2013: Meeting the Challenges Ahead

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For those puzzled by the whole federal budget debacle, here’s a simple primer on the steps our so-called leaders in corporate America and Washington, D.C. followed to get us here:

Step 1: Cut revenues by expanding tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporations.
Step 2: Expand the military and launch two wars with borrowed money.
Step 3: Deregulate Wall Street.
Step 4: Bail them out with taxpayer funds when they run the economy into the ground.
Step 5: Stand back and wait for the inevitable budget “crisis.”
Step 6: Demand austerity cuts to public services for mil­lions of people.

Leading up to the sequestration, mainstream media talked about longer lines at the airport, while the Right was holding hostage up to 2.1 million jobs – more than were created in all of 2012. A political movement profess­ing to defend “family values” pushed for cuts to food aid for an estimated 600,000 women and children. This amid revelations that the wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled between the Reagan and Obama admin­istrations, and a push for immigration reform which could simply erect a bureaucratic dam in place of a broken bor­der wall, let corporations control the floodgates, and still exclude millions of immigrants.

The states aren’t any better. Union members in Michigan are still reeling from their state’s switch to an anti-union right-to-work (for less) law; activists in Georgia struggle against legislation criminalizing free speech activities like picketing; and more state-level anti-abortion legislation was passed in 2011 and 2012 than in any previous two-year period, disproportionately hurting poor, young and rural women.

On every issue beyond LGBTQ rights, we seem to be moving backwards just four months after an emerging pro­gressive coalition rose up to elect President Obama to a second term despite widespread voter suppression. But the election didn’t signal an end to the battle, but rather the opening of a new phase. We held off both the Tea Party Right and Democratic leaders in the White House and Con­gress who had signaled their willingness to compromise Social Security and Medicare in a December “grand bar­gain.” As I write this piece, I fear the erosion of those few public programs inspired by social democracy.

Looking forward, I know that if any­one is prepared to meet these chal­lenges it is DSA.

2013 is a con­vention year for DSA. Coming off a successful Young Democratic Socialists conference, we are mobilizing with new energy to train and empower the next generation of democratic so­cialists. Our 2013 membership drive, with a goal of recruiting at least 700 new members – to grow our organization by 10 percent – culmi­nates in the October 25-27 convention in Oakland, Califor­nia. We have a new series of monthly activist webinars available to members; revived commissions; and new campaigns. In addition to our long-standing anti-austerity work, we are committed to concrete immigrant solidarity as central to em­powering the entire working class in this country, whether they have papers or not.

2013 is also the 50th anniversary of the March on Wash­ington for Jobs and Freedom. In this issue of Democratic Left, John D’Emilio explores the history of the march and how radicals on the left conceived and brought to fruition a mass action premised upon coalition building and multi-issue organizing. Cornel West explains the central impor­tance of the full employment demand in the first march and why it must be revived this year. Through our 50th Anniversary and Grassroots Economics Training for Un­derstanding and Power (GET UP) projects, DSA amplifies the message.

We are not just against budget cuts and for taxes on the wealthy. We are for social and economic justice. We are for a more responsive, transparent and democratic gov­ernment. We are for an economic system where human ingenuity, cooperation and technological innovation lead to a better standard of living for all, not private profits and chronic high unemployment. And we know that the neoliberal capitalist economy simply can’t meet the needs of the 99%. That is a message that DSA is well qualified to spread. Let’s get to it!

Maria Svart is the National Director of DSA

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 44 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 3 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But check out their short the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 2 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.