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

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
· 32 rsvps

Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 40 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 90 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 25 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. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 2 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.