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#157

November -- December, 2014

Contents

  • Fighting for Fair Trade by Tom Broderick
  • The Dance-Away Lover and the Tragedy of the Obama Presidency by Will Kelley
  • Jobs, the Elections, the Politics of Phantasmagoria and Insecurity by Bill Barclay
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • DSA in the News
    Fair Trade
    Black Friday Protest

  • Upcoming Events of Interest
  •  

    New Ground 157.1 -- 12.01.2014

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Dinner Committee
    Abolish the New Jim Crow
    Statement on the 2014 Elections

    1. Politics

    Slow Food December 4
    The Finance Economy Can Kill You
    A Short History of Killer Cops Let Off the Hook

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Not a Conspiracy Doesn't Mean Unplanned
    The Strange Death of Co-Operative England
    Bringing Cooperation to the Academy

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

     

    New Ground 157.2 -- 12.15.2014

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    DSA in the News
    Democracy for All Amendment

    1. Politics

    'Tis the Season
    November Jobs Report
    Bridgeport Hitmen

    2. Ars Politica

    "When You Take From the People" by Alexander James Franklin

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Cities and Unions
    Capitalism's Gravediggers
    The Vanguard

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

     

    New Ground 157.3 -- 12.31.2014

    0. DSA News

    On Normalizing Relations with Cuba
    Toward an Intersectional Left
    Socialist International Council
    For Chicago DSA Members

    1. Politics

    Illinois' Fiscal Cliff
    Vote Mujica

    2. People

    Bob Rudner

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Fighting for Fair Trade

    by Tom Broderick

    There is no doubt that international trade agreements are difficult to digest. Even more so when they are crafted by corporate advisors behind closed doors with the public and our elected Congressional Representatives kept at bay. So members of the Greater Oak Park chapter of Democratic Socialists of America wrote a referendum asking Oak Park voters to urge our Village government to declare Oak Park a Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Zone.

    After the polls closed on November 4th and the votes were tallied, the referendum passed 12,139 to 4,376. More than 73% of the voters supported the referendum.

    The reason we pursued the referendum was to allow for public education about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Fast Track authority, even if only in Oak Park. Chicago DSA is a member of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition (IFTC) . The IFTC is solely concerned with fighting trade agreements like the TPP. Oak Park may have been the only community in the U.S. with a referendum on the TPP, but the Berkeley, California, City Council recently declared Berkeley a TPP/TAFTA Free Zone by a nearly unanimous vote.

    We launched a letter writing campaign, with letters by different individuals highlighting various problems with the TPP and Fast Track. These were published in our local newspapers over the seven months leading up to the election.

    We took part in a Village fair to distribute literature featuring the referendum text and additional information with references for those who might want more information. We did a post card mailing to more than 500 Oak Park residents. We reached out to our IFTC allies and others, including area congregations, asking them to promote our referendum. We handed out literature at our local farmers market and distributed more at some of our public rapid transit stations.

    During the outreach, more than one person questioned what the citizens of Oak Park or the Village Board could do about the TPP. The Village Board can do little more than pass a symbolic resolution should they so choose. If the U.S. Government passes the TPP or any of the other massive deals being fashioned outside the view of the public, any stand taken by the Village would be moot. In addition to the TPP, current deals include the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA).

    What can make a difference is stopping Fast Track. This is a procedure where our elected Congressional Representatives cede their traditional authority over international trade deals to the Executive Branch. This process only goes back to the time of President Nixon, where trade deals focused on tariffs and quotas. The above mentioned trade deals go far beyond quotas and tariffs. Many of our current Congressional Representatives don't have a frame of reference prior to Fast Track.

    Stopping Fast Track is key to derailing the TPP and the other trade bill monstrosities. Unfortunately the result of the recent election makes stopping Fast Track and thus the TPP more difficult. There was concern that Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner would to try to push Fast Track authorization through the House during the lame duck session. While possible, I think it unlikely since the next Congress will have Republicans in control of both the House and Senate.

    More than 150 Democratic Representatives signed a "Dear Colleague" letter stating their opposition to Fast Track. Twenty-two Republic Representatives signed a separate "Dear Colleague" letter expressing the same sentiment. The House is where the fight is. Although Fast Track authorization may not come up during the lame duck session, the fight against it must be fully waged.

    Senate President Harry Reid (D-NV) previously announced that he had no intention of calling for a vote on Fast Track authorization. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is likely to assume leadership of the Senate in the next session. Immediately after the election, Sen. McConnell, Rep. Boehner and President Obama were each talking about how Congress and the White House could work together. Surely the three of them are salivating over the possibility of compromise (sic).

    Fast Track Authorization and the neo-liberal trade deals: TPP, TAFTA/TTIP, and TISA fit that agenda. They are all anti-democratic. They all are about enhancing the wealth and power of an elite segment of global society.

    Earlier I wrote about the "Dear Colleague" letters opposing Fast Track. Eight Illinois Democratic Representatives signed on to that letter. They are: Bobby L. Rush (202 225 4372); Robin Kelly (202 225 0773); Daniel Lipinski (202 225 5701); Luis Gutierrez (202 225 8203); Danny K. Davis (202 225 5006); Jan Schakowsky (202 225 2111); William Enyart (202 225 5661, a lame duck but call anyway) and Cheri Bustos (202 225 5905).

    If one of these is your Representative, please call them in their DC office and ask to speak with the person who deals with international trade. Tell them to thank your Representative for signing the DeLauro/Miller letter opposing Fast Track Legislation. As important, tell them that you oppose the TPP. Just because they signed the DeLauro/Miller letter, they may not have taken a public position against the TPP. My Representative, Danny Davis, signed the DeLauro/Miller letter but has taken no public position against the TPP.

    Four Illinois Democrats refused to sign the DeLauro/Miller letter. They are Mike Quigley (202 225 4061); Tammy Duckworth (202 225 3711); Brad Schneider (202 225 4835, a lame duck but call anyway), and Bill Foster (202 225 3515). If one of these is your Representative, please call their DC office and ask to speak to the person who deals with international trade. Please do this as soon as you can during the lame duck session. Tell them you oppose the undemocratic nature of Fast Track authority and the TPP negotiation process and you'd like your Representative to know this. Members of Chicago DSA should have received a post card asking you to make this call, but our newsletter goes to some people who are not members.

    There are six Republican Representatives in Illinois. They are Peter Roskam (202 225 4561); Rodney Davis (202 225 2371); Randy Hultgren (202 225 2976); John Shimkus (202 225 5271); Adam Kinzinger (202 225 3635); and Aaron Schock (202 225 6201). If one of these is your Representative, follow the instructions given after the four Democrats listed directly above.

    Finally, Rep. Schneider was beaten by Robert Dold in the 10th Congressional District and Rep. Enyart was beaten by Mike Bost in the 12th Congressional District. Dold and Bost should be contacted by constituents as well. Start beating the drum now. The phone number for Dold's campaign office is 847 380 7605. Bost is currently an Illinois Congressman. His phone number in Springfield is 217 782 0387.

    Something to consider: In 2003, the state of Maine created the Maine Jobs, Trade and Democracy Act (Public Law 2003, Chapter 699). The act created the Citizen Trade Policy Commission with a mission "to assess and monitor the legal and economic impacts of trade agreements on our state and local laws, working conditions and the business environment; to provide a mechanism for citizens and Legislators to voice their concerns and recommendations; and to make policy recommendations designed to protect Maine's jobs, business environment and laws from any negative impact of trade agreements." Seems a lot more democratic than Fast Track and the TPP.


    The Dance-Away Lover and the Tragedy of the Obama Presidency

    by Will Kelley

    The mid-term elections of 2014 make one thing clear: for the Obama presidency it's all over but the shouting. This is not the conclusion of a frustrated idealist upset over the way Obama used the rhetoric of liberalism during the 2008 campaign then immediately turned into a moderate once he was elected. That was nothing more than the approach used by Clinton in 1992, and anyone who bothered to look at the policy proposals could see Obama was going to govern as an Eisenhower Republican. The problem is that he indeed tried to turn himself into Dwight Eisenhower at a time when the nation needed an FDR. He made his goal clear in 2008 when the discussion turned around "finding common ground" and being "post-partisan." The problem is that Obama, through this framing device, let the whole world know what he had become. He set himself forth as a suitor, with Republicans as the potential bride-to-be. But when Obama set out to woo the Republicans they saw him coming and knew just what to do next: they turned themselves into the Dance-Away Lover. And proceeded to lead him on a merry chase.

    The basic goal of the Republicans, ever since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, has been the same. Whenever they have power, fight as hard as possible to reverse the successes of 20th Century liberalism. When not in power dig in the heels, pound the fists, use red-faced self-righteous anger, lie, and hope to destroy the other side. They do not see Democrats as opponents in a game called "governing," but as enemies with whom they are at war. The goal is to destroy their enemies. Whenever the Republicans are out of power, then, their method is to dig in, resist any erosion of their positions, and wait until they have a chance to take power again.

    The Republicans followed the policy of destructive obstructionism with great success in the Clinton Administration, stumbling only when they overplayed their hand by trying to have Clinton convicted and removed from office by Congress. But their ability to position themselves in the political rhetoric of the nation succeeded so well that, in 2001, a rank incompetent was able to take office and hold it for eight years.

    With the mounting crises of 2006-2008 it looked like the Republicans were in trouble. But when Obama announced his desire to woo the Republicans with his post-partisan centrism they knew just what to do. If he were to be the suitor, they would become the Dance-Away Lover. And make sure he never caught them.

    Anyone who came of age during the "Me Generation" probably heard of the Dance-Away Lover at least once. Social psychologists coined the term to describe one of the "romantic roles" a person could take in a love relationship. The Dance-Away Lover always offers the prospect of a satisfying, committed relationship -- if only the person in pursuit would work a little harder. The idea is for the Dance-Away Lover to appear available and interested, but always dance just out of reach of the suitor. Then the Dance-Away Lover affects sad disappointment over the way things turned out. It is not the fault of the Dance-Away Lover that no relationship has been established, no deal has been struck. Rather, it is the fault of shortcomings on the part of the suitor. If only the suitor would try a little harder, though, perhaps this time everything will turn out fine. (See The Dance-Away Lover -- And Other Roles We Play in Love, Sex, and Marriage, by Daniel Goldstine, Katherine Larner, Shirley Zuckerman and Hilary Goldstine; William Morrow and Company, 1977.)

    So as Obama ardently, sincerely sought mutual agreement with the Republicans, they became the Dance-Away Lover and led him on dance that has yet to end. They always look interested in a deal -- then dance away at the last minute, feigning bitter disappointment over the way things turned out. By adopting this role they successfully pulled the policies of the Obama administration farther and farther to the right without any concessions on their part. (See Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, by Robert Draper, Free Press, 2012; and It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, Basic Books, 2012.)

    The crazy thing is that, like the cartoon character Charlie Brown, who always falls for Lucy's offer of a chance for a football to kick, the Obama administration never seems to have caught on to what is going on and never adjusted their strategy to respond to the way the Republicans positioned themselves. It was always, 'Now that the Republicans see they can't have a successful government without working with us, they will be willing to take the had we have extended to them and work together to solve the problems of the nation.' Or, 'Now that the Republicans see Obama will be president for the next four years, they will be willing to take the had we have extended to them and work together to solve the problems of the nation.' That's bullshit, as can be seen from the way Republicans continued to position themselves through their political rhetoric. Still, over and over, the Obama administration believed their own BS. They believed it in 2011, then repeated it after the election of 2012. The results of believing their own bullshit can now be seen in the 2014 mid-term elections.

    Oh, sure, since the 2012 election Obama has emerged from time to time to pull out the same liberal rhetoric that served him well through 2008. But by now everyone knows it's just talk. "Assad must go" -- but he's still there. 'By the end of the summer I will change immigration policy through executive action' -- but, sorry about that. Didn't happen. And every time the administration appears to be all talk and no follow-through it erodes the effectiveness of the rhetoric itself. By now his words must seem hollow even to those who were counting on him to take the modest steps left to him once he had followed the Republicans down their dance-path.

    So there you have him; the sincere suitor, all dressed up, a fixed smile on his face, hand out in an offer of post-partisan friendship, but with nowhere to go. The Republicans have fun slapping down his hand, again, and again, and again. But Obama is unable to move from his stance lest someone on the Republican side snarl, pounce, then condemn him as "partisan" and therefore unworthy of further discussions.

    The Republicans have Obama right where they want him. Immobile until they can put someone else into the presidency in 2016. As long as he remains the suitor, and they the Dance-Away Lover, this is how things will remain.

    And that's a tragedy.


    Jobs, the Elections, the Politics of Phantasmagoria and Insecurity

    by Bill Barclay

    On November 7th, three days after the 2014 midterm elections, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Report for October 2014. The numbers are simple and not dramatically different from those that Chicago Political Economy Group (CPEG) has analyzed for the past several months.

    Overview:

    First, about 214,000 new jobs were created, continuing the string of net private job creation to 56 months, a new record.

    Second, leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, retail trade and temporary help services -- in that order -- accounted for almost 3 of every 5 new jobs in October. Over the past year these four job categories accounted for almost half of all new jobs.

    Third, the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 5.8%.

    Fourth, the labor force participation rate remains very low at 62.8% although the employment/population ratio has risen by 1% over the past year.

    Fifth, looking over the longer time span, the "Obama economy" has, to date generated more than 4.5 million new jobs vs the "Bush economy" new job creation of 1.5 million.

    Sixth, although not part of the jobs report analysis, federal deficit is below 2% of GDP -- lower than the 40 year average.

    Few of the voters in the 2014 elections could have told you any of the foregoing -- and some would have vehemently denied at least the last two points.

    Why, in the face of reality -- or at least some facets of reality -- did the Republicans do so well (the Democrats do so poorly)?

    Jobs and the Politics of Voting

    There are doubtless multiple strands that link the jobs trends to the voting patterns of the 2014 election. I think the two most important are the politics of phantasmagoria and the politics of uncertainty.

    Phantasmagoria: an exhibition of optical effects and illusions; a constantly shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined.

    Phantasmagoria describes a situation in which illusion dominates reality -- there may, of course, be contesting illusions. That is the goal of political campaigns -- to make my illusion define your reality. And the RepubliCONs did well by this criterion.

    The politics of insecurity can be captured from one question in the exit polls: over 70% of voters in the 2014 elections cited concerns about the economy as the most important factor in their vote. Almost 70% of these voters cast Republican ballots. Most of these voters would probably echo my DSA friend who said, in response to the facts of job growth and growth in the larger economy over the past few years, that he hasn't experienced any economic recovery and hasn't seen any gains to himself or the people he know from the "recovery."

    Secular Stagnation?

    I think both the success of the politics of phantasmagoria and the core of the politics of insecurity are rooted in the possibility that is increasingly finding a hearing: that the US -- and much of the rest of the wealthy world -- is facing a political economy of secular stagnation. In such an economy the prospects for getting ahead, for bettering the lot of one's parents, for the growth lifts all boats mantra to have some semblance to reality, are called into question. According to Thomas Piketty, this political economic path also results in increased concentration of wealth and income and poses a serious challenge to the future of democracy. Certainly the (un)natural marriage between capitalism and democracy becomes problematic.

    There is not the space here to consider the many facets of this debate and the political implications of such an economic path. It is, however, important to insist on one point: secular stagnation is not an economic inevitability, not the result of some immutable economic law. If the US -- or Western Europe -- go down this path, it is the result of policy choices, both those made and those not made.

    Here I will return to the CPEG jobs analysis and emphasize a point often overlooked in that proposal. Our analysis was driven not simply by the need for an extensive public sector jobs program because of growth in unemployment. It was based on two fundamental propositions:

    First, that the US political economy is structurally unable to generate enough jobs to insure anything like full employment; and

    Second, that a jobs program should therefore be designed in a manner that seeks to transform the existing economy.

    It was based on these two propositions that the CPEG argued for living wage jobs to all willing and able to work and that this was only achievable by use of social market policies that drew upon and expanded the resources and role of the public sector. Such a program requires a social (public) definition of the work that needs to be done and thus the jobs that should be created. The criterion must be social utility, not private gain. The result is a vibrant public sector that begins to define economic growth and offers desirable employment alternatives to low wage private sector jobs.

    Failing this task, there will likely be continued election to election swings in the US with mounting distance between the desires of the electorate and the policies of the elected. One early and, admittedly, small indication of this pattern: consider the passage of measures such as increased minimum wage and paid sick leave and the defeat of anti-abortion measures in states that elected officials whose political positions and preferences are in conflict with these substantive proposals.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    DSA in the News

    Resist Rikers is demanding reforms of the New York prison. CBS' coverage of a demonstration organized by Resist Rikers shortly after the election did not mention DSA, but our signs were featured in the accompanying photo.

    The Oak Park referenda on the Trans Pacific Partnership and on gun control resulted in news items mentioning DSA. One item in the Chicago Tribune ("Oak Parkers vote to reject international trade agreement" by Stephanie K. Baer 11/5/14; the link may or may not work) quoted Tom Broderick as GOPDSA co-chair. The Wednesday Journal article covered both the TPP question and the universal background check for gun purchases question. The article quotes Broderick and identifies him as co-chair of GOPDSA. Sandra Shimon is also mentioned in connection with the gun control measure but is not identified as GOPDSA co-chair. Broderick later wrote an op-ed for the Wednesday Journal on the Trans Pacific Partnership that, in passing, claimed the TPP referendum as a GOPDSA project.

    Former Congressman Lane Evans was never a DSA member though he spoke at the 1985 Thomas - Debs Dinner. His obituary in the Quad-Cities Dispatch - Argus mentioned DSA in connection with political attacks on Evans that backfired: his "popularity only seemed to grow."

    Fair Trade

    In support of the Oak Park TPP referendum, Chicago DSA did a targetted mailing to voters in the township. DSA raised over $600 for the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition at a reception in the Third Unitarian Church in far western Chicago on October 18. Independently of the Coalition, DSA members also joined others in pressing Representative Brad Schneider (10th CD) to oppose Fast Track legislation. This was a bit ticklish as some folks were inclined to view any criticism as a threat to his re-election. In fact, in phone banking, postcards, leafleting, and guerrilla theater, the Fast Track was not presented as an issue by which to choose a candidate. Schneider did lose, however.

    Fair trade rather than free trade has been a Chicago DSA priority for a long time. We have quite a library of material on the issue, including some ideas about just what a fair trade agreement might look like. You can find a linked bibliography of our involvement HERE.

    Black Friday Protest

    Walmart will be the target of protest actions around the country on November 28: "Black Friday", the big shopping day after Thanksgiving. The object is to demand a $15/hour living wage and full time hours for Walmart "associates". There are at least eight actions planned for the Chicago metropolitan area and each are a bit different, depending on the organizing entity. For more information, CLICK HERE.


    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 #157.1

    12.01.2014

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Dinner Committee
    Abolish the New Jim Crow
    Statement on the 2014 Elections

    1. Politics

    Slow Food December 4
    The Finance Economy Can Kill You
    A Short History of Killer Cops Let Off the Hook

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Not a Conspiracy Doesn't Mean Unplanned
    The Strange Death of Co-Operative England
    Bringing Cooperation to the Academy

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 46
    -- Veterans, Poverty, and the New Jim Crow
    Recorded November 8, 2014. Ray Parrish talks about his decades as a counsellor to military veterans, the post-military challenges faced especially by combat veterans, and the ways in which a less than honorable discharge can put a veteran on the wrong side of the "new jim crow". The interlocutor for this episode is DSA's Tom Broderick.

    Listen or Download: MP3 (27.6 MB) or OGG VORBIS (36 MB) (30:08)

    SUBSCRIBE,

    or add to your playlist using STITCHER.

    Dinner Committee
    The next meeting of the Diuner Committee will be Wednesday, December 3, 6 PM at the Chicago DSA office, 3411 W. Diversey. We've made some progress with the program and the venue for the 2015 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner at the first meeting, but nothing is set in stone yet and we may need plans B & C. So please come by if you have some thoughts on next year's event. If you can't attend, send the ideas, or even just your interest, to chiildsa@chicagodsa.org.

    Abolish the New Jim Crow
    Adopted by DSA's National Political Committee on November 25:

    DSA urges its members to join protests against the Ferguson grand jury decision. We also urge our members and locals to deepen their organizing against mass incarceration, police violence and systematic voter suppression. The color line that still defines injustice in the United States can only be broken through the building of a strong, multi-racial and anti-racist Left that stands in solidarity with movements in communities of color struggling for racial justice.

    Protests against Ferguson must not be a one-off isolated reaction. The events in Ferguson are a product of the systemic, structural racism that continues to characterize American society. This system of racialized capitalism not only yields radically unequal life chances for people of color, it literally devalues their worth as human beings.

    MORE.

    Statement on the 2014 Elections
    The Young Democratic Socialists Coordinating Committee statement on the 2014 Elections concludes:

    The time has come to end this goal of pushing the Democratic Party left. In order to achieve success in third party politics, there's a need for dedicated organizers and fundraisers to come together in cities around the nation. Across the nation, from Chokwe Lumumba, to Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones, to Jorge Mújica Murias, to Kshama Sawant, principled socialists are rising up and fighting back. And they're winning. Let's join them.

    Don't spend another election night disappointed by the failures of the Democratic Party. Organize around socialists in your cities, and fight back against neoliberalism.

    MORE.

    The Winter, 2015, issue of YDS' quarterly newsletter, Red Letter can be downloaded HERE. (PDF)



    Politics

    Slow Food December 4
    Fast food workers across the nation are going on strike Thursday, December 4, with support from airport workers and home care workers. And you too. Find out more HERE and HERE.

    The Finance Economy Can Kill You
    An economy dominated by the finance industry is unhealthy in many ways, and the Robin Hood Tax is one of the proposed tools to shrink that sector of the economy. But an economy with a hypertrophied financial sector is unhealthy in more directly threatening ways. At the Center for Popular Economics, Brian Callaci points out:

    We depend on the research and development efforts of pharmaceutical companies to develop treatments for the most dangerous diseases on the planet, but the largest of those companies appear more interested in financial engineering than creating lifesaving drugs.

    MORE.

    A Short History of Killer Cops Let Off the Hook
    Flint Taylor knows where the bodies are buried, HERE.



    Democratic Socialism

    Not a Conspiracy Doesn't Mean Unplanned
    At Dissent and Waging Nonviolence, Mark and Paul Engler write:

    Civil resistance--the study and practice of nonviolent conflict--is a tradition that traces its lineage through the campaigns of Gandhi, the U.S. civil rights movement, the works of scholars such as Gene Sharp, and contemporary revolts such as the Arab Spring. Immersed in the study of how unarmed uprisings work, analysts in this tradition put forth several propositions that challenge conventional wisdom about 1989: they contend, first, that extraordinary mobilizations are not as rare as they might seem; second, that there is an art to organizing around them; and third, that activists willing to embrace a strategy of nonviolent escalation can often set off historic upheavals of their own.

    MORE.

    The Strange Death of Co-Operative England
    Failure is frequently instructive, and Carl Rowlands conducts this autopsy at New Left Project.

    Bringing Cooperation to the Academy
    Capitalism has its Junior Chamber of Commerce organizations and MBA degrees. It makes sense that cooperatives and other democratic economic institutions should have the same. It's starting at NYU; read about it HERE.


    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 #157.2

    12.15.2014

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    DSA in the News
    Democracy for All Amendment

    1. Politics

    'Tis the Season
    November Jobs Report
    Bridgeport Hitmen

    2. Ars Politica

    "When You Take From the People" by Alexander James Franklin

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Cities and Unions
    Capitalism's Gravediggers
    The Vanguard

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 47
    -- Gardening and Social Justice
    Recorded December 3, 2014. "Intersectionality" has been a buzz word on the left lately. This episode explores the intersectionality of gardening, ethnic and family traditions, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity and social justice, as experienced through the University of Illinois at Chicago's Heritage Garden Intership Program. DSA's Peg Strobel interviews UIC Latino Cultural Center Director Rosa Cabrera and Heritage Garden Intern Leaders Sarah Hernandez and Karl Novak.

    Listen or (right click) Download: MP3 (29.1 MB) or OGG VORBIS (25.5 MB) (31:44)

    SUBSCRIBE, or add to your playlist using STITCHER.

    DSA in the News
    The events in Ferguson, Missouri, provoked demonstrations across the country, often drawing a wide swath of the political spectrum. But in Beaumont, Texas, Lamar University Young Democratic Socialists owned the issue on December 2 with coverage on KFDM TV Channel 6 and at the Beaumont Enterprise. Sometimes it doesn't take a lot to make your point.

    Bhaskar Sunkara was interviewed at New Left Review about the Jacobin project. He begins by talking about DSA.

    Democracy for All Amendment
    Statement adopted by the YDS Coordinating Committee, 12.02.2014:

    The time has come for us to kick big money out of politics and take our democracy back. To that end, a coalition of over 28 nonprofits, labor unions, communities of faith and other progressive organizations are working towards gathering 5 million signatures on a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the disastrous Citizens United v. FEC before its 5th anniversary. Since the Citizens United decision, over 550 towns, 16 states, and 200 members of Congress are officially in favor of amending the Constitution. In September 2014, the US Senate debated a proposed amendment for a week with 55 senators going on the record in favor of overturning Citizens United.

    MORE.



    Politics

    'Tis the Season
    to storm City Hall. Get in the spirit of the season, learn the latest news and gossip, and toss a few coins in the bucket at a campaign office open house @ Jorge Mujica for 25th Ward Alderman, 1916 W. Cermak Rd, 2nd Floor, Chicago. Be there in person not just in spirit: Saturday, December 20, 7 PM. MORE INFORMATION.

    November Jobs Report
    At the Chicago Political Economy Group, Ron Baiman writes:

    The headlines are euphoric: "Big Job Gains and Rising Pay in Latest U.S. Data" (NYT 12/6/2014) and indeed the 321,000 payroll jobs increase, 9-cent increase in average hourly wages and 0.1 hour increase in weekly hours last month exceeded expectations and is reminiscent of the 300-400 thousand monthly job growth and rising wages of the late 90's tech boom bubble economy glory days. These November payroll (Establishment Survey) numbers are good, the kind of monthly job growth that could eventually dig us out of the Lesser Depression hole if they consistently continue for another couple of years....

    MORE.

    Bridgeport Hitmen
    At Chicago Sports & Society, Chis Lamberti writes:

    Five months ago, while his White Sox were in full June swoon, Jerry Reinsdorf was celebrating victory. Unreported and unnoticed, with the silent efficiency of a mob hit, the lawsuit against the White Sox chairman brought by an ex-government employee was weighted down and left for dead in a river of motions, minutes, and memorandums.

    In April 2013, Perri Irmer filed an impassioned claim with a local district court arguing that her individual rights had been violated in a wrongful firing, but the case was a larger indictment on behalf of taxpayers against the enigmatic Reinsdorf, his goose, and his golden egg.

    MORE.


    Ars Politica

    "When You Take From the People"

    If you find your city halls
    vacant of the voice of power,
    it's because it is speaking in the streets.
    Should you see that it is, you who are being prosecuted,
    it is because you stood in defense of evil.
    When you suddenly cant's speak the same way you
    used to in the locker room,
    it's because we don't tolerate klansmen as cops.
    For the well of ancient hatreds and petty prejudice
    you drink from is running dry, and we are a mighty Ocean.
    We are the vast wave that will not break but will overtake.
    We are the majority who will not stand silent.
    We are the righteous servants of that grand and greatest of dreams.
    We are the defense of that more perfect union, whom your greed and quest for gain has so long divided.
    You will divide us no longer.
    For you can only take so much from the people,
    Before The People Take Back.

    ---Alexander James Franklin



    Democratic Socialism

    Cities and Unions
    At Dissent, Colin Gordon presents an intriguing argument for a correlation between union density and urban population density, with St. Louis as an example. No, Gordon doesn't mention the "idiocy of rural life" but he does provide an example.

    Capitalism's Gravediggers
    What is socialism? First of all, what is capitalism? At Jacobin, Ellen Meiksins Wood begins:

    "Capitalism" was for a while a forbidden word, at least in mainstream politics and media, which treated it as a left-wing pejorative. What we got instead were "private enterprise," the "free market," and so on. The word is now back in more common usage, but its meaning tends to be a bit vague.

    Pressed for a definition of capitalism, most people would make some reference to markets, trade, and commerce. Any society with well-developed commercial activity, particularly (but not only?) where trade and industry are privately owned, would count.

    MORE.

    There is also another excellent article re: defining capitalism, "How Capitalism Got Its Name" by Michael Merrill in the Fall, 2014, Dissent. You do need to be a subscriber to access the article online, or you can go through Project Muse via your public library.

    The Vanguard
    At The North Star, Ryne Tipton writes:

    What has been noticeably lacking in left political parties is an emphasis on prefigurative politics -- the establishment of a socialist democratic structure to represent the working class, revealing what future possibilities of socialist governance may look like. The establishment of a democratic, proletarian political party is the best and only guaranteed structural reform that can occur within the capitalist system without severely militant backlash from the capitalist class. It has three primary purposes: 1) To give structure and cohesion to working-class movements, 2) To act as an institution of ideological development and social support, 3) To act as a liaison between the interests of the proletariat and parliamentary action, and finally, 4) To provide a blueprint (or even an actual state structure) for a future socialist society.

    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 #157.3

    12.31.2014

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    On Normalizing Relations with Cuba
    Toward an Intersectional Left
    Socialist International Council
    For Chicago DSA Members

    1. Politics

    Illinois' Fiscal Cliff
    Vote Mujica

    2. People

    Bob Rudner

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    On Normalizing Relations with Cuba
    Adopted by DSA's National Political Committee:

    The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) celebrates the Obama administration's move toward the normalization of diplomatic relationships between the United States and Cuba. This change in U.S. foreign policy will help bridge the divide between U.S. and Cuban residents. We believe that increased cultural exchanges will improve the quality of life of both peoples, as will easing the flow of remittances from the Cuban-American community to family members in Cuba. But normal diplomatic relations are not enough; DSA will work with others to pressure Congress to end the unproductive and unjust trade embargo that remains in effect.

    MORE.

    Toward an Intersectional Left
    The Winter, 2015, conference of the Young Democratic Socialists will be held February 13 through February 15 at the Murphy Institute in New York City. Some travel scholarships are available (application deadline January 16). More information about the conference is found HERE.

    Socialist International Council
    The Socialist International held a council meeting at the United Nations in Geneva on December 12 and 13. The focus of the meeting was international peace and security. DSA was not represented at this meeting. More information, including the texts of ten declarations and resolutions, can be found HERE.

    For Chicago DSA Members
    Our regular monthly meeting in January will be a membership meeting. As usual, it will be on the 2nd Saturday of the month, January 10, at the Chicago DSA office, 3411 W. Diversey, Suite 7. We'll start at 11:30 AM with the recording of Talkin' Socialism, a half hour program. The business portion of the meeting will start at about 12:15 PM, and the Socialist Reading Group meets at 2 PM. More details to follow.



    Politics

    Illinois' Fiscal Cliff
    At the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability:

    The Pending FY2016 Fiscal Cliff details the significant-potentially over $12 billion- fiscal shortfall facing the next General Assembly and Governor-elect Bruce Rauner as they work to craft a General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2016. The issue brief delineates the amount of recurring income tax revenue the state stands to lose when the temporary income tax increases under the Taxpayer Accountability and Budget Stabilization Act of 2011 phase down on January 1, 2015, as well as the worsening of other fiscal pressures that are projected to occur under current law.

    Assuming no tax policy changes, if spending on services in FY2016 is held constant in nominal, non-inflation adjusted dollars at FY2015 levels, the state's accumulated deficit in its General Fund will almost double, increasing from an estimated $6.8 billion in FY2015, to $12.7 billion by the end of FY2016.

    MORE.

    Vote Mujica
    Jorge Mujica's campaign for 25th Ward Alderman picked up another endorsement recently from the Hispanic Council of Chicago.


    People

    Bob Rudner
    Those of you having been around Chicago's left long enough to recognize "the usual suspects" will recognize Bob Rudner, lo these many years a stalwart of Chicago's Green movement. No!! He's not dead. But he has fallen on hard times, mostly from the medical consequences of having had polio as a kid. If you can help, CLICK HERE.


    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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