Bernie-and-Elizabeth Matters More Than Bernie-vs.-Elizabeth
History will remember both Sanders and Warren for taking on American capitalism. Their differences won’t loom that large. BY HAROLD MEYERSON
JANUARY 16, 2020
Preliminary thoughts on reviving a U.S. antiwar movement
JANUARY 9, 2020 BY JOE ALLEN
We haven’t had an antiwar movement in the U.S. for a long time. So, when Iranian General Qassem Suleimani was assassinated on orders from President Donald Trump on January 3rd, it immediately raised the prospect of a real shooting war between the U.S. and Iran. It also caught many of us flat-footed and scrambling to respond.
Read the essay on Democratic Left.
Interesting article on Working In These Times.
#NoWarWithIran: What You Can Do NowJANUARY 7, 2020People across the globe are reeling from the U.S. military’s escalation towards war. Just weeks after anti-government protests in Iran about rising fuel prices, these attacks on Iraqi soil bring us dangerously close to never-ending U.S. led war with catastrophic consequences for millions of Iranians, Iraqis, and people across the Middle East.
Join our national organizing call this Thursday, 1/9 at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm CT/5pm PT.
War would also immediately put at risk our own domestic fights for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and other programs. It would bring thousands more working-class people from the U.S. into the war zone. And it would lead to increased racial and religious profiling in our communities and suppression of dissent. Democratic socialists understand that working class people in the U.S. have nothing to gain from war in the Middle East and we must do everything in our power to stop further U.S. military intervention in the region.
Already, DSA chapters all over the country are organizing demonstrations demanding an end to the escalation, but it will take sustained pressure from a mass movement to stop U.S. imperialism.
Join us for an emergency national strategy call THIS THURSDAY NIGHT, January 9th, 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/5pm PT on how we can help reignite a mass anti-war movement to stop a war with Iran.
On the call, we’ll be joined by:
Demand they support:
You can read our DSA National Political Committee statement for more information. And if your chapter is having a #NoWarWithIran action, or you’d like rally posters for friends and neighbors, you can order union-printed posters through our swag store. Overnight shipping is available.
We will update this page as the situation unfolds.
There was a time in America when being called a socialist could end a political career. Not anymore.
By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Dr. Taylor is the author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.”
· Dec. 10, 2019
…Adding to that, Mr. Sanders is the top recipient for donations by teachers, farmers, servers, social workers, retail workers, construction workers, truckers, nurses and drivers as of September. He claims that his donors’ most common employers are Starbucks, Amazon and Walmart, and the most common profession is teaching. Mr. Sanders is also the leading recipient of donations from Latinos as well as the most popular Democrat among registered Latinos who plan to vote in the Nevada and California primaries. According to Essence magazine, Mr. Sanders is the favorite candidate among black women aged 18 to 34. Only 49 percent of his supporters are white, compared with 71 percent of Warren supporters. Perhaps most surprising, more women under 45 support him than men under 45.
Mr. Sanders’s popularity among these voters may be what alienates him within the political establishment and mainstream media. The leadership of the Democratic Party regularly preaches that moderation and pragmatism can appeal to “centrist” Democrats as well as Republicans skeptical of Mr. Trump. It is remarkable that this strategy still has legs after its spectacular failure for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In many respects, Bernie Sanders’s standing in the Democratic Party field is shocking. After all, the United States government spent more than half of the 20th century locked in a Cold War against Soviet Communism. That an open and proud socialist is tied with Ms. Warren for second place in the race speaks to the mounting failures of free market capitalism to produce a decent life for a growing number of people. There was a time in America when being called a socialist could end a political career, but Bernie Sanders may ride that label all the way to the White House.
This essay has been updated to reflect news developments.
From the New York Times
All unhappy social democratic parties are alike: They’ve lost the white working class.
Britain’s Labour Party was decimated in its working-class home last night, when Boris Johnson’s nativist Tories ousted one Labour MP after another in England’s North, once the U.K.’s industrial heartland, today its rust belt. The migration of Britain’s abandoned workers to the anti-immigrant nationalism at the root of Brexit closely tracks the pattern we’ve seen in France, where the longtime proletarian strongholds of the French Communist Party have turned to the insular nationalism of two generations of Le Pens in recent elections. And in the historic home of European social democracy, Germany, the world’s oldest social democratic party is polling close to single digits.
Last night’s election in the U.K. marks the worst performance by Labour since 1935—just as the most recent elections in Germany and France also marked the low points for the Social Democrats and Socialists, respectively. Socialists do govern in Spain, Portugal, Denmark, and Sweden (though the Swedish Social Democrats also experienced their worst election in 2018 and govern now in coalition with that nation’s Greens), but these are exceptions to the painful decline of European social democracy.
Four kinds of fragmentation have vexed the parties of the European left over the past 20 years, as they’ve vexed the Democratic Party in the United States as well. The first stems from the growing presence in those parties of urban upper-middle-class professionals, who are often at odds on cultural questions, broadly defined, with the parties’ more traditional and patriarchal working classes. The second is no stranger to the United States but is only now impacting Europe with the diminution (not sudden, but perceived as such) of many nations’ relative racial and religious homogeneity—defections from the left due to racism and nativism. The shift last night of England’s North from Labour to the Tories summoned memories of George Wallace’s surprising successes in Northern states in the Democratic primaries of 1964, heralding the end of the New Deal coalition and the subsequent electoral victories of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The third fragmentation results from geographic divergence—with minorities and the culturally liberal young and professionals clustering in cities with large service sectors, while formerly industrial and rural areas, increasingly poor and elderly, experience both the reality and the sense of abandonment.
Underlying all three of these fragmentations is the de-linking of class interests: As globalization and financialization (the latter particularly pronounced in the U.K. and U.S.) have undermined the egalitarian achievements of the postwar era, parties of the center-left have been stretched ideologically, often to the breaking point. The ’90s saw Britain’s New Labour under Tony Blair, America’s Democrats under Bill Clinton, and Germany’s Social Democrats under Gerhard Schröder all move to globalize and deregulate their economies, to the benefit of those nations’ banking and corporate sectors and the detriment of their working-class voters. The collapse of 2008 and the hugely unequal recovery that followed has led to battles between the center-left and a more militant left in virtually every industrialized nation.
Introduction to Seed the Vote
Jason Negrón-Gonzales, Organizing Upgrade
The Trump era has been all about the naked aggression of the far right, but cracks are appearing. Trump is battling impeachment, a result not only of his criminality but of the changes that the blue wave brought to Congress. Last month we saw further losses for the right in Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania – the result of sustained organizing by hundreds if not thousands. That work didn’t start this year; it’s the culmination of many years of work. None of this was spontaneous. When we organize, we can win. When we step up to fight, we can win.
… The possibility of Trump’s re-election in 2020 is a real one. And it’s one we are determined to stop. When we – a group of left activists rooted in community and labor organizing in the San Francisco Bay Area – gathered this spring, it was with the urgency that came from seeing our communities under relentless assault from a white nationalist, authoritarian administration. But we also knew that 2020 – with the size, energy, and leftward shift among the opposition to Trumpism – would give us an opportunity: if we plan carefully and think big, we can make a difference at the ballot box in 2020, the kind of difference the Left failed to make in 2016. And we thought we could do this while building a stronger and more cohesive Left.
Social justice efforts have been able to activate significant mass actions in opposition to Trump and right-wing policies, from the Women’s March to airport protests to the more recent teacher strikes. Mass mobilization played a particularly important role through 2018, in stalling or rolling back many of Trump’s assaults on communities of color and democratic rights. Alongside the energy in the streets, progressive institutions have gotten renewed energy.
The Democratic establishment makes consistent efforts to squelch progressive electoral insurgencies, for example proposing bans on consultants who work with radicals challenging incumbents in the primaries. And the ‘moderate’ forces use their command of the media to undermine or even smear left candidates and grassroots non-electoral organizations.
**The influence of progressive ideas and the reach of organizations espousing a social justice agenda have grown substantially since 2016, but a realistic assessment of the balance of forces tells us that the progressives remain fragmented in many ways and, even if we were more united, remain weaker and far less resourced than the long-established centrist and corporate forces in the opposition to Trump and, specifically, within the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Socialists of America’s Immigrant Rights Working Group organized a very successful webinar on the topic, No One Is Illegal! Capitalism, Imperialism and Borders on November 21. Hundreds of people registered and about eighty participated. We were assisted by the national office of DSA.
For those that missed the webinar live, find the link to the recording here.
We encourage immigrant rights groups and activists to share it and also organize discussions around it. The speakers explained the roots and nature of the attack on immigrants and presented a working class strategy for resistance and liberation.
This webinar is the first of several that we will be organizing. The next one will be a version of this one in Spanish. Please stay tuned for details on that one. We are also going to be putting together a webinar on practical tips and models for immigrant rights organizing.
Many on the first webinar asked for more information from the panelists who joined us. See below for both their bios and publications. Also, to supplement these, we encourage everyone to read, share and discuss the many excellent articles in the DSA’s Fall 2019 Socialist Forum.
Harsha Walia is a community organizer and cofounder of No One Is Illegal. She is the author of Undoing Border Imperialism. She’s based in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.
Todd Miller is the author of Empire of Borders, Border Patrol Nation. You can read an interview that summarizes his argument on Jacobin. He writes for NACLA among other publications. He’s based in Tucson, Arizona.
Justin Akers Chacon is the author of No One is Illegal and Radicals in the Barrio. He wrote a recent article on Punto Rojo entitled The Anti-Migrant International. He is an immigrant rights activist in San Diego, California and a co-founder of the Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps.
Jorge Mújica is author of Voces Migrantes: Movimiento 10 de Marzo, a member of DSA, an Organizer with Arise Chicago, and a National Council member of the National Writers Union. He is based in Chicago, Illinois.
I'm sending this for our Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC). The DSLC includes DSAers active across the labor movement — union members and retirees, workers center activists, journalists, students in labor solidarity groups, DSA Labor Branch members, and more. Help DSA support the rank and file labor movement — join the DSLC today!
The DSLC strengthens our intersectional, worker-led struggle by:
DSA National Director
PS: Nominations for the DSLC Steering Committee Election will be accepted starting 12/9/2019. As soon as nominations open, the form will be available here.
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI has made no secret of her desire to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by the end of the year, telling reporters recently that it would be her goal for the House to vote on it before Christmas. Centrist Democrats have been insisting privately that a quick passage for the trade deal is necessary for moderate members of Congress to win their competitive reelections in 2020, to show they can “do something.” Unions have made clear, though, that from their perspective, USMCA lacks real labor enforcement mechanisms, which could undermine the whole deal, further drag down wages, and eliminate more jobs.
Meanwhile, a top priority for labor has been sitting quietly on Pelosi’s desk and, unlike USMCA, already commands enough support to get it over the House finish line. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act would be the most comprehensive rewrite of U.S. labor law in decades. It would eliminate right-to-work laws, impose new penalties on employers who retaliate against union organizing, crack down on worker misclassification, and establish new rules so that employers cannot delay negotiating collective bargaining contracts. Introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., in May, it already has 215 co-sponsors in the House and 40 in the Senate.
Meanwhile. The NYT reports all is going well with Democrats and Nafta. The Democratic Leadership expects some 100 Democrats to vote yes in the House. This is how the original Nafta was passed in 1994. Some 102 Democrats and the remainder Republicans made it a majority.
Sanders on Immigration
By far the most progressive plan of any of the candidates.
This country is a nation of immigrants. Other than the native peoples of the Americas, every one of our families came here from somewhere else. Some came by choice, some by necessity, and others in chains. As we have developed as a nation, each of us has contributed to the growth and prosperity of America in our own way. And our nation has been most successful and most true to its ideals when that prosperity has been shared among all of us. In many ways, that is what this campaign is about: building a movement to create an America where everyone shares in the prosperity that they and their ancestors helped create.
Read the plan
Statement on Human Rights Violations in Bolivia
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Evo Morales – the democratically elected President of Bolivia from the MAS party (Movimiento al Socialismo, Movement Towards Socialism) – was forced to resign on November 10, in what many observers view as a coup. In the wake of Morales’ resignation, there has been mounting chaos and violence. What is happening in Bolivia is highly undemocratic and we are witnessing some of the worst human rights violations at the hands of the military and the police since the transition to civilian government in the early 1980s. We condemn the violence in the strongest terms, and call on the US and other foreign governments to immediately cease to recognize and provide any support to this regime. We urge the media to do more to document the mounting human rights abuses being committed by the Bolivian state.
On November 10, Morales’ vice president and the heads of both chambers of Congress also resigned in the face of threats of violence against top MAS officials unless they left office. The pressure campaign included the burning of MAS officials’ houses and kidnapping of relatives. This paved the way for the ascension to the presidency of Jeanine Áñez (a conservative Roman Catholic opposition leader from northeastern Bolivia, widely accused of holding racist views) on Tuesday November 12.
The circumstances surrounding the rapid-fire resignations makes Áñez’s assumption of power highly questionable. There are serious doubts about the constitutional legitimacy of her succession. Without the forced resignations by MAS officials, Áñez would not have had even a minimally plausible constitutional path to the presidency, as she was serving as Vice-President of the Senate, a position that is not in the line of presidential succession within the constitution. Additionally, Áñez, whose party received only 4% of the vote in the most recent October 20 election, declared herself President in a Senate session lacking quorum, with MAS senators who make up the legislature’s majority boycotting partly due to fears for their physical safety.
Áñez represents the radical-right sector of the Bolivian opposition, which has taken advantage of the power vacuum created by Morales’ ouster to consolidate control over the state. Áñez appears to have full support of Bolivia’s military and police. Over the course of the last week the military and police have engaged in significant and increasing repression against protests, which have been largely, though not entirely, peaceful. By the night of November 13, La Paz and Cochabamba city center streets were empty of anyone but the police, military, and self-appointed neighborhood militias. There has been ongoing looting, burning of buildings, and violence on the streets and protesters have been met with much repression. In a highly disturbing move, Áñez issued an executive order on November 15 exempting the military from criminal responsibilities related to the use of force. Áñez has said Morales will face prosecution if he returns to Bolivia. sh has also floated the idea of banning the MAS party – which is undoubtedly still Bolivia’s largest and most popular political force – from participation in future elections.
Equally disturbing has been a resurgence of public anti-Indigenous racism over the course of the last week. Shortly after Áñez was declared President, she thrust a massive Bible into the air and proclaimed “The Bible has returned to the palace!” Three days earlier on the day of Morales’ ouster, Luis Fernando Camacho, a far-right Santa Cruz businessman and ally of Áñez, went to the presidential palace and knelt before a Bible placed on top of the Bolivian flag. A pastor accompanying him announced to the press, “The Pachamama will never return to the palace.” Opposition activists burned the wiphala flag (an important symbol of Indigenous identity) on various occasions. These are extremist views that threaten to reverse decades of gains in ethnic and cultural inclusion in Bolivia.
Despite increasing violence and repression, diverse social forces have been demonstrating around the country to condemn the government of Áñez. It is important to note that they include not only MAS supporters but also a broad swath of popular sectors that repudiate the rightwing seizure of the state. Thousands of largely unarmed protesters, mostly coca-leaf growers, gathered peacefully in Sacaba, a town in the department of Cochabamba, on the morning of November 15. After unsuccessful negotiations to march to the town square, protesters tried to cross a bridge into the city of Cochabamba, heavily guarded by police and military troops. Soldiers and police fired tear gas canisters and live bullets into the crowd. During the two-hour confrontation, nine protesters were shot dead, and at least 122 were wounded. Most of the dead and injured in Sacaba suffered bullet wounds. Guadalberto Lara, the director of the town’s Mexico Hospital, told the Associated Press it is the worst violence he has seen in his 30-year career. Families of the victims held a candlelight vigil late Friday in Sacaba. A tearful woman put her hand on a casket and asked, “Is this what you call democracy? Killing us as if we counted for nothing?”
We denounce the repressive state violence unfolding in Bolivia. We also voice our concern that the international media have not been able to effectively cover the human rights violations in Bolivia as they too have been met by the violence of the military. On November 15, an Al Jazeera journalist covering protests in La Paz was gassed by the police in the streets and could no longer hold her microphone or camera. Although she later backed down, Áñez’s new minister of communications told the press that the government will not tolerate “seditious” media. This environment, in which freedom of the press is not only not guaranteed, but threatened by the government, has resulted in an alarming lack of coverage of the gross human rights violations being committed by the armed forces against civilian unarmed protesters.
We are outraged by the Áñez regime’s violations of Bolivians’ political, civil, and human rights, and by the deplorable use of deadly violence that has led to a mounting death toll of protesters and countless serious injuries. We call upon the international community to immediately and publicly condemn these acts of violence. We ask international human rights bodies and organizations to impartially investigate and document the acts of violence committed by government agents. We demand that the international community ensure that this de facto regime, which is at best highly suspect and viewed by many as lacking any legitimacy, protect the lives of peaceful protesters, respect the rights of all to freedom of assembly and speech, and strictly abide by international norms on the use of force in situations of civilian violence. We demand that the US and other foreign governments cease all support to this regime and withhold international recognition until free and fair elections – including all political parties – are held, repressive violence ceases, and the fundamental human rights of all Bolivians are respected.
Angela Davis, University of California Santa Cruz
Greg Grandin, Yale University
Molly Crabapple, Author and Artist
Javier Auyero, University of Texas, Austin
Sinclair Thomson, NYU
Brooke Larson, University of Stony Brook
Forrest Hylton, Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Medellín
William Robinson, University of California-Santa Barbara
Sujatha Fernandes, University of Sydney (Australia)
Gianpaolo Baiocchi, NYU
Steve Ellner, Universidad de Oriente (Venezuela)
Micah Uetricht, Jacobin
Shawn Gude, Jacobin
Alex Main, Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.
John L. Hammond, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY
Marc Edelman, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY
Deborah Poole: Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore)
Judy Helmand, York University, Toronto, Canada
Susan Spronk, University of Ottawa
Mark Healey, University of Connecticut
Laura Enriquez, University of California, Berkeley
Daniel Aldana Cohen, University of Pennsylvania
John Lindsay-Poland, Global Exchange
Ben Dangl, University of Vermont
Nicole Fabricant, Towson University
Carwil Bjork-James, Vanderbilt University
Santiago Anria, Dickinson College
Gabriel Hetland, University at Albany, SUNY
Samuel Handlin, Swarthmore College
Christy Thornton, Johns Hopkins University
Thea Riofrancos, Providence College
See the full list:
No One Is Illegal!
A Webinar on Capitalism, Imperialism and BordersWhen: November 21st, 2019, 8:30pm EST, 7:30pm CST; 5:30pm PST
Sponsor: Immigrant Rights Working Group – Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)
Borders throughout the world have become sites of state violence, racist discrimination, and policing of workers freedom of movement. Governments from the US to Mexico, the EU and Israel to name just a few have militarized their boundaries, policed them with guards, forced migrants to take dangerous routes where they are losing their lives in record numbers, jailed those that survive in concentration camps, and exploited others as cheap labor denied the rights of workers with citizenship. On this webinar, experts on capitalism, climate change, imperialism and migration will explain the systemic roots of population displacement, the nature and function of the new border regime and present a case for working class unity against the oppression and scapegoating of migrants in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Justin Akers Chacon, author of No One is Illegal and Radicals in the Barrio.
Todd Miller, author of Empire of Borders, Border Patrol Nation, and Storming the Wall.
Harsha Walia, author of Undoing Border Imperialism, cofounder of No One Is Illegal.
Jorge Mújica, author of Voces Migrantes: Movimiento 10 de Marzo, DSA member and Organizer with Arise Chicago, National Council member of the National Writers Union.
To get involved in DSA, become a member, join the Immigrant Rights Working Group, and find out more about activist campaigns.
Ten Arguments for Open Borders, the Abolition of ICE, and an Internationalist Labor Movement (Fall 2019) ResponsesOCTOBER 31, 2019“Open Borders” is Not the Issue: A Reply to Dan La Botz
Dan La Botz has written an extensive piece on open borders in Socialist Forum. I want to critique some parts of his arguments.
La Botz is well informed in this field and makes the best case for open borders. However, the conclusions do not necessarily follow from his arguments. In my view, he is about 80% correct. At the same time, we should not assume that open borders is the only correct position for the left, nor that it is feasible. We need clarity on these issues in order to build our movement.
At the same time, most of organized labor, most of the major civil rights organizations, and the Bernie Sanders campaign do not support open borders. We should understand why.
La Botz’s descriptions of the economy and the political forces, and his analysis are very well informed. The conclusions he draws from this work go beyond the arguments he makes. I do not have the time to go through each of the arguments in detail, so I want to highlight what I see as the major problem areas.
While it is true that delegates at the 2019 DSA national convention endorsed open borders an open borders policy of DSA, not all DSA members agree with that position.
In 2018 I described some of these contradictions in a piece called “Steps Toward a Labor Informed Perspective on Immigration” on the DSA North Star caucus’s blog. Here’s a brief excerpt from that piece:
In the article, “The Left Case against Open Borders”, writer Angela Nagle gets some of the economic conditions correct, but like Trump, she argues without evidence that the problem is that unions, the Left and immigrants’ rights activists support “open borders”. Her writing follows from the position in Melting Pot or Civil War? A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders by Reihan Salam.
Developing a policy on migration for labor and the left is far more complex than presented by Nagle and other writers.
First we must deal with some of the false accusations about the role of unions in the immigration policy debates.
Writer Nagle is wrong in asserting that the left and labor favor open borders. This is accepting the false narrative of Trump and the anti- immigrant forces.
There has been a long and well developed movement for immigration reform, along with connected policy proposals – few of which argue for open borders. Progressive policies and practices have emerged from within U.S. communities and the labor movement.
I agree with La Botz that “We are in a struggle for hearts and minds on the question of immigration, a key issue in U.S. politics today.” He then locates the problems in the crisis of 9/11 and austerity policies following the economic crisis of 2008.
Those issues were important, but anti-immigrant hostility was rampant as early as 1994, when Republican governor Pete Wilson won re-election while supporting the successful Proposition 187 ballot initiative. Proposition 187 established a citizenship screening system and attempted to cut undocumented immigrants off from health care, education, and other public services. Over five million voters – 60% of Californians who voted on the initiative – cast their ballots for this harshly anti-immigrant measure. Republicans have since been repudiated in California, and it is now a sanctuary state. However, at the federal level congressional Republicans passed and Bill Clinton signed the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, a repressive bill that provided for the construction of fencing along the border and criminalized many aspects of immigrant life. Over the decades there have been numerous appropriation bills to provide increased funding for the Border Patrol as well as militarization and fencing of the border. Many of the current repressive actions at the border were made possible by the Trump administration’s use of this 1996 legislation. For more on this history, see Sand and Blood: America’s Deadly Stealth War on the Mexican Border by John Carlos Frey.
While I agree with La Botz that the anti-immigrant campaigns contribute to capitalist exploitation, I do not agree that open borders campaigns will advance the rights of immigrant workers. The DSA International Committee has a number of pieces supporting the position of open borders as put forward by La Botz and this position is supported by Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez, among others. However the U.S. organized labor movement is not there, nor are major political movements such as the civil rights organizations and the Sanders campaign. We should try to understand why these groups, our usual allies, are not arguing for open borders.
La Botz argues that organized labor does not currently support an internationalist position due in some part to the shortcomings of union leadership, an analysis linked to his support for the rank-and-file strategy regarding the labor movement. This may certainly be part of the story, and the rank-and-file strategy is well worth debating. But we should be cautious in incorporating the assumptions of the rank-and-file campaign approach as a part of a strategy for responding to migration. It is only one idea, and there is only scattered evidence to support it. We need strategies based upon really existing conditions, not wished for new unions.
Instead of open borders, most progressive unions have been arguing for revised immigration and labor policies that protect the rights of migrant workers, including their right to form unions. We should work with labor unions and workers centers. But we cannot assume that the unions support the rank-and-file strategy. Instead, we should seek migration policies that are possible within the present political reality.
La Botz, in his piece, argues for an internationalist labor position. That is fine. I am all for internationalism. I hope we get there someday. While supporting internationalism, we do not all support the abolition of nation-states. That is an extreme position. We should note that this argument has been active since at least 1914 and it has not yet made significant progress. I wish the internationalists well, but I also favor working in the real world, as it is.
When La Botz proposes the abolition of borders, we have to consider what would take their place. My view of history is that nation-states, with all of their problems, have been the only instrument that has limited the exploitation of the working class. That is why working people’s movement seek to gain control of governments. They hope to use their control of governments to protect their lives, their families. Since the new deal, national governments have imposed some limits on corporations.
I accept as accurate La Botz’s descriptions of the multinational corporations. The question is, what are we going to do about it. La Botz is certainly correct that in this neoliberal era workers are losing ground. However, tell me where corporations have been limited by any power other than a nation-state.
Without national and state governments, working people would be even more exposed to abuse by the multinational ruling class – the party of Davos. For example, it is states and nations that are now suing Facebook and Google. If we no longer have nation-states, who will sue them? And, who will establish the courts in which to sue?
In his piece La Botz asserts as urgent that we overcome the divisions within the U.S. working class, and he correctly describes the important role of migrant labor within that working class. We should be opposing these divisions in the working class. This includes actions of solidarity with migrant workers, which are essential. But simply adopting an open borders policy does not overcome the divisions. Why do you think organized labor, including the sections of organized labor led by immigrants, is not pursuing open borders? It is because open borders is in part a neoliberal capitalist utopian dream or nightmare.
The Trump administration and the Republican Party want the election campaign to be about “open borders” because it mobilizes their nativist, reactionary base. The nationalist right wing will accuse those of us on the left of being in favor or open borders because that helps them to win the public debate against immigration. It fosters fear and anxiety, and places difficulties in the way of both migration and unionization.
In my decades of activist experience, few migrants have advocated for open borders. This is not a campaign emerging from the ranks of immigrant workers. Rather, migrants are seeking a way to work and feed their families and to keep them safe from violence.
Dan La Botz has done a great service by laying out the arguments for open borders. And he is correct in proposing that migration and borders are critical emerging issues facing the environmental justice movements. But instead of arguments for open borders, I urge a perspective on organizing that begins the conversation within the experience and common sense of working people. That is an argument we can win.
Duane Campbell, Sacramento DSA
La Botz responds:
In his response to my arguments for open borders, Duane Campbell writes, “open borders is in part a neoliberal capitalist utopian dream or nightmare.” He supports the efforts by the AFL-CIO and other U.S. unions to pressure the U.S. government to protect workers in this country by regulating immigration. He is correct that this has been the position of U.S. unions practically since they were founded and generally remains so today. To influence the government, the unions have allied with the Democratic Party, relying on it to propose legislation. In the last couple of decades this proposed legislation has been called “comprehensive immigration reform,” which is intended to strengthen the borders, to regulate the flow of immigrants into the United States, and which proposes an onerous process for reaching U.S. citizenship.
One has to ask, how has the labor bureaucracy that leads the unions been doing with this strategy? After the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 gave “amnesty” to a couple of million undocumented immigrants, other millions of migrants continued to enter the United States without documents. The number of undocumented immigrants rose from 5 million to 11 million. Nor did the harsher and more punitive Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 have the desired effect, and undocumented immigrants continued to come into the country. At the same time, the percentage of workers in the unions fell from 20.1% to 10.7% today.
Many workers, seeing the immigrants continued to come and that their unions continued to decline, and having bought the unions’ argument that the government could protect them, turned to Donald Trump who promised to do exactly what the unions had promised: use the government to protect them. Their votes helped elect Trump to the presidency. And he did what he promised, tightening up the border and rounding up undocumented immigrants. And union membership continued to fall. And, of course, the AFL-CIO’s alliance with the Democratic Party not only failed to protect U.S. workers, but it led to the abuse and exploitation of immigrant workers.
What is the alternative? To be more successful, U.S. unions must turn from relying on the Democratic Party and the government to protect them and engage instead in an economic and political struggle against the corporations. The unions will have to break from their “partnership” with the employers, which is generally the rule. To carry this out, the unions will need to organize not only the unorganized but also the undocumented. To do that they will have to carry out a political fight within the unions against the racism that is still prevalent in many. They must provide convincing demonstrations of the ability of workers to unite, to fight, and to win not only strikes but also the fight for pro-labor legislation. Socialists are key to raising these ideas in the workers’ movement.
Can anyone seriously think that the current top-level leadership of the unions is capable of carrying out such a transformation of the labor movement? There is little if any evidence for it. So, then, how will the union movement become capable of breaking with its past and its futile dependence on the Democratic Party? The only possibilities are these: First, either the rank-and-file movements in the unions informed by a pro-immigrant and internationalist policy raised within by democratic socialists will transform the exiting unions into organizations fighting for the working class as whole; or, second, the continued deterioration of working-class power and the decline of the workers’ standard of living, together the rising sense of indignation among working people because their needs and desires are ignored, will lead to some national uprising such as we see today in France, Chile, Lebanon, and several other nations. At such moments, nationalist sentiment sometimes comes to predominate, though strong international feelings also often develop, though the outcome is always unclear.
Open borders does not mean the abolition of the nation-state, but rather a change in the practices of the nation-state. The very word internationalism suggests that there are many nations and there will continue to be even if we win the battle for socialism in one place or another. Only on the distant horizon of the abolition of capitalism and worldwide socialism can one contemplate the abolition of the nation-state.
The only way to move toward an open borders and internationalist policy such as presented in my original article, is through a rank-and-file movement imbued with pro-immigrant and internationalist sentiments that understand the enemy is the domestic employer, not the immigrant worker. The only way that such ideas will be raised is through the active intervention of socialists in the unions, defending both workers’ immediate interests and their long-term interests around issues such as immigration and climate change.
NAFTA Is An Accomplice To Murder
Oscar Hernández Romero’s friends searched for him in garbage dumps, ravines and all the other places that could hide what they feared to find—the bullet-riddled body of a Mexican labor activist. But they’ve turned up no trace of Oscar, who disappeared near the open-pit gold mine in southwestern Mexico where workers went on strike two years ago demanding to join the independent labor union Los Mineros. Anti-union thugs murdered three other men involved in the organizing effort by workers at the Media Luna mine, and Oscar is feared dead, too. NAFTA, which siphoned a million jobs from America and mired Mexican workers in poverty, is an accomplice to murder because it incentivized the killing of labor activists like Oscar. Corporations in Mexico exploit workers and pollute the environment to slash costs, which enables them to undercut U.S. and Canadian competitors. They aggressively thwart unions because their business model requires cheap labor. That puts targets on the backs of labor organizers who work to improve conditions in Mexican factories, mills and mines. If this situation is going to change, NAFTA must change. Strong labor standards and enforcement provisions must be written into the text of the proposed new NAFTA, including an ironclad right to organize and protection for activists, so Mexican workers can join real labor unions like Los Mineros, throw out company-controlled imposter unions like the one at Media Luna and get better wages and working conditions. Without these safeguards in the new NAFTA, formally known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Mexican labor activists will risk death. And corporations will continue to fire American and Canadian workers and move operations to Mexico.
Tom Conway is president of USW, the United Steelworkers
In contrast with Obama’s strategy, Sanders said that he met with the former president and shared his thoughts directly.
“I’m a great fan of Barack Obama, who’s a friend of mine. He and I have actually discussed this very issue. His view is, it’s hard to do it,” said Sanders. “I understand that. But the essence of my politics, and I think Alexandria’s as well, is that we need an ongoing grassroots movement of millions of people to pressure Congress, to pressure the corporate establishment, so that we can bring about the changes that this country desperately needs. So that’s why I have said that I will not only be commander-in-chief, I’m going to be organizer-in-chief.” (An aide to Sanders said the meeting with Obama took place in the spring of 2018.)
The full conversation will be posted on Monday. Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez discussed the Espionage Act, Syria, Joe Biden, monopoly politics, and why Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Sanders over Elizabeth Warren. To get an early look, sign up for The Intercept’s newsletter.
Ryan Grim is the author of “We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement
The Great Recession Ten Years On
William J. Barclay, 2019
June 2019 marked ten years since the official end of the Great Recession. Of course, declaring the ends (and beginnings) of recessions is rather arbitrary and always done in retrospect. It was not until September 2010 that the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) declared that what became known as the Great Recession had ended in June 2009. The same body determined the Great Recession began in December 2007, but did not make that call until a year later, in December 2008.
The Great Recession was the deepest and longest since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and books and papers analyzing the event are legion. Ushered in by the financial crisis of 200-2007, the Great Recession featured high unemployment, housing foreclosures, GDP downturns, government interventions aimed at countering the downward spiral, and more. However, less attention has been paid to the structure and functioning of the economy in the years that followed, and the long shadow of the Great Recession is still with us a decade later—particularly in the ways that the crisis changed, or failed to change, the U.S. economy.
There are three striking features of the American economy that have emerged in the past decade—two that are new and one that is a reincarnation of an already established trend:
Trump destroyed the Rojava project
By Dave Anderson - October 17, 2019
When Turkey invaded Syria, there was almost universal condemnation
across the political spectrum. But the most unique protesters are the
anarchists all over the planet who say that a new egalitarian society
is being created in Rojava, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in
Shortly after the invasion, an international campaign called “Rise Up
For Rojava’” was formed (riseup4rojava.org/). The campaign declares:
“Seven years ago a revolution began in Rojava that was to radically
change the lives of millions of people. The Kurds liberated themselves
from the dictatorship of the Assad regime and began to organize
themselves in self-governed councils, communes and cooperatives. In
particular, the autonomous organization of women became the driving
force behind the social revolution. Over the course of the struggle
against the Islamic state, a unique multi-ethnic and multi-religious
project developed, which today guarantees the peaceful coexistence of
millions of Kurds, Arabs and Christians. The Democratic Federation of
Northeast Syria is a unique example of the vision of a peaceful and
democratic Middle East and has therefore always been a thorn in the
side of both regional powers and imperialist states.”
The Rojava project is the brainchild of Abdullah Öcalan, the founder
of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The Turkish based party adopted
authoritarian Marxist Leninist politics and initiated a campaign of
armed conflict against the Turkish government in 1984 in order to
create an independent Kurdish state. The PKK attacked government
forces as well as civilians.
A contribution to the discussion of the role of labor and the participation of DSA in labor.
Without a Clear Strategy for Labor, Socialists are Falling Behind Workers, Ryan Mosgrove,
Also; In These Times has 3 articles by DSA members on union organizing.
IN the November issue. Will be on line in November. One is by Bill Fletcher Jr.
Amid Reports of Civilian Deaths, Sanders Condemns Trump for 'Giving Turkish Army Permission' to Slaughter Kurds in Syria
"I strongly condemn Trump's reckless decision to abandon our Kurdish allies to their fate at the hands of Turkish President Erdoğan."
by Jake Johnson, staff writer
Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians flee amid Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019. (Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)
As Turkish troops invaded northeastern Syria and launched airstrikes that reportedly killed at least seven civilians, Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a statement late Wednesday condemning U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to abandon Kurdish forces and pave the way for Turkey's military assault.
"I strongly condemn Trump's reckless decision to abandon our Kurdish allies to their fate at the hands of Turkish President Erdoğan," said Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. "This is not a case of sending American troops there. They are already there and Trump is withdrawing them, giving the Turkish army permission to invade."
"This is not a case of sending American troops there. They are already there and Trump is withdrawing them, giving the Turkish army permission to invade."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
Trump on Sunday abruptly announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, a decision that was met with outrage and warnings of a deadly Turkish invasion.
On Wednesday, that invasion began as Turkey began bombarding Kurdish targets in Syria, forcing civilians to flee in panic.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warned in a statement Wednesday that Turkey's assault "will spill the blood of thousands of innocent civilians because our border areas are overcrowded."
Sanders said the U.S. president "should not make significant national security decisions impulsively, by tweets after a single phone call," and urged Congress to assert its constitutional authority over foreign policy.
"Kurdish fighters have fought and died in our joint effort to eliminate ISIS," said the Vermont senator. "They should not be abandoned in this way. Congress must assert its important responsibility over foreign policy and serve as a check on our unstable president."
After Turkey launched its assault on Wednesday, Trump issued a tepid statement denouncing the invasion as a "bad idea."
As The Guardian reported late Wednesday, "activists and observers said at least seven civilians had been killed so far."
"There were also early reports of civilian casualties in border towns hit by shelling," according to The Guardian. "Pictures and video shared on social media showed wrecked buildings and bodies in the rubble."
Reposted from Common Dreams.
Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.
This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.
The fight for democracy can’t be left to the centrists.
Reprinted from In These Times.
BY Max B. Sawicky
Democracy is not merely an identifier or assertion of bona fides for socialists. It is an operational requirement, both to attain power and to employ it.
If you’re trying to build a mass political organization while ignoring the political issue everybody in the country is talking about, you’re doing it wrong.
Why in the world not impeach Donald Trump? You’re a socialist and you don’t want to see him impeached? Really? Back in April—admittedly, before the latest Biden-Ukraine revelations—my friend Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of the socialist magazine Jacobin, made the case against impeachment. He acknowledged that Trump is reprehensible in the extreme, yet dismissed impeachment as “squandering a historic opening to advocate for social reforms in exchange for some political theater.”
I disagree. This career draft dodger, tax evader, adulterer, debt-defaulter, chiseler, four-flusher and all-around gonif —Donald Trump, our fucking president—is the poster boy for everything we despise. And the entire Republican Party has stood foursquare behind him from the beginning.
Impeachment formalizes and emphasizes that the current administration and all its works—its legislation, its deregulation, its judicial appointments—are fundamentally illegitimate. Impeachment does not only challenge current authority; it challenges its genesis.
A distinction between the current priorities of the Left—Medicare For All, the Green New Deal, etc.—and impeachment is illogical. For the foreseeable future, if not indefinitely, democratic socialists will have to work within the framework of the U.S. state. For this to be feasible, the State’s democratic processes need to be preserved, if not strengthened. We need to attack the legitimacy of the administration in order to defend our increasingly embattled democratic institutions. We need democracy to pursue all our priorities in social reform.
Democracy is not merely an identifier or assertion of bona fides for socialists. It is an operational requirement, both to attain power and to employ it.
Impeachment is not a substitute for a social justice agenda, or a positive electoral outcome in 2020. It is a facilitator. Immediately, it preoccupies the Trump administration and limits the damage it would do on other fronts. It dramatizes a wealth of detail on the administration’s malfeasance. It strengthens the case for whoever opposes Trump, against any Republicans who support him, and against any Democrats who fail to prosecute the case against him energetically.
There is a risk that the impeachment proceedings will be narrow and legalistic, and even worse, that they will feature neoconservative attacks on Trump for failing to support Ukraine against Russia. As with every other issue, the debate within the Democratic caucus in Congress on how to do impeachment will be ideological.
It is up to the Left to promote a progressive frame for impeachment. The chief prospective victim in the Ukraine affair was not Ukraine—it was our own democracy. The degradation of our democratic institutions, from voter suppression to gerrymandering to the stonewalling of Merrick Garland, is the source of Republicans’ current political advantage and prevents urgent reforms supported by strong majorities of the public.
A Race-Class Narrative About Immigration
Encouraging people to see their fates as linked across color lines is critical to defeating dog whistling and its mass violence. The race-class research suggests that efforts to broaden the “we” will be most successful when those not at risk of deportation come to see how fearmongering imperils their own well-being. When people perceive that messages of racial threat are strategic lies that harm them and their families, they’re more likely to reject these fear stories entirely and to recognize their shared humanity with those they’re told menace them. The following box offers a race- class narrative on immigration.26 The one after that dissects the message into its component parts, offering a pocket summary of a typical race-class message.
The Narrative About Immigration
Regardless of where we come from, what our color is, or how we worship, every family wants the best for their children. But today, certain politicians and their greedy lobbyists are putting our families at risk. They rig the rules to enrich them- selves and avoid paying their fair share of taxes, while they defund our schools and threaten seniors with cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Then they turn around and point the fin- ger for our hard times at new immigrants—even tearing families apart and losing children. When we reject their scapegoating and come together across racial differences, we can make this a nation we’re proud to leave all of our kids—whether we’re white, Black, or brown, from down the street or across the globe.
Anatomy of a Race-Class Narrative
Regardless of where we come from, what our color is, or how we worship, every family wants the best for their children.
Discuss race overtly and as including everyone. Beyond physical features, this can be done by invoking the differences the Right seeks to racialize, including national origin and religion. As a matter of general messaging advice, start with an affirmative value statement rather than a problem.
But today, certain politicians and their greedy lobbyists are putting all of our families at risk.
identify the actual source of threat to working families, taking care to explain motives, even through simple terms like “greedy.”
They rig the rules to enrich themselves and avoid paying their fair share of taxes, while they defund our schools and threaten seniors with cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
Excerpts from Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America.
Ian Haney López. 2019. See post below and opportunity to download the chapter.
CAN PROGRESSIVES BEAT TRUMP'S WAR ON IMMIGRANTS IN 2020 ?
The opinions expressed here are those of members and allies of DSA North Star Caucus meant to educate, inspire discussion and encourage comradely debate.