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New Ground 107

July - August, 2006

Contents

  • Crime and Punishment Reconsidered by Tom Broderick
  • Don't Sleep with Stevens! by Bob Roman
  • Noon of the Dead by Bob Roman
  • YDS Summer Conference
  • New Ground 107.1 - 07.22.2006

    0. DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    A Note from the Editor

    1. Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance
    Defending Workers' Rights

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Frank Zeidler 1912 - 2006

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 107.2 - 08.07.2006

    0. DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    SI Calls for Cease-Fire

    1. Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance Fight Continues
    Local 1 Rising

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 107.3 - 08.30.2006

    0. DSA News

    Your Support Is Needed
    Summer, 2006, "Democratic Left"
    DSA Statement on the Rights of Undocumented Immigrants
    New on the Chicago DSA Web Site

    1. Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance
    Immigrant Workers Justice March
    Peace Fair
    Students for a Democratic Society Reloaded

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Soul of Socialism

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

     


    Crime and Punishment Reconsidered

    by Tom Broderick

    When it was decided that we needed to be tough on crime, there was an outcome that was not publicly discussed by the politicians who supported locking people up and throwing the keys away. As we build more prisons to house more people for longer periods, the incarcerated will grow old and die in these institutions.

    Our criminal justice system is about punishment. Caring for an aging population is not something it can cope with. As physical or mental health deteriorates in people, they require more attention. They may need increased medical care, special therapy, a variety of costly medicines, and physical modifications to living spaces. But if we're talking about the incarcerated, well, what's to talk about? They're convicted criminals.

    When I asked one prison official why a weight machine had been removed from a prison, the response was "this is not a country club." After the removal, some of those who once used it became visibly heavier. Obesity is linked to several health problems. So not only will our prisons be warehousing great numbers of people for many, many years, they will be manufacturing health problems. How will this growing population of aging and infirm prisoners be dealt with?

    At this point, I could offer up something like: "As a tax payer, I object to this bumbling plan that is only going to increase my tax burden." But really, I'm against this tough on crime, three strikes your out mentality that we've been sold as criminal justice. Poverty, oppression and the lack of opportunities for a successful and meaningful human life are the crimes we need to get tough on. These are not accidental conditions, but attacks on the rights of human beings. We need to refocus the war on crime.

    In the meantime, what are we going to do with the growing population of prisoners aging inside the Illinois penal system? Right now, the problems that can come with aging, become additional burdens on the convicted and their loved ones. As the mind goes, the cage is the cure. As the body goes, the remedy is the same. Some form of over the counter analgesic can be purchased through the commissary. This is cost containment that promotes suffering.

    The Illinois Legislature passed a joint resolution that calls for a committee to study long-term and life sentencing, House Joint Resolution 80 (HJR80). State Representative Art Turner (D-9) introduced it during the last legislative session. Among the issues that will be considered are: costs of confinement, warehousing prisoners, life without parole, truth-in-sentencing, recidivism, and whether long-term incarceration is the best use of state funds to further the goal of public safety.

    Among the elements of the Resolution:

    "Section 11 of the Illinois Constitution states: 'All penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship';
    "Illinois is one of only 11 states that has life without parole sentences and one of only 6 states where all life sentences are without parole;
    "Thirty years ago only a handful of prisoners in Illinois served sentences longer than 30 years; this year approximately 4,000 Illinois prisoners have sentences of 30 years or more . . . amounting to about 10% of all Illinois prisoners;
    "In Illinois at least 500 people each year are sentenced as lifers or long-term prisoners;
    "It costs at least one million dollars to confine a person in prison for 30 years;
    "It is estimated that close to half of those lifers and long-term prisoners will never be released from prison if current policies stay in place."

    There will be seventeen Committee members, appointed as follows: 3 by the Senate President; 3 by the House Speaker; 2 by the Senate Minority Leader; 2 by the House Minority Leader; 1 by the Attorney General; 1 by the Governor; 1 by the Cook County State's Attorney; 1 by the Cook County Public Defender; 1 by the State Appellate Prosecutor; 1 by the State Appellate Defender; 1 by the Illinois Department of Corrections. It is unlikely that the Committee will be appointed until after the November elections.

    There will be public hearings. If you remember the public hearings that were held when former Governor Ryan was considering commuting the sentences of everyone on death row, the hearings were tragedies. These could easily be a replay of those. When family victims of serious crimes are told that those convicted of the crimes will spend between 30 years and life behind bars, there is a conclusion. Changing those sentences will cause problems. There is already tension about this in the movement to abolish the death penalty. Life without possibility of parole was and is a key element in doing away with state exterminations.

    While those behind bars are included in the census, they can't vote. It will take a great deal of pressure on the Committee to require any hearing of the incarcerated, but their voices need to be part of this.

    The Committee will hold public hearings and submit a written report about long-term prisoners to the General Assembly by June, 2007. The report could include recommendations to change conditions within the prison system, including sentencing. It could also make recommendations that do not require legislation. However, since the Committee will not likely be in operation until after the November elections, there will not be much time to do any in-depth work.

    The Long-Term Prisoner Policy Project (LT3P) is a project of the John Howard Association. The John Howard Association is a Chicago-based organization concerned with prisoners' rights, and the LT3P is taking a lead roll in influencing the outcome of the Committee's work. They have identified issues that they would like to focus on and create position papers around. These include: reduction in sentences, basic fact sheet about long-term prisoners (demographic information, etc.), health care in prison, mental health care in prison, programs in prison, clemency, transfer policy, special focus on Tamms (a Super-Max prison in Illinois), restorative justice, and how long-term incarceration affects prisoners' families and loved ones. If you would like to work on any of these issues, please contact Shaena Fazal at the Long-Term Prisoner Policy Project at 312 782 1901.


    Don't Sleep with Stevens!

    by Bob Roman

    "Don't Sleep with Stevens!" the J. P. Stevens Campaign and the Struggle to Organize the South, 1963 - 1980 by Timothy J. Minchin. Gainseville: University Press of Florida, 2005. 264 pages, $ 59.95

    Trust a journalist for the conventional wisdom. In Stephen Franklin's excellent account of three major labor confrontations in 1990s central Illinois, Three Strikes, he describes his story as grinding "through the inability of labor's breathless old guard to catch up with corporate America's new tactics and defend the workers' rights that had been so hard won 60 years earlier." He continues, a bit further on, "This was not the new global economics. It was the old rule of the strong making the rules. When the unions had the upper hand, they did the same. But those days were gone. The unions had squandered their talent and insight."

    Trust the conventional wisdom to be at least partially correct. Typically, though, the fact of the matter is more complicated and ambiguous than what you would gather from the conventional wisdom. And the circumstances of labor's decline are not an exception. This is one reason why Don't Sleep with Stevens! is an important book. Another is the ongoing amnesia that afflicts our culture. The Textile Workers Union of America's 17 year campaign to organize the textile giant J. P. Stevens was an epic battle, worthy of the lyrics of Homer, if not Edgar Lee Masters.

    Timothy Minchin will not provide you with that lyrical an account. But this first book-length treatment of the campaign will provide you with a challenge to the idea that labor simply collapsed on its back and that it didn't go down fighting, often in creative ways. For in fact, it was in the J. P. Stevens campaign that innovative techniques such as corporate campaigns were invented and others, such as worker organizers, card check recognition, international union solidarity, and the consumer boycott, were further refined. These tactics were not applied from the very beginning but evolved in response to Stevens' adamant opposition to its employees organizing.

    The decline of labor isn't Minchin's concern; his focus is on the campaign itself. Consequently, one important question is not much covered in the book: how did the small community of labor leaders view the campaign's outcome? Did they look at the Stevens campaign as an inspiration or, because of its ultimate outcome, as a fight more expensive than they could afford?

    Because from the very beginning of the campaign, the Stevens campaign was envisioned as something much greater: an opening wedge for organizing the union movement in the South. It was not a trivial commitment. Between 1963 and 1980, the union movement spent at least $30,000,000 on the campaign, over $100 million in today's money. The campaign essentially bankrupted the Textile Workers, leading to its 1976 merger with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. The merged Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) finished the campaign in 1980 in difficult financial circumstances. ACTWU proclaimed the campaign a success but did the labor movement, apart from natural self-congratulation, really agree?

    Minchin doesn't tell you. But the reader does get a fairly intimate look at how the union's tactics and strategies evolved in the face of J. P. Stevens' resistance, how the company's tactics evolved, how each side miscalculated the response of the other, and the degree of resistance from the union's own constituency: the workers at J. P. Stevens. Was the campaign a success? Minchin echoes the proclamation of victory, but he gives you enough information for you to jump to your own conclusions.

    In truth, "success" depends upon the criteria you use for judging victory. As a campaign, it reached a favorable exit point: an agreement by J. P. Stevens to recognize the union in plants where it had already successfully organized, a contract, and agreement to apply that contract in any other plants the union successfully organized afterwards. Okay: success.

    But J. P. Stevens did not agree to cease its opposition to the union in its unorganized shops. ACTWU was largely unsuccessful in organizing in the few years left to J. P. Stevens, before the growing wave of "free trade" imports resulted in its takeover. Nor did the agreement open any doors to other union organizing in the South. None of this could have been encouraging to any unorganized workers contemplating a union. By these measures, the campaign was hardly a victory.

    On the other hand, it is clear that J. P. Stevens made some very significant improvements in occupational health and safety and employee relations directly in response to the ACTWU's organizing efforts. And to one degree or another, some of these practices were adopted by other employers for a time, if only because they had to. Furthermore, the campaign itself was the proving ground for a wide range of strategies and tactics presently employed by unions including, it seems to me, the present campaign directed at Wal-Mart. In a very real way, this campaign is one of the places where the 21st Century union movement was born. By these measures, the campaign looks better.

    Don't Sleep with Stevens is one of the latest titles in a series, "New Perspectives on the History of the South", edited by John David Smith and published by the University Press of Florida, where Minchin has contributed most of the labor titles. The book deserves to be widely read, but the price the University Press has put on it guarantees obscurity. If you or your institution has the disposable income to buy it, do so; otherwise, your local public library's interlibrary loan department would be happy to find it for you.


    Noon of the Dead

    by Bob Roman

    When Bush came to Chicago to revive Judy Barr Topinka's dead in the water campaign for Illinois Governor with a transfusion of $1,500,000 raised at a noon hour luncheon in the Drake Hotel, there was a diverse collection of groups interested in expressing their displeasure and, perhaps, seizing a portion of the media moment. Thus it came to pass that a few hundred gathered at the extreme south end of Lincoln Park, across the street from the Drake but out of sight from Dubya and Republican financiers.

    It was two, maybe three separate demonstrations that sunny July 7th. The larger (with the better, unusually adequate sound system) was organized by an ad hoc coalition centered around the Gay Liberation Network, Chicago Area Code Pink, and others: roughly the same collection of groups that had organized a similar protest outside the Chicago Hilton and Towers against Dubya last January.

    The other was organized out of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's office and included groups like Planned Parenthood, Chicago Federation of Labor, and others. This event was aimed mostly at mass media, with the intent of firmly nailing Dubya's more unpopular positions to Topinka.

    Chicago DSA signed on to the Gay Liberation Network press release and forwarded the Chicago Federation of Labor's email announcement of the event.

    The former group occupied the northeast corner of Oak and Michigan, the latter set up camp a bit further north under a gazebo. According to rumor, the two groups were to have coordinated their speakers, but (rumor true or not) speakers from both ended up speaking at the same time. While it's true that demonstration oratory ends up ignored by attendees as often as not, this instance caused some distress and confusion.

    And then there was the third camp, or camps.

    One "third camp" was represented by a slightly hysterical geezer, a militant of some obscure sect, with a bullhorn. He began the ancient chant of not a dime's worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans the moment the folks under the gazebo began their program; they seemed to infuriate him more than Dubya. This was a serious problem as both sides were armed with similar 10 watt horns.

    Another third camp was, of course, the anarchists. Largely clueless regarding politics, the half dozen or so members of this group did what they usually do: demand attention. They do know how to make an entrance, though. And this time their bid for attention involved burning the U.S. flag. Not just one flag, but a box full. While our local bloc noir had the foresight to bring an accelerant, the flags nonetheless tended to melt rather than burn, releasing black clouds of toxic fumes. The anarchists were good enough to scrape the melted plastic from the sidewalk at the end of the rally.

    It was a fun demonstration, colorful and rich with symbolism. But politically it was very much a fiasco.

    demonstrationWhatever the political affects, passersby were generally supportive, and more than one said, "Thank you for doing this."
    No to tortureNo to torture was one of the themes.
    King GeorgeCode Pink's opinion of Dubya, shared by many: King George.
    Bush is a bigotCoffee, Tea, but not Bush. Incidentally: Union, Yes!
    Margaret BlackshereIllinois Federation of Labor's President, Margaret Blackshere, addresses the gathering at the gazebo.
    policeThe police were also generally friendly though their numbers were slighly excessive.


    YDS Summer Conference

    The Young Democratic Socialists' Summer Conference will be held August 11 through 13 at the International Center for Tolerance and Education in Brooklyn, New York. You can expect a fun, informative, and empowering weekend gathering before the fall semester begins. We're getting commitments from people to attend now. Each YDS Chapter and Organizing Committee should aim to have at least two participants at the conference. If you have any questions, need help with travel arrangements or raising funds, please contact us ASAP: call 212.727.8610 or go to http://www.ydsusa.org. Free housing in NYC is available!


    New Ground #107.1

    07.22.2006

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    A Note from the Editor

    1. Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance
    Defending Workers' Rights

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

     

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    Christopher Bond is a member of the Labour Party of Ireland. He is working in Chicago for the summer at Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG). Chris will be discussing Socialism in Ireland at the Chicago DSA August Membership meeting: 7 P.M., Tuesday, August 8th. This will be at the Chicago DSA office, located in the Tower Building, 1608 North Milwaukee Avenue, Room 403, Chicago, very near the Damen Avenue stop on the CTA Blue Line to O'Hare. The office phone number is 773 384 0327. Please join us in welcoming Comrade Bond to Chicago DSA.

    A Note from the Editor
    You may have noticed that this internet edition of New Ground has been coming out rather less frequently than previously. New Ground is a volunteer project, you should know, but much of my time this past month has been occupied by moving. I do not wish to move, but the building is being gutted and converted to condominiums.

    There's a lot to be said about condo conversions, not all of it bad, but tenants in a building being converted are often treated like vermin. While there are laws protecting tenants, the laws are often ignored, up to and including forcible (and illegal) evictions.

    There were a number of my neighbors who had been through two, sometimes three conversions in the past six years, some not at all polite. (I was a condo conversion virgin.) They were not about to sit through the remainder of their leases with no building services or to allow the developer to harass them out earlier. We organized a tenant rebellion.

    The rebellion has succeeded in maintaining building services. And we may succeed in winning some compensation for the trouble of moving, basically putting on the developer's books an expense that is typically "externalized".

    There are two not incompatible approaches to this. One is to mobilize the masses to confront the exploiting oppressor. The other is to bring in the lawyers. We largely did the latter because, as a result of the 1970s and 1980s tenants' rights and consumers' rights movements, Chicago has some decent (if largely not enforced) protections on the books.

    The point being: if you're a Chicago renter facing a condo conversion, there is help available if you're willing to help organize your neighbors. Here's where we went for help:
    http://www.tenants-rights.org/

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance
    By a parliamentary maneuver, opponents of the ordinance postponed a vote from the June meeting of the Chicago City Council until, quite likely, the July meeting on Wednesday the 26th. This has allowed the big money opponents (not just Wal-Mart but also Target and the Chicago Chamber of Commerce) to do automated push calling pitching an absence of a requirement for paying a living wage as a tool for economic development, at least, or maybe blackmail.
    The ordinance would require large retailers with more than $1 billion in sales to pay a living wage of $10 per hour and provide $3 per hour for benefits by 2010.
    Here's your chance to do some last minute lobbying:
    https://action.popuvox.com/default.aspx?actionID=271

    Defending Workers' Rights
    Last week hundreds gathered in a picket outside the regional offices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Chicago. They were protesting the prospect of the NLRB redefining the concept of "supervisor", thus making millions of workers not eligible for union membership. They were also protesting the NLRB's decision to not take oral testimony in the cases where this is an issue. You can add to the pressure by going to:
    http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/kentuckyriver_cases

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Democratic Socialism

    Frank Zeidler, 1912 - 2006
    There are probably a considerable number reading this who are thinking, "Frank who?" This is too bad. In the first three decades of the last century, the old Socialist Party of America may have been a marginal presence on the national stage, but it was a viable political vehicle in a considerable number of municipalities around the nation. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was one of the major Socialist Party strongholds. As the last Socialist mayor of Milwaukee (1960), Zeidler had been the object of fond nostalgia for those dreaming of a Socialist Party revival. But he was also a major Milwaukee civic institution.

    Zeidler's obituary has appeared in any number of publications, but Art Kazar has suggested one worth checking out for those interested in learning more:
    http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=459264

     

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Saturday, August 5, 8 PM
    Democratic Transhumanism: a Technoprogressive Perspective
    Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln, Chicago
    DSA member Ben Hyink presentation on "how biopolitics has become an independent variable in the 21st Century and why contemporary progressives need to embrace technological development and regulate it for safety and to expand access." $3 tuition plus $5 minimum food and drink. For information, go to http://www.collegeofcomplexes.org/

    Sunday, August 6, 2 PM
    Hiroshima Day 2006
    "Nuclear Energy" sculpture, east side of Ellis Av between 56th and 57th Streets, Chicago
    A remembrance of the consequences of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. Sponsored by Illinois Peace Action, Hyde Parkers for Peace and Justice, Hyde Park Committee Against War and Racism, American Friends Service Committee, Logan Square Neighbors for Justice and Peace. For information, email ilpeaceaction@yahoo.com or go to http://www.webcom.com/ipa

    Tuesday, August 8, 7 PM
    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    Chicago DSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    For more information, email chiildsa@chicagodsa.org



    New Ground #107.2

    08.07.2006

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    SI Calls for Cease-Fir
    e

    1. Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance Fight Continues
    Local 1 Rising

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

     

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting

    Christopher Bond is a member of the Labour Party of Ireland. He is working in Chicago for the summer at Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG). Chris will be discussing Socialism in Ireland at the Chicago DSA August Membership meeting: 7 P.M., Tuesday, August 8th. This will be at the Chicago DSA office, located in the Tower Building, 1608 North Milwaukee Avenue, Room 403, Chicago, very near the Damen Avenue stop on the CTA Blue Line to O'Hare. The office phone number is 773 384 0327. Please join us in welcoming Comrade Bond to Chicago DSA.

    SI Calls for Cease-Fire

    "The Socialist International, deeply concerned at the continuing conflict in the Middle East, by the pain and tragedy which continues to afflict innocent civilians, women and children, once again strongly reiterates its call for an end to the hostilities in the region and for an urgent and immediate ceasefire."
    To read more, go to:
    http://www.socialistinternational.org/main.html

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance Fight Continues

    By an apparently "veto proof" majority, the Chicago City Council passed a "Big Box Living Wage" ordinance at its July meeting. The ordinance requires large retailers with more than $1 billion in sales to pay a living wage of $10 per hour and provide $3 per hour for benefits by 2010.

    Mayor Daley has yet to indicate whether or not he will veto the ordinance, and it is unwise to assume the ordinance would retain all its aldermanic supporters if he did. Clearly Daley is not happy with the legislation.

    Nor is most of Chicago's business class. Target announced it was canceling the construction of one of its new stores in Chicago. The Chicago Sun-Times reported this "news" with headlines larege enough for the start of World Wars III and IV.

    So the fight isn't over. Call Mayor Daley and tell him to sign the ordinance into law:
    312.744.3300.

    Local 1 Rising

    UNITEHERE's Hospitality Division is working toward negotiating hotel contracts nationally ( see http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng105.html#anchor451818 ). Here in the Chicago area, contracts are expiring at the end of August. Last time the hotel owners were trampled by a stampede of panicked politicians and gave up a much improved contract without the workers having to strike. Can the workers do it again? Help improve the prospects by marching down Michigan Avenue in solidarity with the workers on Wednesday, August 9. The march begins at 5 PM at the Ogden School, 24 W. Walton, Chicago. For more information, call Local 1 at 312.663.4373.

     

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Tuesday, August 8, 7 PM
    Chicago DSA Membership Meeting
    Chicago DSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    For more information, email chiildsa@chicagodsa.org

    Wednesday, August 9, 5 PM
    Hotel Workers Rising: March Down Michigan Avenue
    Ogden School, 24 W. Walton, Chicago
    UNITE HERE Local 1's contract with Chicago hotels ends 8/31. Show your solidarity by marching!

    August 11 - 13
    National Immigrant Rights Strategy Convention
    Holiday Inn Hillside, 4400 Frontage Rd, Hillside
    Organized by the May 10th Movement. For more information, go to http://WWW.MOVIMIENTO10DEMARZO.ORG/page4.html

    Saturday, August 12, 2 PM
    The Commodification of Everyday Life and Popular Culture
    In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Floor, Chicago
    A presentation by Dr. William Pelz. An Open University of the Left event, $5 tuition. For more information call 847.677.5474 or go to:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/oulchicago/


    New Ground #107.3

    08.30.2006

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Your Support Is Needed
    Summer, 2006, "Democratic Left"
    DSA Statement on the Rights of Undocumented Immigrants
    New on the Chicago DSA Web Site

    1. Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance
    Immigrant Workers Justice March
    Peace Fair
    Students for a Democratic Society Reloaded

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Soul of Socialism

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DSA News

    Your Support Is Needed
    Just what does it mean to be a "democratic socialist"? In DSA, it could mean any number of things. We don't insist that members subscribe to a particular doctrine. Indeed, socialism should probably be referred to in the plural as the term, like DSA, encompasses a number of intellectual traditions that both conflict with, overlap with, and compliment one another. Add to that the typically American tendency to treat schools of thought as intellectual buffets: a little of this, a little of that, no thanks ­ none of the other. In DSA, "democratic socialism" depends a lot on just who you've asked.

    The idea that collective effort makes a problem, a struggle, the production of wealth easier is one of the things these traditions have in common: that solidarity and cooperation are good things.

    This is one of the reasons why I hope you'll accept my invitation to participate in our 11th Annual Labor Day issue of New Ground.

    New Ground is one of Chicago DSA's very own projects. I think we can be proud of it. The publication is far better than an organizational newsletter needs to be; its content serves a very real public education function regarding the political issues we are involved in. And while the web has enabled us to expand our content to include more ideological topics, to be more timely, and to provide opportunities for collective lobbying of government and hectoring of corporations, print on paper is not obsolete. But it is not cheap.

    Your support is absolutely crucial to our work. Please help us continue with our part in this project of reconstructing America. Solidarity is a process of call and response, and I hope you will take this occasion to answer a call. Please participate in our annual Labor Day issue of New Ground. A flyer (PDF format) with the requisite information is available here:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngpromo.pdf

    Summer, 2006, "Democratic Left"
    DSA's national publication, Democratic Left, is available online in PDF format at:
    http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Summer_2006.pdf

    Statement on Rights of Undocumented Immigrants
    At its summer meeting, DSA's National Political Committee adopted a statement on the rights of undocumented immigrants. The text is included in the Summer issue of Democratic Left, but it's also available here:
    http://www.dsausa.org/LatestNews/2006/immigrant%20rights.html

    New on the Chicago DSA Web Site
    It's history, but we've just added photos and some commentary on the 1977 Thomas ­ Debs Dinner to the Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner archives. The photos were done by the late Syd Harris though unfortunately we have only contact sheets to work from. The 1977 Dinner honored Charles Hayes, a future Congressman but then Vice President of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters (a predecessor to the United Food and Commercial Workers). The speaker was the noted economist Robert Lekachman. Check it out here:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/d1977

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Politics

    Big Box Store Ordinance
    Speaking of the United Food and Commercial Workers, supporters of the Big Box Store Ordinance held a noisy Noon hour march and rally to pressure Mayor Daley to sign the ordinance rather than veto it. Nearly 100 people marched from the Thompson Center to the 5th floor of City Hall (the Mayor's office). About a third were from the UFCWU, another third from ACORN, and the rest a hodgepodge from SEIU and other unions, politicians, Metro Seniors in Action, DSA, and the CP.
    The issue will be decided by Wednesday morning, September 13, when the City Council meets again. Daley has until then to veto the Ordinance. He's threatened to do so. If he has, there will be another City Hall demonstration at the Council meeting. Stay tuned.
    In the meantime, you can express your opinion to the City Council and da Mayor courtesy of the Chicago Federation of Labor by going to:
    https://action.popuvox.com/default.aspx?actionID=281

    Immigrant Workers Justice March
    The continued prospect that Congress might enact unjust, repressive legislation against undocumented immigrants is being countered by the March 10th Movement. They have issued a call for a march from Chicago to House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office in Batavia. The march will begin on Friday, September 1, Noon, at Wentworth and Cermak in Chicago and arrive in Batavia on Monday, September 4. On Tuesday, September 5, a public hearing on immigration issues is planned.
    This action is attracting some pretty broad support though it's also obvious that groups are bringing their own meanings to the event. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
    For more information, go to:
    http://www.movimiento10demarzo.org/page9.html
    and
    http://www.icirr.org/

    Peace Fair
    If the 2nd Annual Peace Fair is anything like the first, it will be great fun as well as great politics. The fair will be on Saturday, September 9, from Noon to 5 PM, as before in Scoville Park in Oak Park. DSA will be among the groups with a table at the fair; come see us! For more information, go to:
    http://www.opctj.org/docs/peacefair06.html

    Students for a Democratic Society Reloaded
    You might be surprised to learn that the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was "refounded" at a founding convention earlier this month at the University of Chicago, just a few dozen blocks south of where it self-destructed in 1969. This is actually not a new development, having been preceded by some meetings on the Port Huron Statement ( for example, see http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng83.html#anchor191132 ). There was even a stand alone "chapter" of SDS at DePaul University about a decade or so ago. It also seems to me that collegiate and geezer nostalgia about "the 60s" (for and against) has been a minor undercurrent in U.S. politics for some time now. Certainly the organizers of this new SDS have been spending time constructing a mythology for the new organization that encompasses both the hopeful idealism of the early years and the sex and violence of the Weathermen. This has driven skeptical ideologues and pedantic historians straight up the wall and through the ceiling, but it's really too soon to say what practical affect this historical "kit bashing" will have.
    Being the new kid on the block, the new SDS will inevitably attract more interest than it would otherwise. Based on my experiences with new organizations, I'd say keep an eye on the bottom-line: how much money does it have? The original SDS had, in its early years, access to labor money, not only through the League for Industrial Democracy but through its own fundraising efforts. Enthusiasm will substitute for money somewhat, but only somewhat.
    The University of Chicago YDS chapter, incidentally, helped obtain the meeting space for the founding convention.
    For more information, see the In These Times article at:
    http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2796/
    or go to the SDS web site:
    http://www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org/

     

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    Democratic Socialism

    The Soul of Socialism
    In the latest issue of New Politics, DSA member Ron Aronson looks at the experience of socialism in the 20th Century and speculates on its relevance in the 21st. Go to:
    http://www.wpunj.edu/%7Enewpol/issue41/Aronson41.htm

     

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