    Lessons from a Social Autopsy
    For socialists, it's no great revelation that disasters affect communities along social lines, including class, ethnicity and age. In July of 1995, Chicago suffered an extended heat wave that ended up killing over 700 Chicagoans. Sociologist Eric Klinenberg conducted a "social autopsy" of the event that illustrated how one's position in the economy and society generally determined one's vulnerability. He also examined public perceptions of the event were influenced by media coverage. Published as Heat Wave by the University of Chicago Press in 2002, Klinenberg's examination of the Chicago disaster makes the Gulf Coast pretty much more of the same. If you haven't read Klinenberg's book, a brief interview at the University of Chicago Press web site gives an adequate precise of his book:

    "Dying Alone, an Interview with Eric Klinenberg"
    Heat Wave: a Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago

    Slate was canny enough to ask Klinenberg to compare and contrast the Chicago and Gulf Coast events:
    "When Chicago Baked: Unheeded Lessons from Another Great Urban Catastrophe" by Eric Klinenberg

    More on New Orleans
    Part of Klinenberg's concern is perceptions transmitted by communication media. For a somewhat different look at the destruction of New Orleans, go to:

    It hasn't aired yet, but you may want to tune into Ira Glass' program on public radio, This American Life: "After the Flood", Surprising stories from survivors in New Orleans. And, insiders at FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, tell the story of how their agency has changed over the last four years, and how its ability to respond to national emergencies has been hampered. Broadcast the weekend of September 9-11 in most places, or available via RealAudio next week.

    Hearing on the City of Chicago Anti-War Resolution
    The City Council Committee on Human Relations will hold a hearing on the Resolution calling for an immediate orderly withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 12th at 1:00 p.m. at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle, in the City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor. The resolution was introduced into the City Council last July and currently has 40 co-sponsors. The lead City Council sponsors hope to have the committee vote to approve the resolution on that day. The resolution would then be referred to the full City Council for a vote on Wednesday, September 14th. Please make every effort to attend this important committee hearing. If you have any questions, please call Alderman Joe Moore's office at 773-338-5796.

    New Book By Barbara Ehrenreich
    DSA member Barbara Ehrenreich has a new book, Bait and Switch, about finding white collar employment after being "downsized". Consider it a sequel to Nickel and Dimed. For more information, go to:
    For a review, "No Help Wanted" by Bob Thompson in the Washington Post, go to:
    For an interview in NPR's "All Things Considered":



    US Labor Against the War (USLAW) seeks a full-time (or two half time) organizer(s) based in either the Midwest or East to help recruit affiliates and individual associate members, build participation in USLAW activities and programs, conduct worker education on the Iraq war and US foreign and domestic policies, and to otherwise advance the objectives and mission of USLAW. For more information:

    Marijuana Policy Project
    Marijuana Policy Project is looking for a part time contract organizer for Illinois and has other positions available. For more information:


    Democratic Socialism

    Whatever Became of the Guaranteed Annual Income?
    The geezers amongst us will probably remember that back around 1970, the idea of a guaranteed minimum income had a good deal of support from both the left and from libertarians as an alternative to welfare. The summer issue of Dissent includes an article indicating the idea isn't dead. The article suffers from not examining the ideology (right and left) of the idea, but fact people are still working on the concept is of interest:
    "Life, Liberty and a Little Bit of Cash" by Sean Butler


    Upcoming Events of Interest

    For more events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html

    Oak Park Peace Fair
    Scoville Park, Oak Park Av and Lake, Oak Park
    Music, art, "speakouts", organization exhibitions and more. For more information, go to http://www.opctj.org or call 708-386-1371 or 708-250-8970.

    Anti-War Rally and March
    Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, Chicago
    In support of the anti-war resolution pending before the Chicago City Council. Organized by Peace Pledge Chicago and others. For more information, go to:
    http://peacepledgechicago.org/ or http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/62224/index.php

    Saturday, September 17, 11:30 AM - 1 PM
    Fundraising lunch with Harvey Wasserman for the National Election Data Archive Project

    at the home of Ron Baiman, 205 S. Humphrey, Oak Park
    "I realize its a bad time for yet another fundraiser. However, we have been told that we need to raise individual donations in order to appeal to foundations for more substantive funding for the US Count Votes National Data Base Archive project that urgently needs funding. This is a critical effort to make detailed election data available to the public and to statistical analysts (including US Count Votes analysts) in a timely manner so that elections can be routinely monitored and audited. In addition, we need support for our work investigating the 2004 election exit polls."
    Complete financial statements and other information on USCountvotes is available at:

    Wednesday, September 21, 6 PM to 8 PM (reception, 6-6:30)
    Cross-Class Alliance Building Seminar
    Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan, Sullivan Room 2nd Floor, Chicago
    The Center for Working Class Studies will present an informative discussion on breaking the class barrier in the workplace and how to build stronger movements for social change. For more information:



    "New Ground" is published by

    Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
    1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403
    Chicago, IL 60647

    Only articles specifically labeled as representing the views of the organization do so. Subscriptions to the bimonthly print edition are available at $10 for 6 issues. Send a check or money order made payable to "CDSA" to the address above. "New Ground" is also available on line at http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive, but your financial support is much appreciated.

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