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September - October, 2015
New Ground 162.1 -- 10.01.2015
New Ground 162.2 -- 10.15.2015
New Ground 162.3 -- 10.30.2015
0. DSA News
Strike for $15
2. Democratic Socialism
Who Wants to Save Capitalism?
by Bill Barclay
The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, lasting 18 months from its onset in December 2007. By almost any measure, it was the most significant economic downturn since the 1930s. And by one very important measure, the pace and time it has taken the U.S. economy to "recover," the Great Recession rivals or even surpasses the Great Depression. The earlier economic slump lasted until 1939 when federal government spending accelerated in response to the beginnings of WWII in Europe. However, well before then, the U.S. economy had grown by more than 60% from its 1933 nadir and personal consumption had risen by 45%.
By comparison, recovery from the Great Recession looks weak and halting.
Our Slow-Growth Non-Recovery
In the 6 years prior to the Great Recession, U.S. GDP growth averaged 3%/year -- and that included the 2000-01 recession.1 In the six years following the official end of the Great Recession, GDP growth has averaged 1.65%.2 But it is in the growth of consumption -- or better, the lack of such growth -- that the failure of recovery from the Great Recession is so striking. And in the contemporary U.S. political economy, it is personal consumption that is the driver of growth.
In the decade prior to the Great Recession, personal consumption grew at 6.7%/year. while the post-2009 rate of growth has been less than one-third of that, only 2.2%/year. This is the slowest rate of consumption growth over any five-year period for more than half a century.
Slow growth has been accompanied by -- and has shaped -- slow labor market growth. It is true that U.S. economy has created more than 2 million jobs during each of the past four years. However, because of the huge job losses during the Great Recession, this job growth has been insufficient to absorb the new entrants into the labor market. As a result there are now (August, 2015) almost 94 million people classified as "not in the labor force," 37.3% of the total civilian non-institutional population.3 In 2000, the "not-in-the-labor-force" population was less than one-third of that total, and it was only one-third on the cusp of the Great Recession. Since the end of the Great Recession, the not-in-the-labor-force population has grown by over 18% vs. a labor force growth of less than 2%.
Who are these people "not in the labor force"? It has often been claimed that many are students, "sheltering" in school or getting additional training as they wait out the poor economic times of the Great Recession. There may have been some truth to that claim during the 2008-10 period, but we are now six years beyond the Great Recession and the numbers continue to grow.
Most significantly, a large number are people in the prime working years of 25 to 54.4 The proportion of these "prime-age workers" not in the labor force is the highest in at least a quarter century, running at almost 1 in 4 even in mid-2015 (down only slightly from 2013). Nor, despite some claims to the contrary, is it the case that women are deciding to return to the household and have / raise children. There is no significant difference in the decline of labor force participation by gender, and the drop and partial recovery of this number during the Great Recession is about the same for men and women.
The prime-age not-in-the-labor-force population includes people with a range of skills and experiences as well as education levels. While those with education at the high school or less level are half of the total (compared to their 1 in 3 share of employed prime-age workers), one-fifth have a four-year college degree or more. Most of these people say they are willing to make considerable sacrifices in order to get a job including, in many cases, pay cuts compared to their previous earnings. While African-Americans and Hispanics are over represented among this group, the majority are white, non-Hispanic. Women were 2 of every 3 in this population. Of those able to work, two-thirds say that they want a job, with a similar number saying there are no good jobs available. In sum, the slow growth of the U.S. economy in the years since the end of the Great Recession is not the result of an insufficient supply of prime-age workers.
Why do we have the combination of slow economic growth, especially of consumption that accounts for 65-70% of U.S. GDP, and "missing workers," prime-age workers that, six years after the official end of the Great Recession, are out of the labor force? The usual answer is, of course, lack of aggregate demand, that businesses are not hiring the available work force. This is true, but it only raises an additional question: Why has growth of aggregate demand been so slow during the last six years.
The short answer is: Inequality.
But, what do we mean by inequality? And, how does inequality drive slow growth and a weak labor market?
"Inequality" as a meme has certainly gained traction in U.S. political discourse since Occupy. But our ways of understanding articulating the concept are often incomplete and may even obscure the real role of inequality in creating a slow growth economy. Our answers to the question "what is inequality" will determine whether we can understand the connection between inequality and economic stagnation and thus whether we can think clearly about policies that will counter the negative impact of inequality on our lives and our economy. And that will result in prime-age workers returning to the labor force.
Inequality and Equal Opportunity
The most common formulation concerning inequality by our rulers defines inequality as unequal opportunity. In this framework, unequal opportunity is best addressed by workers getting more education or skills training, perhaps coupled with the need to more firmly enforce anti-discrimination laws in hiring and promotion.
Now, more education is certainly better than less but this policy will not solve the problem of a slow-growth economy. After all, the education level of the U.S. labor force has been consistently increasing and is today higher than it has ever been. Yet, as noted above, 1 in 5 of the "not-in-the-labor-force" prime-age workers already have a college degree. And a significant number of recent college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a college degree.
Political and economic elites are most comfortable with the inequality of opportunity formulation because it draws upon our cultural themes of individualism and individual effort. It is true that the United States lags in terms of intergenerational mobility and has segmented labor markets that drive women and people of color into lower wage occupations, often with limited career paths. But the policy response of improving equality of opportunity simply represents the possibility that all of us, without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, etc., should have the equal opportunity to accumulate unequally. Equality of opportunity is the neoliberal universe of discourse attempt to square the circle of "liberté, égalité, fraternité" of the French (and Haitian) Revolution. We've been there, done that -- and working in that policy framework is why we are where we are today.
Inequality and Slow Economic Growth
The easiest way to understand the link between inequality, slow growth and missing workers is to consider the decision to consume or spend at different levels of income. As incomes rise there is a point at which a larger and larger share of each additional dollar of income is saved rather than spent.5 The attraction of buying that sixth house or that third yacht is less than that of buying the first one.
This differential propensity to consume can be seen clearly if we use a 95%/5% household income rank division. Households in the (bottom) 95% spend most or all -- sometimes even more than all -- of their income. In contrast, households in the top 5% allocate a lower portion of their income to current spending and save a larger share.6
In aggregate, since the early 1980s (and probably well before that time) the bottom 95% of households spent slightly over 90% of income on personal consumption. In contrast, the personal consumption/income share of the top 5%, while much more volatile than for the 95%, usually fluctuated around 80% of total income during this same time period. Thus, if income becomes more concentrated in the hands of the top 5%, the rate of consumer spending growth should slow.
Since the early 1980s, the top 5% of households has increased their income share by almost two-thirds, rising from 15% to about 23% of total household income. Of course, the share of household income going to the bottom 95% of households has fallen by an identical amount. But, until the Great Recession, personal consumption growth remained strong.
As income share shifted away from the 95% (experienced as slow or stagnant income growth), households sought to maintain their existing standard of consumption. Doing so is possible by drawing on wealth, but that can only sustain consumption over the long run if the assets that are the source of income are also growing in value. Houses seemed, for almost a decade in the late 1990s/early 2000s to be exactly that kind of asset. But houses are a different kind of asset than, for example, stocks, bonds or other stores of financial wealth. Financial assets are generally quite liquid, particularly in modern financial markets. Housing markets, in contrast, are geographically specific, and houses as an asset are much less liquid. This is true both because if (generally) takes much longer to sell a house than a share of stock and because the seller has to live somewhere so there are very high transaction costs -- moving, packing, etc. Thus, rather than constantly changing their houses, households were strongly encouraged to borrow against the increased value of this asset.
The result was a huge growth in debt -- followed by the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession.
Debt, Slow Economic Growth and the Structure of Aggregate Demand
Sustaining rates of personal consumption in the face of stagnant income growth resulted, for the bottom 95%, in a rising debt-to-income ratio. Between the mid-1980s and the Great Recession, the debt to income ratio for the 95% increased from 75% to 175% while that for the 5% actually declined in the 1980s and early 1990s, returning by the Great Recession to a level similar to that of the 1980s.
Of course, if the debt to income ratio for the 95% could expand indefinitely, so could the growth of personal consumption. But, obviously it couldn't. The collapse of the house price bubble, the resulting huge increase in mortgage defaults, and failure of financial institutions resulted in a sharp contraction of credit access and household pressure to pay down debt ("deleverage") for the 95%. Instead of expanding personal consumption, households in the bottom 95% cut back. The top 5% did not significantly reduce their consumption. But, since income concentration did not reverse and in fact continued to increase, the result was the sharp drop in personal consumption growth noted at the beginning of this article.
The New Political Economy of Consumption
That drop in consumption growth would, alone, have hurt employment opportunities for prime-age as well as other workers. But the drop in consumption growth has been coupled with a shift in the structure of aggregate demand that has hurt prime-age workers' (as well as others') chances for good jobs. Since the end of the Great Recession, the top 5% of households have continued to capture an increased share of total income. This in turn has made consumption demand more responsive to the spending patterns of these households. The top 5% now account for $3 of every $10 of consumer spending.
The impact of this shift in consumption spending towards high-income households can be illustrated through a variety of examples. Mid-tier retailers such as Penny's and Macy's have struggled, while higher end retailers such as Nieman Marcus and luxury hotel chains such as St. Regis and Ritz Carlton have prospered.
Probably the most dramatic example of this shift in the structure of aggregate demand, and one that has impacted the job opportunities of prime-age workers in construction, has been the change in the market for housing. In 2014, for the first time, house builders sold more houses priced above $400,000 than below. Sales of house priced at $1 million or more have been particularly strong, in contrast to slow growth in the mid and lower tier house market. More revenue from fewer sales, as total sales and new home construction have fallen below the levels of 2000-02. Instead, new construction has been concentrated in at the other end of the housing market, building multi-family, usually rental units. While this is new construction, it employs fewer construction workers per unit. Construction was and is one of the occupations hit the hardest by the Great Recession, and it still suffers from higher than average unemployment.
There is a third, less documented shift in the structure of aggregate demand that results from an increased share coming from the top 5%. Although this group of households can buy only so many new houses, cars and boats, the demand of wealthy households for more personal services continues to grow. These new high-end services include chauffeurs, nannies, personal home health and fitness aides -- all the concierge services that wealthy households want. But this desire for these high end services is not accompanied by a willingness to pay high wages and / or benefits to the service providers. These new jobs are not the jobs that the missing prime-age workers held before the Great Recession, and they are not the jobs that pay enough for people to support a family.
This shift in aggregate demand towards new concierge services raises an interesting question about the future direction of the U.S. political economy. A provocative way of thinking about question is to compare the U.S. today with nineteenth-century Great Britain. Then the largest world economy, Britain was known as "the workshop of the world," producing, in the mid-nineteenth century, more than half the world's output of cotton cloth, coal, and iron. So we think of Britain as a large factory, filled with workers in textiles, mining, and manufacturing. But the reality of the British occupational structure was quite different. "Domestic servant" was the largest occupation reported in the 1871 census (and was the second largest in 1851 and 1861 census, just after farm laborers and servants). There were more domestic servants than textile, mining, and iron manufacturing workers combined. A large household such as that of the Duke of Westminster would have as many as 100 servants, split between inside and outside work.
So we had a country that was the leading economic power with high levels of inequality and a rigid class structure. That class rigidity and very low intergenerational mobility was embodied in and reproduced by the widespread personal power relationships of masters and mistresses to their servants. Does this picture point towards a possible future for the U.S? There are certainly signs of such a trend. The lavish residences now being built, in which our top 1% often live in gated communities, come with on-site chefs, butler services, and personal trainers. "Concierge service" is a growth industry in the United States.
Is this the future we want? And is it a future that will generate good jobs for prime-age workers? I think the answer to both questions is no.
So, the first lesson to draw is that the mantra of "job creation" is not a sufficient guide to policy. We need to think about the kinds of jobs that we want to create and the kinds of opportunities that they may present for potential employees. This approach to job creation does not reject a further shift toward an economy where the production of more things grows more slowly than the production of more services. The latter can be less environmentally intensive and can offer more in the way of economic opportunity and development of human potential. A jobs program that targets the expansion of the social wage by funding more socially provided health, education, and cultural services will create a more just and humane society. This kind of job creation policy draws upon the high productivity of our goods-producing sector to build a political economy of shared social and cultural life, moving us towards Keynes' vision of a society in which we would live wisely, agreeably, and well.
by Alex McLeese
Wealth taxes, once unimaginable, have entered the American conversation. As federal debts accumulate and inequality widens, the French economist Thomas Piketty has proposed a "useful utopia" -- a plan to tax global wealth at a progressive rate of a few percent each year. His 2014 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century became a surprise bestseller, and numerous commentators have responded. For socialists reluctant to nationalize industries outright, Piketty's policy presents an attractive alternative.
Though many Americans have grown increasingly hostile to taxation, other nations have experimented with wealth taxes. The United Kingdom has taxed many forms of property for centuries. Germany and Sweden implemented broad wealth taxes beginning in the late 19th century. Today, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland tax wealth. Recently, the Italian government proposed such a tax in 2012, and Cyprus levied capital once in 2013.
Because they tax all of an individual's property, wealth taxes might at first seem less just than consumption, income or inheritance taxes. Those taxes are easier to implement than wealth taxes because they rely on available data, but wealth taxes may be as acceptable from the perspective of political philosophy. An assessment of justice in taxation must consider an individual's ability to contribute, the benefits he derives from society, and protection of his property rights.
American property is already taxed, especially immobile real estate property at local levels. From the point of view of philosophy, assets taxed by a wealth tax would be little different.
Consumption taxes do in some sense correspond to how much individuals benefit from society, but they do not capture how much an individual is capable of contributing, which a wealth tax would.
Income taxes are levied on property acquired in particular periods. This type of property represents a recent contribution to the economy, and so may be protected by property rights more strongly than wealth created in earlier time periods -- the capital a wealth tax would target.
Inheritance or estate taxes seem more just than general wealth taxes because the subsequent generation does not hold as secure a property right to the inherited capital, but inheritance may be seen as merely a particular kind of transfer of wealth.
Income and inheritance taxes may be justified because they correspond to the degree individuals benefit from social protection of property rights -- but, even more so, wealth taxes may be justified for this reason.
Wealth taxes, then, may be considered as, or more, just than the alternatives.
Piketty considers several varieties of such a tax. A flat tax of 0.1 percent on all capital would generate revenue equal to 0.5 percent of global income, but more importantly would increase transparency. On the high end, an annual progressive tax of 5, 10 or more percent on fortunes over 1 billion euros would generate far more revenue.
Piketty presents several strong arguments for a wealth tax.
Piketty advocates a wealth tax in part "to stop the indefinite increase of inequality of wealth." His central argument is that in our system of financial capitalism, rates of return on capital exceed rates of growth, causing widening inequality. In recent years, the share of income earned by the top 1 percent of Americans has risen from 10 to 20 percent. Gains to this group represent half of those experienced so far in the twenty-first century.
Piketty finds two separate additional justifications for such a tax -- a contributive and an incentive. According to Piketty, "Income is often not a well-defined concept for very wealthy individuals, and only a direct tax on capital can correctly gauge the contributive capacity of the wealthy." Some wealthy citizens may be taxed on the basis of declared incomes that are only 1 percent of their economic incomes. The result is that "effective tax rates (expressed as a percentage of economic income) are extremely low at the top of the wealth hierarchy, which is problematic, since it accentuates the explosive dynamic of wealth inequality, especially when larger fortunes are able to garner larger returns."
Although Piketty finds the incentive argument less convincing, he offers: "The basic idea is that a tax on capital is an incentive to seek the best possible return on one's capital stock...the purpose of the tax on capital is thus to force people who use their wealth inefficiently to sell assets in order to pay their taxes, thus ensuring that those assets wind up in the hands of more dynamic investors."
Just as important, Piketty asserts that "the capital tax must first promote democratic and financial transparency: there should be clarity about who owns what assets around the world." Transparency is necessary for knowledge of the distribution of wealth, upon which international financial regulation depends. The United States recently moved in this direction with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which requires yearly reporting of foreign financial accounts. Piketty argues governments should go even further, requiring automatic sharing of all banking data, extended to all assets and debts. Without this transparency, indebted governments cannot effectively tax wealth. In recent years, Greece has been forced to privatize assets instead of taxing the wealthiest Greeks, who stash money in overseas funds. In 2013, Cyprus sought to implement a progressive tax on wealth but was frustrated because of absent banking data.
Many commentators agree that a wealth tax could contribute to debt reduction. Piketty offers several proposals for reducing debt. Europe might reduce public debt by 20 percent of GDP through a one-time or a ten-year tax. A one-time levy would tax fortunes at 0 percent up to 1 million euros, 10 percent between 1 and 5 million, and 20 percent above 5 million. The same reduction could be achieved by a progressive tax with rates of 0, 1, and 2 percent for a period of ten years.
Detractors offer many economic arguments against a wealth tax, but these are not compelling.
A tax implemented in a single country may cause capital flight, as it has in nations such as France. A global wealth tax would avoid flight. But, even Piketty admits, such a tax would require an "unrealistic level of international cooperation." Piketty contends that a tax could be levied throughout the European Union. While that body has recently experienced difficulties with formulating a unified European economic policy, it might succeed at implementing a wealth tax. "Is a European wealth tax realistic?" asks Piketty. "There is no technical reason why not. It is the tool best suited to meet the economic challenges of the twenty-first century, especially in Europe, where private wealth is thriving to a degree not seen since the Belle Époque." Still, he admits: "If the countries of the Old Continent are to cooperate more closely, European political institutions will have to change. The only strong European institution at the moment is the ECB, which is important but notoriously insufficient." Piketty suggests "a new parliamentary body to reflect the desire for unification that exists within the Eurozone countries... Extending the principle of 'residence of the capital asset' (rather than of its owner) to financial assets would obviously require automatic sharing of bank data to allow the tax authorities to assess complex ownership structures. Such a tax would also raise the issue of multinationality. Adequate answers to all these questions can clearly be found only at the European (or global) level. The right approach is therefore to create a Eurozone budgetary parliament to deal with them. Are all these proposals utopian? No more so than attempting to create a stateless currency."
A wealth tax might, even as it reduces inequality, cause harm to economies, including to middle and lower classes. According to the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation, Piketty's progressive tax of 1 and 2 percent of capital would "depress the capital stock by 13.3 percent, decrease wages by 4.2 percent, eliminate 886,400 jobs, and reduce GDP by 4.9 percent, or about $800 billion, all for a revenue gain of less than $20 billion." The magazine National Review, also conservative, predicted that as a result of a wealth tax, "asset sales by the rich will lead to a reduction in investment, lower productivity and, over a period of time, lower wages." But the economic effects of a wealth tax would depend in part upon how governments made use of the revenue. Productive investments and debt reductions could increase growth.
The administration of wealth taxes would be complicated. Governments would need to value assets and enforce compliance. Many assets are not financial, so valuation would require intrusion by governments. India recently eliminated its wealth tax because it found it difficult to accurately value assets. However, many other countries that tax capital have successfully measured value. Piketty's global proposal offers a promising approach: "national tax authorities should receive all the information they need to calculate the net wealth of every citizen...For assets and liabilities associated with financial institutions within national borders, this could be done immediately, since banks, insurance companies, and other financial intermediaries in most developed countries are already required to inform the tax authorities about bank accounts and other assets they administer... The first step toward a global tax on capital should be to extend to the international level this type of automatic transmission of banking data in order to include information on assets held in foreign banks in the precomputed asset statements issued to each taxpayer. It is important to recognize that there is no technical obstacle to doing so."
Many political writers believe other taxes are preferable to wealth taxes. James Galbraith laments that wealth taxes do not exempt "socially useful" fortunes. Alternative suggestions include raising other taxes -- especially estate or inheritance taxes. Galbraith argues that a wealth tax would require "a worldwide Domesday Book recording an annual measure of everyone's personal net worth," while an estate tax "remains viable, in principle, because it requires that wealth be appraised only once, on the demise of the holder." In 2014, presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed a progressive estate tax on the wealthiest .25 percent of Americans. Still, wealth taxes possess several distinctive advantages over an estate tax: they do not create distorted incentives to transfer wealth, they continually measure ability to contribute, and they require reforms to increase transparency.
Some argue that wealth taxes have failed in almost all cases. Austria abolished its wealth tax in 1994, followed by Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, India, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Italy's proposed wealth tax in 2012 provoked outrage. However, these failures have all involved policies in single nations. A regional or global tax, as proposed by Piketty, would avoid capital flight and be more likely to succeed.
An alternative to an annual wealth tax would be a one-time capital levy. Such a tax would be attractive because, if implemented quickly so as to avoid capital flight and certain never to be repeated, it would not cause distortion in the economy. If levied at a high rate, such a tax could achieve substantial debt reduction. According to the IMF, a one-time 10 percent wealth levy could return many European countries to pre-crisis public debt to GDP ratios. In 2014, the German Bundesbank endorsed a capital levy in a national emergency such as sovereign default so long as it would be a one-off tax. However, Barry Eichengreen observes that the conditions for a successful tax -- rapid execution and a guarantee never to happen again -- would almost certainly not occur in a democratic countries. A one-off tax has only been levied successfully in cases like 1945 Japan, where democracy was suspended. In addition, Ken Rogoff argues that political delays over burden sharing and administrative difficulties regarding valuation would undermine a one-off tax. However, an annual regional or global tax on wealth supported by automatic transmission of banking data, as suggested by PIketty, would avoid some of these problems.
Because the arguments against an annual wealth tax are not convincing, it is a strong option for socialists who wish to democratize the economy. Some socialists might favor direct expropriation of assets, but such an approach would cause a severe social rupture. Others would opt for different taxes, on capital gains, carbon, financial transactions, or income. But to gradually achieve truly public ownership of the economy, a substantial wealth tax is the most viable alternative. Many socialist programs for example, John Roemer's "Coupon Socialism" and David Schweickart's "Economic Democracy" rely on wealth taxes to fund socialization.
As Republicans in Washington obstruct any path towards greater revenue, a wealth tax might seem fantastical. But many European nations have taxed capital for decades. Even American history yields an example of a revolution in taxation. An amendment taxing income was passed in 1913. Lawmakers at the time saw an income tax as more "equitable" than the preceding system of tariffs -- just as some might now see a wealth tax compared to the income tax system itself. Later, Huey Long proposed a wealth tax in 1934, and, surprisingly, Donald Trump advocated a one-time 14.25 percent wealth tax on assets over $10 million in 1999. His proposal would have generated $6 trillion to eliminate the national debt at that time. Today, federal debts and inequality surpass past levels. Trump continues to consider a wealth tax, telling one interviewer recently that it "would be a very conservative thing." In this environment, socialists and others might organize a movement, in America and elsewhere, towards a wealth tax -- and perhaps inspire another tax revolution.
by Peg Strobel
Eleanor Marx (1855-1898) is known in some circles as Karl Marx's daughter and assistant and in others as a key figure in conceptualizing and fighting for socialist feminism. In Eleanor Marx: A Life (2015), Rachel Holmes integrates both aspects of Marx's life and more.
The youngest daughter of Karl and Jennie Marx, Eleanor grew up in Britain and was deeply involved in the development of socialism as a movement, not just as a body of ideas. She served as Karl's research assistant during his lifetime and as the preserver and protector of his legacy after his death. She combined theory and practice. Holmes notes, "She was midwife to the twins of trade unionism and socialist internationalism" (p. 313). in 1889-90 she supported and mentored the head of the National Union of Gas Workers and General Labourers during a crucial strike and established the first women's branch of that union. In the last year of her life, she served as fundraiser for the Amalgamated Society of Engineers and helped carry out the ASE's campaign for the eight-hour day. She fought battles within and without the various organizations and shifting alignments of socialists.
1886 she published with her common-law
husband and lover, Edward Aveling, "The Woman Question: From a
Socialist Point of View," which put women's issues, including
sexuality, on the evolving socialist agenda. Holmes notes
that, from the lives of friends and family members, Eleanor
Marx was deeply aware of the problems experienced by women
resulting from having children and bearing the responsibility
for running a household. She preached the need for women to be
financially independent. Friends and family identified Aveling
as a parasite and a jerk. Marx remained in love with and loyal
to him. Not physically attractive and often ill, he was an
excellent speaker and actor. They shared performances and
speaking tours. Marx's critique of bourgeois marriage, Holmes
suggests, provided a way for her to understand and justify her
relationship with Aveling:
Nonetheless, the most puzzling aspect of Marx's life is her fidelity to Aveling.
Eleanor Marx engaged with socialism internationally. She was deeply moved by the role of women in the Paris Commune of 1871 and helped an earlier lover write (and then translated) his memoir and History of the Commune, which became a key primary source.
Sharing an interest in theater and Shakespeare with Aveling, she translated Henrik Ibsen's plays and performed them, introducing English speakers to the radical ideas emanating from Norway about women's autonomy. She translated Gustav Flaubert's Madame Bovary from the French. Unlike her father, she identified with her Jewish ancestry, learning Yiddish and speaking out against anti-Semitism and the marginalization of Jewish unions within the trade union movement.
Despite her many accomplishments and vibrant life, she committed suicide at age 43. Holmes argues that this was the result of her discovery of betrayal by two men dear to her, her father and her lover. Eleanor Marx came to learn that the boy and man whom she had grown up understanding to be the illegitimate child of Engels was in fact her half-brother. During his wife Jenny's absence in 1850, Karl Marx had a relationship with Helen Demuth, Jenny's longtime companion who was part of the family and played a major role in keeping the household running through penurious times and Jenny's frequent pregnancies. This discovery raised a dilemma as she was trying to write a biography of her father.
If this was not enough, she learned that Aveling had secretly married another woman upon the death of his wife years earlier. (He had told Eleanor that he could not marry her because his Catholic wife would not grant a divorce.) Within days of this second discovery, Eleanor Marx killed herself.
It was fascinating for me, having participated in DSA's reading/discussion of Karl Marx's work last spring, to read about the context -- familial, political, intellectual, familial -- In which Marx and Friedrich Engels works were written.
compiled by Bob Roman
Our annual New Ground Labor Day fundraiser went well. So far, 25 people have contributed about a thousand dollars total. For the size of the solicitation, 25 is good, and the dollar amount is about what fundraising gurus would predict from that number. Unfortunately, a grand is about half the minimum needed to maintain New Ground as a print publication. Not to worry: We are not any immediate danger of cutting the surly bonds of pulp and transcending entirely into cyberspace, but folks should be forewarned that it could happen, depending on how other fundraising goes.
Mollie West and Julian Bond
Long time labor, feminist and culture activist Mollie West died on August 7 at the age of 99. Civil rights activist Julian Bond died on August 15, aged 75. Bond had been a charter DSOC/DSA member; West had been a member for most of the 1990s. They were both honored at Chicago DSA's 1993 Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner. For more information see New Ground 30.
The 30th annual Mother Jones Dinner will be dedicated to Joe Hill on the 100 year anniversary of his execution. MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO will speak at the event. Fresh off his "Joe Hill Road Show", singer-song writer, labor troubadour Bucky Halker will perform. The dinner will be Sunday, October 11, 5 PM at the event's new home of Erin's Pavilion in Southwind Park, 4965 S. 2nd St, in Springfield, Illinois. Tickets are $35 and may be obtained from the Mother Jones Foundation, PO Box 20412, Springfield, Illinois, 62708-0412. For more information, call Al Pieper at 217.522.4688 or Terry Reed at 217.789.6495.
On that Sunday afternoon, beginning at Noon, you are invited to attend a memorial ceremony at the Mother Jones Monument in the Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois. Brief presentations by area union and community members will pay homage to one of labor's most remarkable organizers. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Mother Jones Foundation (above).
The Illinois Labor History Society, custodians of the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument, will be having their 34th annual Union Hall of Honor Awards Dinner, this year honoring Elizabeth Maloney, Rubin Ramirez, and Olgha Sierra-Sandman. The event will be on Friday, October 23, 5 PM at the Operating Engineers Local 399 Hall, 2260 S. Grove, in Chicago. Tickets are $100. For more information, call 312.341.2247.
The Illinois Labor History Society, in conjunction with the Forest Park Historical Society, is also beginning a weekly tour of the Forest Home Cemetery (863 DesPlaines Ave, Forest Park). The tour begins 11 AM, rain or shine, each Saturday May to October. Visits to the Martyrs' Monument, and the graves of Emma Goldman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and others, are on the itinerary. A $10 donation is suggested. For more information, call 312.341.2247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
compiled by Bob Roman
DSA was mentioned by Anna Orso at online BillyPenn in a survey of opportunities for political activism at "Philadelphia's City Six college campuses". In a New York Observer survey of socialist organizations' attitudes toward Bernie Sanders by Ari Paul, DSA naturally was included.
Bernie Sanders and what is socialism, anyway, was the topic of an article by Lisa Gutierrez in The Kansas City Star that used DSA as a reference. The article was picked up by several other McClatchy publications. DSA was also used as a reference for socialism in an article about Sanders by Phalen Kuckuck at The New Political.
Is Bernie Sanders a DSA member? He is, said our old frenemy, Trevor Loudon, in one of his convoluted conspiracy essays because it says so in this DSA newsletter, which also located Sanders in Maine. He isn't, says Patrick Howley in an EXCLUSIVE article at Breitbart News. That hardly qualifies as news, except many conservative bloggers have been having a great time with it: So easily amused.
DSA was used as an identifier for a quote from Milton Tambor in Atlanta Magazine's article by Max Blau re: Bernie Sander's march through the South. Cornel West joined Sanders for at least part of this campaign swing, and this was covered in an article by John Wagner and Vanessa Williams in the Washington Post. The Washington Post version does not mention DSA or indeed socialism, but the syndicated version apparently came with a variety of audience opinion quotes, one version including Brandon Peyton-Carrillo who was identified as a DSA member, as posted at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for example. Atlanta Progressive News ran its own account of Sanders' visit to Atlanta with DSA used as an identifier for an extensive quote from Daniel Hanley.
DSA was mentioned in passing in an article by Nicolas Davies about Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders at Consortium News.
DSA's support for Bernie Sanders was the focus of an aricle by Eric Garcia at National Journal.
So Why Does America Need to Feel the Bern?
At Mt. Bloom, Corey Stolzenbach explains:
Because this newsletter so much as mentions Bernie Sanders, the FEC wants us to point out that it was paid for by Chicago Democratic Socialists of America and most certainly not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. We're not really sure how you would calculate the expense; it could well be as much as a few dollars. How's that for a super PAC?
Fight for 15 Rallies in Oak Park.
GOPDSA member Ron Baiman addresses
for 15 Expands to the Suburbs
Chicago DSA publicized the event with a newsletter insert, Facebook posts, and a targeted mailing of a few hundred postcards to the usual suspects in Oak Park. Greater Oak Park DSA had signs union printed and turned out its members and friends.
Fight for 15 fills the Oak Park
Village Board Room.
the Chicago Abortion Fund
For tickets, CLICK HERE.
For Many, the Minimum Is the
United Working Families
Single-Payer National Strategy