Democratic Left

Capitalism, Socialism, and Sustainability

Crystal Clarity

By Mark Schaeffer

The global environmental crisis, together with growing inequality, is the great challenge of the 21st Century. Fossil fuel combustion and deforestation are destabilizing the global climate, and extreme weather events are accelerating. Renewable resources such as topsoil and groundwater are being consumed far faster than they regenerate. Species and entire habitats are disappearing at a pace unseen since the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Even the oceans are not immune to oil spills, fertilizer runoff, overfishing, acidification and the poisoning of coral reefs. 

It is already clear that business as usual is leading toward catastrophic collapse of the natural systems that billions of people depend upon for their livelihood. Strategic planners at the Pentagon recognize that climate disruption, causing crop failures and mass migrations fueling violent conflict, threatens US security. Most at risk are the struggling peoples of the global South, who are least responsible for greenhouse emissions.

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Want Democracy in the United States? Abolish the Senate!

Senate Chamber c1873/ Wikipedia

By Sean Monahan

Ending the filibuster isn’t enough, we should demand the end of the Senate itself.

Socialists correctly insist that the only way to truly “get money out of politics” is to get money out of society – nothing short of the abolition of class and the overthrow of capitalism will allow for true political democracy in the republic. However, it is clear that overturning the Supreme Court decision Citizens United, which allows basically unlimited campaign spending by the super-rich, would take a hugely important step towards reducing the capitalist class’ ability to hijack our elections in the meantime.

Last week, 54 US Senators, representing 55% of the American population attempted to pass a constitutional amendment that would do just that. This noble effort, however, was thwarted by 42 Senators, representing just 37% of the country’s people (with four others abstaining, representing the last 8%). Recent polls show that an overwhelming majority of US citizens favor this constitutional amendment (73% in favor to 24% against), yet on this issue the will of the people once again has failed to translate into legislation. This was just the most recent of many democratic proposals to be killed in the Senate by the filibuster.

This perpetual frustration has led many writers and activists to demand the “nuclear option” – the abolition of the filibuster in the Senate. They’re right, but they also miss the bigger picture. An even greater obstacle to realizing the democratic ideal of majority rule on Capital Hill is the very existence of the United States Senate itself.

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Join DSA at the Climate March


On Sunday, September 21st, a huge crowd will march through the middle of Manhattan. It will almost certainly be the largest rally about climate change in history.

More than 1,000 groups are coordinating the march—environmental justice groups, faith groups, socialists, and  labor groups. The march is   designed to serve as a loud and vocal  notice  to the leaders of nations, gathering at the United Nations to discuss global warming, that  yes, they can talk, but it is past time to also act.

The marchers demand substantive policy changes to protect this generation and future generations from destruction and impoverishment due to corporate directed climate change.

Join DSA at the People's Climate March! Click here for details and to RSVP.  September 21, 2014 at 11am - 3pm

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Cecily McMillan’s Second Trial Postponed; Faces Possible Return to Prison

Jared Rodriguez / Flickr-Truthout

By Barbara Joye

Cecily McMillan, a DSA and Occupy Wall Street activist who recently completed a 90-day jail term for felonious assault on a police officer who had actually assaulted her during an OWS reunion March 17, 2012, faces another trial for a misdemeanor charge resulting from an unrelated Dec. 2013 arrest. Although a conviction on this second charge could send her back to prison for up to a year, on Sept. 15 she refused to accept a plea bargain for 10 days community service because that would require her to admit guilt (the same decision she made when offered a plea bargain for the felony charge). No judge was available to try the case that afternoon, so the trial date was set for Sept. 30 – if a judge can be found with a clear calendar that day.

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Women and Pots and Pans: Chile Then and Venezuela Today

By Margaret Power

One of the most enduring myths about the Popular Unity government headed by Salvador Allende in Chile is that it had the support of a united working class. It had the support of the united, male working class, but not of working-class women. Working-class women, unlike their male counterparts, did not cast the majority of their votes for the Popular Unity candidates. (In Chile, men and women vote separately, so it is possible to tabulate how each gender votes.) Instead, many working-class women identified with the program and propaganda of the centrist Christian Democrats and the right-wing Nationalist Party, which I refer to as "the opposition." Indeed, the majority of Chilean women, across all classes, voted for the anti-Allende opposition in March 1973, the last elections before the September 11, 1973, coup that overthrew the Popular Unity government and installed the Pinochet military dictatorship in power. Why was this the case?

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Another 9/11: Lessons from the 1973 Coup in Chile - Part 2

Credit: Jorge A. Lawton

To mark the 41st anniversary of the military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende's democratically elected socialist government in Chile, we're pleased to post the second article in a two-part series by Jorge A. Lawton. -- Ed.

By Jorge A. Lawton

Key Factors in Allende's Overthrow 

There has been a long and largely inconclusive academic debate over which factors were more influential in the overthrow of Allende’s Popular Unity (Unidad Popular, UP) government on Sept. 11, 1973. The question is usually put in terms of the relative influence of external vs. internal opposition factors.

We know that the most significant and visible actor in provoking the coup was, of course, the betrayal of the Chilean armed forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Carabiñeros or National Police, plus their various respective, and competing, intelligence services. The CIA., the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the NSA were far less forthcoming with the investigating Senate Church Committee, when it came to questions of the degree and nature of U.S. covert involvement at the time of the 9/11 coup itself, than with some of the details on the earlier covert U.S. intervention programs. That the coup culminated three years of unrelenting pressure and propaganda economically, politically, psychologically and militarily is often conveniently overlooked, as it is seen as an isolated event. Even so, serious questions continue to be raised regarding the likely continuation of the United States' intimate role, but in a far less visible or considerably more discrete deployment on the day of the coup itself. Some critics have charged that the U.S. Airforce deployed two highly sophisticated aircraft, similar to AWACs, with orders to maintain a centralized military communication system far above the capital city of Santiago, just in case the Chilean military's closely coordinated monopoly of all ground communications should suffer any unforeseen glitches.

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Another 9/11: Lessons from the 1973 Coup in Chile - Part 1


To mark the 41st anniversary of the military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende's democratically elected socialist government in Chile, we're pleased to post the first article in a two-part series by Jorge A. Lawton, who worked as a Latin American analyst on the Senate “Church Committee,” and as an advisor to former Chilean Foreign Minister, Orlando Letelier, until his assassination in September 1976. -- Ed.

By Jorge A. Lawton

Pre-dawn on Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 1973, three years of relentless intervention by the hemisphere's greatest power, the United States, succeeded both in choking off Chile's historic experiment in its “transition to socialism through democracy,” and in giving birth to the brutal years of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. For many reasons, both U.S. perception and policy against the “Allende experiment in socialism,” as well as U.S. support for and use of the Pinochet alternative, are rich in present day and future lessons. Close examination also reveals how the same relatively limited repertoire of policy tools is likely to be available to implement U.S. interests today and in the future (for ex., destabilization efforts in Venezuela).

Over these past four decades, many formerly classified documents have been brought to light, and significant architects of the Chile policies have been interviewed. Not the least of these efforts came in l974-75, through the Senate Select Committee to Investigate U.S. Intelligence Activities, popularly known simply as the “Church Committee” after its chair, Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho). Valuable additional documentation has been unearthed through persistent Freedom of Information Act, or “FOIA,” requests for declassification by public interests groups such as The National Security Archive (located in Washington, D.C.) and The Center for Constitutional Rights (located in New York City), as well as authors and teams of investigators in Chile and abroad. Finally, some of us who lived through and survived those turbulent years, now growing older, are also putting pen to paper.

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We Remember


By Democratic Left Blog Editors

Thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, we mourn and we remember those who died that day. Of the attackers, 15 of the 19 were from Saudi Arabia; none were from Iraq. Their terrorism headquarters was in Afghanistan.

Yet, neoconservative hawks in the United States led George W. Bush to order the invasion of Iraq. More than 4,480 U.S. soldiers died and more than 32,000 were seriously wounded. More than one million Iraqis were killed, and the current crisis with ISIS in Iraq and Syria is a direct consequence of the invasion. 

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Upcoming Events

DSA at the People's Climate March

September 21, 2014 · 49 rsvps
Central Park West between 79th & 80th Streets

We're counting down to the People's Climate March!

Please confirm whether you will march with DSA, meeting no later than 10am on Central Park West between 79th and 80th Streets.

DSAers are gathering in the "We Know Who Is Responsible" section of the march, along with other socialist organizations as well as anti-corporate, peace and justice, and other radical groups.

Why should you march with DSA rather than just going as an individual?

Because you know who is responsible and we need a large group so that our anti-capitalist critique is loud and clear!

We will bring signs with our anti-capitalist climate change slogans for you IF you confirm, once again, that you will march with DSA (RSVP BELOW). We don't want to waste resources making unneeded signs, so please don't RSVP unless you definitely plan to show up no later than 10am between 79th and 80th on Central Park West.

Note: The police will close admission to each block on Central Park West once they deem it “full.” If the police won’t let you on that block you will be told to move north to an open block on Central Park West. Once you are on Central Park West you may be able to move south and find us, but given the expected size of the march that will be very difficult to do. So if we are to have a good sized group we need everybody to arrive on time!

Subways: note that Museum of Natural History takes up all blocks between 77th and 81st, Columbus Ave to Central Park West. There is a Museum Subway stop on the B and C trains, 81st Street, and also an exit on 79th St. at the museum. The exit to the street here is called "77th St" but it is actually at 79th St. You emerge either on 78th or 80th St. when you go up the ramp, so just look for street signs when you exit.

The People's Climate March route is about 2 miles long and ends up on 11th Avenue.

What to bring:

Please bring your camera and take photos of us marching and tweet or post to your Facebook page about the march. Remember to mention you are with DSA.

Finally, there are still some out-of-town DSAers in need of housing. If you can provide a bed, a couch or even floor space for a marcher, and have not responded to a previous email on housing please email Alex Caring-Lobel (helloalexcl (at)

If you have questions you can call Frank Llewellyn (718-522-2269).