We need to invest and expand our publications and media, not liquidate.
By Alexander Hernández
(Includes Proposed Amendments)
Since 2019 there have been four instances the convention has taken up questions referencing Editorial Boards. In one instance a reference to the Democratic Left Editorial Board and another to the NPCs role in overseeing all Editorial Boards.
Two other instances were with reference to an Editorial Board orienting towards Latinx communities. In the first case, 2019 resolution Orienting towards Latinx communities was the most voted for resolution to pass on the consent agenda. The 2019-2021 NPC failed to implement this convention mandate.
While an attempt to bring the issue to convention 2021, via resolution #36 Prioritizing Working-class Latino Organizing in DSA, was ultimately tabled due to lack of time; the 2021-2023 NPC allowed for the originally passed mandate and follow up resolution to remain tabled.
If the goal is to revitalize our publications, you do not do so by cutting the budget or consolidating the work. You do so by investing into our publications and media. And one crucial way already mandated is to create the editorial board for Latinos Socialistas.
The reason our Democratic Left went from 18 pages to 4 is not from lack of volunteers and membership input, rather from a failure in leadership to act or rather even realize that a 20% budgetary cut across the board included the organization's publication
The current proposal circulating is misguided and should be rejected as currently presented. In the event the proposal reaches convention, I would offer the amendment below to truly revitalize our publications and media as a top national priority. Starting by fulfilling our commitment of orienting and organizing Latinx communities.
Proposed amendment to revitalize and expand DSA publications as national priority
( Editor's note. It has become clear through posts on social media that the original post below did not show all the details. This was an error in our posting.
Note; the substitute proposal is here.
This resolution may not get to the convention. It was developed to illustrate what was wrong with the original proposal.
Proposed amendment to revitalize and expand DSA publications as national priority
Be it therefore resolved that the revitalization and expansion of DSA publications and media will be a top national priority.
Resolved the National Political Committee will initiate the selection of an Editorial Board as mandated by 2019 resolution #6 Orienting to Latinx Communities, that the Latinos Socialistas Editorial Board be composed of 9 4 Editors elected no later than 3 months after this each national convention by the NPC following a public call for nominations open to all DSA members in good standing,
Resolved that DSA’s publications will continue to be open to the participation of members in good standing; to that end, the NPC will create a public sign-up form for DSA members to volunteer in producing any publication (Latinos Socialistas, Democratic Left Print, Democratic Left Blog or Socialist Forum), and will follow up with each member who submits the form,
Resolved that the Editorial Board will choose among itself an Editor-in-Chief, functionally the chair, responsible for organizing meetings and ensuring tasks are bottom lined, and that all Board members have equal votes on matters,
More on the Banking Mess
North Star member Bill Barclay breaks down the Silicon Valley Bank collapse here.
Where is Powell? Where is Yellen? Stop this crisis NOW. Announce that all depositors will be safe.
– David Sacks, PayPal co-founder and Silicon Valley libertarian commentator, 3/10/2023
OK. We can all enjoy some schadenfreude as the Silicon Valley techno-libertarians discover that maybe there is a role for government, after all. Especially when their money in Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) might vanish. Of course, it didn’t. It didn’t because those burdensome government agencies decided to make them whole, 100 cents on the dollar, including the more than 90% of deposits that were above the $250,000 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insurance limit. . . .
Casualties of SVB’s Collapse
Silicon Valley libertarianism, every congressional Republican, 50 congressional Democrats—and why are some still sitting on the banking committees?
The implosion of Silicon Valley Bank has brought with it—or, at least, should bring with it—the implosion of the reputations of certain key groups and individuals in America’s political and economic infrastructure. The list begins with SVB’s own leaders, of course, most particularly CEO Greg Becker, who repeatedly urged Congress in 2018 to eliminate the Dodd-Frank regulation requiring midsize banks like his to maintain a prudent amount of ready money lest nefarious forces cause a run on the bank. But Becker is just one of a number of public figures whose credibility just now is at Tucker Carlson levels.
Silicon Valley was already going through a hard time before SVB went under, as the nation’s consumption of digital products declined with the waning of the pandemic. (Just today, Meta [aka Facebook] announced it would lay off another 10,000 employees.) But Silicon Valley’s defining ideology—a libertarianism that extolled private markets and condemned government efforts to regulate them—has been shown to be as hollow as Marjorie Taylor Greene’s head. I won’t enumerate all the pleas to the feds to step up and rescue their deposits from the very same Valley libertarians who’d been disparaging any governmental role in the economy as recently as the middle of last week. Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times and Adam Lashinsky in The Washington Post have both done excellent jobs laying out this epic of hypocrisy.
Libertarianism will surely survive this setback; it’s as American as mass shootings. But the one wing of libertarianism with cultural cachet was Silicon Valley’s super-cool version. (Compare and contrast Steve Jobs and Ron Paul.) Now that version has been shown to be as phony as a three-dollar bill (for which, doubtless, there is a crypto equivalent).
Reputational damage also attaches to the members of Congress who voted in 2018 to roll back the keep-cash-handy provisions of Dodd-Frank on midsize ($50 billion to $250 billion in assets) banks. That list includes every Republican save one, as well as 33 House Democrats and 17 Democratic senators. None of the Democrats whose districts were even remotely close to Silicon Valley voted for the measure, nor did California’s senators (Feinstein and Harris). The yes votes came instead from a mix of the pro-corporate Democrats usually hailed by centrist publications for their bipartisanship (Virginia’s Mark Warner, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, New Jersey’s Josh Gottheimer), from the senators and representatives of states dominated by banks (Delaware’s Tom Carper, Chris Coons, and Lisa Blunt Rochester), and from a small number of inner-city representatives doing the bidding of their cities’ midsize banks. A number of those Democrats in both houses served on the congressional committees that oversaw banking and thus received ample campaign funding from the banks; those who served on the Senate’s committee, Warner in particular, played a decisive role in passing that legislation. (Warner won the chutzpah prize of the month last weekend when he defended the 2018 deregulation on a Sunday talk show.) Why their fellow Democrats would want to keep these deregulators on those committees now, given their appalling lack of judgment, is a good question. There should be some price attached to having lit the deregulatory fuse in 2018; commendably, Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, currently seeking Kyrsten Sinema’s Senate seat, has taken her to task for voting for the measure back when she was in the House.
And then there’s the reputation of the mega-banker who didn’t step up: Jamie Dimon. His bank, JPMorgan Chase, is much the nation’s largest, and best equipped to take over the remaining assets and debts left by SVP. Old J.P. Morgan himself, it’s worth recalling, ended the financial panic of 1907, in which banks were toppling like tenpins, by pledging his bank’s reserves to stabilize the system, and strong-arming the heads of other big banks to do the same. Dimon is the one banker, and Chase the best-suited bank, capable of doing the 21st-century version of that today. It’s time for President Joe to give CEO Jamie a friendly call.
The American Prospect
Meyerson on TAP
By. Alex Caputo-Pearl
In the strike, we won enforceable class size caps (which very few districts have) for the first time in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Before the strike, LAUSD put class size numbers on a page, but they meant nothing because they were not legally enforceable. There were hundreds of K-3 classes with over 30 students in them, and many high school classes with over 50. Our victory required every class to come down to cap numbers, impacting classes all over the district at every grade level. The strike put us in the driver’s seat on class size for the first time--winning enforceable caps in 2019 means we can use every round of bargaining from the strike forward to push caps down.
In the strike, we won a salary increase among the highest in the state at the time and beat back the district’s attempt to create a two-tier healthcare plan, one of the most insidious attacks on workers and unions. LAUSD wanted educators hired after 2019 to have a weaker healthcare plan than those hired before 2019. If we had not won this, our union would have had a divisive dilemma at its core.
In the strike, we won unprecedented Common Good bargaining victories on racial justice, including:,,,,,
If the Left is to succeed where past generations have failed, it can’t allow sectarian organizations to operate as “parties within a party.”
BILL BARCLAY, LEO CASEY, JACK CLARK, RICHARD HEALEY, DEBORAH MEIER, MAXINE PHILLIPS, CHRIS RIDDIOUGH AND JOSEPH M. SCHWARTZ MARCH 30, 2021
The remarkable growth of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) over the past four years, from a group with a few thousand members to one with fifteen times that number, has made it the most significant U.S. socialist organization in nearly a century. Successful campaigns to elect open democratic socialists to public office have given the DSA real, if still embryonic, political influence. Four members -- Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib -- now sit in the House of Representatives. Together with Bernie Sanders in the Senate, this is the largest number of self-avowed democratic socialists ever to hold Congressional office simultaneously, to say nothing of the scores of DSA members who have been elected to state legislatures, county boards and city councils in recent years.
As DSA has grown in size and political influence, so too has the interest it has attracted from small political groups to its left. These “sects,” short for sectarian organizations, see opportunities for themselves in the large numbers of young people new to politics who have joined DSA, viewing them as potential recruits for their emaciated ranks.
The recent announcement of the Trotskyist organization Socialist Alternative (SAlt) that its members were coming aboard, followed by a similar declarationfrom its leading member, Kshama Sawant, has simply made public a process that has been underway for some time -- that various marginal Trotskyist organizations have infiltrated the DSA in a practice known as “entryism.”
What is entryism and what kind of impact could it have on DSA?
Let’s start with this disingenuous passage in the SAlt announcement:
We realize that DSA has a national “ban” on members of democratic centralist organizations joining. However, many DSA members we’ve talked to oppose this Cold War holdover and are excited about Socialist Alternative members joining. While this rule was originally created to prevent Marxists from joining DSA, in recent years, a new generation of DSA activists have changed the organizations’ politics for the better, many of them identifying as Marxist. We think DSA should remove this exclusionary rule as another useful step towards transforming the socialist left into an important component for the emerging class struggles.
We, the undersigned, were involved in the crafting and adoption of the DSA Constitution that the SAlt communiqué alluded to. We have been a part of DSA’s first generation of national leadership, and we have served in its two predecessor organizations, the New American Movement and the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. SAlt’s claim that Marxists have been “banned” from joining DSA is a self-serving fiction, and they know it.
Many in the original leadership of DSA identified as Marxists. Michael Harrington, one of our two national co-chairs and our most prominent leader at the time of DSA’s founding, wrote a number of widely read books in which he made a case for Marx’s vision of socialism as democratic. Others of us who did not call ourselves Marxists never considered that they should be excluded from DSA.
Even if DSA’s founders had not included many self-avowed Marxists, simple logic dictates that if we did not want them in our ranks, our Constitution would have explicitly prohibited them from joining. It did not. Contrary to the fables of SAlt, there are no political or ideological tests for joining DSA, no “bans” on who can join, and no approval process for new members. Don’t take our word for it: Read the document as it’s written. Ask yourself how any member of SAlt, past and present, could have joined DSA.
DSA’s founders believed that we should assume the good faith of those who wanted to join our ranks, but we were not naïve. We were experienced and battle-hardened democratic socialists who had come from every part of the U.S. Left: women and men who had been leaders of the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, and various Trotskyist organizations, who were part of the Old Left of the 1930s and the New Left of the 1960s, and who came out of trade unions and civil rights, feminist and LGBTQ groups.
Assumptions notwithstanding, our rich collective memory told us that there would be small numbers of people who joined DSA in bad faith, that these people would behave in ways that were injurious to the mission and work of DSA, and that this behavior would need to be addressed. We knew from our history that the more successful DSA became, the more people would enter it for reasons other than advancing its mission. In the most extreme of these cases, DSA could well find that it needed to use the most serious penalty a democratic organization can levy against a member -- expulsion. And given the gravity of such a step, we wanted to make sure that the Constitution specified its conditions so it would not be employed capriciously. Moreover, we wanted to ensure that there was due process for the member being expelled.
With this in mind, we wrote the following:
Members can be expelled if they are found to be in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization or if they consistently engage in undemocratic, disruptive behavior or if they are under the discipline of any self-defined democratic-centralist organization. Members facing expulsion must receive written notice of charges against them and must be given the opportunity to be heard before the NPC or a subcommittee thereof, appointed for the purpose of considering expulsion.
The first two grounds for expulsion are self-explanatory. The last ground -- that a person was “under the discipline of any self-defined democratic centralist organization” -- requires some historical background.
Entryism in the 1930s
In 1928, the U.S. Communist Party banished a small group of individuals from its ranks on the grounds that they were associates of Leon Trotsky, the Bolshevik leader who had been purged from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during a factional struggle that had broken out after Lenin’s death. For years, these renegades were spurned by the rest of the U.S. Left while they sought readmission to the CP in vain. By the mid-1930s and the start of the Moscow Trials in the Soviet Union, it was clear that their expulsion would not be reversed, and the Trotskyists began to look for ways out of the political wilderness in which they found themselves.
In the American Workers Party (AWP), organized by labor educator A. J. Muste, they saw a path back to relevance. The AWP was an attempt to form a uniquely American revolutionary Marxist party that broke with a U.S. Left whose politics were beholden to different strains of European socialism and communism. In its very brief existence, the AWP had done impressive labor organizing, highlighted by its leadership of the Toledo Auto-Lite strike -- one of the epic work stoppages of the 1930s.
Muste was initially skeptical of Trotskyist appeals to combine forces. The AWP was a more substantial organization with deeper roots in the labor movement, and he found the Trotskyist leaders to be dogmatic and uncreative in their politics. Nonetheless, New York intellectuals Sidney Hook and James Burnham convinced him that a merger was a good idea. But Muste did place one condition on agreeing to the merger: that the Workers Party (WP) would not enter the Socialist Party.
This was a key point for Muste because the French Trotskyists, acting under the direction of Trotsky himself, had just allied with the French Socialists in a maneuver that came to be known as the “French turn.” After a short stay in the French Socialists, during which they garnered recruits and promoted their politics, the Trotskyists split its ranks, denounced the Socialists, and reorganized as a purely Trotskyist party. Muste was promised that this would not happen in the United States.
Almost immediately, the Trotskyists went back on their word, forcing the question of entry into the U.S. Socialist Party. Weakened by the loss of long-term political associates who were unwilling to join forces with the Trotskyists, Muste lost the vote and the Workers Party, now firmly under Trotskyist control, entered the Socialist Party.
Once inside, the Trotskyists acted as a “party within a party,” maintaining their own leadership structure (which regularly plotted factional moves within the Socialists) and publishing their own newspaper (which criticized the policies of the Socialist Party and promoted such Trotskyist projects as the founding of a Fourth International). Most important, all of the Trotskyists in the Socialist Party acted as one, under a single organizational discipline: they followed a pre-established “political line” Trotskyist leadership had laid down in all debates and votes inside the Socialist Party.
In short order, the Trotskyists forced a split in the Socialists and left with a thousand new members for their Socialist Workers Party (SWP), including much of the Socialists’ youth section. After this stratagem was complete, Trotskyist leader James Patrick Cannon boasted not only of the Trotskyists’ success in growing their numbers, but also of the fact that they had left the Socialist Party in shambles.
Cannon took pride in having engineered a major setback for the U.S. Left: By the 1930s, the ranks of the Socialist Party had grown dramatically, making it into a potentially significant force in U.S. politics. But after a series of misjudgments and internal crises, cresting with its disastrous co-habitation with the Trotskyists, the Socialist Party ended the decade as a shadow of its former self. For U.S. socialists of the 1930s, a number of whom would co-found the DSA decades later, this was a searing political ordeal they would not forget. Muste himself was deeply shaken by these events, which he would describe as a violation of “working class ethics,” and he left the Trotskyists.
The Trotskyists’ entry into the Socialist Party, organized as a disciplined “party within a party” to garner recruits and split its ranks, established the template for what we now call “entryism” on the U.S. Left.
Entryism in the 1960s
Entryism is not a practice limited to Trotskyist sects, as the experience of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s shows. The 1960s were a period of mass upsurge, much like the 1930s and our current time. The civil rights movement and the opposition to the war in Vietnam generated unprecedented levels of political activism among young people, and SDS grew mightily among white students, approaching an estimated 100,000 members at its peak. Much like DSA and the earlier Socialist Party youth section, the vast bulk of the SDS recruits were new to politics, making it a rich hunting grounds for small, disciplined ultra-left groups.
One of these was the Progressive Labor Party (PLP). Founded in 1962 after splitting from the Communist Party, PLP was initially supportive of Maoist China but would soon decide that even Mao was insufficiently communist for their tastes. It would then position itself as the most dogmatically Stalinist sect on the U.S. Left.
By 1966, PLP was recruiting inside the SDS, where it urged members to adopt its ultra-Stalinist politics and seize control of the SDS organizational infrastructure. PLP’s efforts at taking over SDS set off a destructive cycle, producing counter-factions that included a group that later became the Weathermen. Within a decade, the SDS would be destroyed.
Herein lie the dual dangers of entryism. On the one hand, it poses a threat to the organizational integrity of an open and democratic organization. Entryism is the sectarian equivalent to a hostile corporate takeover designed to split or seize control of its target organization. At a minimum, it seeks to poach members new to politics who may not be aware of the stratagem being employed. On the other hand, it disrupts the internal democratic processes of that organization, which depend on members engaging in honest debate and deliberation over policies and political strategies.
Entryists enter all debates and votes not with an open mind and a willingness to be persuaded, but with the express intent of advancing a political line that has already been decided in advance. Such tactics can quickly poison democratic political cultures, especially when opponents resort to the kinds of tactics they did in SDS.
To be politically effective, democratic socialist organizations need to develop methods of unity in action. These include open and full discussions of issues, democratic decision-making processes, and a commitment by all not to impede or undercut decisions once they have been democratically made. When entryist sects function as a disciplined “party within a party,” they undermine that unity in action.
Just as DSA’s founders remembered what the Trotskyists did to the Socialist Party in the 1930s, its first generation of members saw what Progressive Labor did to SDS in the 1960s. Two organizations that gave the Left its best chance to exercise real political power in the U.S. had ended disastrously, in large measure because of sectarian entryism. (These techniques similarly sabotaged a promising national movement of socialist-feminists in the 1970s.)
DSA’s Constitution singles out members “under the discipline of any self-defined democratic-centralist organizations” for possible expulsion to prevent these very outcomes. The drafters chose their words carefully: they do not specify a political belief or even membership in an organization, instead targeting those who aim to form a “party within a party” like the Trotskyists and the Stalinist PLP before them. This language has everything to do with ensuring the survival of an open, democratic institutions and absolutely nothing to do with “Cold War” politics.
The Socialist Alternative understands this, despite its claims to the contrary. After all, SAlt is the progeny of one of the best-known entryist projects in international socialist history, the Militant Tendency of the British Labour Party. From their founding in 1964 to their expulsion in the 1980s, these Trotskyists operated as a disciplined “party within a party” inside of Labour, using the entryist tactics described above.
SAlt was founded as Labor Militant in 1986 by members of the British Militant Tendency who had moved to the United States as part of an organized effort to create a Trotskyist international. (It adopted its current name in the late 1990s.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, the organization has splintered into several smaller factions since its founding amid personality conflicts, and there now exist competing internationals, although SAlt remains the largest group in the United States.
Why, then, is it trying to join DSA? SAlt’s own statement indicates that it opposes the very strategy that has allowed DSA to grow over the last four years -- campaigns to elect democratic socialists to office, using the Democratic Party ballot line -- so it would be hard to make a case for a political convergence. In this light, SAlt’s call to eliminate any barriers to entryism in DSA constitution is telling.
Openings for socialists don’t come along often in United States: only three times in the last 100 years has the Left had a change to make a major political breakthrough. DSA, with its rapid growth and electoral victories, could be central to such a breakthrough. Which is why we must acknowledge the deleterious role entryism played in the radical movements of the 1930s and 1960s. If we are to succeed where past generations have failed, it is vital that we not repeat their mistakes.
BILL BARCLAY is an economist who served as Political Secretary of NAM and was a member of its National Committee; he was a member of DSA’s National Political Committee at its founding.
LEO CASEY is a teacher unionist who was a member of NAM’s National Committee; he served as the National Field Director of DSA and a member of its National Political Committee at its founding.
JACK CLARK is a workforce educator who was the first national organizer of DSOC and member of its National Committee; he was a member of DSA’s National Political Committee at its founding.
RICHARD HEALEY is a political organizer and strategist who served as National Director of NAM and was a member of its National Committee; he was a member of NAM’s National Political Committee at its founding.
DEBORAH MEIER is an educator who was a Vice-Chair of DSOC and a member of its National Committee; she was a member of DSA’s National Political Committee at its founding.
MAXINE PHILLIPS is an editor who served in that role for the national publication of DSOC and DSA, Democratic Left; she was a member of DSA’s National Political Committee at its founding, and would later serve as its Executive Director.
CHRIS RIDDIOUGH is a strategic planner in the field of information technology who was a member of NAM’s National Committee; she was a member of DSA’s National Political Committee at its founding, and would later serve as its Executive Director.
JOSEPH M. SCHWARTZ is a political scientist who was a national organizer of DSOC’s Youth Section and a member of its National Committee; he was a member of DSA’s National Political Committee at its founding and for many decades after.
Originally published as Opinion, in In These Times. March 30,2021
Women's History Month
Cindy Hahamovitch, William P. Jones, Joseph A. McCartin
February 24, 2023
In These Times
Something is stirring this spring. People in the U.S. are becoming increasingly interested in what commentators once called “the labor question,” following recent organizing victories at Starbucks, Amazon and Apple stores; well-publicized strikes of teachers, nurses and railway workers; and the unionization of staff, graduate assistants and even faculty at scores of campuses, including the recent successful strike of nearly 50,000 academic workers on the campuses of the University of California.
Evidence of this mood shift is unmistakable this spring as students, campus staff and faculty, together with unions and community allies, are coming together on or adjacent to more than 50 campuses nationwide — including ours — to engage in a remarkable national teach-in on worker rights and organizing called Labor Spring.
Read more. In These Times.
Labor Spring Teach-Ins this Spring.
ORGANIZING WORKERS FOR POWER
Review of Labor Power and Strategy.
Confronted by modern capitalism’s sociopathic pursuit of ever-greater profits, Karl Marx sought to critique that vast economic machine and to imply redemptive alternatives. In the following century Harry Braverman mapped industrial employers’ strategies for greater exploitation of production workers that stretched out profit-seekers‘ power through their faux search for efficiencies. In our time John Womack Jr presents an order of battle for the repulsion of capital’s relentless attacks upon workers and for advancing a step or two toward reorganizing work and society. In selected responses the author’s strategies and tactics are explored by the observations and recommendations of ten noteworthy leftist activists . The main author’s responses, in return, conclude the most stirring foray into the subject during this historical moment: Labor Power and Strategy.
In explaining to interviewer Peter Olney why he sees private sector workers in specific industries as the most important targets for labor organizing, Womack seems for a moment the voice of an AFL official of 1900 – but he reaches far beyond that limited perspective, which was based often on attitudes about race, gender, and skill sets. Instead, Womack emphasizes workers’ locations and positions in industries and networks, factors that change over time in determining who, because of their strategic place in the technological mix of industrial necessities, can inflict the most damage on their adversary. Where are the crucial choke points of the operation of a company or a whole industry, he asks: Production? Transportation? Communication? Maintenance? Finance? No factor can qualify or be dismissed at a glance, Womack insists. So, deep research must be undertaken in systems analysis or network study, prepared and executed following the education of workers, chiefly through their own work and by other workers.
To the discomfort of some of the ten commentators, Womack also warns firmly against reliance on lasting gains from organizing campaigns among workers whose primary characterizations spring not from their strategic leverage but from an associational power based upon mutual sentiments, even if aided by public support. The author acknowledges that such power may indeed create disruptions and accomplish short-term gains for workers but lacks the deepened knowledge structure and long-term worker comradeship of educationally and ideologically prepared leadership backed by a group consensus that offers the hope for lasting changes. What victories may be achieved by hot shops or other situational opportunities will soon fade, Womack holds.
It is probably not surprising that commentators’ objections to Womack’s overall theses arise mainly over his near dismissal of associational power. The book’s minimalist section “About the Authors” offers sparse information, but clearly a majority of the eleven, including interviewer and co-editor Peter Olney, have worked as labor organizers and overlapping allows that seven have also worked as social justice organizers. Some, no doubt, have celebrated that unexpected success as well as that gut-punch of the surprise defeat. For his part, Womack wrote gently in response to his ten comrades, for “Comrades don’t go easy on each other. They can’t. They know the stakes are too high.” And they came.
Commentator Bill Fletcher saw little about race and gender in Womack’s work but found him “spot on” concerning the need for sustained engagement with both workers and their communities on matters of social justice, and Dan DiMaggio praised the strike-winning West Virginia teachers – an associational group – for renewing some faith in strike action, as did Jane McAlevey who connected their strike effectiveness to the large public appeal of public sector defiance within their communities. She also noted, however, in her “How to Read Womack” piece that his treatment of material power is “maybe not thoroughly theorized” perhaps because his own gender bias may have caused education and health care industries to be categorized as associational, their economic power undervalued.
Participatory education received encouragement by virtually all who shared the efforts that created this book, as did its implicit companion union democracy. Melissa Shetler observed that the education of organizers, leaders, and members is “woefully underfunded” in many unions, for various reasons. One of these relates to the question “Why should I approve classes that someone will take and then use later as credentials in running against me for my office?” Another problem – recognized by Womack and others – lies in the top-down classroom setting in which one person educates the rest, frequently with only legal and contractual information, rather than stirring discussions of how to build workers’ power “and for what?” Many such discussions may begin with a reading of this small book
John Womack Jr, Labor Power and Strategy, ed. P. Olney and Glenn Perusek. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2023
On how the prison system affects the left, labor and us all.
Turns of struggle/twists of fateNinety-three [Industrial Workers of the World members] were convicted in Judge Landis’ court and received brutal sentences … [They] were of heroic mold. Several died, many came out ill and their health was broken. Prison could not kill their spirits. But prison can kill and does maim the human body. Let those outside never forget that.Footnote2
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn’s comment about IWW unionists arrested in 1918 remains all too contemporary
The fact that we can talk of the continued imprisonment of people who were members of the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement over 50 years ago, organizations effectively destroyed 40 years ago due in large measure to unrelenting government hostility, reflects the reality that our system of justice is not based on a desire for justice but on the bedrock of vengeance. And it is the reason compassionate release for aging or infirm prisoners is so rare – and so profoundly important. Important for the individuals themselves and their loved ones, important too for society because lack of compassion for those behind bars infects our culture as a whole. Be the crime serious or minor, be the charges true or false, it is far too common to keep people confined long after there can be a pretense of public safety as reason. This is true of political prisoners like Shoatz and Gilbert, it is true of “ordinary” prisoners whose choices and circumstances landed them in jail for any number of reasons.
How the prison system impacts the left and labor…
Brutalities, injustices, violence are perpetrated by authorities against people every day, be they black, white, of Spanish, Asian or Native heritage. But the kind of impersonal, almost passionless violence, violence done in public with a complete air of impunity, that resulted in the murder of Michael Brown, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery (and so very many more) is where racism reveals its corrosive face, blinding those whose lives are distorted by its grip. Once it becomes possible to view another human being as somehow not fully human, the genie of hatred spreads outward and afflicts ever widening circles of people. Just like the lawlessness of our militarized imperial foreign policy (and the accompanying neglect of the needs of those who serve after they return home), that reality has a growing consequence in undermining democratic rule, manifested in a real decline in standard of living and quality of life for most Americans – even people whose lives are far removed from the experience of those imprisoned.
LABOR POWER AND STRATEGY, A Review
Jack Womack, Jr. LABOR POWER AND STRATEGY, ed. by Peter Olney and Glenn Perusek (PM Press, Oakland CA 2023)
LABOR POWER AND STRATEGY began with the “Foundry Interviews” of John Womack Jr conducted by Peter Olney in early 2018 at a Somerville MA restaurant. The interviews were transcribed by Glenn Perusek. Ten other labor organizers and researchers were invited to comment. The final collaborative anthology is now presented in a small-format paperback suitable for a back pocket.
This innovative and multi-layered project results in a fresh and instructive book that I recommend to all serious socialist and labor organizers and analysts.
Womack, a tenured professor of Latin American history at Harvard, has taken a deep plunge into the history of Mexican workers. From his research he posits that, in order to defeat capitalist exploitation, organized workers must learn how to exercise strategic power targeting the choke pressure points and seams where capital is most vulnerable. His prime historical examples are how railway and electric workers exerted strategic power during the Mexican Revolution, and how the Bolsheviks organized key sectors of the Russian proletariat. While insisting that socialist and labor organizers must constantly work to scientifically analyze where the crucial vulnerabilities of capital can be located in every specific case, Womack notes that workers themselves already possess key parts of that knowledge through their multiple interactions on the job.
During his interviews with John Womack, Peter Olney asks probing questions about possible variants of or alternatives to this analysis. The ten responders also enrich this high-level dialogue with reflections based on their own experiences and research. Gene Bruskin, for example, who was hired by the UFCW to coordinate its organizing campaign at Smithfield, revealed precisely where the vulnerable choke point was located at the giant pig processing plant in Tar Heel, NC. Even though I had been involved for some years in the international segment of the Smithfield campaign, I only learned from this book what creative tactic had finally forced Smithfield into agreeing to accede to a fair election. No teaser here – Read the Book!
With all the careful qualifiers and modifications built into the long dialogic process of creating this book, Womack’s basic thesis holds up rather well, or at least illuminates some aspects of new labor organizing campaigns that at first glance seem tangential or even contrary to Womack’s emphasis on concrete material interference with the vital node points of capitalism.
There is of course no mention of the Starbucks organizing campaign, which is barely a year old today. We may joke about how crucial coffee is for fueling the national intellect. But no one seriously believes that even closing down every Starbucks by a national strike would seriously impair the capitalist economy, or even dent the enormous wealth of Howard Schultz. Yet this does not mean that DSA Labor is strategically incorrect in urging that DSA locals to go all out in support of the Starbucks Workers United organizing campaign. Labor organizing in 2022 has clearly been revitalized by the spirit and resilience of thousands of baristas struggling against the odds to establish unions and improve their working conditions. And in a surprising leap in the Buffalo area, an original Starbucks organizer, Jaz Brisack, is now leading an organizing campaign for Workers United at a Tesla auto plant, with an initial focus on programmers for self-driving electric vehicles. By every parameter, this is a strategic campaign along Womackian lines, that would not have been conceivable without the “non-strategic” Starbucks campaign!
Second, the teachers’ strikes in Chicago, West Virginia and other states were already available for analysis before this book was completed. Womack, his editors and responders frequently cite the strategic importance of the education and healthcare sectors, even though they usually do not directly confront private capitalism itself. Yet these are massive industries, often the largest employers in their states and cities. Jane McAlevey notes that healthcare and educational unions often have strong elected women leaders, who focus on bargaining for the common good of their students or patients. [Parenthetically I note that in Massachusetts the leaders of the state nurses association and AFT are members of DSA, and that Massachusetts Teachers’ Association, with its former president Barbara Madeloni, now an educator and organizer for Labor Notes, has emerged as the largest progressive force in the Commonwealth].
by Bob Master in Convergence
February 14, 2023
Midterm wins bought organizing time for pro-democracy forces, but MAGA authoritarianism still menaces US politics. In “Pro-democracy Organizing Against Autocracy in the United States,” scholar/activists Erica Chenoweth and Zoe Marks map the threat and steps that could help defeat it. Convergence interviewed the two and will be publishing reflections and responses to the report. Bill Fletcher Jr. got the responses rolling. Here, Bob Master takes a close look at labor’s role in defending democracy.
In “Pro-democracy Organizing Against Autocracy in the United States,” Erica Chenoweth and Zoe Marks issue a clarion call to progressive and social movement leaders to begin strategizing about how to defeat the authoritarian regime the ascendant faction of the Republican Party seems intent on imposing in this country. The two professors warn that the US is not immune from what they call a global “third wave of autocratization,” and identify key pillars of an effective pro-democracy, anti-authoritarian strategy. The centerpiece of this strategy is the construction of a broad, multiracial, cross-class united front, comprised of a wide range of state, local and national progressive, constituency and movement organizations, which could begin planning a multi-faceted resistance to authoritarianism.
The authors argue that the labor movement has a crucial role to play in this alliance, including organizing strikes and slow-downs to build “coercive” pressure on an anti-democratic government, should one come to power. But interviews with half a dozen high-ranking current and former union staffers suggest that the US labor movement is largely unprepared for—if not downright skittish about—taking up the question of how to contest a fundamental assault on democracy. Only in states like Texas—where far-right assaults on voting rights, local government autonomy, and educational free speech pose an existential threat to workers’ rights—has the labor movement fully engaged in the struggle to safeguard democracy.
Bob was the longtime political and legislative director of District One of Communication Workers of America, and a co-founder and organizer of Working Families Party.
Read the rest at Convergence
Russia Out ! Solidarity
We can learn from Black History
“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it…Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know‐how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?…There is no deficit in human resources, the deficit is in human will…The time has come for an all‐out world war against poverty.”
– “Where Do We Go from Here?” 1967
A True and Visionary Radical, Martin Luther King Jr. Was No Moderate
King called himself a democratic socialist. He believed that America needed a "radical redistribution of economic and political power."
Yesterday I had the honor of meeting one of the world’s greatest champions for working people, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula.
During our meeting Lula and I discussed the importance of defending democracy, advancing worker’s rights and increasing environmental and climate cooperation around the world.
Lula came to Washington to meet with President Biden, but what he did during the rest of his visit speaks loudly to who he is and has always represented. He spent time, not only with me, but also with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and with labor leaders at the AFL-CIO.
When world leaders visit our nation’s capital, almost all of them focus their attention on establishment figures: wealthy and powerful individuals, corporate CEOs or mainstream politicians. Lula did it differently. He met with progressive and labor leaders, because that is where he comes from and who he has represented throughout his entire life.
Lula, who left school after the second grade, was a metal worker who became president of Brazil’s steelworker’s union. At the time a CIA-backed military dictatorship ruled Brazil. Those who opposed them were jailed and often tortured. Lula risked his life leading strikes and protests against the undemocratic regime. In 1980 he founded the Workers Party. Remarkably he was elected president of Brazil in 2002. Because of the policies he put in place as president, 20 million Brazilians were able to rise out of poverty, while inequality, infant mortality, and illiteracy all declined. Lula demonstrated to the world the power and popularity of a government that stands for working people. When he left office in 2010 his approval rating was over 80%.
Lula was elected to a third term in October, defeating incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro, who was called the "Trump of the tropics."
Biden Forges a New Democratic Paradigm
February 8, 202
The president repudiates the neoliberal ideologies of the past and puts the party on solid economic and political ground
Well, that was a Joe Biden who could win re-election.
In his second State of the Union address, the president exhibited such a surprising display of vigor, such a capacity for empathy, such a knack for storytelling, and such a mastery of political improvisation that it’s easy to overlook the fact that the speech itself was almost a refoundation of American liberalism.
…All of which may eclipse just how thoroughly Biden’s speech set the Democratic Party and American liberalism on sounder economic and political ground than they’ve been since the New Deal. Compare Biden’s analysis of what ails the American economy to those put forth by some previous Democratic presidents—Carter and Clinton most particularly, but at times, Obama as well—and what you see is a thorough repudiation of what once was the Democratic establishment’s holy writ. Biden declared that globalization, once touted as a solution, was really the problem. The doctrine of “Buy American,” so ridiculed by Wall Street Democrats and the self-proclaimed pragmatists who viewed corporate globalism as the inevitable way of the world, was not only affirmed by Biden but made a requirement for federally funded infrastructure projects.
By Michael A. Dover
Leo Casey's five theses, published here 1/23/2023, Jessica Benjamin’s 1/30/23 Combatting Authoritarianism: Don’t Forget Gender Politics and Abortion Rights, and Alexander Hernandez’s The Case for Re-Alignment, reprinted here 12/8/2022 from Socialist Forum, are all on target. They suggest full engagement with electoral politics should be a key element of DSA member activism. They also build upon the earlier advocacy of Susan Chacin’s It’s Time for DSA Members to Rally and Help Save Democracy.
But there are still Five Fallacies which prevent many DSA members from recognizing the wisdom of such perspectives, and the dangers of not engaging in electoral activism along with other forms of activism.
Defending Public Education
Engaging in struggle on the terrain of civil society: defending unions, public education, free and independent communications media, and o 0ppressed and marginalized communities under attack.
Excerpt from FIVE THESES ON THE TASKS OF THE CURRENT POLITICAL MOMENT ( prior post)
by Leo Casey
5. Democratic governance does not stand on its own. It is rooted in democratic society and culture, and it relies upon them for its sustenance and its survival. The neo-fascist offensive of the MAGA forces has not simply attacked democratic government; it has sought to undermine the societal and cultural underpinnings of democracy. The defeat of the authoritarian danger requires that we understand this component of the danger, and that we develop a strategic approach which prioritizes this front of the struggle with meaningful campaigns.
Civil society has the capacity to confound authoritarianism in fundamental ways: it brings working people together in associations and organizations outside of the direct control of the state, making possible democratic collective action from below. For this reason, authoritarian movements and states invariably seek to eviscerate and dominate the independent spaces and institutions of civil society. Perhaps nowhere is this authoritarian impulse more evident than in the attacks on unions, as unions have been at the center of democratic movements and insurgencies across the globe over the last century.
Despite a decades-long decline in the size and density of U.S. unions, they continue to be the largest and most significant mass organizations on the broad left, without any meaningful competitors. If U.S. unions had the economic and social power they possessed at their height, when one-third of the workforce was organized, we would be at a quite different political crossroads today. Consider the fact that when white workers are organized in unions and involved in common cause with people of other races, they are much less likely to embrace racist views. If the once great industrial unions were still the potent forces that provided the political muscle for the passage of the New Deal and the Great Society, there would be many fewer white male workers that being drawn into the MAGA base through appeals to white racial resentment. As it is, even in their current form U.S. unions – especially public sector and service sector unions – have put into the field the most substantial campaign operations to defeat the MAGA Republicans in recent elections. This is why the MAGA forces which now control the U.S. House of Representatives will put unions in their cross-hairs, as will MAGA controlled state governments in places such as Florida and Texas. Teacher unions will be a particular target, because they are among the largest and most organizationally substantial of U.S. unions, because they have mounted especially effective electoral campaigns, and because they are at the intersection of another critical front in the MAGA forces offensive against democratic civil society, public education.[iii]
Public education – both preK-12 and higher education – contains the civil society institutions with the greatest capacity to educate young people into the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of democratic citizenship. Public schools can impart to their students the ability to think critically and independently, to reason logically and problem solve, and to question authority, all of which are inimical to authoritarian rule. At their best, public schools can bring together youth from different races and ethnicities, different social and economic backgrounds, different religious faiths, and different sexes, sexual orientations, and gender identities, and teach them how to work with each other in common purpose, toward the achievement of common goods. Even when public education fails to realize its full promise on these counts, which occurs far more than it should in the U.S., the fact that it has this democratic potential makes it a constant threat to authoritarian movement and states. And that has made public education in the U.S. into a target of MAGA forces.
Combating Authoritarianism--Don't Forget Gender Oppression and Abortion Politics
by Jessica Benjamin
I write this with great appreciation for Leo Casey’s clear and cogent theses on the need for us to support and further the development of a broad-based struggle against the authoritarian Right. I fully endorse Comrade Leo’s analysis of the danger of ultra-leftist rejection of working within and around the Democratic Party, as a surrender of that arena to the often ineffectual center—although mercifully other left progressive organizations have continued their important work.
But there is an interesting lacuna in the elucidation of political state struggle (Thesis 4) and civil society (Thesis 5). The latter section is particularly helpful, in my view, because it addresses not only civil society institutions as part of struggles for hegemony but also the all-important way that ideology is implemented by the Right.
by Leo Casey.
The immediate and present danger of an authoritarianism of the far right, in the U.S. and internationally, is now widely recognized on the broad left. The fundamentally racist character of this danger is also widely acknowledged.
To focus on making this case is to preach to the converted, pointing out the glaringly obvious. Even on the ultra-left, the general point is not so much disputed as completely ignored, especially in prescriptions for action, as if this paramount danger had no important ramifications for what the left should do politically. Our emphasis should shift to what is to be done in this moment, given the authoritarian danger.
The critical question before us is how to respond to the danger of authoritarianism from the far right: what are the strategic imperatives of this moment, given this danger?
A grounded left strategic approach begins with the reality we face: the nature of the authoritarian threat from the far right, with its drive to institutionalize white supremacy and autocratic minority rule in the state, and the real danger it poses to essential democratic institutions and cultural norms. Even in their increasingly attenuated forms, political democracy and civil liberties in the U.S. are the indispensable foundation for the organization and struggles of working people, people of color, women, LGBTQ folk, immigrants, and religious minorities. Consequently, a serious left strategy prioritizes the defeat of the neo-fascist threat, which in the U.S. takes the form of a MAGA-dominated Republican Party. In this historical conjuncture, the MAGA forces are our immediate and primary enemy, and their defeat is our first and most important objective. Since the U.S. left is manifestly too small, too weak, and too organizationally immature to accomplish the goal of defeating the authoritarian danger posed by the MAGA forces on its own, it is necessary to join in organizing and to participate in a broad center-left coalition to accomplish this goal.[i]
By contrast, those in the thrall of ultra-left dogma operate from fixed and unyielding first principles that always override concrete conditions: nothing in the emergence of a grave neo-fascist danger has caused them to reconsider their absolute prioritization of opposition to the Democratic Party. From their perspective, the liberal and centrist forces in the Democratic Party are ever and always the primary political enemy, as they spread ‘illusions’ about what is required for real social change, and so keep working people from flocking to the banner of working class revolution. Take the recent panel “DSA Adrift?,” featuring various ultra-left currents in and around DSA: the entire focus of the event – every question and every answer, all prepared in advance – was on the ‘corruption’ of the Democratic Party, the ‘opportunism’ of DSA’s elected members in the U.S. Congress, and the need for an ideologically driven vanguard party dedicated to the precepts of ‘revolutionary Marxism.’ In the eyes of the panel’s organizers and participants, the looming danger of neo-fascism did not even merit discussion. This is a politics that brings to mind the refrain of the old Talking Heads song, “same as it ever was”: if a time machine could assemble this panel at various points in the last one hundred years (say 1923, 1935, 1945, 1968, 1984, and 2001), its participants would offer the same political analyses and political prescriptions in all but the most minor details.
The left can and should put forward its own analysis of the danger of authoritarianism from the far right and its program for how to defeat it within this center-left coalition. Contrary to ultra-left doctrine, there is nothing about participation in a broad front that precludes making an intelligent democratic socialist case for how that front can best achieve its objectives. During the 1930s and 1940s, the left did precisely that in many different nations where it participated in a united front against the classical form of fascism; in that context, it grew significantly in size and influence. But other forces in the broad center-left coalition must be treated as allies and partners, not enemies, for the left to get a proper hearing for its analysis and program.
The Russo-Ukrainian War and the rest of us.
By Bill Fletcher Jr.
The Nation January 20, 2023
The announcement of the Ukraine Solidarity Network is a small step in breaking a strange combination of silence, ambivalence, and complicity within some left-leaning circles regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Code Pink, for instance, which is outspoken on international affairs, falls into the “ambivalent” category, criticizing the Russian invasion—but not supporting Ukrainian resistance. Black Alliance for Peace is an example of a group that is complicit through its support of the invasion.
Particularly since the end of the Cold War and the turn towards capitalism within China, much of the US left and progressive circles have found themselves adrift in navigating the stormy seas of neoliberal globalization and growing right-wing authoritarianism. Given the crimes of the United States—domestically and internationally—it came as no surprise that a great deal of the attention of left and progressive forces has been on the posture and practice of the US government (and its allies). This approach, however, began running into complications when governments in the Global South that had appeared to have embraced a left, anti-imperialist approach, began embarking on approaches that were either complicit with neoliberal capital and/or undertook repressive measures against their populations—in the latter case in response to popular protests. Zimbabwe under former President Robert Mugabe is a case in point; the Ortega regime in Nicaragua is a more current example. In both cases, the left-wing “bona fides” of these regimes covered over an increasingly authoritarian approach, often mixed with corruption.
Read the rest at The Nation
King called himself a democratic socialist. He believed that America needed a "radical redistribution of economic and political power."
Jan 17, 2023 Common Dreams
King called himself a democratic socialist. He believed that America needed a "radical redistribution of economic and political power." He challenged America's class system and its racial caste system. He opposed US militarism and imperialism, especially the country's misadventure in Vietnam. He was a strong ally of the nation's labor union movement. He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers' strike….
In 1966 King confided to his staff: "You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism."
King became increasingly committed to building bridges between the civil rights and labor movements. Invited to address the AFL-CIO's annual convention in 1961, King observed, "Our needs are identical with labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor's demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.
He continued: "The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them."
In a 1961 speech to the Negro American Labor Council, King proclaimed, "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God's children."
Our Split-Level NeoFascism
By Max Sawicky
In keeping with my obsessions on my substack, I need to point out that the antics of Trump’s MAGA caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives can distract from what I see as the other key dimension of political struggle in the U.S. — state and local government.
I don’t need to recapitulate at any length the insanity in the Federal government. Bolstered by a packed Supreme Court, the GOP is angling to hold the world economy hostage via threats to block a routine increase in the debt limit. The ransom would be cuts in Social Security and Medicare. A default by the U.S. government on debts for the safest securities in international finance — U.S. government bonds — would have unknowable consequences for the world economy. (Note that in finance, since time is money, even just paying a debt late is a default.) And knowing — finding out — is not something that should be contemplated. Needless to say, debt limit increases during the Bush or Trump Administrations never came in for parallel scrutiny.
The lesser threat is to hold up future budgets and provoke a new Federal government shut-down. It is lesser because government by continuing resolution, also described as “flat funding,” is damaging but short of catastrophic. The Rs dirty secret is they like their own pet appropriations bills too. Deals can and will be struck.
As I said, all that distracts from the equally dangerous Trumpist organizing at the grassroots. As Trump crony and convicted felon Steve Bannon said on his podcast: “The path to save the nation is very simple — it’s going to go through the school boards.” The article linked above provides some encouragement that the effort is not invincible, but still there is no sign of any let-up here in Virginia. Governor Glenn Youngkin, failed account manager chased out of the Carlyle Group, is zeroing in on the Fairfax public schools, race-baiting the school board and administration over their efforts in the field of diversity-equity-inclusion (DEI).
It should be said plainly: opposition to admissions criteria to elite schools that allow for some flexibility when it comes to people of color, or criticism of DEI policies as an affront to “merit,” are appeals to racism. The implication that allowance for factors in addition to test scores and grades is a rejection of “merit” rests on a definition of merit consistent with white supremacy that precludes equal opportunity for African-American and Hispanic students.
The political game here is to hive off some Asian-American voters from the Democratic Party, completely similar to gambits in years ago with respect to Jews. In the latter case it failed, since we Jews still disproportionately vote Democrat, understanding that at bottom, these bigots are not and have never been our friends. I doubt that Asian-Americans will be any less insightful in this respect.
As I’ve written, the Republican ascendancy in Virginia, in the form of a turnover in the offices of governor, attorney-general, and lieutenant governor, plus the lower house of the state legislature, rests on a year of demagogy regarding Critical Race Theory, DEI, alleged transgender student predators, and dirty books in school libraries. The Fairfax Foofaraw is just the latest salvo in this bombardment of bigotry.
Youngkin is relatively slippery in this respect, angling between the old GOP establishment and the new extremists. So far he has failed to register in presidential polls, but it’s easy to see him on a national ticket with Florida’s execrable, unambiguously MAGA governor Ron DeSantis. Youngkin is term-limited in Virginia and doesn’t have anywhere else to go. There isn’t all that much daylight between him and our very moderate senators — Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.
The new Republican Party is dedicated to electoral tactics that cement them into power indefinitely. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio are cases in point: the GOP majorities in state legislatures are grossly inferior to their shares of registered voters in those states. When it comes to drawing district lines, where Democrats play fair and Republicans play dirty, the dismal outcomes are not difficult to foresee. When the Rs lose a statewide office like governor, where gerrymandering is not feasible, their super-majority state legislatures try to enact new bills denuding Democratic governors of executive powers.
“NeoFascism” may be a little strong to describe all this, but the fact remains that the Republican Party of yesteryear has been transformed by a line of deplorables from Newt Gingrich to Pat Buchanan to the TEA Party to Donald Trump to whatever comes next. To me, any movement that is sufficiently authoritarian as to be intent on eliminating democratic institutions qualifies.
Rerunning all the old civil rights struggles is not a pleasant prospect. Ideally we would be fighting new battles to win new ground, rather than struggling to retain past victories. Unfortunately, the trend in Virginia is pointing to the latter burden.
This is the sum and substance of my own campaign for the state legislature, coming out of Loudoun County.
MLK: Saving the Soul of America
By Maurice Isserman
Jan 16, 2023
On Martin Luther King Day, leftists remember that his heart was with democratic socialists, mainstream writers talk about his dream and today’s realities, and rightwingers contort themselves to claim something of his legacy. Even if you;re a person who knows nothing about King, you’ve probably heard about his “I have a dream” speech and may even have read it or listened to it in school. Chances are that you’re less familiar with another speech, the one that, as Maurice Isserman asserts, “changed the conversation,” about the war in Vietnam and in doing so helped change the mind of an entire country. Delivered from the pulpit at the Riverside Church in Manhattan a year before he was assassinated, this sermon helped turn the tide of public opinion. As we honor King’s life, let’s remember the power of moral witness. Below is Isserman’s column from the Democratic Left series on events that changed our national conversation.–Eds.
Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an impassioned speech at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. In eloquence and power, it matched the one he gave at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Unlike that earlier (and better remembered) effort, his topic was not civil rights but the war in Vietnam, an ever-escalating conflict that had killed nearly 20,000 American servicemen since 1963, along with hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, North and South, military and civilian.
We thank Democratic Left for this post and link.
Maurice Isserman, a founding member of DSA, a member of North Star, and is the author of The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington, and the foreword to the 50th Anniversary edition of The Other America.
Martin Luther King : Remembrance
by Jamelle Bouie
NYT Opinion Columnist
The way most Americans talk about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., more than 50 years after his assassination, you might think that he gave exactly one speech — on Aug. 28, 1963, in Washington — and spoke exclusively about racial harmony and his oft-mentioned dream of integration.
But King, of course, is a more complicated figure than his sanctified image would suggest, and his body of work — his writings, speeches and interviews — is deeper and more wide-ranging than most Americans might appreciate. With our annual celebration of King’s life on the immediate horizon, I thought it would be worthwhile to look at one of his lesser-known, although by no means obscure, speeches, one in which he discusses the struggle for global peace.
Read the rest here.
The Democratic Socialists of America condemns the coup attempt in Brazil’s capital of Brasilia and calls on the Biden administration to revoke any refuge for former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Nearly two years to the day of the invasion of the US Capitol by far-right hordes, an all-too-similar scene played out in the center of Brasilia. Thousands of supporters of former President Bolsonaro gathered in the Brazilian capital, calling for the closure of the Congress and Supreme Court and an immediate intervention by the Armed Forces, messages disseminated repeatedly by Bolsonaro himself and his closest political allies throughout the four years of his administration. The protest quickly transformed into a violent invasion of the buildings which house the Brazilian Congress, Supreme Court and Presidential offices. Federal District police forces took little to no action in order to prevent the depredation, instead spending their time taking pictures and chatting with the fascist protestors.
North Star caucus members
antiracismdsa (blog of Duane Campbell)
Hatuey's Ashes (blog of José G. Pérez)
Authory and Substack of Max Sawicky
Online University of the Left
In These Times
The American Prospect
Black Agenda Report
Dollars and Sense
Working Families Party
Poor People's Campaign
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Progressive Democrats of America
Democracy for America
Black Lives Matter
Movement for Black Lives
The Women's March
Jewish Voice for Peace
National Abortion Rights Action League
National Organization for Women
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights