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New Ground 78

September - October, 2001

Contents

  • Chicago DSA Statement on the World Trade Center Bombings
  • Democratic Socialists of America Statement on the September 11th Terrorist Attacks
  • Comments and Opinions by Robert Roman
  • Socialist Party Centennial Forum by Mark Weinberg
  • Campus Greens Super Rally for Radical Change by Will Kelley
  • Labor in the Heartland by Carl Shier
  • "Solidarity? - Whatever" or "Solidarity Forever" by Will Kelley
  • The Assualt on Reproductive Rights: It's All About Control by Libby Frank
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Statement of the Socialist International on Terrorist Attacks in the U.S.
    Sacramento Valley DSA Statement
    The Bernardin Amendment
    Branch News
    Young Democratic Socialists
    DSA National Convention
    Suburban Civic Fair
    Center for New Community
    Socialist Party Centenniel Forum

     


    Chicago DSA Statement on the World Trade Center Bombings

    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 to steal.

    Adopted by the Chicago DSA Executive Committee, September 11, 2001.


    Democratic Socialists of America Statement on the September 11th Terrorist Attacks

    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


    Comments and Opinions

    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 react.

    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.

    Let's roll.


    Socialist Party Centennial Forum

    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 Chicagoland Greens.

    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 Debs.

    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.


    Campus Greens Super Rally for Radical Change

    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 were formed.

    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 of hand.

    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.


    Labor in the Heartland

    By Carl Shier

    Three Strikes by Stephen Franklin. New York, The Guilford Press, 2001. 308 pp Hardcover $23.95

    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 Americans".

    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 Kirkland's ineffectiveness.

    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 so sad.


    "Solidarity? Whatever" or "Solidarity Forever": Recent Research on Member Identification With Their Union

    By Will Kelley

    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.

     

    Suggested Reading

    Durrenberger, E. Paul. 1997. "That'll Teach You: Cognition and Practice in a Chicago Union Local". Human Organization 56(4): 388-392.

    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 99(3): 489-95.

    --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 101(4): 783-93.

    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.


    The Assault on Reproductive Rights: It's All About Control

    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 incest.

    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 General.

    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.


    Other News

    Compiled by Bob Roman

    Statement of the Socialist International on Terrorist Attacks in the US

    The Socialist 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.

    Sacramento Valley DSA Statement

    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.

     

    The Bernardin Amendment

    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 in Maine.

    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.

     

    Branch News

    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 struggle.

    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.

     

    Young Democratic Socialists

    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.

     

    DSA National Convention

    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.

     

    Suburban Civic Fair

    The Citizen 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.

     

    Center for New Community

    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.

     

    Socialist Party Centenniel Forum

    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.


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