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#156

September -- October, 2014

Contents

  • Justice for Michael Brown
  • Jobs, the Robin Hood Tax, and Organizing the Unemployed by Bill Barclay
  • Quotas and Diversity on the Left by Femi Agbabiaka
  • In DSA, D Is for Decentralism by Dan Hamilton
  • John Dewey and Radical Democracy by Alex McLeese
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • "Talkin' Socialism"
    chicagodsa.org
    "Wage Crisis"
    Vote Mujica
    Mother Jones Dinner
    "The Price We Pay"

  • Letter from the Editor
  • Upcoming Events of Interest
  • New Ground 156.1 -- 10.01.2014

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Reading Group
    DSA in the News
    Red Letter
    Socialist International

    1. Politics

    Derail the Fast Track!
    Palestine and Censorship
    Vote Mujica
    "Poorer by Degrees"
    More Poverty in America, More or Less

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 156.2 -- 10.15.2014

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Statements in Support of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement

    1. Politics

    Fight Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership
    TPP: Democracy Is a Nuisance to This Trade Partnership
    Laws Cover Everyone, Not Just 'Bad Guys'
    The September Jobs Report
    Report from Ferguson
    2014 General Election Endorsements
    Cecily McMillan Acquitted on "Obstruction" Charges

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Spanish Co-op Creates Tools for a Decentralized Economic System
    Ferguson: Our Libertarian Moment?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 156.3 -- 10.31.2014

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    DSA in the News
    DSA Statement on the Islamic State and the Crisis in Iraq and Syria

    1. Politics

    Gutierrez for President? by Bob Roman
    Please Do Vote
    Stop Fast Track National Week of Action

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Class by the Numbers
    Interview with Professor Richard Wolff
    Evo Morales Re-elected

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Justice for Michael Brown: Community Control of Police and Equality for All

    Statement by the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, August 21, 2014

    Democratic Socialists of America calls for a full federal civil rights investigation into the killing of Michael Brown and an end to the militarization of local police forces. The action of the Ferguson, Missouri, police department exemplifies the dangers to the lives of ordinary Americans, particularly people of color, posed by overly aggressive, heavily armed police forces.

    Over the past thirty years, federal, state and local government have abandoned commitments to fighting poverty and unemployment, conditions that disproportionately limit the life opportunities of young persons of color. Most low income youth only encounter the state as a repressive force that relegates them to a life within the prison-industrial complex, even for the most minor and non-violent of drug-related offenses. These activities rarely lead white youth to be arrested, let alone imprisoned.

    In the case of Ferguson, Missouri, police-mandated media blackouts and the pervasive detainment, harassment and arrest of journalists cloud public understanding of the ongoing crisis. The constant barrage of tear gas canisters into crowds, backyards and neighborhood streets in recent days has further hampered a full understanding of the situation on the ground.

    What is clear is that on August 9th, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, a young black man.

    African Americans are 65% of the community's population, but whites, such as Officer Wilson, are 96% of the town's police department. Following a night of mass protest and unrest, hundreds of para-militarized officers swarmed Ferguson, creating an atmosphere of occupation and terror. The massive use of police force against peaceful protestors only exacerbated the understandable anger of a community in which the police are justifiably viewed as a foreign occupying force.

    At play in Ferguson are multiple forces long present in American society. The unrelenting killing of unarmed young persons of color by both police forces and white vigilantes -- from Trayvon Martin to Oscar Grant to Eric Garner -- demonstrates how racism literally takes the lives of people of color.

    The causes of this assault on the rights of low-income Americans are systemic in nature. Neoliberal capitalism greatly contributes to the decline in life opportunities for low-income Americans. Neoliberal policies weaken the state's ability to regulate powerful economic actors so they contribute to the common good rather than their own particular interest. These policies such as deregulation, deunionization, decreases in taxation on the rich, and defunding of essential social services, including public education, weaken the ability of the state to develop the potential of the less advantaged.

    Neoliberal policies have given rise to an economic order of frequent crises and mass unemployment. (Over one in five families in Ferguson live below the poverty line.) Such policies disproportionately affect communities of color, with unemployment rates running 2-3 times those of white Americans -- a clear legacy of institutionalized white supremacy. Neoliberal policies support cuts in job programs, education and civilian review boards, but not police weaponry; the neoliberal state disinvests in people, but heavily invests in prisons, police repression and militarism abroad.

    While urban rebellions in oppressed communities of color are by no means a new phenomenon for the United States, the level of para-military police force in Ferguson is. The tanks, battle armor and mounted semi-automatic weapons present in the streets reflect our imperial ambitions abroad as these weapons are channeled from surplus war equipment to local police departments through Department of Homeland Security grants.

    As democratic socialists, we abhor the logic that allows for local police departments to transform themselves into surrogate occupying armies defending "social order" against popular demands for social justice. DSA believes in fighting for an equitable tax system that would fund public investment and job training that could employ the underemployed and unemployed in alternative energy production and the rebuilding of infrastructure and affordable housing. In addition, independent civilian review boards (with adequate funding and power) should oversee a local police force that is well-trained and representative of the communities it serves.

    Democratic community policing would repudiate the excessive use of force by "proactive" police tactics and the use of SWAT teams. Such policies would drastically reduce the chances of repeating the terror of Ferguson. Additionally, mandated "reverse surveillance" technology such as dashboard and uniform cameras could reduce the willingness of police to engage in the excessive use of force. Finally, a full, thorough Federal investigation into the events of August 9th is needed to provide justice to the family and friends of Michael Brown.

    Such measures can only mitigate, not abolish, the effects of racist criminal justice policies and the absence of equality of opportunity for low-income Americans. The events in Ferguson demonstrate that actively challenging how law enforcement affects poor communities must be a priority for all working to build a better society. Changes in criminal justice policies, however, cannot by themselves bring justice to all. Social protest movements must demand government policies that serve the interests of all rather than those of a narrow elite. Only by building a majoritarian movement for racial and economic justice can we reverse the growth of racial and class apartheid in the United States.


    Jobs, the Robin Hood Tax, and Organizing the Unemployed

    by Bill Barclay

    Editor's Note: On July 8 and 9, the National Jobs for All Coalition in conjunction with the Congressional Full Employment Caucus held a conference, a "Jobs Briefing", for members of Congress, community groups, and union members from around the country in Washington, DC. Representing the Chicago Political Economy Group and DSA, Bill Barclay was on the panel analyzing the current job situation, outlining policies to address continued high unemployment and assessing our experiences organizing the unemployed. His comments are below.

    I'm pleased to be at this jobs briefing as both a founding member of, and representing, the Chicago Political Economy Group. CPEG developed and published a comprehensive jobs proposal in 2008 (available at cpegonline.org), and we have worked with the staff of Rep. John Conyers to include many of the same ideas in HR 1000. I'm also here as a Democratic Socialists of America member, happy to say that DSA was one of the first national organizations to endorse the legislation proposed by Rep. Conyers.

    I'm going to consider three points in my remarks. First, what is happening to the US labor market during this Long Depression, a more appropriate title for the period we are in than recovery from something called the "Great Recession"; second, what is the role and importance of a financial transaction tax in the financing of a jobs program sufficient to the problems we face; and third, why did the efforts of several of us in 2009-10 in Chicago to organize the unemployed failed but why the situation may be different today.

     

    The Changing Political Economy of the US Labor Market

    We all know the story of the huge job loss that occurred during what is officially labeled the "Great Recession." Yes, we are now back to the level of jobs -- in terms of simply the number of people with a job -- that prevailed prior to the Great Recession. However, there are more people in the US today, and thus we are actually short almost 10 million jobs if we want to achieve the same labor force participation rate that prevailed in 2007. And remember that the unemployment rate in late 2007 was still 4.7 percent, or 7.2 million people.

    I think it is essential that we find ways of making these statistics real to the people we talk to. Here is one way I try to do it. Imagine we could take all the officially unemployed and underemployed and line them up, shoulder to shoulder. The line would stretch from San Diego to Bangor, Maine, and back again -- and there would still be about 2 million people trying to get into the line. That is a national disgrace -- and a huge collection of personal tragedies.

    In the celebration of 52 straight months of job creation in the private sector, there has been very little attention to the question of what kinds of jobs are being created, how the US political economy of the labor market is shifting. A simple but very important way to see this is to divide jobs into three wage-level categories: low wage jobs pay less than $13.50/ hour, middle wage jobs pay $13.50 - $20/hour, and high wage jobs pay $20/hour or more (all numbers are in current dollars). During the free fall of 2008-09, 22% of the jobs lost were in the low wage category. But in the "recovery" since June 2009, fully 44% of the jobs created are in this category. In contrast, during the spike of unemployment, 37% of the jobs loss were high wage -- but only 25% of the jobs created have been in the high wage category.

    The political economy of the US labor market is being reshaped. Today, retail sales and food preparation and serving are the two largest occupations of the more than 800 listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each accounts for more than 1 in 15 of the total number of jobs in the US. These two occupations each pay less than two-thirds of the median wage for the economy as a whole. You probably won't be surprised to learn that these two jobs categories employ proportionally more women as well as minorities than these groups are represented in the economy as a whole. Do we really want to become a nation of baristas, wait staff and perfume scent purveyors? So, when we talk about the need for jobs, we must ALWAYS talk about living wage jobs, not the low wage jobs that, left to its own devices, the private sector is so good at creating. This rapid growth of low wage jobs is increasing our already very large, both absolutely and comparatively, low wage sector. In the US, more than 1 in 6 jobs are low wage. In Western Europe, in contrast, only 1 in 12 jobs are low wage -- and in Denmark only 1 in 16. In Denmark, even McDonalds is unionized!

     

    The Logic of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) for Jobs

    One part of my bio that I didn't cover in my introduction was my career in finance. I worked for 23 years at various exchanges in Chicago. I worked with traders, regulators, strategic planners -- and designed a derivative product. As a result I have focused on one of the strong points of Rep. Conyers HR 1000: the use of an FTT as a major financing mechanism for the jobs that would be created.

    HR 1000 proposes a levy of 0.25% on the value of stock trading ($0.25 for every $100 of stock traded), and a much smaller levy of 0.02% on trading of futures ($0.02 on every $100 of underlying or "notional" value traded). The bill also has rates for other products, including options. In the latter case, I believe the crafters of the bill have made a mistake that needs to be remedied but that is a technical discussion and not relevant to today's sessions.

    The monetary total of stock trading in 2013 was about $60 trillion (for comparative purposes, the total world GDP is about $65 trillion). That is certainly a large sum. Thus even a very small FTT, as proposed in HR 1000, would raise significant revenue. But the total notional value of derivatives traded in the US in 2013 was over $900 trillion -- more than 12 times the world GDP. Obviously much of this trading is, in the words of the former senior UK financial regulator Adair Turner, "socially useless" activity.

    Now, an FTT as proposed in HR 1000 would do two things: one, raise a large amount of revenue (the American Postal Workers Union VP who spoke earlier cited the figure $350 billion/year) and two, reduce some of the socially useless activity that afflicts our financial markets today. Both would be good outcomes.

    The trading that would be most adversely impacted by an FTT is that depicted in Michael Lewis' Flash Boys. This high frequency trading (HFT) has significant negative impacts on financial markets. Here I will only list those impacts. First, HFT reduces the information content of financial markets. Doing so renders these markets less useful for resource allocation decisions by businesses (investments) and individuals (savings). Second, HFT increases financial market instability. HFT is fundamentally a trend following and exacerbation mode of trading, causing markets to overshoot on both the down side and the up side. Third, HFT is also a significant waste of resources. Spending several hundred millions on building high speed connections between Chicago and New York or New York and London -- both of which are in process -- contributes nothing to our social or economic well-being. And, remarkably, the huge increase in trading over the past 30 years has made today's financial markets LESS efficient than those of a century ago as measure by the cost to raise each $100 of investment* An FTT is, in that much overused phrase, a win-win proposition.

     

    Trying to Organize Chicago's Unemployed

    In 2009 several groups, CPEG, DSA, PDA and JwJ -- the convening organization -- as well as some individuals set out to organize the unemployed in the Chicago area. We went to unemployment offices (note that much of the process of filing claims for unemployment insurance can now be done online, effectively isolating unemployed individuals from each other). We had First Friday monthly rallies (the day the BLS issues its "Employment Situation Report"). We did street theater that focused on various banks such as Wells Fargo, and we tried to hold neighborhood meet ups. A charitable assessment of our efforts would be "limited success."

    Why?

    We had, of course, all read about the organizing drives of the 1930s that significantly remade the US political economy and changed the life chances for millions of people. And, we thought: "We can do this."

    What we didn't understand are two variables: time and mass consciousness or psychology.

    It is instructive to look at what actually happened when in the 1930s. In 1934, five and a half years into the Great Depression, there were fewer members of unions in the US than in 1929. Of course, some of this was the result of unemployment, but I think more of it had to do with the question of psychological time. How long does it take for large numbers of people to realize that changing their predicament (unemployment) is not simply a question of one more job application, one more resume, one more interview, and realize that there is a structural problem with the economy? Yes, every person's story is unique, but the stories are actually all the same: the US economy is not capable of fulfilling its most basic task, providing living wage jobs for all willing and able to work.

    And then there is psychology at the level of the individual: is it my fault that I'm unemployed? After all, I see others with jobs, maybe I'm a failure in some way that I don't fully comprehend.

    To overcome these barriers to political mobilization requires both psychological and social time. I think we were too early. (Let me be clear: I don't regret trying). But remember, our efforts to organize the unemployed in Chicago in 2009 and 2010 were before Wisconsin, before Ohio, before Occupy, before the low wage workers fight for $15, before the Seattle election of a socialist. In sum, before the universe of political discourse about inequality had changed.

    Now is our time -- to organize for jobs, to fight the power of the neoliberal elite, because more and more people understand that joblessness is not an individual problem, it is a social issue.

    * See "Why Has the U.S. Financial Sector Grown so Much? The Role of Corporate Finance," Thomas Philippon, New York University, NBER, CEPR March 2008


    Quotas and Diversity on the Left

    by Femi Agbabiaka

    When made the decision to attend the YDS summer conference in Bolivar, PA, I had no idea what to expect. In the weeks beforehand I was working so much that I nearly forgot that I was going to the conference until a few days before hand. What I found there was revolutionary. Never before had I been around a group of people my age so dedicated to democratic socialism. There were a variety of sessions on topics ranging from project management to intersectionality, all helping me to strengthen my rhetoric and put my critique in a sound foundation of socialist theory. More rewarding than that however, was the conversations that happened outside of sessions. I got to interact with people from all over the country, and develop a greater sense of solidarity with fellow YDSers. Most importantly, I got to absorb the collective knowledge of organizing tactics from YDSers with long experience, and I will be using that experience as I head back to school in the fall at the University of Missouri-Columbia to organize a chapter of YDS there.

    One of the greatest discussions that I took a part of at the retreat was the use of racial and gender quotas when voting on positions of leadership. Quotas are always contentious, but the discussion quickly moved to the greater problem of diversity on the left. There's a great history of radical leaders of all genders, sexualities, and races. On top of that, there's a rich history of socialist leaders, Eugene Debs being among them, fighting for racial equality. However, this doesn't always translate into diversity in membership, which leads the left, and YDS/DSA in particular, to ask: How can we attract a diverse group of leaders to join our cause?

    We talked about this at length at the conference, and I believe there are 3 key lessons we all can take in attempting to work towards real and not manufactured diversity in our locals:

    1. Focus on intersectional issues. People of various genders and ethnic groups will rally to your cause if it's a cause that they can identify with. If you're trying to mobilize a group of working class men and women of color to fight against student loan debt, you may not be as successful as you could be if you focused on worker solidarity or a fight against police brutality in working class neighborhoods. Once you've attracted people and integrated them into your cadre, then they'll be more likely to be committed to actions on a wider variety of issues.

    2. Make your meetings and events a welcoming place for anyone who chooses to attend. My mother told me a story once about walking into her first CP meeting in the mid seventies and being terrified of a room full of sweaty Leninists arguing about the legacy of the Soviet Union. Everyone loves a good debate, but if that's the first experience that a potential new member of any background has when interacting with your local, that's not a good thing. Many YDS chapters have started hosting what they call Ice Cream Social(ism)s. It's a great way to introduce people to socialist thought without scaring them. People are more likely to want to work with you if they like you! Give them ice cream and they will come. In addition, it's important to keep your meetings free of any racist, sexist, homophobic, or able-ist language. Ask people what pronouns they would prefer to be called by. Safe spaces are great spaces, and everyone will benefit from them.

    3. Encourage leadership from every member in your local. This is probably the most difficult one. But if you're already focusing on intersectional issues and making your meetings a welcoming place, then this should be easy! If not, then take a step back and look at what you can change. Spread tasks around. Many times, people would love to take a leadership role but either don't know how to, or are afraid that they are under qualified. Looking for ways to give people the space to lead helps relieve everyone's load.

    These are just a few of the tips I retained from many great conversations at the YDS summer conference. These conversations and working to implement new ideas into locals will help us as an organization and as organizers to work towards a day where the question of quotas will be moot.


    In DSA, D Is for Decentralism

    by Dan Hamilton

    I recently had the fortunate opportunity to travel from Chicago to Bolivar, PA, for the 2014 DSA/YDS Socialist Organizing Weekend, August 7-10. The Chicago DSA chapter sent Femi Agbabiaka and me to the retreat to meet and learn from other democratic socialists from around the country.

    The weekend was a beneficial experience for a number of reasons. Our days were filled with structured sessions on organizing tactics, the history of socialism in the US, Marxist theory, and much more. The evenings included bonfires and camaraderie with other attendees. However, the consensus among most of us was that the best part of the weekend were the conversations and enthusiasm that carried over from the sessions into extended impromptu talks on political and social theories.

    Attending the retreat confirmed for me what I see as one of the best aspects of DSA as an organization: The ability for chapters to engage in local issues and carry out democratic socialist organizing in the best way fit for their specific area. In theoretical terms, this falls in line with the idea of democratic de-centralism, which is something that I value greatly. What this means is that the substance of DSA comes not just through top-down policies made by the National Political Committee, or just by locals doing their own activities with no ties to other chapters around the country, but a synthesis of the two.

    For instance, here in Chicago we have a strong candidacy in socialist aldermanic candidate Jorge Mujica, who Chicago DSA endorsed enthusiastically. However, I learned from a DSAer from Detroit that their chapter has worked well with the Democratic Party in the Detroit area to affect positive change. And in Philadelphia, they are able to work with other socialist organizations that they have built lasting relationships with over the years. Despite these differences in coalition building and tactics in each local, a stronger and more democratic national organization is formed. We are a multi-tendency organization that has the ability to embrace differences in tactics while fighting for a common goal of democratic socialism.

    Attending the Socialist Organizing Weekend solidified what I knew in theory about DSA, but had yet to experience in practice. Once I was immersed among so many other socialists who were willing to engage in lively debate and discussion, and who quite honestly sought out advice from other chapters on how to strengthen their own, I saw how DSA as a national organization not only benefits from its differences at the local level, but relies on them.


    John Dewey and Radical Democracy

    by Alex McLeese

    For socialists who believe their politics have become too focused on government programs and the redistribution of wealth, the ideas of John Dewey offer a refreshingly democratic, and American, alternative. Dewey voted for Eugene Debs in 1912 and during the Depression criticized President Roosevelt from the left, instead supporting Norman Thomas. During these radical decades, Dewey, famous for his innovative educational philosophy, wrote regular columns for the prominent magazine The New Republic. According to the historian Henry Commager, Dewey "became the guide, the mentor, and the conscience of the American people; it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that for a generation no issue was clarified until Dewey had spoken." The trajectory of Dewey's life, from young idealist to educational reformer to pragmatist philosopher to political activist, illustrates the challenges facing socialists today.

    Dewey was exposed to socialist ideas during the 1880s and 1890s while a young professor at the University of Michigan. He developed a great enthusiasm for "democracy," which in intellectual circles at the time included "industrial democracy," or socialism. "Democracy is not in reality what it is in name until it is industrial, as well as civil and political," he wrote in "The Ethics of Democracy" in 1888. In the same essay, he added: "Democracy and the one, the ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity are to my mind synonyms." Dewey believed that democracy was about far more than voting, and instead involved full engagement of all citizens in every aspect of social life, including the governance of industries. The example of the young Dewey reminds socialists today, preoccupied with struggles for living wages and student loan forgiveness, not to content themselves with redistribution, and to aim to empower our poorest citizens to participate in our economy.

    During the 1890s, amid political pressures at the University of Chicago, Dewey turned away from economic socialism, which was too controversial to discuss. Instead, he pursued what he called "socialism of the intelligence," reforming the public education system. Dewey wanted to train working class students to not merely learn marketable skills, but to participate in governing a socialized economy. He saw his work on education, and on abstract philosophical topics, as challenging the individualistic, rights-based theoretical foundations of the class divisions of laissez-faire capitalism. He believed that absolutist and transcendental philosophies were the ideological basis for "class-codes" that had "done more than brute love of power to establish inequality and injustice among men." Dewey's approach may inspire socialists today to look beyond politics to undermine the culture that supports free market absolutism.

    Finally, for a brief moment at the end of World War I and then after his retirement during the 1930s, Dewey articulated a political program to match his ideals. In 1918, hopeful for a radical political change after the war, he advocated a right to work, a right to a decent standard of living, and a decentralized "federation of self-governing industries" in the fashion of G. D. H. Cole's guild socialism. Dewey wanted a "greater ability on the part of the workers in any particular trade or occupation to control that industry," and for workers to have "a responsible share in the management of activities." During the 1930s, he proposed an ambitious program including massive spending on public works, redistribution through taxation, and the socialization of many major industries, like banks, public utilities, natural resources, transportation, and communication. Again, Dewey emphasized that a socialist society should be decentralized and democratic, avoiding a "planned," statist society led by technocratic experts in favor of a "planning" society in which all citizens helped make decisions. Realizing this dream, Dewey argued, required "remaking a profit system into a system conducted not just, as is sometimes said, in the interest of consumption, important as that is, but also in the interest of positive and enduring opportunity for productive and creative activity and all that signifies for the development of the potentialities of human nature." For Dewey, "the ultimate problem of production is the production of human beings." But the philosopher never made clear exactly how this "planning" of a complex economy was to be done.

    Dewey's life remains an open-ended challenge for socialists. What practical political reforms could achieve his participatory democracy? Increases in wages and benefits, he believed, would not by themselves allow the poor to fully exercise their human capacities. Dewey warned against state-driven planning, and his proposed self-governing industries would only be feasible in some sectors of our economy. In a complicated, market-driven, post-industrial society, how can socialists provide all citizens with a path to participation?


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    "Talkin' Socialism"

    Chicago DSA's podcast, Talkin' Socialism, now has its own blog at Wordpress. Starting with Episode 43, this should make it easier for people to find or share particular episodes of interest; it gives us more room to post information related to the episode, including participant biographies; and it opens the possibility of audience commentary about the latest episodes. At present, the comments are moderated, and they are open for two weeks after an episode is posted.

    By the time you read this, it's likely that we'll have Episode 44 posted to the web, but regardless, you really should take the time to give Episode 43, "The Criminal Record Is the New Jim Crow" , a listen. Recorded August 9, the program features Ruth McBeth, an Assistant Public Defender for Cook County and an activist with The Next Movement, and Anthony Lowery, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Safer Foundation. McBeth and Lowery are articulate, knowledgeable, and a great listen. They discuss the vicious feedback cycle of poverty and crime and incarceration, with a special focus on Illinois. The program proper is 30 minutes but includes an extended question and answer session.

    If you like Talkin' Socialism, you can subscribe to the podcast. We maintain an RSS feed that is iTunes compatible, or you can add it to your play list through Stitcher. We hope to have the program re-listed at Apple's iTunes Store in the future.

    chicagodsa.org

    In addition to creating a blog for Talkin' Socialism, we've revised the "About" page on the chicagodsa.org web site . This page includes some basic civics about the Chicago DSA chapter. It also includes links to HTML and PDF versions of the local literature that the chapter has available plus some historical items of interest. Many of these pieces had become outdated or stale (mostly the latter), so a good many titles were de-listed but the more popular were retained with thumbnail illustrations added.

    If you haven't discovered it yet, go to chicagodsa.org and click on the "Praxis Makes Perfect " button. This will take you to the chicagodsa.org "Events" page. The top part is a table of upcoming DSA events, but the rest contains events of interest for lefties across the Chicago metropolitan area. We don't claim it's complete, but we also haven't seen any better listings for the left community.

    "Wage Crisis"

    As part of the Oak Park Coalition for Truth & Justice monthly film series, Greater Oak Park DSA is co-sponsoring a screening of the documentary Wage Crisis. This will be on Sunday, September 28, 2 PM, at the Oak Park Public Library Small Meeting Room, 834 Lake St, in Oak Park.

    The fight for a Living Wage Ordinance in Oak Park takes place in a broader context explored in Wage Crisis. For ten years, supporters of a Living Wage Ordinance have urged the Village Board to mandate that a living wage be paid to employees 1) of the Village of Oak Park, 2) of contractors and sub-contractors hired by the Village, and 3) of businesses or organizations receiving a significant financial grant from the Village.

    In a brief 26 minutes, Wage Crisis explores the struggles of ordinary people to make ends meet on inadequate wages.

    Following the screening, a Q&A session led by Bill Barclay, Tom Broderick, and Bamshad Mobasher. For more information, go to opctj-event.org.

    Vote Mujica

    DSA members have raised over $1600 for Jorge Mujica's campaign in Chicago's 25th Ward in next year's municipal election. Members have also been active in canvassing the ward, and the petition gathering to be on the ballot had already exceeded the minimum required as we go to press. To volunteer, call 773.812.3079.

    Mother Jones Dinner

    On Sunday, October 5, it will be the 29th annual Mother Jones Dinner in Springfield, Illinois. The event has been moved to a new location, Erin's Pavilion in Southwind Park, 4965 S. 2nd St in Springfield. Historian and author James Green (Death in the Haymarket) and "accordionista" Len Wallace are on the bill for the evening. The evening begins with a social hour at 5 PM, dinner at 6 PM, and the program at 7 PM. Tickets are $30 each from Mother Jones Foundation, PO Box 20412, Springfield, Illinois 62708-0412. For more information, call Al Pieper 217.522.4688 or Terry Reed 217.789.6495.

    "The Price We Pay"

    The Price We Pay is a new documentary by a Canadian production company about taxes and tax evasion and its consequences:

    "Tax havens, originally created by London bankers in the 50s, today put over half the world's stock of money beyond the reach of public treasuries. Nation states are being reshaped by this off-shoring of the world's wealth. Tax avoidance by big corporations and the wealth -- citizens of nowhere for tax purposes -- is paving the way to historic levels of inequality and placing the tax burden on the middle class and the poor. Crusading journalists, tax justice campaigners and former finance and technology industry insiders speak frankly about the accelerating trends that are carrying the Western world to an unsustainable future."

    Chicago DSA's Bill Barclay is among those interviewed in the film. Barclay spoke on the Robin Hood Tax.

    The documentary premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 5. More information is available at InformAction Films.


    Letter from the Editor

    Chicago DSA has made no endorsements or recommendations for the upcoming elections in November, except for the referendum in Oak Park on the Trans-Pacific Partnership for which GOPDSA is responsible and deserves a "yes" vote.

    But your editor would like to call attention to the race for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District where George Milkowski is a candidate for election on the Green Party slate. Milkowski is a DSA member, and this is not his first campaign for office. The first was a campaign for the Cook County Board that you can read about in New Ground 132, "Why I'm Running". For more information about the current campaign, see greens4mwrd.org .

    Chicago DSA should really take electoral politics more seriously. That we do not is partly a lack of resources (including money) and partly the absence of any consensus on how to approach the project. It sometimes seems that there is not even a common language to describe American politics. I don't think this is a permanent condition for Chicago DSA. We intervened in electoral politics regularly during the 1980s and 1990s, and there have been exceptions for specific candidates since. The general trend in opinion on the left is that elections matter. DSA never said that they did not, but this emerging enthusiasm for electoral politics will result in more concrete interventions, such as our support for Jorge Mujica in the 25th ward. We hope that it also results in more DSA members running for office. Please let us know if you do.

    Finally, thank you to those who took Chicago DSA seriously enough to participate in the annual Labor Day issue of New Ground. You'll notice that there are fewer ads this year. Fortunately, the Labor Day issue is somewhat like an iceberg: Much is not visible; not every contributor takes an ad. We were, of course, raising money for Mujica at the same time and between the two campaigns we did very well indeed. But Mujica got the better part of it. CDSA is okay financially, but it does mean that most of the expansion of New Ground will be on the web. This is likely to be our sole 8 page print issue until maybe next year's May-June issue.

    In solidarity,

    Bob Roman


    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.


    New Ground #156.1

    10.01.2014

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Reading Group
    DSA in the News
    Red Letter
    Socialist International

    1. Politics

    Derail the Fast Track!
    Palestine and Censorship
    Vote Mujica
    "Poorer by Degrees"
    More Poverty in America, More or Less

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 44
    -- Poverty in America
    Recorded September 13, 2014. Dr. Kim Scipes, Associate Professor of Sociology at Purdue University North Central, is interviewed by Greater Oak Park DSA's Tom Broderick. What is the measure of poverty in America? While a few Americans are doing very well indeed, is there more poverty now or less? If, under capitalism, the poor will always be with us, how does our country compare to other industrialized states? And why? Hint: It's no accident.

    Listen or (right click) Download: MP3 (28.2 MB) or OGG VORBIS (35.9 MB) (30:45)

    SUBSCRIBE, or add to your playlist using STITCHER.

    Reading Group
    The October meeting of the reading group will be on October 11, 2 PM, in the conference room at 3411 W. Diversey in Chicago. The topic this month is "The State of Social Democracy". Readings:

    (A few weeks ago, Sweden held elections and ended eight years of conservative rule. You can find an interview with the new Social Democratic Prime Minister, Stefan Lofvern, HERE.)

    DSA in the News
    We're covering the entire month of September in this issue, so let's start with photos of DSA tabling at local labor council Labor Day picnics as appearing in the Ithaca Journal (NY) and (within the slide show) the Sacramento Bee (CA).

    When Chicago DSA's Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel arrived in Minnesota to do a GETUP training for the Twin Cities Local, past Chicago DSA Political Education Director Kim Jones arranged for Barclay to appear on KTNF AM950's Daily Report for what was to be a 20 minute interview that ended up lasting 55 minutes, spanning both parts of the two hour program. An MP3 of part one is HERE, and an MP3 of part two is HERE.

    Russia Today did a very sympathetic interview with Cecily McMillan and mentioned her DSA affiliation. To provide balance to this paragraph, The Daily Caller included DSA among the laundry list of lefty organizations supporting the Peoples Climate March thus proving global warming is a commie conspiracy. This inspired a copy-cat report at The Examiner site.

    At St Louis University High School (MO), Prep News ran a retrospective on 9/11 that featured activities organized by the high school's YDS chapter.

    Apropos to academia, The College Fix, a rightwing propaganda site, published a pretty good attack on YDS' internship for credit program. What's good about it? It's no worse than the usual sleazy mainstream political half-truth attack. If you've been following the Rauner v Quinn back and forth, you'll understand how your editor's standards have eroded. As that report was picked up by several rightwing bloggers, The College Fix decided to try pushing that button again with an attack on Cornel West (mostly ignored).

    Seven Days ("Vermont's Independent Voice") has an entire beat devoted to the prospect of Senator Bernie Sander's running for President. Their account of his appearance at the 13th annual Fighting Bob Fest (as in LaFollette) in Wisconsin included a quote from a Madison DSA activist, Nate Detra. Madison DSA, incidentally, has been posting its own podcast over at the Marxism Today blog.

    The Washington Post included DSA's endorsements in a column about local DC politics. The Illinois Review, a propaganda site with some standing among local conservatives, mentioned DSA in passing in a hit piece directed at Pat Quinn.

    While it didn't mention DSA, most of the protesters demonstrating against the politically motivated probe of the New Georgia Project pictured at Atlanta Progressive News are DSA members (L to R): Barbara Joye, Minnie Ruffin, Lorraine Fontana and Greg Ames.

    And finally, an item at the Huffington Post on why we need socialism in America included DSA as an example: "veteran groups like Democratic Socialists of America".

    Red Letter
    The latest issue of the Young Democratic Socialists' quarterly newsletter is online HERE.

    Socialist International
    The Socialist International Presidium met in New York at the United Nations on September 25. More details are HERE.



    Politics

    Derail the Fast Track!
    And fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Saturday, October 18, 2:30 PM to 4 PM @ the Third Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield in Chicago: Being a fundraiser and informational forum about proposed new trade agreements and the pending "Fast Track" legislation intended to railroad them through Congress. Speakers include Oscar Chacon of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Joe Pijanowski of International Association of Machinists Lodge 126, and Carson Starkey of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition. Co-sponsored by Chicago DSA, District 7 West Move-On, and West Suburban Move to Amend. Suggested donation: $25.

    Activists from Greater Oak Park DSA will be leafleting the Saturday Farmers' Market in Oak Park in support of the advisory referendum question advocating Oak Park as a "TPP free" zone. If you'd like to help, contact Tom Broderick at 708.386.6007.

    Palestine and Censorship
    At the Chicago Tribune, Steven Salaita writes:

    Being recruited for a tenured faculty position at a major university is no small feat, nor should it be; tenure represents the pinnacle of an academic career. In my case, it involved numerous interviews with faculty in the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an intensive review of my scholarship, pedagogy and professional service.

    I survived this rigorous review and, having accepted an employment offer from the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, resigned my tenured position at another university and prepared my family to move. A few weeks before classes were to start, and without any warning, I received a letter from the chancellor, Phyllis Wise, informing me of my termination.

    How did this happen?

    MORE.

    Professor Salaita will be appearing at five area university campuses. The details are HERE.

    Vote Mujica
    The Communication Workers of America Unified Council of Illinois has endorsed Jorge Mujica's campaign for Alderman of the 25th Ward. You can keep abreast of developments HERE. To support the campaign, CLICK HERE.

     

    Poorer by Degrees from Jennifer Schuberth on Vimeo.

    "Poorer by Degrees"
    is a documentary on the mismatch between education credentials (degrees) and jobs by Jennifer Schuberth. It features GOPDSA's Jack Metzgar:

    College grads make more money. People are listening to this mantra espoused by everyone from President Obama to high school counselors, and they are enrolling at record rates. But what if the assumption that more higher education will bring economic prosperity to individuals and the nation, is wrong? Who might be profiting off this idea that our nation's future depends on more degrees? And what happens to those who earn a college degree, but cannot find a job that pays enough to service their student debt?

    MORE.

    At Working Class Perspectives, Jack Metzgar comments:

    I don't usually assume that there's a conspiracy involved when our elite opinion-shapers purvey a widespread conception that is so out of whack with the facts. I expect a certain level of class blindness among middle-class professionals (especially at the upper levels) on a wide range of subjects, and my expectations are only rarely disappointed. I think many of my lefty friends are too quick to attribute such mismatches to a kind of all-seeing executive committee of the ruling class that is purposely and systematically purveying propaganda that serves their interests.

    But this past year I was interviewed by a documentary filmmaker, Jennifer Schuberth, who convinced me that I was looking in the wrong place for a conspiracy. Since the practical effect of having too many college graduates for the number of "college jobs" is to put downward pressure on the wages of those jobs, I figured any intentional design would require some kind of unwieldy conspiracy among employers. Schuberth, who is a Ph.D. anthropologist, has done some tracking of money flows, however, and she makes a pretty good case that the propaganda that blinds us may be orchestrated by the largest purveyor of college-student loans, Sallie Mae.

    MORE.

    At Democracy, Gara LaMarche writes:

    In testimony before the Walsh Commission, Morris Hillquit, the labor lawyer and Socialist Party leader, said that large foundations like Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Russell Sage "represent in the domain of philanthropy just what trusts represent in the industrial field." Edward P. Costigan, who would later represent Colorado in the Senate, called the Rockefeller Foundation "a supreme example of the philanthropy which deadens, by its large benefactions, a public criticism which otherwise would be as formidable as inevitable." Even feudalism and slavery, Costigan went on, "boasted of their occasional generosity." The Reverend John Haynes Holmes of the New York Church of the Messiah, who would serve for two decades as chair of the board of the American Civil Liberties Union, called foundations "essentially repugnant to the whole idea of a democratic society."

    MORE.

    More Poverty in America, More or Less
    The Census Bureau, mid-September, released the latest demographic data on income. The Economic Policy Institute offered this intitial look at how Americans are doing (including some interactive charts):

    The Census data show that from 2012 to 2013, median household income for non-elderly households (those with a head of household younger than 65 years old) increased 0.4 percent from $58,186 to $58,448. However, that modest growth barely begins to offset the losses incurred during the Great Recession or the losses that prevailed in the prior business cycle from 2000 to 2007.

    MORE.


    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.


    New Ground #156.2

    10.15.2014

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Statements in Support of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement

    1. Politics

    Fight Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership
    TPP: Democracy Is a Nuisance to This Trade Partnership
    Laws Cover Everyone, Not Just 'Bad Guys'
    The September Jobs Report
    Report from Ferguson
    2014 General Election Endorsements
    Cecily McMillan Acquitted on "Obstruction" Charges

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Spanish Co-op Creates Tools for a Decentralized Economic System
    Ferguson: Our Libertarian Moment?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Andy Thayer's press release on Professor Steven Salaita's speaking tour was picked up by Copyline Magazine, an online Chicago publication, and DSA was mentioned as an endorser.

    Contrary to popular belief, DSA is not mentioned every time Cornel West makes the news. But when he was arrested in the Ferguson, Missouri, protests this last weekend, the connection was mentioned by the River Front Times (St. Louis), by online publication Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) "Activist Cornel West..." and by the online publication Republic Reporters (Nigeria) "Indefatigable Professor Cornel West...".

    Statements in Support of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement
    Adopted by DSA's National Political Committee:

    The struggle to create a political system with more democratic self-determination is an essential step towards rectifying the growing economic inequality in Hong Kong.

    As democrats and as socialists we support our sisters and brothers in Hong Kong who are fighting for the same goals we have in the USA.

    MORE.

    The Young Democratic Socialists have also issued a statement on the Hong Kong protests:

    We support and are inspired by the student protesters in Hong Kong. Since 1997, the National People's Congress of the PRC has promised that the people of Hong Kong would experience truly democratic elections. This year, however, the CCP announced that the slate of candidates for this year's elections would be vetted by Beijing to ensure they prioritize the interests of Hong Kong's capitalist class. 

    MORE.



    Politics

    Fight Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership
    Saturday, October 18, 2:30 PM to 4 PM @ Third Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield in Chicago. Being a fundraiser for the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition and an informational forum about the proposed new trade agreements and the dangers of "Fast Track" legislation. Speakers include:

    • Oscar Chacon, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities;
    • Joe Pijanowski, International Association of Machinists, Lodge 126;
    • Carson Starkey, Illinois Fair Trade Coalition.

    Suggested donation $25. Co-sponsored by Chicago DSA, District 7 West Move-On, West Suburban Move to Amend. INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!

    If you can't attend, please consider mailing a donation of any amount, check payable to the "Illinois Fair Trade Coalition" c/o Chicago DSA, 3411 W. Diversey Suite 7, Chicago, IL 60647.

    If you'd prefer to use plastic, go to CLICK HERE then click on the "Donate" button to make a contribution in support of Chicago DSA's work in opposition to these undemocratic agreements.

    TPP: Democracy Is a Nuisance to This Trade Partnership
    At the Wednesday Journal, GOPDSA Co-Chair Tom Broderick writes:

    The goal of this and other backroom deals like NAFTA, is the creation and enforcement of legal systems that enhance the wealth and power of transnational corporations. The U.S. Trade Representative appointed approximately 600 "advisors" to assist shaping the TPP. Nearly all are employed by corporations.

    In an editorial published this year, the Chicago Tribune promoted Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to ease passage of the TPP. Better known as Fast Track, TPA transfers trade negotiation from the U.S. House of Representatives to the Executive branch. Congress, which has been granted limited access to the TPP, would have to vote to cede its Constitutional authority.

    According the the Trib, the public would be ill-served by involving our 435 elected congressional representatives in the negotiations. The Trib made no mention of the policy-shaping by the 600 corporate advisors/lobbyists.

    MORE.

    Laws Cover Everyone, Not Just 'Bad Guys'
    At the Wednesday Journal, GOPDSA Co-Chair Sandra Shimon writes:

    As I understand it, the objection to gun control legislation is the legal principle that it be "universal." If only laws could exempt "good guys" and require compliance by "gangbangers," they would be acceptable to gun rights advocates. 

    Implicit in this thinking is that "good guys" should not be inconvenienced in any serious way in the interest of public safety. An obvious difficulty would be how to distinguish these "good guys" from the rest of the population as related to gun regulation. A proposed method of defining "good guys" might be anyone possessing a valid FOID (Firearm Owners Identification) card, as Illinois does. Issuance of an FOID card, by the way, is largely dependent on self-report because the "good guys" know who they are.

    MORE.

    The September Jobs Report
    The Chicago Political Economy Group issued its commentary on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report for September:

    Exactly six years on, labor force participation continues to decrease, dropping to 62.7 percent last month, the lowest level recorded since 1978. Nonetheless, the BLS boasts the official unemployment rate declined from 6.1 percent in August to last month's 5.9 percent, with employment increasing by 248,000 jobs. Retail trade added 35,300 jobs; health care brought on 23,000, with 7,000 Americans going into home health care services; state governments added 22,000 jobs; and, notching another monthly increase, leisure and hospitality added another 33,000 jobs. Curiously, performing arts and spectator sports showed up with 7,200 jobs. However, when it comes to jobs that produce tradable goods, the paltry numbers more clearly illustrate the US economy's weaknesses. For instance, last month, job losses were noted in computer and electronic products, semiconductors and electronic components, paper and paper products. Overall, manufacturing only added 4,000 jobs across the country. In September 2014, just as it has since the onset of the Lesser Depression, the US economy remained torpid.

    MORE.

    Report from Ferguson
    At Democratic Left, Femi Agbabiaka writes:

    This weekend, I, along with several other students from the University of Missouri-Columbia, traveled to Saint Louis to stand in solidarity with the protestors in Ferguson. What I saw and experienced there was astonishing and enraging. Every night there are strong, young, and radical voices engaging in nonviolent, but militant, civil disobedience. They've organized in groups such as Lost Voices, who have slept out on the streets and protested nightly since Mike Brown was murdered. They're critiquing not just the police state, but also patriarchy and white supremacy in an attempt to take back their community for themselves.

    MORE.

    2014 General Election Endorsements
    As Chicago DSA has not made any endorsements in the coming election, we pass along the endorsements of Citizen Action/Illinois, an organization to which Chicago DSA belongs. Your editor does so with some misgivings as it includes a few politicians he would not miss... but you can find the list HERE.

    Cecily McMillan Acquitted on "Obstruction" Charges
    At Democratic Left, Maxine Phillips writes:

    After deliberating for about an hour and a half and asking that the charge to them be re-read, a six-person jury today acquitted DSA member Cecily McMillan of "attempting to obstruct the administration of government, second degree." The acquittal came after a week in which McMillan's lawyer, Martin Stolar, focused on discrediting the testimony of two Transit Authority plainclothes officers who arrested McMillan on December 7, 2013, after she allegedly interfered with their detention of a young couple who had entered the Union Square subway station in New York City without paying the fare.

    MORE.



    Democratic Socialism

    Spanish Co-op Creates Tools for a Decentralized Economic System

    [The Catalan Integral Cooperative] has now started Fair.Coop to help build a set of free economic tools that will "promote cooperation, ethics, solidarity and justice in our economic relations." A key element of the Fair-Coop vision is a cryptocurrency, Faircoin, which has been designed to adapt the block-chain technology of Bitcoin with a more socially constructive design. (Faircoin relies less on "mining" new coins than on "minting" them in a more ecologically responsible, equitable ways.)

    MORE.

    Ferguson: Our Libertarian Moment?
    Given that the police (The State) are part of the problem in Ferguson, Missouri, libertarians are crowing that libertarianism is the solution; it's their moment. At Pando Daily, Mark Ames writes:

    When the libertarians at Reason and Koch Industries claim that they've been offering a consistent program on reforming America's police and criminal system for "decades," they're telling the truth. But when they claim that Ferguson's problem is that no one's listened to the libertarians until now, they're flat-out lying.

    Ferguson is our Libertarian Moment -- and it isn't going to end anytime soon.

    MORE.


    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.


    New Ground #156.3

    10.31.2014

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    DSA in the News
    DSA Statement on the Islamic State and the Crisis in Iraq and Syria

    1. Politics

    Gutierrez for President? by Bob Roman
    Please Do Vote
    Stop Fast Track National Week of Action

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Class by the Numbers
    Interview with Professor Richard Wolff
    Evo Morales Re-elected

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 45 -- Domestic Violence and the Economy
    Recorded October 11, 2014. Just in time for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, DSA's Peg Strobel interviews Dr. Stephanie Riger about the complicated relationship between domestic violence, poverty, and gender roles, about the services available people in abusive domestic situations, and how this has changed over the years.

    Listen or (right click) Download: MP3 (28.9 MB) or OGG VORBIS (36.2 MB) (31:36)

    SUBSCRIBE, or add to your playlist using STITCHER.

    DSA in the News
    The Chicago Tribune ran an article on October 16 about the Trans Pacific Partnership referendum on the ballot in Oak Park township, quoting Tom Broderick and using DSA as an identifier. The link has disappeared behind a paywall, alas.

    At The Cornell Daily Sun, Adam Davis discovers KeyWiki, Trevor Loudon's attempt at reviving the blacklist in the age of the World Wide Web, and pronounces it as "the ultimate database of every crazy, unsubstantiated claim ever made by your Tea Party uncle" and goes on to mention DSA. Davis is being unfair. Loudon does attempt to be factual even if the site doesn't reach the level of journalism. It is the stories Loudon weaves that are unhinged.

    DSA Statement on the Islamic State and the Crisis in Iraq and Syria

    Once again the United States government is ignoring history and trying to solve an intricate political crisis, the rise of the so-called Islamic State (I.S.), by aerial bombardment. The bombing by the U.S. and its "allies" must stop, as must the threat of further military escalation. Bombing is a blunt, indiscriminate tactic that kills innocent civilians and often drives innocent bystanders to support the very foes we bomb.

    The Islamic State will best be opposed by a broad international coalition led by those most directly threatened by the I.S. -- the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Iran. Unfortunately these states often have conflicting regional aims. But the past failures of US unilateral intervention demonstrates that the U.S. can only act effectively against I.S. through multilateral action led by the peoples of the Islamic world.

    MORE.

    At about the same time, the Socialist International issued a statement on the "Latest Developments in Iraq and Syria":

    We reiterate the previous calls of the Socialist International for the international community to unite in response to this terror and to act in defence of the innocent populations of Iraq and Syria, and in support of those from all ethnic and religious groups affected. We share the solidarity previously expressed by our International with the SI member party in Iraq, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), as we do with the Kurdistan Regional Government headed by Masoud Barzani and with all the Kurdish people who are courageously standing up against terror, epitomised today by their brave and steadfast defence of the city of Kobane in northern Syria.

    MORE.



    Politics

    Gutierrez for President?
    by Bob Roman
    President Obama's decision to delay any executive action on immigration issues until after the election was disappointing to the Latino communities, demoralizing at a time when mobilization is needed. Pueblo Sin Fronteras / Familia Latina Unida, Emma Lozano's and Slim Coleman's organization, decided they had had enough and drew the line at Thanksgiving. If Obama hasn't come through, the November 27 Coalition would organize "a campaign for an independent campaign for the Presidency and independent challenges to selected Democratic Senators and Members of Congress in 2016 if the executive order is not forthcoming by November 27th and is not adequate to alleviate the suffering of millions of Latinos and others similarly affected."

    For President, the Coalition is proposing to draft Representative Luis Gutierrez, and they are organizing a petition campaign to persuade him. (Though in a Washington Times article, Lozano is quoted as suggesting he won't be given a choice in the matter.) Lozano and Coleman have a constituency on the west side of Chicago, but the proposal gets added credibility because Coleman has worked part-time on Gutierrez' district staff for several years. Still, Gutierrez is quoted as saying he is "not running for President."

    Please Do Vote
    Fivethirtyeight is predicting that while next Tuesday's election may go into "overtime", there's a 2 out of 3 chance the Republican caucus will run the U.S. Senate for the next two years. Add to this the U.S. House of Representatives run by maybe a larger Republican caucus and maybe Bruce Rauner as Illinois Governor... Well! Your editor would take it as a favor if you made sure to vote. Thank you.

    Stop Fast Track National Week of Action
    House Majority Leader John Boehner has talked about moving Fast Track legislation in the lame duck session of this Congress. Support and opposition to Fast Track legislation cuts across party lines, so there's the added incentive to portray this as a "bi-partisan" issue. And if the Republicans gain control of the Senate, this may be an even more attractive issue to move on that basis as many members of that caucus will be up for election in 2016. The Citizens Trade Campaign is making November 8 through 14 a national week of action aimed at preventing harmful trade legislation from being rushed through Congress.

    In Illinois, a literature drop is planned for Quigley's 5th Congressional District on November 8, a rally in Elgin on November 9, and a phone bank at the Workers United office on November 10. More information is available HERE or by contacting Carson Starkey at iltrade@citizenstrade.org.



    Democratic Socialism

    Class by the Numbers
    At Demos, Matt Bruenig provides graphic illustrations of class in the United States. He concludes:

    Class haunts people from womb to grave, limiting their ability to flourish and pursue the good life as they define it. Confronted with the reality of our society's entrenched class system, our national politics in its present state offers three responses. The first response is to deny reality altogether, usually in favor of an anecdote or two. The second is to accept that it exists, but pretend there is nothing you can do about it because those on the bottom are inferior (see Murray, Ryan). And the last response is to note it exists and offer lukewarm solutions that nibble around the margins of the problem without ever doing anything that might actually even things out.

    MORE.

    Interview with Professor Richard Wolff
    Meanwhile, at The Activist, Betsy Avila interviews Richard Wolff. They begin by discussing the perception of socialism among young adults in the U.S. Wolff notes:

    At this point, they understand [socialism] to be "not capitalism." For most young people, that's as far as they understand it. It may be nicer, softer, friendlier, maybe more likely to help them out. When you push their understanding a little further, it tends to be more about the role of the government. The government takes a bigger role. It protects working people. It protects corporations and the rich but also average people. You hear that kind of talk; it's mainly about the government.

    And, you know, when I hear this I get sad, because that's not what I understand the alternative to Capitalism to be. That definition reveals a lack of awareness of the reality that the government is already a massive force in modern capitalism, and always has been. It falls into the trap of the tragic history of how capitalism and socialism came to be differentiated by so many peopleas if the difference between the two meant that the former refers to "private, individual enterprise," and the latter refers to "government-controlled enterprise." For me, because I teach Marxism, that differentiation is certainly not primarily what Marx had in mind. The state running the economy is not what the alternative to capitalism is...

    MORE.

    Evo Morales Re-elected
    At Life on the Left, Richard Fidler writes:

    As expected, Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) government won a resounding victory in Bolivia's national presidential and parliamentary election October 12.

    Although official results will not be available until November (more on that below), the MAS was re-elected with just over 61% of the popular vote, three percentage points less than in 2009 and short of the 74% support the MAS had proclaimed as its goal. However, the MAS vote was more evenly spread throughout the country; it won a plurality in eight of Bolivia's nine departments, including three of the four that make up the so-called "half-moon" in the country's east and north, which in 2008 were in open revolt against the indigenous-led government.

    MORE.


    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.


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