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New Ground 121

November - December, 2008

Contents

  • A Defining Moment? The 2008 Presidential Election by Bill Barclay
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Post-Bush Progressive Politics
    A Living Wage Reduces Poverty
    OPRFHS YDS
    Winterfest
    The President Pickets Congress!
    UFPJ Meeting in Chicago
    Third Party Blues

    New Ground 121.1 - 12.01.2008

    0. DSA News

    What Now Conference
    Socialist International Council Meeting

    1. Politics

    Employee Free Choice Act
    Workeer Centers and the Labor Movement
    Big Three Bankruptcy?
    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Bail-Out Is Neo-Liberal Theft

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 121.2 - 12.18.2008

    0. DSA News

    DSA 2009 National Convention Set for Greater Chicago Area

    1. Politics

    Republic Windows Strike - Short Take
    Additional Links
    A Set-back for Hotel Housekeepers
    A Post-Partisan Poem

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Haymarket Revisited

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 121.3 - 12.31.2008

    0. People

    Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf

    1. Politics

    Economic Recovery from Below
    National March for Sex Workers Rights
    Migration ­ a lever for union renewal?
    Blago Watch

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration
    Ubuntuism, Commodification, and the Software Dialectic

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    A Defining Moment? The 2008 Presidential Election

    by Bill Barclay

    Was the 2008 election a defining moment? It is obviously too soon to say but the potential is clearly there. What follows is an early look at the dynamics of the election and a few thoughts on what comes next.

    There are many ways to look at the 2008 presidential election. It can be analyzed, much like the two campaigns probably did, by focusing on the number of states that shifted from Bush to Obama ­ 9, including the 3 southern states of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. It can be analyzed by the demographics of the vote, with Obama increasing the Democratic percentage among all age categories but especially those under 30 and first time voters. The former went almost 2 to 1 for Obama, and the latter supported Obama by almost a 3 to 1 margin. It could also be understood as confirming a long-time, but largely unnoticed, pattern in U.S. presidential elections: once the electorate has shifted from one generation to another in their presidential choices, there is very little chance for a presidential candidate from the older generation to win. Both Bill Clinton and George Bush were from the baby boom generation, while McCain is from the older demographic cohort often labeled the "silent generation" by 1950s media. Or, the election can be seen as the Republican vice presidential candidate described it, in advance, as the "reveal[ing] of God's will."

    It also can be ­ and has widely been ­ compared to other elections, particularly that of 1932. While some have noted that Obama's 52.3% of the popular vote is not particularly impressive compared to FDR's 57.4%, this comparison ignores some important differences between the two elections. By late 1932, when FDR defeated Hoover, the U.S. GDP had declined by over 20% from 1929. Almost 23% of the total labor force, and over 30% of the non-farm labor force, were unemployed. In Chicago, where the Democrats held their 1932 convention, of the 1.5 million employed in 1930, 700,000 were now out of work. The Dow Jones Industrial average had fallen over 80% from its 1929 peak. And even then, Hoover, who had overseen this disaster, drew almost 40% of the popular vote.

    Looking a little deeper into the 2008 vote, it is clear that, while the overall popular vote margin was 6.1%, there were very few individual states where the election was that close. Only in the 3 southern states won by Obama (Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia) and in the 3 Midwestern states of Missouri (McCain), Indiana, and Ohio was the margin of victory equal to or less than the national margin. Where he won, McCain won by large margins: in only 4 of the 23 states that McCain carried was the margin of his victory less than 10%. While the Republicans have, at least in this election, been reduced to a party of the South and the inter-mountain west, the question for Obama, the Democrats, and progressives is whether, as was the case for FDR and the Democratic Party of his day, this shift in voter preferences can be maintained and strengthened in upcoming elections.

    What does the 2008 election mean for that portion of the U.S. population that describes themselves as progressives / leftists / socialists. (Maybe the last category has grown since McCain and Palin were so insistent that voting for Obama was voting for a socialist?).

    First, before we start talking about shortcomings, questionable decisions (e.g., Emanuel as chief of staff, although I don't think that is a disaster), failure to achieve particular goals, let's savor the moment.

    Second, let's understand, appreciate, and celebrate the outpouring of excitement and enthusiasm that erupted across the U.S, from New York to California, from Florida to Washington, when Obama was called the victor. Watching this outpouring was the only time in the past 8 years I felt any empathy for Republicans. How could you see these spontaneous demonstrations of joy and relief and not be stunned by the contrast with the response to Bush's election in either 2000 or 2004? The people who went into the streets to celebrate, hug strangers, wake up on the morning of November 5th feeling that maybe, just maybe, they could again identify with their country are those from whom we must recruit if we want to strengthen and build the movement for progressive change. Let's not be too quick to disillusion them; disillusioned people often become disengaged politically.

    It is also important to recognize the significance of at least two of the demographics of voting mentioned above: the fact that first-time voters supported Obama 3:1 and under-30 voters supported him 2:1. Most people form their political allegiances in their younger years and do not stray far from them, especially if these affiliations are formed in the course of a successful political campaign. While these groups may not be uniformly committed to progressive policies and politics, much less socialist policies and politics, there is an opening that has not existed since the 1960s.

    Finally, there is the experience of the Obama campaign itself that should encourage all of us who believe in grassroots, person-to-person politics. As a member of Progressive Democrats of America (and we were careful to identify ourselves as such) my wife and I worked door to door for Obama in both Wisconsin and Indiana. We shifted from Wisconsin to Indiana during the final days of the campaign because Wisconsin was safe for Obama and Indiana was a challenge. I didn't actually expect we would WIN in Indiana but only that we would keep the pressure on the McCain campaign. In both states the number and enthusiasm of the volunteers was incredible ­ and we had both worked in the 2004 and 2006 elections, so have some comparisons. In fact, we came home from Indiana on Election Day afternoon earlier than planned because we were tripping over other Obama volunteers.

    There were several things that stand out about our experience in the campaign. First, the enthusiasm of most people who identified themselves as Obama supporters was striking; they were actually excited about voting! Second, we found we could talk with many of those leaning towards McCain, including one man who supported the Iraq War and whose wife told him that Obama was a Muslim but was still considering voting for him because of disgust with Bush. (The exceptions to this openness were those who were voting on the issue of anti-choice, one of whom assured me that there are more babies killed by abortion in two days than in any war). Third, we were struck by the complete lack of a McCain ground campaign. Even in Indiana, a crucial battle ground state, we met no McCain workers and saw not a single piece of McCain literature. This was a distinct contrast to our experience in the 2004 election. Finally, and probably most importantly, many, perhaps most, of the Obama volunteers had never done anything like this before. And it is an experience they will never forget and an experience that, for many of them, will shape their political outlook and activities for the rest of their lives. Obama should figure out a way to continue drawing upon that enthusiasm and commitment, e.g., some kind of service to America program.

    The above is very optimistic ­ and should be. However, I do not for one moment underestimate the daunting tasks facing an Obama administration. In addition, the hopes and expectations, both in the U.S. and abroad, are beyond what any human being or group of human beings can accomplish. There is still no program to deal with the mortgage crisis. This is different (although obviously connected) with the problem of insolvent banks. In the latter case, we have the Great Depression and Bernanke's study of the same to thank for, at least to date, preventing a repeat of what FDR faced. Health care in the U.S. is hopeless. Meanwhile the right wing and most economists will urge Obama to reduce government spending. This pressure should be at least partially offset by the strong recommendations of the most recent U.S. winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, Paul Krugman. I do wish that he or perhaps Joseph Stiglitz were invited into Obama's inner economics circle. Business organizations are already mobilizing against the Employee Free Choice Act. The list goes on and on. But, the victory of Obama in the 2008 election has redefined the terrain on which we, as socialists and progressives fight, and that redefinition is to our favor.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    Post-Bush Progressive Politics

    On October 1st, Chicago DSA and In These Times co-sponsored a forum on Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era. Over 100 people (an SRO crowd) heard Bill Fletcher, Jr., In These Times' David Moberg, and Teamsters Local 743 President Richard Berg address the issue, ably moderated by Interfaith Workers Justice's Kim Bobo. This was followed by a question and answer session with the audience. The event was recorded by Chicago's public access cable TV network, CANTV. For cable TV subscribers within the City of Chicago, the complete (2 hours) program will be broadcast on Channel 19 on Sunday, November 30, at 5 PM and Monday, December 1, at Noon.

    Chicago's Labor Beat was also recorded the forum. An edited (28 minute) version is posted at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4975305145762232493&hl=en . For a current list of Labor Beat programs, go to http://www.laborbeat.org /lb/lb-pbl.htm.

     

    A Living Wage Reduces Poverty

    Greater Oak Park DSA wrote, proposed, and got a non-binding referendum placed on the Oak Park Township ballot for the November election. It asked the voters:

    "Shall the Village of Oak Park enact a 'Living Wage' ordinance stipulating that a) Village employees, b) employees of contractors or subcontractors performing work for the Village, and c) employees of businesses that receive a significant financial subsidy from the Village, receive a living wage indexed to inflation that would include health benefits and time off."

    The question was affirmed by the voters, 60% yes to 40% no.

    Now the difficult work of turning this advice into law begins. The task is made more complicated by the Village's difficult financial circumstances. But if you would like to help, please contact Tom Broderick at 708.386.6007.

     

    OPRFHS YDS

    Repeat that several times quickly. It is the Oak Park River Forest High School Young Democratic Socialists, a new YDS chapter that is just holding its first meeting. It took some doing. The procedure for gaining recognition turned out to be not especially user friendly. But the new chapter is now able to meet on campus. Stay tuned for further developments.

     

    Winterfest

    Each December, the Chicago Socialist Party has been organizing a "Winterfest:" a break-even (usually) fundraising party that recognizes that it's darkest before the dawn and that beer tends to make it all tolerable. This year's celebration of the hegemony of Neiman-Marxism will take place on Saturday, December 13, starting at 3 PM at Quencher's Saloon, 2401 N. Western in Chicago. The mellifluous sounds of post-capitalist free jazz will be provided by Undertow. Gathering the left-wing of the impossible around it for warmth in the face of the gathering winter, this year's event is wrapped by Chicago DSA, the Marxist-Humanist Committee, the Open University of the Left, and Quencher's Saloon. As Bill Pelz said, "Beer, conversation, music, not to mention beer!"

     

    The President Pickets Congress!

    The occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is not the only war that has been stretching on forever. The conflict between the Congress Plaza Hotel and its workers is now at about the 5 1/2 years mark, but the workers are hanging in for however long it takes.

    The past two months have seen a number of actions directed at educating the general public and prospective customers of the hotel about the conflict and the issues at stake. Most recent was a spirited picket line outside the hotel during Obama's Grant Park victory celebration. With a South Michigan Avenue location, the hotel did attract some business from Obama supporters attending the rallies. Some of these people did their unsuccessful best to pretend nothing was wrong, others had the decency to be dismayed.

    But real enthusiasm and support came from the incredible street traffic that shared the sidewalk with the pickets. (One learned to be cautious when making the turn at the end of the picket line!) People were uniformly friendly. They took leaflets. They stopped to ask questions. They sometimes stopped to join the picket line for a few turns.

    In this particular fight, the air war is secondary, but UNITE HERE has updated the strike web site to take advantage of the Obama connection: http://www.presidentpicketscongress.org . There are videos, yes, and if you're coming to Chicago, you'll also find a guide to union hotels.

     

    UFPJ Meeting in Chicago

    The 4th National Assembly of United for Peace and Justice will be held on Friday, December 12 through Sunday, December 14, at the Wyndham O'Hare Hotel, 6810 N. Mannheim Rd in Chicago. Aside from the usual housekeeping required of any organization, the Assembly will set the overall political direction and priorities of the organization, facilitate movement building connections, and review and evaluate the work of the organization as a whole. Registration is required and costs $145 for the entire weekend. For more information, go to http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=3964 or call 212.868.5545.

     

    Third Party Blues

    While some folks who style themselves as being to our left like to characterize DSA as "working within the Democratic Party" and while there certainly were a good many DSA members working to elect Obama this year, DSA is in fact a non-partisan organization. Here in Chicago, there were also a fair number of members who supported, or at least voted for, Nader or McKinney for President. But it was not a good year for third parties, not even here in Illinois where, because Obama was most certainly going to win Illinois, minor parties all across the political spectrum should have done well or at least better than usual. They did not.

    The Green Party, in particular, suffered this year with few victories to claim on its own ballot line and none of them in Illinois.

    None of its statewide candidates in Illinois succeeded in gaining as much as 5% of the vote thus the Green Party has apparently lost its recognition as an "official" party statewide. It should still be on the ballot in a number of counties around the state, including Cook County, as some local candidates did that well at least. If the party can recruit candidates in these islands of support for the next round of elections, there may still be a future for this project. For the latest news about the Green Party in Illinois, go to http://www.ilgp.org .

    Probably the best source of information about third party travails and legalities is Ballot Access News, http://www.ballot -access.org. Some interesting factoids from Ballot Access News: McKinney's best county was St. Bernard Parish or LaFourche Parish in Louisiana, both at 1.1%. Nader's best was Lawrence County, Arkansas at 3.3%. The Socialist Party USA's Brian Moore did 2.2% in Essex County, Vermont.


    Postscript: Lionel Trepanier wrote in with the following correction:

    "The ILGP did not lose ballot status. The ballot status that was gained in the election for governor is retained for 4 years. So the ILGP retains and will have state-wide ballot status and run a candidate for governor next time around. Then if we recieve at least 5% of the vote we again retain ballot status for 4 years."

    I'm not sure that this much improves things for the Green Party except that two years is a long time in politics, so we'll see.


    New Ground #121.1

    12.01.2008

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    What Now Conference
    Socialist International Council Meeting

    1. Politics

    Employee Free Choice Act
    Workeer Centers and the Labor Movement
    Big Three Bankruptcy?
    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Bail-Out Is Neo-Liberal Theft

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    DSA News

    What Now Conference
    The Young Democratic Socialists chapter at William Paterson University in New Jersey organized a "What Now? Activism in Post-Election America Youth Conference" on November 22. Co-sponsors included Brothers for Awareness, The Feminist Collective, and the Organization for Latin American Students. Over 200 people registered for the event. For coverage by the WPU Pioneer Times, go to:
    http://media.www.pioneertimeswpu.com/media/storage/paper756/news/2008/11/24/News/Wpu-Hosts.what.Now.Activist.Conference-3560235.shtml

    For the bare bones, see:
    http://theactivist.org/blog/wpu-event-what-now-activism-in-post-election-america-1122

    The event was also covered by radio station WBAI. For a report by WBAI reporter Fred Nguyen, see:
    http://www.radio4all.net/responder.php/podcast/podcast.xml?program_id=30297&version_id=34981&version=1

    Socialist International Council Meeting
    The Socialist International's Council met in Vallarta, Mexico, on November 17 and 18, to discuss a "Social Democratic Response to the World Financial Crisis." For more information, see:
    http://www.socialistinternational.org/viewArticle.cfm?ArticleID=1960

    For a less formal account, along with some interesting comments about Mexican politics, see "Socialists Unite... and head for the beach" at:
    http://mexfiles.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/socialists-unite-and-head-for-the-beach/

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

    Politics

    Employee Free Choice Act
    This act of labor law reform will be the single most important item of legislation before Congress in 2009. Just because there are nearly veto proof Democratic majorities in Congress does not mean The Employee Free Choice Act will simply walk through both chambers of Congress. Not without your help. To learn more, and to sign one of those handy dandy on-line petitions, go to:
    http://www.freechoiceact.org/

    Workeer Centers and the Labor Movement
    Labor Notes is not a publication that tends to give union officials the benefit of a doubt. So this account of a recalcitrant union, members facing the Department of Homeland Security, and the role of a local Chicago workers' center played in getting things moving is particularly interesting:
    http://labornotes.org/node/1978

    Big Three Bankruptcy?
    Bob Roman
    The bailouts motivated by the current capitalist crisis inspire visceral disgust among most lefties, even as our representatives end up voting for them for lack of a better choice. The "Big Three" auto makers' request for a bridge loan gets much the same reception, doubled out of resentment for what we've had to put up with for the financial industry. Bankruptcy is no more than what they deserve!

    Be careful what you wish for. Aside from the collateral damage: the domino cascade of lay-offs, foreclosures, etc, bankruptcy has become yet another weapon of class war against workers. For a look at how it was used in the auto parts industry, the Spring, 2006, issue of Dissent explores this class war by other means in an article by Stephen F. Diamond:
    http://dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=409

    For a look at the UAW's arguments for a loan in this particular case, see:
    http://www.uaw.org/

    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era
    The October 1st forum organized by Chicago DSA and In These Times continues to be shown on cable TV. The Labor Beat version will be shown on Chicago's CANTV Channel 19 :
    Thursday, December 4, 9:30 PM
    Friday, December 5, 4:30 PM

    And on Evanston's Channel 6:
    Monday, January 5, 5:30 PM
    Saturday, January 10, 12:30 AM
    Monday, January 12, 5:30 PM
    Saturday, January 17, 12:30 AM

    For a listing of Labor Beat programs presently available on-line (including the above forum), go to:
    http://www.laborbeat.org/lb/lb-pbl.htm

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

    Democratic Socialism

    The Bail-Out Is Neo-Liberal Theft
    Tom Broderick
    Much deserved criticism has been leveled at the Federal Government's response to the global financial crisis. Unfortunately, this criticism includes the misuse of at least a couple of words: "nationalization" and "socialism."

    Nationalization is the assumption and control of private property by the state. This can be direct ownership and control or it can be control through the purchasing of assets (investing). The U.S. government has not nationalized the financial industry because it is exercising no control. It is simply handing over taxpayer money to private enterprise. Private enterprise is free to do what it feels is appropriate.

    Some financial institutions are using our money to buy other financial institutions, with the goal of coming out of the crisis, assuming we do, in a stronger position on a smaller playing field. Others are hoarding.

    The U.S. government is not directing the financial institutions to make credit more available on reasonable terms. It is not directing the financial institutions to invest in green technology to create jobs and a cleaner, safer world. It is not directing the financial institutions to invest in public works projects with the public money they are receiving. Instead, we have government pillaging the federal treasury for the profit of private enterprise.

    A more appropriate example of nationalization would be the use of State National Guards in our war against the people of Iraq. The U.S. government took control of the various State National Guards to supplement the fighting strength of the U.S. military.

    Fraudulent use of the term socialism also masks the truth of this corporate bailout. There are many descriptions of socialism, but a clinical definition offered by my copy of The Third Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary is: "A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community."

    As a Democratic Socialist, let me provide a more personal one: Socialists share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning as if people mattered, and an equitable distribution of goods and services. We embrace racial equality, feminism and non-oppressive relationships, including the human relationship with our planet.

    In this country, socialism is regularly viewed as an economic system. But economic planning is only an aspect of socialism. All economies are planned to one degree or another. The questions are who plans and what are the goals. A humane and just society is not part of a neo-liberal economic policy, which places the guarantee of private accumulation of wealth at the forefront of governmental responsibility.

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a neo-liberal economic plan that focuses on the rights of investors to make profits. Investors are free to invest and disinvest without regard to social issues. Nothing can stand in the way of profit. National sovereignty, human rights, environmental stewardship have no legitimacy in this economic plan.

    There is a class structure in society that results in a conflict of interest between a powerful elite and the vast majority of the population. As the current resident in the White House put it when addressing his fundraisers, "Some call you my base. I call you the Haves and the Have Mores." Then he giggled as though he'd made a funny.

    This bailout is the socialization of the pain and turmoil to really benefit a few. Into the far future, the vast majority of folk will be burdened by the costs of trying to save a system that regards them as resources rather than dignified human beings. Rule by and for the wealthy? Yes. Socialism? Not by any description that doesn't defy gravity.

    What's missing in this misdirection of wealth is popular control. The misanthropes shoveling our money into the hands of various private financial institutions are the same ones who shoved the misnamed USA Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act upon us. This regime has done everything it can to expand the power of the executive branch. The checks and balances that we expect of our legislative and judicial branches are treated as gauchely irrelevant.

    We are not experiencing nationalization or socialism. We are suffering neo-liberal theft. Given that both Senators McCain and Obama signed onto the bailout bill, it will take popular pressure to create the change needed. Chanting "Yes We Can" will not create change, and President-elect Obama has no legislative track record of fighting neo-liberalism.

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

    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, December 2, 7:30 PM
    Milton Friedman's Legacies: On the U.S. Economic Crisis
    University of Chicago Kent Hall Room 107, 1020 E. 58th St, Chicago
    Featuring Senator Bernie Sanders. The 3rd in a series of events responding to the creation of the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. For information, call 773.493.6202 or 773.288.9006.

    Thursday, December 4, 6 PM to 8 PM
    Human Rights at Home
    OMSA Community Lounge, 5710 S. Woodlawn Av, Chicago
    A presentation by Standish Willis (Law Office of Standish E. Willis Ltd) and Joey Mogul (People's Law Office) on the United Nations and the Chicago Police Torture Cases. The University of Chicago Human Rights Program http://humanrights.uchicago.edu

    Thursday, December 4, 6:45 PM
    Iraq Veterans Against the War: the Road Ahead
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Panelists from IVAW examine how their agenda may be pusued in the Obama era. An Open Univeresity of the Left event, cosponsored by Chicago Socialist Party, Solidarity Chicago Chapter, and New World Resource Center.

    Friday, December 5, 5:30 PM
    Illinois Labor History Dinner
    Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S. Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago
    Featured speaker Congressman Phil Hare. See http://www.kentlaw.edu/ilhs/newsdesk.html

    Saturday, December 6, 2:30 PM to 4 PM
    A Conversation on Child Advocacy
    Chicago Temple James Parlor, 77 W. Washington 2nd Floor, Chicago
    Protestants for the Common Good present a reception, talk, and book signing by authors Diane C. Olson and Laura Dean Friedrich. RSVP appreciated: call Meghan Strell at 312.223.9544x231

    Saturday, December 13, Noon - 1:30 PM
    What's Next for Labor and the Left?
    Chicago DSA, 1608 N. Milwaukee Room 403, Chicago
    Bill Pelz facilitates a discussion of what's next.

    Saturday, December 13, 3 PM to ??
    Winterfest
    Quencher's Saloon, 2401 N. Western, Chicago
    The Chicago Socialist Party's annual celebration, with music by Undertow.

    Wednesday, December 17, 7 PM
    International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
    YWCA, 360 N. Michigan Av, Chicago
    This year, join Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago in honoring the lives of those affected by this horrible violence. Bring photos, poems, artwork, writings, or anything else to help memorialize these individuals, and share what you feel comfortable. We will be providing refreshments, and sharing the names and stories of sex workers who have been affected by violence. For information: womanisprivateproperty@gmail.com


    New Ground #121.2

    12.18.2008

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    DSA 2009 National Convention Set for Greater Chicago Area

    1. Politics

    Republic Windows Strike - Short Take
    Additional Links
    A Set-back for Hotel Housekeepers
    A Post-Partisan Poem

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Haymarket Revisited

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    DSA News

    DSA 2009 National Convention Set for Greater Chicago Area
    See http://www.dsausa.org/NewsFromDSA/13dec2008.htm

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

    Politics

    Republic Windows Strike - Short Take
    Eric Schuster

    Briefly, UE Chicago has a long and continuing radical tradition, so workers were encouraged to sit-in. This was good organizing (five years of involvement by UE organizers) by a rank and file local radicalized by its circumstances. Said UE local 1110 VP Melvin Ricky Maclin "no one wanted to go to jail, but we were all prepared to go to jail...we had nothing to lose." (Grit TV)

    A few ways of looking at consequences: One is the comprehensive coverage by by the Spanish language Media, as most of the Republic workers are Latino/Latina. The sit-in was clearly viewed in the community as part of the renewed struggles stemming from the March 10 movement, the May 1 2006 Chicago demonstration, and the overwhelming November electoral mobilization against Bush and his vicious ICE blackshirts. This will undoubtedly raise consciousness within the community on the value of labor solidarity, as it was viewed there as a major victory. And it is clearly spilling over into the way folks are viewing the current heat on UAW workers (There are two major auto plants in the Chicago region, Ford has already announced closure of its south side Torrence plant.).

    Second, this drove a wedge in the Mayor Daley's political Omnipotence. Several alderman independently drove legislation banning the city from doing business with Bank of America, and the on-site involvement of liberal Representative Luis Gutierrez (who wants to be mayor, got his start with the old Puerto Rican Socialist Party) and Jan Schakowsky (who wants ro be senator, got her start in the Chavez grape boycott) -- both of whom hung out in the plant -- essentially eliminated any threat from the cops or private security, who did nothing but traffic management. (Hiz Honor was out of town when this started rolling). Republic is located in the middle of what was once an industrial zone, but was mercilessly gentrified in the 1990s, after a long struggle some factories were allowed to stay and light manufacturing zoning was legislated. Republic received a bunch of TIF (tax rebate) money, and this has become an issue again, along with Republic's move to low-wage Iowa. Everyone understands that this throws a kink into Daley's unwavering commitment to free market principles (he privatized the parking meters the previous week!). To his dismay, the Republic struggle was met with enthusiastic support by every local pol and media outlet. Any crack in the Daley consensus is a victory.

    Third, rapid and mostly spontaneous labor solidarity from every union local in the city. Let me tell you, this was a sight for sore eyes. 1110 got more money, food and bodies for demonstrations than anyone imagined, almost entirely from rank and filers from locals around the city. Plus well-covered sympathy demos at Bank of America offices in California and North Carolina, NYC and Atlanta, and elsewhere. The pro-labor, anti-corporate enthusiasm was infectious, effective, and establishes the template for community labor coalitions as the economy gets worse.

    Finally, from an AP piece dated December 12: "I'd be the first to say to companies that what you saw with workers at Republic will be repeated over and over across the country," said Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

    Some Additional Links
    Jonathan Birnbaum recommended these links for more information:

    Peter Dreier, "Obama Embraces Chicago Factory Sit-In: Symbol of New Wave of Activism,"
    Huffingtonpost.com, December 9, 2008
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/chicago-factory-sit-in-a_b_149510.html

    Benjamin Dangl, "Workers Occupy Chicago Factory: Echoes of Argentina's 2001 Worker Uprising,"
    MRZine, December 8, 2008
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/dangl081208.html

    Lee Sustar and Nicole Colson, "Raising the stakes at Republic"
    Socialist Worker, December 9, 2008
    http://socialistworker.org/2008/12/09/raising-the-stakes-at-republic

    Lee Sustar, "Victory at Republic!"
    Socialist Worker, December 11, 2008
    http://socialistworker.org/2008/12/11/victory-at-republic

    Bob Roman tosses these two into the pot, the first from mainstream press, the second being a conservative take on the event:

    Michael Luo and Karen Ann Collotto, "Even Workers Surprised by Success of Factory Sit-In"
    New York Times, December 12, 2008
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/us/13factory.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    Walter Olson, "Window on the Future? A radical union's action in Chicago could be a sign of things to come."
    City Journal, December 17, 2008
    http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon1217wo.html

    A Set-back for Hotel Housekeepers
    Bob Roman
    Back in the slightly more hopeful years of Blago's first term, the labor movement succeeded in having the Illinois legislature pass a modest law requiring hotels, in Cook County only, to provide hotel housekeepers two paid 15 minute breaks. The law was ruled invalid by a panel of Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit. Mostly, they thought the law was preempted by Federal laws concerning collective bargaining. The ruling was as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Congress Hotel, where workers have been on strike for over 5 years. The Chicago Tribune quotes Marc Gordon, President of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, as saying, "I can't believe it. That's great news." And Peter Andjelkovich of the Congress Hotel saying, "This is a huge victory."

    Great news, a huge victory, two 15 minute breaks.

    A Post-Partisan Poem
    Hugh Iglarsh

    "I saw Andrea Mitchell tonight talking about who President Obama will turn to for help in dealing with the financial crisis. The first two names were at the top of the list of people who gave us the financial crisis: Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. This would be a bit like turning to Osama Bin Laden for aid in the war on terrorism." ­ Dean Baker, The American Prospect

    Put Bush in charge of Cogitation
    And Cheney Truth and Reconciliation.
    Rummy has lots of time on his hands,
    To process Human Rights demands.
    Perle can wield his expertise
    Administering Love and Peace.
    Good 'ol Browny -- what's he doin'?
    There's Infrastructure needs improvin'!
    As for cutting Pentagon waste
    Set Halliburton on the case.
    The media will make us free
    When Murdoch chairs the FCC.
    So why just Gates from the old regime?
    Smooth the transition, keep 'em all on the team.

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

    Democratic Socialism

    Haymarket Revisited
    November 11 is the anniversary date for the execution of the Haymarket Martyrs some 121 years ago. So it's natural that the Canadian publication ACME made various aspects, past and present, of the Haymarket police riot the theme of its most recent issue. ACME is a radical academic journal, billing itself "An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies." The quality of the articles in this issue varies from trite and trivial, alas, to pretty interesting for lefty history buffs. Check it out at:
    http://www.acme-journal.org/Volume7-1.htm

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    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.

    Friday, December 19, 9 PM
    Art Against War
    Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood Av, Chicago
    Featuring Mark Dvorak, Plan B, Gerry Gorman and Kate Harold. $5 donation.

    Saturday, January 10, 7 PM to 11 PM
    Cuba / Haiti Hurricane Relief Benefit
    Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Av, Chicago
    Chicago Hurricane Relief and the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti are coming together to sponsor a night of Carribean Rhythms to raise needed funds and awareness for the devastation caused by the 2008 hurricane season on Cuba and Haiti. $25 donation requested. For ticket information, see http://www.oldtownschool.org or call 773.728.6000 or write to aidforcuba@gmail.com

    Tuesday, January 13, 7 PM
    Chicago DSA Executive Committee
    Chicago DSA, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    Business, but all DSA members are welcome.

    Sunday, January 18, 10 AM
    Meltdown: Can "the System" Be Saved?
    Third Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield, Chicago
    DSA member David Schweickart discusses the implications of the latest fiscal melt-down.

    Wednesday, January 31, 1 PM to 4 PM
    War's Real Impact: Our Voices
    Teamster City Auditorium, 300 S. Ashland, Chicago
    Chicago Jobs with Justice Workers' Rights Board will hear testimony. See http://www.warsrealimpact.org.


    New Ground #121.3

    12.31.2008

    Contents

    0. People

    Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf

    1. Politics

    Economic Recovery from Below
    National March for Sex Workers Rights
    Migration ­ a lever for union renewal?
    Blago Watch

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration
    Ubuntuism, Commodification, and the Software Dialectic

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    People

    Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf
    Long-time DSA member and supporter Rabbi Arnold Wolf died unexpectedly on Tuesday, December 23. He was 84 years old. One of the better obituaries was in the Chicago Tribune:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-hed-arnold-wolf-25-dec25,0,7051656.story
    but also see
    http://www.forward.com/articles/14811/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/30/us/30wolf.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1230644649-8iDEH03jrUjw26fSC/r2ug
    http://tough-dove-israel.blogspot.com/2008/12/rabbi-arnold-jacob-wolf-zl-obamas-rabbi.html
    http://www.chequer-board.net/story/2008/12/30/11916/691

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    Politics

    Economic Recovery from Below
    Political economy deals with the issue of who gets what. According to the great American socialist labor leader Sidney Hillman, this is in fact the essential question of politics. So with most current economic recovery plans aiming at the towering heights of the economy, one might be forgiven for wondering about the rest of us. What are we? Chopped liver? There are alternatives. There will be more in the next issue of New Ground, but you can get a head start by reading:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/jobs.pdf

    National March for Sex Workers Rights
    "No sex, please; we're American."
    http://blip.tv/file/1619080#share

    Migration ­ a lever for union renewal?
    Migrant labor is an issue world-wide, not just here in the States. In Europe, unions are reacting much the same as here in the States, ranging from ignoring the issue to aggressive and non-traditional tactics. For a survey, see this article by Olle Sahlström:
    http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2008-07-22-sahlstrom-en.html

    Blago Watch
    For those who'd like to know more about the adventures of Illinois' Governor, here's a careful if obsessed site:
    http://www.thecapitolfaxblog.com/

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    Democratic Socialism

    The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration
    http://www.ecosocialistnetwork.org/

    Ubuntuism, Commodification, and the Software Dialectic
    From the December, 2008, issue of First Monday:
    http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2186/2062

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

    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.

    Jaunary 1 through January 19
    Camp Hope Chicago: Countdown to Change
    East Hyde Park Blvd & South Drexel Av, Chicago
    "To congratulate Senator Obama as our new President-elect and to recommit ourselves to progressive actions he promoted on his campaign trail" and incidentally remind him and others of those commitments. For a schedule of issues and activities, go to http://camphope2009.org/

    Thursday, January 1, 1 PM
    Commemorate the Zapatista Uprising
    Little Village Arch, 26th & Albany, Chicago
    Followed by music and food at the Colibry Gallery, 2032 W. 18th St, from 3 PM to 6 PM. See http://chicagotra.org/

    Friday, January 2, 3 PM
    Emergency Mass Protest to Stop Attack on Gaza
    Tribune Plaza, 435 N. Michigan Av, Chicago
    Rally then march to Israeli Consulate. For information: http://www.chicagoanswer.net/

    Friday, January 9, 7:30 PM
    "Wage Theft in America"
    Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St, Chicago
    Kim Bobo reads from and signs copies of her new book.

    Saturday, January 10, 7 PM to 11 PM
    Cuba / Haiti Hurricane Relief Benefit
    Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Av, Chicago
    Chicago Hurricane Relief and the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti are coming together to sponsor a night of Carribean Rhythms to raise needed funds and awareness for the devastation caused by the 2008 hurricane season on Cuba and Haiti. $25 donation requested. For ticket information, see http://www.oldtownschool.org or call 773.728.6000 or write to aidforcuba@gmail.com

    Tuesday, January 13, 7 PM
    Chicago DSA Executive Committee
    Chicago DSA, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    Business, but all DSA members are welcome.

    Sunday, January 18, 10 AM
    Meltdown: Can "the System" Be Saved?
    Third Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield, Chicago
    DSA member David Schweickart discusses the implications of the latest fiscal melt-down.

    Sunday, January 25, 2 PM
    A New New Deal: What Should It Look Like?
    Oak Park Public Library Veterans Room, 834 Lake St, Oak Park
    A panel discussion featuring Bill Barclay (the economy), Robin Rich (energy), Dr. Ida Hellander (health care), Bamshad Mobasher (foreign policy), James Thindwa (moderator), that will present specific policy recommendations followed by discussion. See http://www.opctj.org or call 708.386.1371

    Monday, January 26, 6 PM
    "Wage Theft in America"
    Harold Washington Library Center Chicago Authors Room 7th Floor, 400 S. State, Chicago
    Kim Bobo reads from and discusses her new book.

    Wednesday, January 31, 1 PM to 4 PM
    War's Real Impact: Our Voices
    Teamster City Auditorium, 300 S. Ashland, Chicago
    Chicago Jobs with Justice Workers' Rights Board will hear testimony. See http://www.warsrealimpact.org.

     

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

    PLEASE FORWARD TO THOSE YOU THINK WOULD BE INTERESTED.

    "New Ground" is published by

    Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
    1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403
    Chicago, IL 60647
    773.384.0327

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

     

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

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