After a long and extensive national
search for a new director, the National Political Committee of
the Democratic Socialists of America has chosen Horace Small,
a progressive organizer and activist from Philadelphia as its
new National Director.
"DSA, like most progressive organizations,
is embroiled in a struggle with the Right to capture the moral
soul of the American people." said Marsha Borenstein, a member
of the National Political Committee and chairperson of the search
committee. "In our search for a new Director, our challenge
was to find someone with a long and extensive history of progressive
activism... someone with extensive organizing experience, as well
as someone who can work with all factions of the progressive movement
with ease. We also were aware that we needed someone who could
bring new blood into DSA, who can mobilize and inspire constituencies
to take action, and help constituencies to chart a course for
growth and development as we move to a new century. We believe
we have that person in Horace Small. There is no doubt in our
minds that he will do a tremendous job for us," concluded
Horace Small has been a fixture in progressive
social movements in the Philadelphia area for almost 25 years.
As lead organizer with the Philadelphia Unemployment Project in
the early 1980s, he played a critical role in organizing passage
of the nation's only mortgage foreclosure assistance program in
the Pennsylvania legislature for families faced with the loss
of their homes due to unemployment or circumstances beyond their
control. As Director of Organizing and Special Projects for the
Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network, he organized the
nation's first gun buy-back program, as well as legislation through
the Philadelphia City Council, banning the sale and ownership
of assault weapons in the city of Philadelphia.
Horace Small is the founder of the Philadelphia
Community School, a training center for citizens and citizen leaders
in the skills or organizing, fundraising and non-profit management.
As senior consultant for Karant and Associates, a non-profit consulting
firm based in Boston, he assisted organizations such as the Massachusetts
Tenant Organization, the Edward Cooper Environmental Center, M-POWER,
the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, South Bronx
Ministries and several community development corporations throughout
the East. He was a past President of the National Federation of
Black Organizers, former National Vice Chair of the Board of the
National Unemployed Network, and is President of the Black Men's
Health Advocacy Project of Philadelphia. He co-teaches a course
in Marketing and Fundraising at the New Hampshire College Graduate
of Business Community Economic Development Program.
"I am pleased and honored that
DSA has chosen me as its new Director." said Small. "The
Progressive movement in this country desperately needs a voice
to promote an agenda that promises opportunity and hope to all
of America's citizens. We must do a better job of communicating
our message and our programs to the people of this country. We
must do a better job of spending time educating communities of
color and other minorities on our views and positions on issues
that effect them, and we must empower and train citizens to organize
to effect real change. I believe these principles to be my strengths
and the reason why I was chosen for the position. I look forward
to the challenge of building a movement where ultimately a real
exchange or ideas on issues becomes a reality and not just wishful
thinking." concluded Small.
Although he will be working out of New
York, Small will continue to reside in Philadelphia with his wife,
Sue, and his 15 year old son, Brandon Jeremy.
by Bob Roman
On Friday, July 9th, the Open University of the Left and Chicago
DSA co-sponsored a debate, "The Kosovo War: Lessons for the
Left". It was both a great success and a dismal failure.
Held at Roosevelt University, some 90 people gathered to hear
Mark Weinberg from Chicago DSA, Peter Hudis from News &
Letters, Louis Paulsen from the Workers World Party, Robbie
Bogarde from the Kosovo Task Force, Kevin Martin from Peace Action
and Barry Romo address this topic. Kevin Martin was unable to
participate due to illness and Carl Nyberg took his place.
As a meeting, the event was a great success. A great deal of
credit must go to Kathleen DeSautels from the Eighth Day Center
for Justice, who was a superb moderator. Within the constraints
of a seven minute time limit, Mark Weinberg did a good job presenting
both the official DSA position and the range of opinions within
DSA. Likewise, the other speakers made articulate, mostly, and
sometimes impassioned presentations for their positions. The audience
was mostly well behaved and their participation was generally
reasonable. All things considered, this should count as a real
But as a debate about the lessons of Kosovo, the meeting was
a nonstarter. At best, there was something of a consensus that
Kosovo shows "something is wrong with the left". Unfortunately,
the specific diagnosis for what is wrong generally seemed to be
that others on the left did not agree with whatever position was
being articulated. Certainly there was no attempt to define a
future political agenda to which most might agree regardless or
in spite of any ideological disagreements.
Maybe this was inevitable. The title of the debate presupposed
that there is a single "left" within which there is
enough agreement over values, philosophy, politics, etc., for
a fruitful debate to be possible. It may also be simply true that
"what we learn from history is that we learn nothing from
Those of you in Chicago who missed the event will have an opportunity
judge for yourself. CATV Cable Channel 19 will broadcast an abridged
version of the meeting on Saturday, August 14, at 2 pm and 7 pm.
by Bill Dixon
As the World Trade Organization's Third Ministerial Summit
meets in Seattle from November 30th through December 3rd, trade
ministers and other responsible folk from all corners of the globe
will gather and produce the customary rhetoric. Expand the markets;
get government out of trade, and, at long last, let capitalism
be capitalism! Or at least, that is what you'll hear if you get
past that other international event taking place nearby.
Which might not be easy, since tens of thousands of the WTO's
opponents will be loudly demonstrating against the summit throughout
its proceedings. They will demand an end to globalization as we
know it; they will call for a more democratic, solidaristic, and
ecological path toward world development. Among them will be environmentalists,
union members, and consumer, farm, and public health activists,
as well as progressive leaders from the US and around the world.
Keenly aware that globalization comes to public view only too
rarely in the form of tangible targets, the anti-WTO forces hope
to hijack some of the meeting's publicity and turn the event into
a lightening rod for protest.
Ironically enough, the summit's media intensive PR focus may
make the occasion more productive for the activist opposition
than for the actual participants.
But considerably more than symbolism recommends the WTO as
a worthy target. For so long as the WTO itself remains in force,
social justice will be the road not taken in the global economy.
By its essential design, the World Trade Organization pits the
most radical standard of market sovereignty against virtually
anything which might diminish the rights of multinational capital
to maximum profits.
Simply put, the sole aim of the WTO is to turn the planet into
one big marketplace, with a single set of pro-business rules binding
all nations, rich and poor alike, at all times, at all costs.
Until the work of the WTO is stopped, poor and working people
across the globe will be officially tied to the ever expanding
control of a strange new capitalist order, one perversely dependent
upon a strict system of rules and an elaborate bureaucratic administration.
The World Trade Organization is a recent creation of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. GATT was first negotiated after
World War II by the major economic powers in order to strengthen
the strategic interests of the capitalist West through reinvigorated
international commerce. For the next forty years, GATT negotiations,
called "rounds", proceeded to open markets by eliminating
tariffs and import quotas slowly and selectively among countries
within US and European influence. In 1986, however, GATT members
began the Uruguay Round, which carried trade liberalization to
historic new heights.
At the Uruguay Round, in large part thanks to the Reagan /
Thatcher axis, negotiations went far beyond tariffs and turned
instead to the broader category of "barriers to trade".
This rubric can include any policies, laws, or even cultural or
religious customs which seem to interfere with the natural workings
of supply and demand. Backing up this aggressive new approach
to capitalist expansion is the WTO, established with the ratification
of the Uruguay Round in 1994.
The WTO enforces GATT and settles trade disputes between member
nations. These executive and quasi-judicial functions distinguish
the WTO drastically from the pre-Uruguay GATT rounds, which allowed
members exemptions from many provisions and kept enforcement powers
to a minimum. The WTO arbitrates conflicts through special panels.
The panels act like judges, hearing complaints that one member's
practices violate GATT against the interests of another. If the
panel rules against a member, it may authorize punitive sanctions
against the guilty party or force it to eliminate the practice
in question. Before Uruguay, GATT members had to unanimously vote
for any action to be taken against a member. With the WTO, such
action happens automatically with the panel's ruling.
The dangers of this process are difficult to overestimate.
First, there are the WTO reviews themselves. The panels are composed
of career trade officials and business experts drawn from a bureaucratically
appointed roster, leaving the process wide open to influence peddling
and conflicts of interest. The panel's deliberations are closed
to the public and the press but not to select advocates from the
private sector. The standards of evidence, especially in cases
involving public health, are lax at best and often arbitrarily
disregard expert testimony and recognized scientific data. The
standards for legal consistency and precedent aren't much better.
Typically, WTO rulings rest on precious little in the way of actual
law. In crucial respects the GATT text itself is often ambiguously
worded, and WTO panels regularly ignore other multilateral agreements,
particularly those involving environmental and labor issues.
Even more frightening than how the panels function is what
they actually do, as shown by some of the high profile WTO cases.
In the United States, the WTO has boldly struck down portions
of the Clean Air Act, allowing Venezuelan gasoline to pollute
US air at levels of toxicity deemed appropriate by Venezuela.
Likewise, the WTO also supports US efforts to force the European
Union to accept US beef from cattle treated with dangerous levels
of bovine growth hormone. The WTO has also challenged a Massachusetts
selective purchasing law which boycotts the military regime of
Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) on the grounds that human rights
standards are really just protectionism in disguise. And recently,
the WTO ruled in favor of the US-based Chiquita company, declaring
that the European Union may not promote Caribbean agricultural
development by giving preferential treatment to Caribbean owned
banana exporters. US companies Dole, Delmonte, and Chiquita together
control forty-two percent of the EU banana imports. So far, this
near cartel of giant agribusiness has successfully used the WTO
to defend its dominant position in the market and threaten small
producers - all in the name of fair competition!
As might be expected, sensational cases like these have provoked
heated controversy, raising important questions within the WTO
about how it should do business. Many countries have set forth
serious if conflicting proposals for WTO reforms, such as more
accountable and open enforcement procedures, greater respect for
democracy and national sovereignty, real environmental standards,
labor rights, and so on.
At Seattle's Ministerial meeting, these issues among others
will be taken up but only in general terms. Ministerial Summits
meet every three years to assess progress and deliberate over
the broad outline for the WTO's future internal negotiations.
Blocking any real progress on any of these issues, however,
is a kind of ideological wall beyond which WTO debates will never
go. It rests on the grand assumption that market led growth through
multinational corporate profit seeking can by itself sustain more
or less equitable prosperity for the vast majority of the planet.
Now, this is a whale of a premise, even for confirmed capitalists,
but the alternatives (more international regulation, coordinated
aid, investment, and planning) somehow escape serious mention
in even the most heated WTO disputes. Yet once you accept that
markets always know best and that governments can't be trusted
with their own economies - let alone the world market - plausible
arguments for "democratizing" the WTO or whatever become
That's why the WTO's reform talk always gets lost in the ideological
glare of this defining consensus, which over the years has eerily
advanced to the point of sheer fanaticism. Opponents call it "trade
uber alles", referring to the corollary notion that
all of the social complexities of globalization should be reduced
to the single goal of enlarging markets. Unfortunately, because
the WTO is constructed exclusively for the purpose of putting
this very idea into practice, the WTO's range of opinion will
always be handicapped by nothing less than its entire reason for
Never has this bizarre impairment been more obvious than during
the WTO debates over the Asian crisis. Not so long ago, after
all, international investor panic nearly sunk the West along with
most of the Third World into a deadly recession. "Stability"
was restored only through massive intervention in the form of
hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout packages and makeshift,
band-aid style banking reforms. Even so, for most in the WTO the
lesson of the Asian crisis is that, amazingly, global markets
are not yet powerful enough! Blame for the Asian crisis goes instead
to Asian backwardness, not to the investment markets where reckless
speculation made disaster merely a matter of time.
This same circular logic drives the WTO's current quest for
expansion into China. The Chinese, to their credit, are understandably
reluctant to accept US and EU demands that China open up its financial
sectors to precisely those Western investors whose blind profiteering
all but destroyed the economies of China's Asian neighbors.
It's anyone's guess the WTO's weird dogmatism explains some
of the other portentous events of recent months, such as the revolt
of Third World members in the bitterly contested WTO leadership
election or the intensified conflicts between the US, Japan, and
the European Union over bananas, beef, and steel. For the moment,
these dangers are boxed off as incidental obstacles to the ultimate
mission of making markets "work", now no longer a strategy
for growth so much as an end-in-itself. And so in the eyes of
elite opinion worldwide, the WTO remains brightly affirmed as
a more or less obvious measure of world-historic progress, rather
like the Olympics or the Internet; problematic at moments, sure,
but all in all a healthy sign of modernity on the march.
One way or another, that sunny capitalist delusion will come
to an end. Globalization will never be the natural, frictionless
process of markets - making - markets which the WTO was designed
to quietly administer and enforce from on high. On the contrary,
the transformations at work in the international economy are profoundly
social, with implications that run far beyond the laissez-faire
catechisms so carefully hardwired into the operational foundations
of the WTO.
The question is, will the failures of the WTO result in new
movements, programs, and institutions capable of challenging global
capitalism itself? Or will the planet instead be condemned to
a new era of capitalism at its worst, only now larger than ever,
and overseen by authorities who mistake catastrophe for success?
by Gene Birmingham
Chicago DSA was one of 109 political and social service agencies
and other non-profit groups that participated in a Du Page County
Civic Fair on July 10, 1999 at the Odeum, a sports complex and
convention center in Villa Park. Keynote speaker was Ralph Nader,
who fired up a crowd of several hundred people to get involved
in local citizen action and take back control of the country from
The fair sponsor was the Citizens Advocacy Center of Elmhurst,
one of Nader's inspirations. Theresa Amato, Kate Millett, and
Terry Pastika are a staff of three lawyers, working under a board
of directors, who fulfill Nader's dream by encouraging and training
people for citizen action. A few months ago Chicago DSA held a
Membership Meeting at the Center and provided a showing of the
Michael Harrington video. Free use of the facility is offered
to any non-profit group.
The Center staff decided that a Civic Fair would be a good
way to celebrate the Center's fifth anniversary. A Steering Committee
for the event included Steve De La Rosa, Donn Schneider and Gene
Birmingham of West Suburban DSA. At a reception following the
Fair, Nader congratulated those who are willing to get involved.
A number of people were awarded framed certificates for a variety
of community services.
Attendance outside the exhibitors was spotty, drawn mainly
by Nader's appearance. However, DSA male co-chair, Harold Taggart,
his nephew, and DSA members, Mark Weinberg and Ralph Suter, who
staffed the DSA table, found the effort worthwhile. Each group
received two copies of a Directory of all participating groups,
and had opportunities to get acquainted with one another.
Besides display tables, breakout groups heard panel discussions
by leaders in the areas of community organizing and media usage,
suburban sprawl, suburban housing and health care. Best known
of the panelists was single payer health care advocate and DSA
member Dr. Quentin Young.
In spite of its location in Du Page County, the only Republican
presence was a table promoting a candidate for a judgeship. Democrats
had five tables. Beside DSA, Left political groups included the
Socialist Party, Green Party, Labor Party and Communist Party,
and a number of Left issue oriented groups. One white supremacist
group provided a contrast. It seemed to be ignored for the most
part. About 490 people attended, and everyone agreed that this
was a good enough basis for another Fair next year.
by Harold Taggart
Approximately 200 people, mostly academics, attended the 4th
Biennial Working Class Conference held June 9-12 at Youngstown
State University in Youngstown, Ohio. The theme of the conference
was Class, Identity and Nation.
Participants came from states ranging from California to New
Hampshire, and five countries including Great Britain, Australia
and Russia. Professors, scholars, students, union leaders and
novice artists presented papers, readings and theater acts. Germany
contributed a complete working class art show. Attendees ranged
from Paul Lauter, senior editor of the Heath Anthology of American
Literature, to Ohio Valley businessman Bill Rosenberg. Several
DSA members attended including at least three from the Chicago
The keynote speaker was Paul Lauter, Professor of English at
Trinity College. He emphasized identity in the working class.
The big problem is that identity is defined from outside. The
working class needs to determine who it is and define itself.
The interests now telling the working class who it is and what
it stands for have selfish, ulterior motives.
Thursday night's keynote speaker was Stanley Aronowitz, Professor
of Sociology at City University of New York. A prolific writer,
this relatively young scholar has published 17 books including
False Promises: The Shaping of Working-Class Consciousness.
Aronowitz emphasized the changing nature of the working class.
Professionals such as doctors have begun to form unions in addition
to or in place of their professional organizations in response
to expanding and tightening corporate control of their professions.
Consequently, the face of the union movement is undergoing constant
change. Historically, Aronowitz claimed, when it comes to promoting
class consciousness, trade unions have been the problem more often
than the solution.
Panelists' papers addressed a wide range of issues. Movies
like Good Will Hunting and Joe were analyzed and
discussed for their portrayals of the working class. Carol Quirke
of City University of New York Graduate Center analyzed Life
magazine and its purported slant toward the common people. She
discovered that working people frequently were depicted sitting
or lying down at home and on the job or standing around in threatening
and menacing groups. Corporate managers, on the other hand, nearly
always were portrayed as industrious, thoughtful and concerned.
Daylanne English of Brandeis University presented a paper on
one of the US's more shameful eras titled: Cleaning Up America's
Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies, 1877-1926. Her research
revealed that nearly 70,000 Americans were sterilized under the
program. It causes a person to stop and ask if Hitler was really
that much different from his contemporary leaders around the world.
More in tune with the theme of the conference, several speakers
stressed the manipulation of the working class by the privileged
class. Upward mobility in this society is permitted for an individual.
Group efforts at upward mobility are ruthlessly crushed. Not only
does the ruling class define everyone else, it selects and limits
the language. One example cited was the term: "saving Social
Security." The speaker, Stanley Aronowitz, pointed out that
this is a rich nation that has abundant amounts of money to bail
out Savings and Loans and sponsor military adventures around the
world. It also has an abundance of money that not only could save
Social Security but also could greatly expand it. As long as the
privileged class is allowed to define who and what everyone and
everything is and restrict the language of the debate, the condition
of the working class can only deteriorate.
Youngstown State University claims to be the only University
in the United States with a full-blown working class studies program.
YSU's CWCS has the full support of its administration and, judging
by the participation, all the other departments on campus. Professors
John Russo, who had a prominent part in the documentary Michael
Harrington and Today's Other America, and Sherry Linkon are
co-directors of CWCS and the driving forces behind the biennial
During the early days of the conference, the visibly exhausted
Russo and Linkon mentioned several times that this probably would
be the last conference. However, after the singing, dancing and
reveling at the farewell party, they shouted that they would see
us again in two years.
compiled by Bob Roman
Nike has been a prime target for the international campaign
against sweatshops. The publicity has made Nike squirm, but they've
kept their production in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam
and China, where collective bargaining is not allowed.
To keep the street heat on, Chicago Jobs with Justice Cross
Border Organizing Committee organized a demonstration outside
Niketown on North Michigan Avenue on Saturday, June 26th. Some
two dozen people turned out to hand flyers to shoppers and waive
picket signs intended to educate consumers about Nike's sweatshop
labor practices. Reactions ranged from determinedly oblivious
to occasional outrage. One shopper exclaimed, "I paid $110
for these shoes, and they're getting a dollar an hour?!",
followed by a less printable judgment on the situation. Chicago
DSA members made up about a third of the demonstration.
Chicago Jobs with Justice, Nicaragua Solidarity Committee and
UofC Young Democratic Socialists are among the groups helping
to organize a Citywide Antisweatshop Coalition. It is a modest
beginning at present, being mostly an amalgamation of grouplets,
but with increasing resources becoming available in Chicago for
organizing around these issues, this could change radically over
the next year. Call Anne Statton at 773-772-0327 for more information.
It was a modest start, almost shy in a wild setting, but for
the first time in several years Chicago DSA had a contingent in
Chicago's annual Gay Pride Parade. Braving heat and torrential
downpours, the DSA banner was supported by a small group of 3
to 5 marchers. While there were a few cat calls, most of the reactions
(when there was any reaction at all) were positive. If you're
interested in helping the Chicago DSA Gay Lesbian Bisexual Commission
in doing further actions, call GLBC organizer Ben Doherty at 773-275-9561.
While a considerable number of Chicagoans and DSA members gathered
in Hyde Park to protest NATO's mid-life crisis and Clinton's quest
for immortality as opposed to immorality, the UofC Young Democratic
Socialists took the lead in organizing a coalition of graduating
seniors to protest at the commencement ceremonies.
Since the bombing of Serbia had substantially stopped by the
time Clinton spoke at the UofC graduation on June 12th, the coalition
of graduating protesters agreed to wear stickers that said "Fair
Trade Not Free Trade, I Signed the Pledge". Joan Axthelm
made all the stickers, big and very visible on the graduation
robes. While about 20% of the graduating class signed the pledge
to consider the social and environmental impact of any job they
took after graduation, most people backed out when it came to
wearing stickers. The University had warned that any sign of protest
would be dealt with by exclusion from the ceremony, thus only
about 9 graduating students wore them.
Nevertheless, we made a good impact. Clinton himself acknowledged
our message, although he tried to co-opt it by insisting that
we could have trade that was both fair and free. Overall his speech
was pro-market but leftish within that framework, more left than
he's actually been throughout his presidency, with a welcome endorsement
of debt relief for poor nations and a mention of the problem of
The protest and pledge were mentioned in the June 13th Chicago
Tribune article on the graduation and on several TV stations.
(Thanks to Amy Traub for most of this report.)
The strike at the Han Young
maquiladora plant in Tijuana, Mexico, has taken a turn for
the worse. On July 1, the strike was forcibly evicted from the
plant by ministerial, special forces and municipal police on orders
from the state government of Baja California. Baja California
is controlled by the conservative opposition party, National Action
Party (PAN). The plant makes truck chassis of the Hyundai Corporation,
and the workers have been on strike since 1997 after the independent
"October 6th" union won a representation election.
The election is precisely the core legal issue. The state government
has used every conceivable excuse to rule that the strike does
not legally exist. The Han Young company even moved its plant.
These maneuvers have been so specious that the Federal government
has over ruled them, forcing the state labor board to concede
that there may indeed be a strike.
As part of its ruling, the 15th Federal Circuit Court in Mexicali
ordered the state labor board to review its previous decision.
The labor board cleverly held its hearing at the original Han
Young plant somehow neglecting to inform the striking union. Finding
no strikers and an empty building, the labor board found no strike
and the Federal judge revoked the strike's federal protection
The state government took immediate advantage of the ruling
and cleared the factory using overwhelming police force. Further,
the state government is continuing to pursue trumped up criminal
charges against union officials.
At the page http://findanisp.homepage.com/top100/by/category/politics.html
you will find that, this week at any rate, the DSA web site is
ranked as the 36th most often linked to "political"
website in the world. This includes all those who link to us,
so we are benefiting from the several dozen conservative pages
linking to the Progressive Caucus pages in the DSA website. The
DSA site is located at http://www.dsausa.org/.
The rankings are accompanied by an indication of how they changed
since the last ranking was produced.
Chicago DSA has not been on the World-Wide Web for a while
now, but the CDSA 1999 Membership Convention has formed a task
force to remedy this lack. The Internet Task Force has already
begun work on this project, and we hope to have a site up on the
web by Labor Day. (Thanks to J. Hughes for most of this report.)