0. DSA News
Building the Next Left
Web Site Updates
Skewed Pay Policies at Resurrection
Labor's Candidate Forum
Open Letter to the Food Industry
2. Democratic Socialism
Re: Solidarity Economics
3. Upcoming Events of Interest
Building the Next Left
And New Ground's annual
Labor Day issue is one part of the project. You can help by participating
in our annual Labor Day issue. Here's how:
Web Site Updates
As promised, we've been adding
pages for past Debs Dinners. Here is what's up:
The 1968 Dinner
featured Michael Harrington and Leon Keyserling speaking on "The
Crisis of Cities". Leon Keyserling had been the Chairman
of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Truman Administration
and, at the time, was a Vice-Chairman of the Americans for Democratic
Action. The "Toastmaster" of the event was Chicago
Alderman Leon Despres. The only information we have for this
event is a "save the date" type article from a January,
1968, issue of New America, an image of the article is
The 1967 Dinner
is one of our missing years. Nothing is known about the event.
But we have a page for it anyway:
The topic of the 1966 Dinner,
"Labor as a Social Movement," was addressed by Norman
Thomas and Charles Chiakulas. Chiakulas was at the time the Regional
Director of the AFL-CIO's Industrial Union Department. The "Toastmaster"
was the former Mayor of Milwaukee, Frank Zeidler. We don't have
much information about the event, but what we have is here:
Skewed Pay Policies at Resurrection
Council 31 of the American Federation
of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have issued
a new report documenting low wage levels that keep patient-support
staff art Resurrection Health Care hospitals mired in poverty
and unable to support their families. Resurrection Health Care
(RHC) is the second largest non-profit hospital system in the
Chicago metropolitan area. It encompasses eight hospitals, as
well as nursing homes, home health services, and outpatient clinics.
Entitled "Coming Up Short: Resurrection
Health Care's Distorted Pay Priorities," the report depicts
a starkly skewed pay structure in which the compensation of RHC
hospital executives significantly exceeds national norms while
the meager wages of patient-support staff (housekeepers, laundry
and food service workers) fall far short of self-sufficiency
standards in the Chicago area.
Read about it at:
The heat and humidity didn't
cut into the pleasure of attending the AFL-CIO sponsored forum,
which featured seven of the Democratic candidates for the office
of President of the U.S.A. Thousands of union brothers and sisters,
and their families came together with purpose and in strength
at Chicago's Soldier Field on the evening of August 7th.
IBEW Local 134 did what it could to
spark the crowd. They roared "One Three Four One Three Four
One Three Four," stomping in rhythm, but the spark didn't
catch. They paused and repeated. Some unions answered back. I
was sitting with an SEIU group and we chanted "S E I U!
S E I U!"
Sadly, moderator Keith Olbermann, of
MSNBC, and the AFL-CIO leadership refused to ignite a fire. They
chose to avoid asking the candidates direct questions about what
they would do to improve the lives of those who have to work
for a living.
Some questions that could have been
How will you eliminate the economic
chasm threatening our democracy?
How will you refocus economic policy
to make human beings at least as important as a making a profit?
How will you make businesses responsible
for the damage done when they flee communities/states/countries
in search of greater profit?
Why are workers crossing borders in
search of a livelihood labeled criminals, while businesses crossing
borders to increase profits considered smart?
If the goal of the forum was to clarify
which candidates had ideas about improving the lives of those
who have to work, or those who no longer can or have to, it was
a bust. The one positive was that union workers also got to question
More heat was generated by individual
candidates attacking each other on foreign policy, than by questions
from Olbermann. With the exception of Dennis Kucinich, Democratic
Representative from Ohio, who said he would take us out of NAFTA
and the WTO, there were few ideas on bettering the lives of working
women and men.
We were poorly served by this collegial
gathering. The candidates quickly took control and served up
what they wanted. No surprise that the AFL-CIO leadership declined
to endorse anyone after the event. They held a forum where labor-specific
questions weren't on the agenda.
Two nights later, the Human Rights Committee
(HRC) sponsored a forum focused on issues concerning the Gay,
Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Trans-gender community. All major Presidential
candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties were invited.
The questions were pointed and direct. The HRC panel of questioners
accepted their responsibility to interview the candidates and
elicit responses that meant something to their constituency.
The AFL-CIO plans to spend a lot of
money and energy on this election. Why? To get a Democrat elected?
Does the leadership of the AFL-CIO suffer from Stockholm syndrome?
Is there a candidate who will put the weight of the presidency
behind repealing the Taft-Hartley Act? Is there a candidate that
wants a strong and vibrant labor movement?
Oh Well, Happy American Labor Day,
For the AFL-CIO's account, go here:
Open Letter to the Food Industry
In an open letter signed by
over 60 member organizations of the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF)
-- including Amnesty International USA, the AFL-CIO, United Students
Against Sweatshops, and the Episcopal Church Executive Council
-- the AFF wrote to 36 leading corporations in the retail food
industry to demand that they too work "with the CIW to implement
socially responsible purchasing practices, such as those exemplified
by McDonald's and Yum! Brands." Read the letter here:
by Ron Baiman
Deepening Democracy: Institutional
Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance, by Archon Fung and Erik Olin Wright.
New York: Verso, 2003. $60.00; paper, $22.00. Pp. 310.
Leftists have historically contended
that purely political democracy is at best partial and inadequate,
and at worst a guise for class rule based on over-whelming economic
power. Thus the traditional slogans regarding the need to "socialize
the means of production", or democratize the already "social"
means of production.
But what if distrust of the public sector
is so deeply rooted that any effort to expand social -- democratic
-- decision-making to the "private" sector is doomed
from the start? Moreover, what if this widespread distrust of
"government" is not purely a matter of "false
consciousness" based on right-wing propaganda or intractable
and retrograde individualistic social values, but rather reflects
a truthful awareness of problems of public governance? Why should
citizens of countries with public sectors that are characterized
by widespread corruption and mismanagement give these "public"
authorities more power? This is a fundamental challenge for the
left in many first world countries like the United States, and
is even more critical in many developing countries with entrenched
public corruption and patronage.
The essays in this collection address
this problem, perhaps the most fundamental problem for the left
in the 21st century, head on. As in many cases where seemingly
straightforward recipes for social progress require rethinking
and further development in the face of real world social challenges,
the analyses of embryonic "solutions" to this problem
presented here open up new vistas for progressive thought and
action that are as exciting and promising as anything produced
by the left in recent years.
The first essay, "Thinking about
Empowered Participatory Governance," by Fung and Wright,
outlines the four case studies described and analyzed in the
book: neighborhood governance in Chicago public schools through
"Local School Councils"; habitat conservation planning
under the U. S. Endangered Species Act, resulting in "Habitat
Conservation Plans"; the participatory municipal budget
planning process of Porto Allegre, a Brazilian costal city of
about 1.3 million; and the "People's Campaign for Decentralized
Planning" through "Local Self-Governing Institutions"
in Kerala, a province in India with 31 million residents.
Though the individual essays are written
by first-hand observers and field practitioners, Fung and Wright
(F&W) attempt to provide a general theoretical framework
that ties these experiments together in "Empowered Participatory
Governance" (EPG). They list three principles: "Practical
Orientation," a focus on "practical problems such as
providing public safety, training workers, caring for inhabitants,
or constructing sensible municipal budgets" (16); "Bottom-Up
Participation" by those most affected by the problems at
hand, "typically ordinary citizens and officials in the
field" (16); and finally, "Deliberative Solution Generation,"
wherein "participants listen to each others' choices and
generate group choices after due consideration" (17). To
these principles they add three "design properties":
"Devolution" -- targeting of problems and participation
that is "localized in both issue and geographic space"
(20); "Centralized Supervision and Coordination" --
"linkages of accountability and communication that connect
local units to super-ordinate bodies" remain strong (21),
resulting in systems of "coordinated decentralization"
rather than historical New Left and anarchist demands for "autonomous
decentralization"; and "State-Centered Not Voluntaristic"
-- these efforts "colonize state power and transform formal
governance institutions"(22), rather than resting on institutions
of "civil society" that attempt to influence the state
through outside pressure.
To these easily conceptualized design
features F&W add a more ambiguous "enabling condition,"
of "rough equality of power, for the purposes of deliberative
decision-making, between participants"(24), necessary to
the success of EPG.
The goals of EPG according to F&W
are to generate: "Effective Problem-Solving," "Equity,"
and "Broad and Deep Participation."
Important research questions arise regarding
the conformance of the case studies to this idealized model.
What is the degree of deliberation involved in the decision-making
process? To what degree do decisions result in action? How well
are the local bodies able to monitor this implementation? How
much diffusion and cross-fertilization occurs between local innovations?
To what extent does the process empower citizens and other local
groups to participate politically - i.e., to what degree do the
reforms become a "school for democracy"? To what extent
are the outcomes of the process preferable based on objective
fairness and accountability indicators to pre-existent outcomes?
The case studies by Gianpaolo Baiocchi
on Porto Allegre, Thomas Isaac and Patrick Heller on Kerala,
Archon Fung on Chicago public school reform, and Craig Thomas
on habitat conservation planning offer a wealth of descriptive
and statistical data and analysis documenting various degrees
of success (Porto Allegre), success but concern over sustainability
(Kerala), and more mixed reviews (Chicago and HCP).
A third section of the volume offers
commentaries by various authors that I found to be generally
less rewarding. However, the essay by Cohen and Rogers (C&R)
highlights a key issue that is probably on the minds of many
on the left who would be otherwise naturally positively disposed
toward EPG. C&R caution that cases in which EPG may offer
"beneficial coordination" need to be carefully distinguished
from situations where it may simply reproduce existing deeply
rooted social power relations.
F&W address this issue directly
in their epilogue on "Countervailing Power in Participatory
Governance," essentially agreeing with C&R that "in
all contexts significant countervailing power -- a variety of
mechanisms that reduce and perhaps even neutralize the power-advantages
of ordinarily powerful actors" -- is essential to the success
of EPG. They go on to try to demonstrate the extent to which
the four case studies selected include, or do not contain, adequate
F&W and their collaborators have
made a very important, exciting and inspiring contribution to
current left political thought. Their treatment appears measured,
realistic, subtle and honest. If half of the accomplishments
noted, particularly for the Porto Allegre reform (now spread
to hundreds of other cities in Brazil), are true, the potential
for EPG should be seriously considered by the left worldwide
as a possible means to reduce patronage and corruption, increase
positive redistribution to those most in need, and greatly empower
workers and peasants in capitalist societies with formal political
democracy. F&W make no claim that EPG is a panacea for eliminating
fundamental class, gender, caste, etc. power, but it certainly
moves in the right direction and may be critical to a left response
to distrust of social governance. Finally, they make clear that
EPG-type reforms do not reflect an unrealistic reliance on "civil
society" to offset state and corporate political and economic
power, nor is EPG a continuation of New Left or anarchist unrealistic
notions of unaccountable local "participatory democracy."
Rather, EPG is an effort to formally democratize public sector
decision-making by making it more deliberative, participatory,
transparent, and accountable.
Editor's Note: the review of Deepening Democracy was originally published
in the October, 2006, issue of Science
and Society, reprinted by permission. Deepening
Democracy is volume iv of Verso Books' Real Utopias Project.
Re: Solidarity Economics
In response to "Solidarity
Economics" in New Ground 113.1, Ross Hyman offers
the following observation:
If you want to highlight a community
in Chicago that is practicing something like "solidarity
economics" (although they would never use such a stale term),
look at the neighborhood community organization riverbank neighbors,
Riverbank Neighbors cares for the river
path on the east side of the Chicago River between Berteau and
Montrose. Pete Leki, the environmental science teacher at the
Waters Elementary school, is a leader of the group and the related
organization Beyond Today
With Julie Peterson. Pete wrote How
that expresses his dreams for the community.
Upcoming Events of Interest
Compiled by Libby Frank
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.
Wednesday, August 15, 6 PM to 8 PM
Impact of the Global Economy
Mujeres Latinas en Acción, 2124 W 21st Place, Chicago
For details and registration, contact Yvonne Nieves at 312.673.3871
Saturday, August 17, 7 PM
Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Café Cathedral, 2500 S Christiana, Chicago
Bands, DJs, lots more
Saturday and Sunday, August 18 and 19,
9 AM to 4 PM
Chicago Air & Water Show
Pedestrian Bridge over Lake Shore Drive north of North Av, Chicago
Signs, banners, and leafleting. For information, contact Brother
Paul at 773.826.8136 or the 8th Day Center for Justice at 312.641.5151
Saturday, August 18, Noon to 1 PM
End the Occupation Vigil
Washington Street Bridge, Naperville
Sponsored by the End the Occupation Coalition of Northern Illinois.
For information: http://www.angelfire.com/hero/eto
Saturday, August 18, 2 PM
"Buying the War"
Albany Park Library, 5150 N. Kimball, Chicago
Showing of Bill Moyers documentary, followed by discussion. Sponsored
by Albany Park, North Park, and Mayfair Neighbors for Peace.
For information: 773.250.3335
Wednesday, August 22, 5:30 PM to 8:00
"The Camden 28"
Access Living, 115 W. Chicago, Chicago
Showing of Vietnam era anti-war documentary followed by remarks
by Mike Giocondo, former Camden 28 defendant. http://www.camden28.org
Sponsored by Chicago ADAPT, Access Living, Chicagoans Against
War and Injustice, Communist Party USA, American Friends Service
Committee, Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights. For
Wednesday, August 22, 8:15 PM
"An Inconvenient Truth"
Butler Field in Grant Park, Chicago
Showing of the classic environmental documentary. Sponsored by
the Illinois Science Council http://www.illinoisscience.org
and the Chicago Department of the Environment http://www.cityofchicago.org/environment
Thursday, August 23, 7 PM
The 21st Century Left
In These Times, 2040 N Milwaukee, 2nd Floor, Chicago
Featuring Professor William Kreml. An Open University of the
Left event, http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org
Sunday, August 26, 10 AM
Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Third Unitarian Church, 301 N Mayfield, Chicago
Speaker Kevin Clark from the International Solidarity Movement
and the Stop CAT Coalition. See http://www.thirdunitarianchurch.org
Saturday, September 8, 7:30 PM
A Concert for Peace
Unity Temple, 875 Lake St, Oak Park
Featuring folk singers Anna Stange and Mark Dvorak, poetry by
Young Artists for Peace, and a reader's theatre. Donations: $10,
$5 students, $25 family. Sponsors: Oak Park Coalition for Truth
and Justice; Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice; Voices
for Creative Non-Violence; Committee for a Just Peace in Israel
and Palestine; and Veterans for Peace/Iraq Veterans Against the
War. Information: 708.848.3015