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New Ground 115

November - December, 2007

Contents

  • Chicago's October 27th Anti-War Rally and March by Bill Barclay
  • Chicago Kingdoom Come by Bob Roman
  • Ehrenreich at the Eugene V. Debs Foundation by Michael Baker
  • New Ground 115.1 - 12.03.2007

    0. DSA News

      2007 DSA National Convention
      Green Reds

    1. Politics

      Marching on Burger King
      No Unfair Trade Agreement with Peru

    2. Democratic Socialism

      Venezuela: Not What You Think

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 115.2 - 12.17.2007

    0. DSA News

      Web Site Updates

    1. Politics

      Tomato Slaves
      State of Working Illinois

    2. Democratic Socialism

      Socialism, Ascetic and Epicurean
      Veblen the Red

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 115.3 - 01.03.2008

    0. DSA News

    Exeuctive Committee
    Democratic Left
    YDS Winter Conferenc

    1. Politics

    The Credit Cruch
    The State of Working America

    2. Democratic Socialism

    On the Mode of Production

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

     


    Chicago's October 27th Anti-War Rally and March

    by Bill Barclay

    On October 27th more than 12,000 people rallied and marched through the streets of Chicago in opposition to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. In addition to being Chicago's largest rally since the beginning of the war, it was also the most diverse. Participants included labor, religious, veterans, student, and community organizations and, even more impressively, perhaps as many as 4,000 people came from outside Chicago, many of these from outside the state of Illinois. How did all this come to pass?

    Background

    The October 27th mobilization emerged from the United for Peace and Justice's (UFPJ ) national convention, held in Chicago in June. At that meeting, more than 250 delegates from around the US decided to have a series of regional rallies in late October, expecting these to coincide with yet further requests for funding from the Bush Administration. By October, the number of cities involved had grown from 6 to 11, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, New Orleans ­ and Jonesboro, Tennessee, near a depleted uranium site and chosen by UFPJ groups in the area as a rally location. The rallies were designed as the culmination of a fall campaign against the war that included national Iraq Moratorium Days and many local actions.

    In late July Chicagoans Against War and Injustice (CAWI) initiated a call for supporting organizations to meet and begin planning the march and rally. From the beginning it was agreed that the basis for participation should be broad, requiring only that organizations and speakers support the demand to bring the troops home now, to fund domestic needs rather than the war, and to defend civil rights including those of immigrants. Chicago's October 27th coalition recognized that, while we in the anti war community are in the middle of a mass sentiment, we are not in the middle of a mass movement. Thus we wanted to bring people out who had not participated in anti-war events, to give them a comfortable space, and to help them find their voice.

    The Results

    To a significant extent we were successful in achieving this goal. Rather than simply endorsements, labor contingents, totaling more than 1000 marchers, came from SEIU, UNITE-HERE, UE, the Steel Workers, Milwaukee Labor Against the War and others. A similar number came from Chicago's African-American community, many brought out by Rev. Leon Finney from the Woodlawn Organization. Outreach in the African-American community was broad: four days before the rally I gave a short talk at a dinner for the Oak Park/Austin Health Alliance on Chicago's far west side. The audience was about 75% African-American and when I mentioned that I was also involved in planning the October 27th event there was spontaneous applause and many shouts of "we'll be there."

    Many of the 150 or more logistics volunteers had never before worked at a large anti-war march and rally. For example, at the trainings for marshals/peacekeepers giver by the Christian Peacekeepers, about half of the attendees were newcomers to the task, ranging from college age to senior citizens.

    Community and religious groups were also well represented and many of these individuals had attended few if any anti-war activities in the past. Particularly moving were approximately 4000 who came from long distances on buses and trains and, from all accounts including direct conversations I had with several on the day of the rally, were enthusiastic. Many asked why there were not more people from Chicago and that reflects the problem of mass sentiment but no mass movement. It is also the "what next" question that needs to be addressed by the coalition in the follow up meetings now occurring.

    What Next

    To many anti-war activists it is hard to understand why mass sentiment (65%-70% of US residents tell pollsters they are against the war) and the results of the 2006 election have not made more of a change in the conduct of the war. There are no easy answers. My analysis of why and what we have to continue doing is as follows.

    Wars end either militarily or politically. Military endings involve victory and defeat on the field of battle. Unlike later stages of the Vietnam War, in Iraq the insurgency does not have the ability to inflict serious losses on the US military. Despite some reports, it also seems unlikely that the US will be able to prevail militarily. It is very difficult to successfully organize opposition to the war within the US military, something that was very important in ending the war in Vietnam. This is true for several reasons. First, the troops are volunteers rather than draftees; they are not in the military against their will. Second, the demographics of this military are quite different from those during the Vietnam years. While there were large numbers of working class and minority troops in Vietnam, there were also, because of the draft, a large number of troops who were quite similar in background and outlook to the student led opposition to the war. They were thus a natural entry point for organizing opposition. Finally, the policy of extended and repeated tours of duty in Iraq limits the number of people with exposure to the war; in contrast there were always large numbers of troops going to and coming from Vietnam.

    If the war is unlikely to end militarily then it must end politically. Yes, opponents of the war were very successful in the 2006 mid term elections: 27 house seats changed hands from Republican to Democrat, largely on the basis of the war. While the result has been well short of what we want and what many of us expected, it has altered the terms of debate. However, it is important to remember that if 27 seats changed hands, 408 seats did not. Some were, of course, retained by war opponents, but many remained in the hands of war supporters or war ditherers (those seeking to walk a middle course where no such course exists).

    It seems to me that, just as we forced the 2006 election to be about the Iraq War, despite the desires of leaders of both parties, so must we force the 2008 elections to be about that same issue, linking it, as we did in Chicago's October 27th mobilization, to the lack of funding for domestic needs. There is no single activity that is the right one to do this but instead a range, including registering voters, campaigning door-to-door, speaking out at candidate rallies and forums, and dogging the remaining supporters of the war without regard to their party. It's hard work and it isn't always glamorous, but I think it is what must be done.


    Chicago Kingdoom Come

    by Bob Roman

    Collective bargaining for agricultural labor is a fruit mostly out of reach because of labor laws and other circumstances; for example, after decades of work even the California-based United Farm Workers, in total, are only about as large as a single medium size local. The more successful technique has been a combination of human rights and human services. The Ohio-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) are prime examples. Rather than negotiating directly or solely with the farmer or with the labor contractor, the workers include the purchaser of their product in negotiations so that, in one way or another, part of the wholesale purchase price is passed directly to the workers.

    Florida tomato pickers have been particularly ripe for this kind of intervention. Generally working under conditions most kindly described as primitive, they are paid on a piece-work basis, about 45 cents for each 32 pound bucket of berries. This has been the going rate for some three decades, no adjustment for inflation never mind a raise. To reach Illinois' minimum wage for an 8 hour day, you'd have to pick 4,324 pounds of tomatoes.

    Tomatoes Victorious

    The core demand of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has been an additional penny per pound of tomatoes picked. YUM Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silvers, A&W, Pizza Hut) and McDonalds, after years of persuasion, have agreed to this and more. CIW has selected Burger King as its next target, and to that end has been organizing an escalating series of public events that culminate in a march and demonstration outside Burger King's Miami corporate headquarters during the company's annual meeting on November 30. Part of this campaign was a national week of actions around the end of October that the CIW and its ally, the Student Farmworker Alliance called the "Kingdoom Days of Action."

    Chicago had been the focal point of the campaign directed at McDonalds as their corporate headquarters is in suburban DuPage County. Chicago had the advantage of something like an infrastructure left behind from this, so when Lexi Carlson of Northwestern University's Students for Economic Justice issued the call, pieces rapidly began reassembling. DSA had already begun working on the campaign, leafleting some of Chicago's summer festivals and concerts. By the time the ad hoc working group first met, Greater Oak Park DSA had already planned two informational pickets around two Berwyn Burger Kings on Tuesday October 30 and Saturday November 3. Add an Evanston action on Thursday November 1 planned by Students for Economic Justice and add a potluck march and picket at 27th and Kedzie on Sunday November 4, we then had a modestly respectable week of action.

    Kingdoom Come

    For those who take the measure of events by warm bodies, the three suburban informational pickets drew somewhat more than a dozen participants each. Each action began with a visit with the restaurant manager to explain what we were doing. We would then take the opportunity to present the manager with signed "dear manager" letters and ask that they be forwarded to Burger King headquarters. We generally had nearly a hundred to hand over and more may have arrived by mail to the Berwyn stores. Both GOPDSA and Chicago DSA did targeted mailings urging people to participate but including a self-addressed reply envelope for those who hadn't the time. The Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice also did a similar mailing afterwards.

    The Sunday march and picket was larger. About 30 people participated in total though the most present at any one time may have been about two dozen.

    All of these demonstrations represented amalgamations of different groups. In addition to DSA, the Berwyn demonstrations greatly benefited from the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and from the Third Unitarian Church. The Chicago demonstration also brought participants from ChicagOtra, Interfaith Workers Justice , Students for Economic Justice, and Food Not Bombs.

    A more "professional" measure might be media coverage. We did send out a press release (thanks to Chris Geovanis and Mitchell Szczepanczyk for their assistance) and this provoked a small flurry of phone calls to our media contact from Burger King headquarters. It may have been a feeble attempt at intimidation, but it also had a flailing about quality that suggested the folks at Burger King felt they had to do something but were unsure what. As it was, the Evanston action was covered by the Daily Northwestern and by the university's conservative paper, The Northwestern Chronicle. The latter devoted fully a quarter of its front page to a photo of a genuine, hairy DSA member and, almost as an afterthought, several column inches to an ill-informed article that might be sensible to someone both brain-dead and libertarian. A camera crew from Univision recorded the Chicago action.

    Photos of all four actions are posted on the web at http://www.chicagodsa.org/ciw2007/index.html. For photos of other actions around the country, see http://www.sfalliance.org/kingdoom.html .

    The Empire Strikes Back

    The reaction of the Burger King stores varied. In Berwyn on Oak Park Avenue and in Chicago, it was mostly indifference. In Evanston, it seemed to be sympathetic. On the other extreme, the store on Roosevelt Road in Berwyn came equipped with an ad hoc security force of three women "from corporate" (pressed into service on their day off, no doubt) who seemed unclear on the rules or what they were to do but were clearly not happy. This store and the Evanston location were fairly busy; the other two were not.

    Back in Florida, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange is urging its members to not participate in this arrangement. The Exchange is an agricultural cooperative of Florida tomato growers and claims to support "long-term comprehensive solutions that improve the lives of farm workers and their families." So much so, in fact, that their web site has nothing of interest to any tomato grower as it contains nothing but boasts about how good the farm workers have it and quarrels with the CIW. Anyway, the Exchange cites concerns about "federal and state laws relating to antitrust, labor and racketeering" for opposing the CIW, but an Associated Press story by Laura Wides-Munoz probably gets closer to the heart of the matter. She quotes the Exchange executive vice president, Reggie Brown, calling the CIW's agreements "pretty much near un-American."

    Next Steps

    Burger King, like most franchise operations, makes much of its living as a marketing operation. And as a Fast Food Hamburger Restaurant operation, image is just that much more important; after a point, it's hard to otherwise distinguish one hamburger from another. This makes Burger King particularly vulnerable to a public education campaign that shows all the gory details about how its "sausage" is made; an uncool Burger King is no use to franchise owners.

    But Burger King has some characteristics that offer additional means of persuasion. The franchise owners themselves have perhaps more influence in this matter than in other franchise operations. Much of the purchasing of food, paper goods, toys and equipment is done through a franchisee-owned cooperative, Restaurant Services. And some of the franchisee companies advertise themselves as socially responsible operations. How this might work in practice will require some thought and experimentation.


    Ehrenreich at the Eugene V. Debs Foundation

    by Michael Baker

    On October 6, 2007, The Eugene V. Debs Foundation honored Barbara Ehrenreich, author and honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, at its Annual Awards Banquet. The event was held at Indiana State University's Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, and was well attended. The Master of Ceremonies was Noel Beasley, Executive Vice President of the Debs Foundation and Executive Vice President of UNITE HERE and Co-Manager of Chicago and Midwest Regional Board.

    Anne Feeney, a former lawyer turned folk singer and regular at the banquet, played some introductory music from her catalog of recordings, highlighting themes such as the absurdity of prohibiting gay marriage and the need for universal healthcare.

    However, the major theme of the banquet was poverty, certainly in large part due to Ehrenreich being the awardee.

    The Debs Foundation Award was presented to Barbara Ehrenreich by Noel Beasley. In Ehrenreich's response to the award, Ehrenreich noted her personal admiration of Eugene V. Debs and offered an insightful and humorous speech on the problems of poverty in the United States, drawing largely upon her experiences in researching Nickel and Dimed. Ehrenreich cited such problems as the impossibility of workers, especially ones with children, to survive on the "minimum wage" and, accordingly, the need to increase the minimum wage.

    Ehrenreich also discussed the need for universal healthcare, the skyrocketing salaries of CEOs in juxtaposition to the declining wages of workers, the fallacies of blaming the poor for poverty, and the absurdity of right-wing "solutions" to poverty, like women can lift themselves out of poverty by getting married and staying married.


    New Ground #115.1

    12.03.2007

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    2007 DSA National Convention
    Green Reds

    1. Politics

    Marching on Burger King
    No Unfair Trade Agreement with Peru

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Venezuela: Not What You Think

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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    DSA News

    2007 DSA National Convention

    A narrative of the convention will be posted on the DSA web site Real Soon Now (seriously, it may be but a few days), but the resolutions passed and a roster of the new leadership is up. Check it out at:

    http://www.dsausa.org/convention2007/report/convention.html

    Green Reds

    The first meeting of the SI Commission for a Sustainable World Society - the body established to address the global environmental agenda, climate change and the issues of governance required to deal with these common challenges - took place at 10 Downing Street on Monday 19 November, hosted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Leader of the British Labour Party, where members of the Commission, the President and Secretary General of the Socialist International, along with Ministers from the British government, took part in an exchange of views.

    To read more, go to:

    http://www.socialistinternational.org/6SWSCommission/19Nov07/london-e.html

    The report, incidentally, suggests a rather diverse range of opinions despite the extreme social democratic venue.

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    Politics

    Marching on Burger King

    On Friday, November 30, more than 1,500 farm workers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their allies took to the streets of Miami on a 9-mile march to Burger King headquarters to deliver a message from the fields. Read about it, see photos and videos, and review news coverage at:

    http://www.ciw-online.org/2007_BK_March/index.html

    This march was the culmination of a month of activities aimed at pressuring Burger King into doing the right thing by agreeing to the same additional penny per pound of tomatoes that McDonalds and Yum Brands have agreed to. Unfortunately, Burger King and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange are digging in their heels. Read more about it here:

    http://www.ciw-online.org

    In Evanston, Students for Economic Justice organized a last-minute protest outside the Burger King in downtown Evanston on Saturday, December 1st, in solidarity with the folks in Miami. Being last minute and with the cold and snowy forecast, we didn't expect a large crowd. And in fact, there were 3 members of Students for Economic Justice and 3 members of DSA. But we were seriously peeved with Burger King and the Exchange so we had to do it.

    Likewise, in New York, folks turned out at Goldman Sachs. They happen to be one of the major owners of Burger King. For a slideshow, go to:

    http://picasaweb.google.com/FairFoodNYC/GoldmanSachsAction/photo#s5138694362412604402

    Incidentally, for photos of the Chicago area "Kingdoom Days of Action," go to:

    http://www.chicagodsa/ciw2007/index.html

    The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has received the 2007 Anti-Slavery award from Anti-Slavery International. Anti-Slavery International is a British-based organization established as part of the abolition movement in 1839 on the heels of successful campaigns to end the trade in slaves throughout the Empire and to abolish a more genteel form of slavery, apprenticeships. The Anti-Slavery award was established in 1991 to draw attention to the continuing problem of slavery in the world today and to provide recognition for long-term, courageous campaigning by organisations or individuals in the countries most affected. See:

    http://www.antislavery.org/homepage/antislavery/award.htm#link2

    No Unfair Trade Agreement with Peru

    Call your U.S. Senator this week, and ask them to vote against the free trade agreement with Peru. Tell them we do not need another NAFTA-style agreement. It is especially important that Senators Clinton and Obama hear from their constituents in New York and Illinois that the "sops" they are offering to their corporate contributors are "slaps" to the majority of their constituents. The U. S. Capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121, they will connect you directly to senate offices.

    See http://www.dsausa.org/NewsFromDSA/30nov2007.htm

    A phone call is a much more powerful message, but Public Citizen also has an email message addressing both Peru and Colombia. See:

    http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11380

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    Democratic Socialism

    Venezuela: Not What You Think

    Wherein Robin Hahnel delivers a very interesting albeit optimistic perspective on the "Bolivarian Revolution".

    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/hahnel301107.html

    Regarding the recent referendum in Venezuela, here are two good lefty sources of news and analysis:

    You're probably hip to this, but a good "Chavezista" source of news and analysis is:

    http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/

    Closer to home, and with a broader (Rio Grande southward) focus, is "Upside Down World:"

    http://www.upsidedownworld.org/

    There are others, of course, and if you have some particularly favorite or useful links, please pass them along.

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    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.

     

    Tuesday, December 4, 6 PM

    "Sick-o"

    Access Living, 115 W. Chicago, 2nd Floor, Chicago

    Showing of Michael Moore's movie by Chicago Single-Payer Action Network.

    See http://chispan.org/sicko.html

     

    Thursday, December 6, 7 PM

    "Ernest Mandel: A Life of Revolution"

    In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Floor, Chicago

    Chicago premier of a documentary on the noted Marxist economist and author. An Open University of the Left event. See http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org

     

    Friday, December 7, 9 AM

    Protest the October 27 Arrests

    3150 W. Flournoy, Chicago

    A protest around the initial hearing for the 3 students arrested at the October 27 peace demonstration. See http://www.chicagoworldcantwait.org/o27students.html

     

    Friday, December 7, 9 PM to 11 PM

    Wine & Cheese Fundraiser

    Early to Bed, 5232 N. Sheridan Rd, Chicago

    Fundraiser for Chicago NOW Lesbian Rights Team at "Early to Bed," a feminist sex shop. For information email cnowlesbianrights@gmail.com

     

    Saturday, December 8, 9:30 AM

    Universal Health Care

    Palatine Township Democrats, 1310 W. Northwest Highway, Arlington Heights

    Dr. Hal Snyder on the case for universal health care. Also meet and greet candidates.

    See http://www.palatinedemocrats.com/

     

    Saturday, December 8, Noon to 2:30 PM

    Rider Driver Alliance Strategy Meeting

    UNITE-HERE Hall, 333 S. Ashland, Lincoln Room, Chicago

    A meeting to move beyond the doomsday attacks. For information email publictransit@lvejo.org

     

    Saturday, December 8, 2 PM

    Averting Another Catastrophe: the Folly of an Attack on Iran

    Loyola University Damen Hall, Room 144, half block north of Sheridan & Kenmore, Chicago

    Panel presentation and discussion.

    See http://www.neighborsforpeace.net/uploads/resources/1195757846.pdf

     

    Saturday, December 8, 4 PM

    Night March Against Police Brutality

    Mozart and Roosevelt, Chicago

    Returning to Douglas Park, site of the Murder of Aaron Harrison. Bring flashlights, tiki torches, candles and COFFINS. For information email christianvalley@sbcglobal.net

     

    Sunday, December 9, 2 PM

    20th Annual Peoples Weekly World Banquet

    Parthenon Restaurant, 314 S. Halsted, Chicago

    Keynote speaker Michael McPhearson, Executive Director Veterans for Peace. Tickets $50. Call 773.446.9932

     

    Sunday, December 9, 5 PM

    "Winter Soldier"

    In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Floor, Chicago

    Showing of the classic Vietnam War documentary, sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Also information about a planned Iraq Winter Soldier investigation.

    See http://www.ivaw.org/node/2114

     

    Monday, December 10, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

    Global Rights-Local Fights

    Edgewater Public Library, 1210 W. Elmdale, Chicago

    A community forum around International Human Rights Day, sponsored by Rogers Park Community Action Network, Community of Uptown Residents for Affordability and Justice, and Chicago Jobs with Justice.

    See http://www.chicagojwj.org/node/50

     

    Tuesday, December 11, 7 PM

    Chicago DSA Executive Committee

    Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago

    All DSA members are welcome.

     

    Wednesday, December 12, 10 AM

    CTA Board Meeting

    567 W. Lake St, Chicago

    Among other things, the Pink Line.

     

    Wednesday, December 12, 6 PM to 7:30 PM

    RTA Budget Hearing

    Toman Library, 2708 S. Pulaski, Chicago

    Speak out on 2008 budget for CTA, PACE, and METRA

     

    Saturday, December 15, 3 PM

    Winterfest

    Quenchers, 2401 N. Western, Chicago

    Chicago Socialist Party's annual party. Cash bar.

     

    Monday, December 17, 7 PM

    "Eugene V. Debs Reader"

    In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Floor, Chicago

    Book release party for William Pelz' new book, featuring a showing of the documentary "Eugene V. Debs and the Labor Movement" with commentary by historian William Adelman. An Open University of the Left event. See http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org


    New Ground #115.2

    12.17.2007

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Web Site Updates

    1. Politics

    Tomato Slaves
    State of Working Illinois

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Socialism, Ascetic and Epicurean
    Veblen the Red

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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    DSA News

    Web Site Updates

    Our web site project for 2007 has been to finish posting what we have of the history of the Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner. We've taken it about as far as we can with the information here in the office. Which is to say there are some years (such as 1958, 1965, and 1967) for which we have no information whatso ever. And there are others (such as 1961, 1962, 1964, 1969, and 1972) for which we have only some names. If you have any information about these years or leads on where more information might be found, we'd surely love to hear from you. Information on other years would be welcome as well. Thanks, once again, to Ken Okamoto, formerly of the UofC Young Democratic Socialists where ever he may be, for the library research he did on the earliest Dinners.

    The earliest year for which we have fairly good documentation is 1960. We have dozens of photos (by Syd Harris) in the file, and we've posted photos of Emil Mazey (UAW Secretary Treasurer), Hilton Hanna, David Shier, Morris Milgram, Herman Benson, and others whose identities are sometimes unknown or uncertain. We also have an article about the event that was published afterwards by the Socialist Party's newspaper, New America. All this at http://www.chicagodsa.org/d1960/index.html

    While we have almost no program information, we do have a good selection of photos from 1959, including Norman Thomas and A. Philip Randolph at the speakers' table: http://www.chicagodsa.org/d1959/index.html

    Each year has its own page. See the table of contents for the pages at

    http://www.chicagodsa.org/dthdin.html

     

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    Politics

    Tomato Slaves

    On November 20th, as readers of the Miami Herald were reassured by Burger King's "third party monitor" that their audits have "found no slave labor" in Florida tomato fields, news reports say three tomato harvesters made their way to authorities after escaping from a U-haul truck where they were being held against their will by their bosses. See
    http://www.ciw-online.org/no_slave_labor.html
    and
    http://www.ciw-online.org/news.html

    Here are some ways you can help:

    Join Sojourners magazine in urging Burger King to stop being Scrooge and work with the Coalition of Immokalee workers:
    http://go.sojo.net/campaign/burgerking_scrooge/

    Elect Burger King John W. Chidsey as "Grinch of the Year" (act new, voting ends the 19th)
    http://www.jwj.org/grinch.html

    Join us in anti-Burger King caroling! We will be meeting right outside the Redline Washingon stop on State Street at 1 PM on Saturday, December 22. Please invite your friends, family and neighbors to join in spreading a little pro-worker consciousness this holiday. Let's let all those crazed shopers know that Burger King exploits farmworkers. For information, call 773-396-9658.

    State of Working Illinois

    Center for Governmental Studies and Office for Social Policy Research (both of Northern Illinois University) along with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability have released their annual "State of Working Illinois" study:

    "The Illinois economy is experiencing a major transformation. Before the last two decades, the state had consistently been a national leader in job growth and median income. During the last twenty years, however, as global competition increasingly affected state and regional economics, the results have been more mixed. Job creation in Illinois now lags the nation, and while the state's median income remains greater than most states, it too is on the decline. On the positive side, the recent growth rate of the Illinois economy has rebounded. Although Illinois lagged the entire Midwest Region in economic growth from 1990-2004, from 2005-2006 Illinois fared better than the Midwest average. Yet, as Illinois' overall economy appears to be rebounding, most workers have seen their real, inflation adjusted wages decline from 200 through 2007.

    "A number of factors are working simultaneously to produce the complex patterns that are changing the Illinois economy. One primary factor has been the continued economic restructuring that has yielded many new jobs, but predominantly replaces higher-paying jobs with lower-paying ones. Another factor is the significant portion of population growth fueled by the arrival of immigrants. Accelerating economic globalization creates an additional set of factors, the full impact of which are not yet clearly understood. These changing dynamics touch virtually every community across the state, regardless of whether it is a center-city urban neighborhood, a well-established wealthy suburban enclave, a fast-growing community on the edge of urban sprawl, or a small town struggling to cope with rural decline."

    To read more: http://www.stateofworkingillinois.niu.edu/swil/index.html

     

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    Democratic Socialism

    Socialism, Ascetic and Epicurean

    "As political philosophies go, socialism has more than its share of historical baggage, competing incompatible versions, and popular misperceptions. So most socialists eventually give in to temptation, and tack on an adjective before "socialist", to clarify what they mean by the word. Some might say that it's a waste of time to argue over what we label ourselves, and that we should all just get along and focus our energy on fighting capitalism. But understanding all these labels can help us get some idea of what really divides all the people who call themselves "socialist". Because while we agree on many things-in particular, that we hate capitalism-we disagree on an awful lot."

    To read more by UofC YDS alumnus Peter Frase:
    http://theactivist.org/blog/?p=122

    Veblen the Red

    William Dugger compares and contrasts Thorstein Veblen and Karl Marx:
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/dugger081207.html

     

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

    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.

     

    Friday December 21, 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
    Iraq Moratorium
    Hillgrove & LaGrange Rd, LaGraange
    Songs of Peace in a time of War. Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice: http://www.nwcpj.org/

    Friday, December 21, 7 PM
    New Hope UMC Peace Vigil
    New Hope United Methodist Church, 7115 W. Hood, Chicago
    Featuring folksinger Anna Stange. See http://www.newhopechicago.org

    Friday, December 21, 6:30 PM ro 7:30 PM
    Iraq Moratorium
    Church Street and Maple Avenue, Evanston
    Songs of Peace in a time of War. North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice, 847.912.0739

    Saturday, December 22, 1 PM
    Burger King Caroling
    Meet at Washington and State, Chicago
    Raise consumer consciousness about Burger King's exploitation of farm workers and have some fun as well.

    Tuesday, Januery 8, 7 PM
    Chicago DSA Executive Committee Meeting
    Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome. You really should come by.


    New Ground #115.3

    01.03.2008

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Exeuctive Committee
    Democratic Left
    YDS Winter Conferenc

    1. Politics

    The Credit Cruch
    The State of Working America

    2. Democratic Socialism

    On the Mode of Production

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

     

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    DSA News

    Executive Committee
    The Chicago DSA Executive Committee will be meeting, as usual, on Tuesday, January 8, 7 PM, at the Chicago DSA Office: 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, in Chicago. All DSA members are welcome to attend and contribute. Among other things, we'll be talking about the CIW Burger King campaign here in Chicago, continuing to plan the 2008 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner, considering the Young Democratic Socialists of America, and other business as well. Email or give a call to 773.384.0327 if you have any questions.

    Democratic Left
    The Winter, 2008, issue of "Democratic Left" is now available online. This issue is devoted to DSA's National Convention last November in Atlanta, Georgia. You'll find articles by Herman Benson, Bill Fletcher, Bernie Sanders, and Michael Lighty, among others. Read or download here: http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Winter_2008.pdf

    YDS Winter Conference
    The Young Democratic Socialists' annual Winter Conference will be held on February 15th through the 17th at the Bayard Rustin High School in New York, NY. The title for this year's gathering is "Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible: Reviving Democratic, Socialist, and Youth Activism. For more information:
    http://www.ydsusa.org/news/2008-conference.html

     

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    Politics

    The Credit Crunch
    John Atlas and Peter Dreier were pretty active DSA members out in New Jersey in the mid-1980s, and they may still be DSA members for all I know. The American Prospect, a publication devoted to creating a liberal spin, recently posted to its web site an interesting article by Atlas and Dreier that examines the ideological underpinnings to the policies that made the economic crisis du jour if not possible then at least probable. They also have some observations on the current political response to the situation. The posted comments to the article are also interesting; they look suspiciously like an organized campaign. See:
    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_conservative_origins_of_the_subprime_mortgage_crisis

    Dollars & Sense magazine has a web-only article, "The Subprime/Securitization Market Panic: A Guide for the Perplexed" by Larry Peterson that takes a somewhat more historical view of the crisis, and generalizes it: "by examining the way subprime mortgages were bought and sold, we will see a pattern which will be, roughly speaking, duplicated in other important markets." See:
    http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2007/1207peterson.html

    "Cityphilia" by John Lanchester in the current issue of the London Review of Books is rather more interesting even while its perspective remains basically liberal. Nonetheless, if you'd like a very readable introduction to the basics of the situation, this is one good place to get it:
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n01/lanc01_.html

    Lanchester notes: "In 2003 the total size of the world economy was $49,000,000,000,000. The total size of the derivatives being traded was $85,000,000,000,000." The "Structured Investment Vehicles" backed by mortgages are only a part of this, but it does give capitalism a distinct resemblance to a ponzi scheme. This metaphor drives most economists up the wall, partly because it's an argument habitually used by gold bugs nostalgic for the days when currency was backed by something: metal, tobacco, land, whatever. And partly because unlike a ponzi scheme, the creation of money through lending can create wealth to back the new money. But not always. And the disconnect noted by Lanchester suggests... stagflation, maybe?

    The State of Working America
    New Ground 115.2 provided a link to the recently released "State of Working Illinois." The Economic Policy Institute just released its "State of Working America." Much of it is available online, though EPI would be happier (and better fed) if you were to buy a copy:
    http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/

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    Democratic Socialism

    On the Mode of Production
    UofC YDS alumnus Peter Frase examines the marxist concept of "mode of production" as presented in German Ideology. You know: that whole base - superstructure thing.
    http://theoldmole.blogspot.com/2007/11/on-mode-of-production.html

     

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    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.

    Sunday, January 6, Noon to 2 PM
    The Cost of War in DuPage County
    DuPage Friends, 5710 Lomond Av, Downers Grove
    Art by Lillian Moats and talk by Michael McConnell, Regional Director AFSC. See
    http://www.afsc.org/calendar/event.php?calendar=22&category=&event=9371&full=true&date=2008-01-06

    Tuesday, Januery 8, 7 PM
    Chicago DSA Executive Committee Meeting
    Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome. You really should come by.

    Friday, January 11, 4:30 PM
    Witness Against Torture
    Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, Chicago
    A rally in support of a national campaign to close Guantanamo and to protest police torture in Chicago. See http://www.witnesstorture.org/node/468 or call 773.878.3815

    Saturday, January 12, 3 PM to 4 PM
    Families for Peace Silent Vigil
    Dunton Park, Arlington Heights Rd & Northwest Highway, Arlington Heights
    Regularly scheduled for the 2nd Saturday of each month. For information: jsass1936@aol.com

    Sunday, January 13, 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
    The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance
    Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St Veterans Room, Oak Park
    Author Mary King presents the previously untold account of the first Palestinian intifada (1987-1993) and does a book signing for her recently released book, A Quiet Revolution. See http://www.cjpip.org/0801_king.html

    Monday, January 14, 10 PM to 2 AM
    Kick Boeing to the Curb Benefit
    Danny's, 1951 W. Dickens, Chicago
    Drink and contribute to Kick Boeing to the Curb Coalition. See http://kickboeingtothecurb.wordpress.com/

    Wednesday, January 16, 7 PM
    Before Stonewall
    Gerber Hart Library, 1127 W. Granville, Chicago
    Reading and discussion group on LGBT history, this session focusing on just before Stonewall. See http://www.gayliberation.net/home.html

    Thursday, January 17, 7:30 PM
    Illinois Capital Punishment System
    Governors State University, Engbretson Hall, University Park
    Thomas P. Sullivan, Chair, Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee and former U.S. Attorney, will speak on the Illinois Capital Punishment system as part of the Governors State University Distinguished Lecturer Series. Call 708.534.4390 for information. Also see http://www.govst.edu/directions/

    Monday, January 21, 7 PM
    "The Other America: a Speech by Martin Luther King Jr"
    In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee 2nd Floor, Chicago
    A video screening of an April 14, 1967 speech reveals King as the intellectual, coolly analyzing the racist basis of the neo-conservative philosophies that would influence government policies on the right and left. King foresees the rise of Reaganism and the mainstreaming of the Klan, neo-Nazism, Yuppie solipsism, the racialized criminal justice system, and more. An Open University of the Left event. See http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org/

    Thursday, January 24, 5:30 PM to 8 PM
    Annual Roe v. Wade Celebration
    Ritz Carlton Hotel, 160 E. Pearson, Chicago
    and benefit gala honoring Helen Zell. See http://www.plannedparenthood.org/chicago/event-calendar.htm or https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/PlannedParenthoodChicagoAre/OnlineDonation.html

     

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    PLEASE FORWARD TO THOSE YOU THINK WOULD BE INTERESTED.

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