Chicago DSA condemns this act of mass murder
directed at the World Trade Center, civil aviation and the Pentagon.
It leaves us sickened, dismayed, outraged. These bombing are hardly
a political act; they do have political consequences and it's
hard to imagine many of them being good.
It's hard to imagine how this tragedy will
move the Middle East toward peace rather than a hardening of positions
and passions. It's hard to imagine how this will not result in
further restrictions on civil liberties. It's hard to imagine
that there will not be economic consequences.
We are not accustomed, in the United States,
to being victims. There will be talk of war. Certainly the organizers
of these acts should be brought to justice. In considering justice,
and in considering future U.S. foreign policy, we should not forget
these acts, but we should also not forget that the easiest lesson
learned from hate is not love but how to hate; the easiest lesson
learned from oppression is not freedom but how to dominate; the
easiest lesson learned from exploitation is not fairness but how
Adopted by the Chicago DSA Executive
Committee, September 11, 2001.
Nothing can justify the terrorist attacks
that came from the skies on September 11th. Democratic
Socialists of America condemns these brutal crimes. The victims
of this tragedy require effective justice not politically motivated
hyperbole. Few have been spared the agony of some personal connection
to the pain and anguish caused to those who have lost family or
friends. Our hearts are with all who have lost loved ones and
colleagues. All of the perpetrators of these criminal acts must
be brought before the bar of justice. In the days and weeks ahead
we will begin to learn the identities of those who perished, compounding
the shock of the terrible images that we all saw time, and time
again, on our television screens.
Our television screens have also been filled
with the pundits of the right pushing their agenda of increased
military spending and diminished civil liberties. Progressives
and progressive elected officials must demand that all proposals
be based on proven need rather than emotional excess. Sadly such
excess has already resulted in attacks against Americans of the
Islamic and Sikh faiths. There can be no doubt that more effective
anti-terrorist measures including more effective intelligence
gathering, better security measures and policing of the skies
are necessary. But we cannot allow these needs to be used as fig
leaves for wasteful and ineffective increases in military spending.
Nor should our response be unilateral. The
Community of Nations has condemned this heinous act. We should
act with them to extradite these criminals and seek justice through
trial and punishment rather than the kind of ineffective bombing
and missile campaigns that our government has initiated in the
past. The apprehension of proven suspects in this crime against
humanity should be carried out through the international system
of justice and international criminal procedures. We must remember
that the terrorists hope to provoke inappropriate military responses.
If force must be used, a multinational police action is the most
appropriate means. Indiscriminate aerial attacks or prolonged
military campaigns on foreign soil will breed more terrorists
and further endanger the security of the United States as well
as the rest of the world.
We cannot pretend that the answer to terrorism
is simply a matter of military or law enforcement measures. We
live in a world organized so that the greatest benefits go to
a small fraction of the world's population while the vast majority
experiences injustice, poverty and often, hopelessness. Only by
eliminating the political, social and economic conditions that
lead people to these small extremist groups can we be truly secure.
Approved September 16, 2001 by the DSA
NPC Steering Committee
By Robert Roman
Does New Ground seem particularly antique this issue,
like a surviving specimen of an extinct species? The answer is
yes and no. On September 11, the political world changed. It changed
decisively, massively, but not completely. Yes, in many ways,
this issue of New Ground belongs to the previous era.
The World Trade Center attacks were equivalent in political
magnitude to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Dubya is now every bit
as popular as Roosevelt was. People are every bit as angry. And,
like Pearl Harbor, the story leading up to the attacks will likely
unfold as rather more complicated and less straight forward than
is currently known.
But as so many commentators are fond of pointing out, this
is not Pearl Harbor. There is no return address that accompanies
these acts. And more importantly, there was no message either,
no effort by the organizers of the attack to give it meaning,
to state demands or grievance.
How is one to interpret this silence? Cowardace? Contempt?
Hatred? In the context of mass media that continually replay scenes
of horror, as if we were in the grip of some national collective
Post Traumatic Stress disorder, the lack of meaning leaves a political
(and spiritual and psychological) vacuum larger than the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon in each of us.
Politics, to coin a cliché, abhors a vacuum. Dubya and
His Band of Thieves have been busy filling it with something simple:
a villain, Osama bin-Laden. How could this fail to be effective?
It's uncomplicated, dramatic and concrete. Mr. bin-Laden may even
be guilty. And it conveniently avoids the complexities of "blow
back" and links between corporate interests and foreign policy.
Unfortunately, it also begs the question of what to do about
Osama bin-Laden. In his efforts at reassurance, Dubya's unfortunate
attempts at coherence will be forgiven for now. If his actual
policies match his syntax, he may end up facing a domestic blow
back though not necessarily one to the left's advantage.
Unfortunately, the left, what there is of it, has been every
bit as ineffective at providing meaning as Dubya's attempts at
speech. Much of it has been an attempt to point out how these
attacks are a natural consequence of our own foreign policy. This
is not something most people are prepared to listen to right
now even if it's a point that needs to be made. But like Osama
bin-Laden himself, it's not the whole story and it begs the same
question. What do you do about it?
If we have played Dr. Frankenstein and created a gollum in
our own image, even if people can be persuaded that this is the
case, you might forgive them for being skeptical that providing
flowers, an apology and a promise to never do it again will count
for much in preventing future attacks.
But who said anything about preventing future attacks? There
is a significant body of opinion on the left that holds Western
society, and the United States in particular, as being hopelessly
corrupt, hopelessly exploitative, domineering, and ultimately
self-destructively morally bankrupt rather like Osama bin-Laden
is said to regard the West. While it would be untrue to say any
but lunatics would approve of mass murder by airliner, it would
be unreasonable to expect people with this opinion to react in
quite the same way as everyone else. After all, isn't the enemy
of my enemy my friend? Not necessarily, and this confusion will
be an ongoing problem.
So in this new dismal period of politics, what strategy and
tactics should we be pursuing?
First, a peace movement is absolutely necessary even if it
may be ultimately wrong. This situation is far too dangerous to
allow the Bush Administration a blank check.
Second, hate crimes and racism should be another priority.
The left is not in a position to defend the immigrant communities,
but we are in a position to build coalitions. The realization
they are not alone will make a major difference in how these communities
Finally, the ball is not in our court. If the Bush Administration
is willing to sacrifice much of its domestic agenda and some of
its "free" trade agenda in exchange for liberal and
labor support, there will be almost no space for the left: democratic,
anarchist or otherwise. It's not clear to me what we might do
except try to survive. Under these circumstances, the divisions
within the left will become far more prominent and history does
allow for much optimism when that happens.
But if this most ideological of American presidencies insists
on having it all then the answer to my initial question is also
"no". We will still need to fight the FTAA. We will
still need to defend Social Security. All the fights we were involved
with will continue, even if their context has changed.
By Mark Weinberg
On August 4th CDSA co-sponsored a forum commemorating and celebrating
the 100th anniversary of the Founding of the Socialist Party of
Eugene V. Debs at the Sulzer Regional Library Auditorium on Lincoln
Avenue, Chicago. Presented by the Chicago Public Library Society
in Focus Series, other co-sponsors included Open University of
the Left, Socialist
Party of Chicago, Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, and
The focus of the first panel was historical perspectives on
the Socialist Party of America. William Adelman of the Illinois
Labor History Society, and Professor Emeritus of the UIC Department
of Labor and Industrial Relations (and recipient of CDSA's 1998 Debs - Thomas - Harrington
award) sketched the political history of the American labor
movement from 1865-1900, showing how the dismal living conditions
of the working poor at the turn of the century were the catalyst
of the Socialist Party's electoral successes. Not only did Debs
get close to a million votes in the Presidential elections of
1912 and 1920, over 20 U.S. cities had Socialist mayors, several
states had Socialist delegations in their legislatures, and Wisconsin
and New York alternated in sending a Socialist to Congress. Allen
Ruff of Madison, Wisconsin, author of They Called Each Other
Comrades: A History of the Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company,
discussed the early history of the oldest socialist publishing
house in the United States, still located right here in Chicago,
and the different factions within the Socialist Party. William
Pelz, Professor of History at Elgin Community College and editor
of The Eugene V. Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle,
spoke on the rise and decline of the "Debsian" Socialist
Party. Before Q & A, this panel concluded with a few reminiscences
of octogenarian Kay Meyers on her family's long involvement in
the Socialist Party.
After a coffee break with folk and labor songs performed by
singer-guitarist and local activist Dennis Dixon, the second panel
convened, focusing on the contemporary relevance of the Socialist
Party USA for contemporary activism. Wendell Harris, a recent
SPUSA candidate for mayor of Milwaukee who, despite a shoestring
budget, received approximately 18 percent of the vote thanks to
a grassroots campaign geared to the concerns of the working poor,
spoke briefly but enthusiastically about progressive electoral
prospects. Eric Schuster of the Socialist Party USA spoke of the
political necessity of defending the needs of the working class
today. As political education director of CDSA I offered my personal
viewpoint, that a successful progressive strategy may now have
to eschew speaking of socialism; Ralph Nader's Green Party campaign,
which constantly warned of the dangers of corporate power and
the neglected health and safety needs of ordinary workers and
citizens deserved more leftist support, especially from organized
labor and the African-American community. Rick Vickstrom of the
Chicagoland Greens encouraged socialists to work with the Naderites.
J. Quinn Brisben, one time SPUSA candidate for President, very
movingly read a few of his socialist poems, including one about
The 1901 Unity Convention was held in Indianapolis but Chicago
has a long, proud radical labor history. It was good that over
60 people attended the forum and about half joined us for a light
dinner (provided by CDSA) with a cash bar at the nearby Café
Bosna, a reminder of the continuing European immigrant character
of Lincoln Avenue. Although even more planning and publicity would
have helped this milestone celebration, a good time was had by
all. I would personally like to thank CDSA's Bob Roman, who helped
greatly with publicity and Harold Taggart who chaired the second
panel, and David Williams of Open University and the Chicago Public
Library and Bill Pelz of Socialist Party USA who planned the program.
By Will Kelley
Friday, August 10, 2001, at the Congress Theater in Chicago:
Robert Miranda, Master of Ceremonies, featuring Ralph Nader, Winona
LaDuke, Brian Sandberg, David Cobb, Patti Smith, Cheri Honkala,
Jello Biafra, Medea Benjamin, Cornel West, and Ani DiFranco
As was pointed out during the evening, six months ago, there
was no officially organized 'youth section' for the Green Party.
There is now. If one thing has been made clear, it is that the
Green Party is serious about moving the national conversation
on public policy away from the narrow range into which it has
been trapped. So, following the lead of other national level political
parties, the Campus Greens
The rally was to energize and mobilize members of the new organization.
A close look tells us three things. First, how was it as a rally?
Second, what does the rally tell us about whether the Greens are
likely to be successful in building a group of young activists
who will still be available for, say, campaign work in the next
election? Finally, what can the rhetoric of the rally tell us
about the real likelihood that the Greens will increase their
popularity as an electoral party?
The rally itself was moderately successful, though it could
have been put together in a more inspiring way. Robert Miranda
(from Milwaukee) was an excellent master of ceremonies: focused,
dynamic, funny, and informative. The musical performers, Patti
Smith and Ani DiFranco, were also quite good. For those who don't
recognize the names, Patti Smith was a member of the early New
York punk scene who fused a poetry of personal desperation (she
utterly hated her factory job in southern New Jersey) with straight-ahead
rock and roll. She performed just a few songs, including the anthem
"People Have the Power." Ani DiFranco is a contemporary
folk singer who puts the tension of grunge rock into an acoustic
guitar. She takes a fast, driving beat then adds thick clots of
notes that always sound like they are about to trip over each
other but never quite do. An utterly precise sense of time saves
her playing. She sings the same way she plays, too, with a tight,
choked voice that often sounds like she's gagging. Although my
own response has always been to wish she could cough up and spit
out whatever is stuck in her throat, the audience loved every
second of the performance. For DiFranco to be the last performer
of the night was an excellent idea.
Although the placing of Ani diFranco last was a good idea,
there were problems with the sequencing of the other speakers
and performers. The most electrifying speaker of the evening,
Nader himself, spoke first instead of somewhere near the end.
As a result there was no sense of rising anticipation as the rally
moved from one speaker to the next. The other speakers were of
varying quality, but this wouldn't have mattered much with the
right sequencing. Instead there was a real loss of energy in the
middle of the rally.
There was also one bizarre note with a potentially dark implication.
David Cobb, a lawyer who left his practice to work with the Greens,
collected money from the stage. If you have ever listened to evangelical
preachers you will recognize their contemporary secular elaboration,
the motivational speaker. This was Mr. Cobb's style. After a few
minutes of building enthusiasm he suddenly asked if anyone could
make a contribution of $500. The spotlight was turned on those
who could and they were invited to say their names into the microphone.
As offerings were given he cried out, "Thank you, brother!"
Collection plates (in the form of cardboard boxes) were passed
among the audience. As he gradually reduced the level of his requests
and money continued to come in he cried out, "This is real!
This is power!" In contemporary politics this is true, but
also dangerous. Those who gave more were given pride of place,
including a voice, name recognition, and time in the spotlight.
This is no different from an elected official giving big donors
face time over coffee, just a penny-ante form of it. Conference
members sitting around me looked at each other in disbelief and
whispered to each other while shrugging in puzzlement. Mr. Cobb
may have raised money that night, but he also alienated conference
attendees. The Greens had better stop this before it gets out
Thank goodness for Cornel West, who came onstage to a huge
round of applause. For a decade he has had a huge reputation among
college students, but those who know him only through his books
or appearances at academic colloquia may not understand some of
the sources of his appeal. Here is why: this man can lead a live
audience to understand complex messages. On Friday he arrived
with a persona and presentation that contained much more of the
southern African-American preacher than I had ever seen him adopt
before. But his presentation let people understand the flow of
his arguments and the reason for the passion within his speaking.
This ability turned very intellectual conclusions, such as "Public
life is about more than some Machiavellian maneuver or some Hobbesian
strategy," into a massive applause line. He was able to take
an argument grounded in a philosophical critique of the implications
of the life of Socrates and turn it into both a critique of contemporary
American politics and a reason for organizing with the Campus
Greens. It was brilliant and the response was huge.
That, then, was the rally. A few false notes but moderately
successful. It also suggests that the Campus Greens will be able
to attract socially concerned students into an organized group.
This is because the rally touched on every issue of social reform
that has emerged in the last fifteen years in opposition to the
expansion of global corporate power and its growing ability to
inhibit governments from acting in the public interest. The Green
Party didn't just mention the issues, though; they were given
a common framework to help people see why it makes sense for them
simultaneously to be for patients' rights, environmental protection,
help for the homeless, increased worker's rights, and so on, in
both the United States and other nations. Put it bluntly, only
government mediation can create structures that have the ability
to protect people from the power of corporations to hurt them.
(Yes: it's the same message the Progressives brought to the United
States a hundred years ago.) A unified framework creates a sense
of coherence, a common focus, and helps sustain individual motivation
at least for now.
In the long term, though, the rally shows why the Greens are
not likely to gain enough electoral support to do anything more
than force the Democrats to pay enough attention to the Greens'
agenda to co-opt just enough of it to draw voters back into the
Democratic Party. The Greens are grounded in opposition. The word
"resist" came up a lot. This means they will always
be a force that only exists in reaction to the initiatives of
other forces (not only corporations but the military sector of
the government and other national-level political actors). For
that very reason, these other forces will always be able to portray
themselves as the real "productive" sectors of national
life, and will always claim that their voices should come first
and be louder than everyone else's. But, as they used to say on
the Ronco commercials, that's not all.
The denunciatory rhetoric of the Greens, regardless of how
accurate it is, is likely to create hostile reactions in all those
who feel they are being denounced and made to feel ashamed of
what they do and who they are. Here's a lesson the Greens should
have learned from the failure of the New Left and the most liberal
wing of the Democratic Party in the early 1970s: when voters feel
under attack they get defensive and vote for the other guy. So
when Winona LaDuke, the vice-presidential candidate, takes a set
of excellent arguments, lays them out as nothing more than a list
of complaints, then summarizes them by saying, "That's just
some of the things that bother me about this country," almost
all of the categories of people she has been talking about are
guaranteed to ignore her.
A national level party must necessarily find a way of articulating
its positions in such a way that it can be seen by the voters
at large to be speaking for everyone in the nation. Anything other
than that and the Greens won't be a political party, just an extra-governmental
advocacy group limited to presenting policy papers to congressional
committees and regulatory bodies. Not surprisingly that is Ralph
Nader's background, and his voice has remained true to the obstacles
he discovered in his work as a reformer. However, while he has
done a lot of good work in his life as a public citizen, unless
the Greens are very careful that is all they themselves will come
to. The choice is theirs, and the time for that choice is now.
By Carl Shier
by Stephen Franklin. New York, The Guilford Press, 2001. 308 pp
Chicago Tribune reporter Stephen Franklin's book Three
Strikes details the strikes in Decatur, Illinois, against
Caterpillar, Bridgestone - Firestone, and Staley that ended in
defeat for the workers' unions. The cover of the book has its
theme "Labor's Heartland Losses and What They Mean for Working
For one who has been involved all his life in the struggle
of workers for the American Dream of good wages and working conditions,
it is tough reading.
You can feel for the workers of these three companies who went
through long strikes. Many lost their job and their pension. You
can feel for the valiant local union officers and what their life
has become. And what it means for the city in that jobs have been
lost in Decatur and what it means for the young people of the
city when the opportunities for good jobs are no longer there.
The book portrays vividly the conduct of the multi-national
corporations: their indifference to the communities where they
have factories and their belief that there is no loyalty to the
workers who have worked their entire life in their company. The
only concern is the bottom line.
The use of permanent replacements (i.e., scabs) in production
has made the strike weapon of unions no longer what it was meant
to be. And the chapter on the National Labor Relations Board shows
vividly how useless it has become because companies flagrantly
break the law without any fear of being brought to real justice.
The author believes that industrial unions in the country have
to realize that their tactics and strategies have to change and
that unions in the industrial sector of the economy face a real
challenge because of the small percentage of workers who are represented.
But the author does not say what the unions should do. His description
of working to the rules as one strategy did not work at Staley,
and Rogers' Corporate Campaign was not successful. The book ends
with Rogers bringing the Staley workers to an Executive Board
meeting of the AFL-CIO in Bal Harbor, Florida, and describes Lane
The unions in the U.S. are not dead. The public sector is organizing.
Janitors, hotel workers, day care workers are organizing and winning
victories. The building trades have problems but they have not
suffered the loss of jobs like the industrial sector.
A footnote on Caterpillar: Caterpillar never accepted
the union. Seymour Kahan would come from meetings with them cursing
their dishonesty and their attitude towards their workers.
I don't think the author made it clear, for me at least, how
the Cat strike went and the role of Bill Casstevens. I do like
his use of a quote (from National Public Radio) by Harley Shaiken
answering a question: "What do you know about the Agreement?"
Answer: "Well, given the alternatives for the union, it
survived and that in itself is a victory."
Finally, I must say the Epilogue and the end Notes (more than
just notes, more than just a bibliography) on the subject of the
book were excellent. This book is worth reading even if it is
The work of a union steward is often frustrating and seldom
less frustrating than when the members in a local shop treat the
union as if it weren't a membership organization. In a shop like
this, when the company violates the contract, members come to
the steward and demand, "What is the union going to do about
this?" Stewards talk about how frustrating it is to try to
explain, "You are the union what would you
like to see done about it?" The members are not impressed.
To them "the union" is something different from them,
and "the union" had better take care of things for them.
Although this is the most common way of thinking and feeling about
the union in industrial settings, it doesn't have to be like this.
There are places where workers treat membership in the union as
a valued, even central, part of their sense of who they are.
In a recent series of articles Paul Durrenberger and Suzan
Erem have written on exactly this question: under what conditions
do union members say that WE are the union, and under what conditions
do members say that YOU are the union, and YOU are not one of
US? Durrenberger, an anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University
who has been active in research on issues of interest to labor,
started to work with Erem (of SEIU Local 73, based in Chicago
area). Erem had become concerned that several recent studies done
on attitudes toward unions, union affiliation, and organizing
did not sufficiently reflect how complex the experience of being
a union member can be, and did not explain why attitudes can differ
so markedly at different work sites.
Erem was especially concerned with how to get beyond what she
calls the "insurance company" view of the union. In
a striking example of the power of metaphor to shape one's thoughts
an attitudes toward the world, it is as if the union were an insurance
company, the contract an insurance policy, dues are premiums,
and the union representatives the local agents. Durrenberger and
Erem got together to try to understand both the basis for the
"insurance company" view and the basis for a sense of
solidarity with the union.
They found that there are, in essence, three basic ways workers
can understand their relation to the union. They can align themselves
with the union reps and stewards in contrast to supervisors and
managers, which Durrenberger and Erem call a "union"
model. Alternately, workers can align themselves with their managers
and supervisors in contrast to union officials, which could be
called a "company" model. Finally, both union officials
on one hand and company officials on the other could be seen as
equally distant from, alien to, and more powerful than workers,
which the authors call a "hierarchy" model. In the "hierarchy"
model both the company and the union are thought of as if they
are "above" workers, with workers being caught in the
middle. Each model stresses a different dimension as the basis
for a worker's sense of similarity to and difference from an individual's
sense of "me". The dimensions are unionization, occupation,
and relative power, respectively.
Durrenberger and Erem discovered that the "hierarchy"
model, which emphasizes the relative powerlessness of the worker
compared to both the employer and the union, was the most common
among workers in industrial settings. They argue that it is easy
for workers to start to think of the union as an insurance agency
when grievances, and all the quasi-legal procedures that come
with grievances, come to dominate the lives of union representatives
and stewards. When this happens, contract compliance (or you might
say, covering losses incurred under the terms of the policy) becomes
the main way the union has an active "presence" in the
lives of workers. This of course is hard to avoid these days,
given that so many employers seem to be trying to bankrupt unions
and drive their officials into nervous exhaustion by pushing every
grievance as far as possible. Still, it should be kept in mind
that when this kind of work predominates it can, paradoxically,
drive a wedge between the union and the very people on whose behalf
it is working.
In contrast, at work sites in other fields one could in fact
find the "union" model prevalent among workers. What
made the difference? The main thing seemed to be an active union
presence that was visible, close to the workers, and carried with
it an aura of potency that demanded respect. A powerful steward,
for instance, could be all four. Signs that union activities are
important activities, such as being paid by the company while
working on grievances or other union activities, also help to
draw the workers closer to the union. In short, unions should
try to structure their presence in the lives of workers so that
the workers feel it is prestigious to be involved in union activities
at a work site. Locals should try to make sure that those selected
as stewards are themselves competent at work, well-liked by their
coworkers and central to the informal networks that spring up
in work organizations. Union work should not be something dumped
onto marginalized and disliked individuals who do it just because
"someone has to." Instead it should be clear to workers,
through the way the union is present in their everyday lives,
that union work is important work but that those doing this work
are no different than everyone else except that they deserve a
little more respect for being willing to take it on. The union
presence should feel like part of the natural order of things.
The findings of Durrenberger and Erem can be used to design
even simple things that can make a difference. Clearly, it is
not always easy to create the conditions for enhancing a worker's
sense of identification with the union. If a company refuses to
agree to allow stewards to take care of union work on paid time,
or even take unpaid time off at the workplace, there isn't anything
the local can do about it until the next contract talks come up.
Even simpler steps take time and energy.
Still, there are things that can be done anywhere that can
help. I remember becoming a union member when I started work as
a secretary at the University of Chicago. I received a letter
saying that I had the option of becoming a union member or paying
a representation fee. There was a packet with some information
on the benefits of membership (largely discounts on services),
and there was a form to fill out and mail in. That was it. Not
exactly a personal touch. Actually, there was no personal touch
at all. Not only did no salesman come to my home, no steward even
called me at work to see if I understood everything or had any
questions. I had the strangest impression that the union didn't
really care if I became a member as long as they could deduct
money from my paycheck. It all felt a bit off-putting. Yes, it
takes time and effort to do even the simple things that can help
someone feel connected to the union. Given the status of private
sector unionism in the United States, though, they are steps that
need to be taken, and Durrenberger and Erem have provided some
good insights into the basis for the kinds of steps that will
be most effective.
Durrenberger, E. Paul. 1997. "That'll Teach You: Cognition
and Practice in a Chicago Union Local". Human Organization
Durrenberger, E. Paul and Suzan Erem. 1997a. "Getting
a Raise: Organizing Workers in an Industrializing Hospital".
Journal of Anthropological Research 53(1): 31-46.
--1997b. "The Dance of Power: Ritual and Agency Among
Unionized Health Care Workers". American Anthropologist
--1999. "The Abstract, the Concrete, the Political, and
the Academic: Anthropology and a Labor Union in the United States".
Human Organization 58(3): 305-12.
--2000. "The Weak Suffer What They Must: A Natural Experiment
in Thought and Structure". American Anthropologist
Erem, Suzan and E. Paul Durrenberger. 1997. "The Way I
See It: Perspectives on the Labor Movement from the People in
It". Anthropology and Humanism 22(2): 159-169.
By Libby Frank
"The emancipation of woman will only be possible when
women can take part in production on a large, social scale, and
domestic work no longer claims anything but an insignificant amount
of her time." (The Woman Question)
Ever since the landmark Supreme Court decision of 1974 which
made it possible for women to receive a legal abortion in the
United States, the anti-choice forces have been organizing to
undermine or eliminate this constitutional safety net. Although
there have been ebbs and flows, the assault has not abated. Admittedly,
it has been worse in the current administration. Look at the chronology
of the Bush assault on reproductive choice:
July 25, 2000 Bush picks Cheney as his vice presidential
candidate. Cheny opposes abortion even for victims of rape and
August 3, 2000 Bush runs on a party platform that calls
for a constitutional ban on abortion.
December 22, 2000 Bush nominates John Ashcroft as Attorney
December 29, 2000 Bush nominates Wisconsin Governor
Tommy Thompson as head of Health and Human Services.
January 22, 2001 On the anniversary of Roe v Wade, Bush
reinstates the global gag rule.
January 23, 2001 Bush sends a letter of support for
the March for Life in Washington DC.
January 26, 2001 Bush reiterates his opposition to using
federal money to pay for research on fetal tissue or stem cells
derived from abortions.
February 14, 2001 Appoints arch-conservative Ted Olson
as Solicitor General.
March 28, 2001 In an attempt to circumvent congressional
action reversing the reinstatement of the global gag rule, Bush
quietly signs a special memorandum barring US foreign aid to family
planning groups that provide or counsel on abortion services.
March 31, 2001 The Department of Health and Human Services
issues a letter stating that the government would only pay for
the use of mifepristone (RU486) in the case of rape of incest
or when the women's life is in danger.
April 12, 2001 Bush proposes deleting from the FY 2002
budget the requirement that all health insurance plans for federal
employees cover a broad range of contraception.
April 28, 2001 The Bush administration announces that
it will seek to alter new regulations guaranteeing the privacy
of medical records by eliminating the right to medical privacy
for young women.
May 24, 2001 Bush nominates John Klink to head the Bureau
of Population, Refugees and Migration. Klink was involved in the
Vatican's decision to end support for UNICEF because its manual
for refugees contains information on emergency contraception.
July 11, 2001 Led by Bush, anti-choice lawmakers move
to strip contraceptive insurance coverage for more than one million
federal employees and dependents.
This man has been in office for only nine months!
I hear many people express the belief that Roe v Wade
will never be overturned. This is dangerously naive. The new approach
by the right-wing seeks to define "life" at the moment
of conception. There have been bills introduced in virtually every
state and on a national level as well which seek to define human
life at the moment of conception. If passed, such legislation
will make Roe v Wade a moot point. If life begins at conception,
abortion and many forms of birth control are, by definition, murder.
Extending the analogy a bit further, smoking or drinking during
pregnancy is contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A female
drug addict that delivers a cocaine-addicted baby which later
dies, has committed manslaughter.
I have puzzled over why the right-wing is so hell-bent on forcing
their beliefs on the rest of the country. And I think the answer
is quite simple. Women have made significant gains over the past
50 years. They have entered the workforce in increasing numbers.
They have gained financial independence. They have managed to
become a significant threat to the patriarchy. As a result, we
have a full-scale attack on reproductive choice. To take away
a woman's right to control when and how often she bears children
is to take away her basic freedom. The assault on reproductive
rights is very simple and very calculated. It is designed to make
women second class citizens. Capitalism is dependent upon on having
certain sectors of society exploited.
Not to discount the importance of electing pro-choice leaders
and passing legislation that safeguards reproductive freedom,
we all know that more fundamental change is required. We can make
short term gains in the government, but the balance is likely
to swing the other way in several years. True equality for women
will not happen under capitalism.
Compiled by Bob Roman
International strongly condemns the barbarous terrorist attacks
perpetrated in the United States.
These despicable acts against innocent people, which have created
such pain and suffering, are no less than an assault on the entire
world democratic community.
In standing together with the victims and their families and
all those affected, the Socialist International once more reiterates
its abhorrence of terrorism.
No effort should be spared by the international community to
bring to justice all those responsible for these atrocities and
rid the world of the scourge of terrorism.
The SI expresses its full solidarity with all women and men
in grief in the United States and around the world as a result
of these crimes, and offers its sincere condolences to the families
and friends of those who were so atrociously murdered.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) of the Sacramento
Valley vehemently condemn the heinous acts of violence against
thousands of innocent people on September 11, 2001. We call on
all people around the globe to assist the efforts to identify
the perpetrators of this shocking attack. DSA also asks that the
people of California and the nation learn from this terrible tragedy.
We are no longer an 'island unto ourselves', we must understand
and act on our country's role in the problems of the rest of the
world for those problems are our problems.
To that end, we point to the increasing isolation of U.S. international
policy, the recent ouster of the U.S. from the United Nations
Human Rights Commission, our refusal to endorse the Kyoto environmental
accords, and our reluctance to promote peace through the rejection
of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
We must insist that the political and economic leadership of
our country make global economic and social justice a top priority.
We must not allow one evil band of terrorists to cloud our vision
of true peace, democracy, and a palpable social and economic equality
for all people regardless of class, race, ethnicity, religion,
sex, nationality or sexual orientation.
In the long term, the only way to achieve a lasting peace for
all peoples on our small planet is to embrace one another as equals.
Chicago DSA endorsed and publicized a rally to kick off a campaign
to place the Bernardin Amendment on the Illinois ballot in November,
2002. The rally was held on the steps of Holy Name Cathedral on
Saturday, August 11.
The Bernardin Amendment would amend the Illinois Constitution
to require the state to formulate a universal health care plan
for the state within three years of its passage. The results of
this vote would be binding; the amendment has been on the ballot
in a number of Illinois jurisdictions as an advisory referendum
in the past and it has passed each time overwhelmingly.
The rally was followed by a walk across Illinois by Chicago
DSA member Dr. Quentin Young and former Illinois Treasurer Patrick
Quinn. The trek formally began the next day in the Quad Cities
along the Mississippi, and it included a guest appearance by that
champion political walker, Granny Dee. The walk was intended as
a vehicle to generate publicity for the Amendment in local media.
A proposal similar to the Bernardin Amendment was recently passed
For more information about the campaign to get the Bernardin
Amendment on the ballot, call 312.654.8888 or go to http://www.decenthealthcare.com.
The local, under the auspices of the North Lake Front DSA branch,
has organized a number of educational forums, including topics
on Religion and Socialism and on the anti-corporate globalization
The Greater Oak Park DSA Branch is attempting to bring some
balance to the explicitly libertarian economics curriculum in
the local high school.
The three Young Democratic Socialists chapters in Chicago (UofC,
UIC, Chicago Metro) have been largely on vacation, but two Chicago
area YDS members, with financial aid from Chicago DSA, participated
in a summer political internship in Germany offered by the German
Social Democratic Party's youth affiliate.
The Young Democratic Socialists
(YDS) held its Summer Conference August 17 through 19 in Philadelphia,
PA. The Summer Conference is YDS's equivalent to a National Convention
at which national leadership is elected, resolutions are passed
and priorities are set. The turn out was good by YDS standards,
and the organization continues to show some ethnic and geographic
diversity, with strong new chapters in Arizona and Texas. The
Midwest was represented by not only the Chicago chapters but participants
from Indiana and Wisconsin as well. Chicago YDS participation
was subsidized by a travel grant from Chicago DSA.
Among the leadership elected at the Conference were Joan Axthelm
(Metro Chicago) re-elected as Co-Chair. Noah Millstone (UofC)
was elected Corresponding Secretary. Nicky Neulist (UofC)
was elected Feminist Issues Coordinator. Peter Frase (UofC)
and Paul Fitzgerald (UIC) were elected to at-large positions on
the Coordinating Committee.
The DSA National Convention will be held November 9 through
11 in Philadelphia, PA, at the Holiday Inn Independence Center.
For more information regarding the Convention, contact the DSA National Office at 212.727.8610.
Advocacy Center is sponsoring the Third Annual Suburban
Civic Fair. The Fair will be held on Saturday, October 13,
at Harper Community College in Palatine. The keynote speaker this
year will be political commentator Jim Hightower. Beginning at
10 AM, the event will include panels on electoral reform, race
and justice issues, cyberspace and transportation, as well as
an organizational fair which, in previous years, has drawn as
many as 100 organizations. For more information, contact the Citizen
Advocacy Center at 630.833.4080.
The Center for New Community's
2001 Building Democracy Conference will be held on Saturday,
November 10 at the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Avenue
in Chicago. The Center for New Community is an independent, non-profit,
faith-based organization committed to building democratic communities
for justice and racial equality. The intent of these conferences
has been to bring together key civic, community, religious and
youth leaders concerned with the fight against racism, anti-Semitism,
homophobia and organized bigotry. The focus of this year's conference
will be the growing anti-immigrant movement that has been the
leading edges of contemporary white nationalism. The keynote speaker
of the conference will be Cecilia Muñoz of LaRaza.
For more information, call the Center for New Community 708.848.0319.
For those Chicagoans who missed it, the Forum was taped for
later possible broadcast by Chicago
Access Network, Chicago's community access cable TV network.
Keep an eye on our announcements page, http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html,
for channel, date and time.