Posted by Christine Riddiough9pc on 03.05.14 Share
By Christine Riddiough
On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) – a holiday that originated in the United States and was later codified by the Socialist International in 1914. IWD reminds us that the struggle for women’s rights and liberation is an international struggle. This year on IWD we should remind ourselves of the role played by immigrant women in the U.S. These women, our ancestors, came seeking a better life. They got jobs as maids and nannies, in factories and on farms. Too often, they were disdained by the immigrants who had preceded them. The same is all too true today.
by Dan Hamilton Director Michel Gondry’s latest work, which is a film-length interview with linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky, falls into the category of films that take high-profile thinkers as their subjects and aim to use the medium of film to convey a set of ideas. These films have been reviewed to a wide range of reactions, including everything from praise to apathy.
Gondry, previously known for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Science of Sleep,” begins “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?”in the style of German playwright Bertolt Brecht, by showing his cards immediately. Brecht’s style as a playwright, part of his “Epic Theater,” sought to constantly remind the audience that they were not viewing reality, but rather the projection of a particular mind expressed through a story. In this fashion, Gondry reminds the audience at the outset that he is a filmmaker and what the viewer is about to see is a product of his vision, editing, selection and projection. He explains why he is making the film and that the viewer should understand they are subject to what he calls the “manipulative” nature of film making and viewing.
Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in July of that year. This legislation prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It has been 50 years since this act became law, and racial progress is undeniable.
Overt acts of racism are now met with moral indignation and social alienation. Those who fought for civil rights are considered modern-day saints, and those who actively opposed racial progress are viewed as ignorant at best. Considering how much lip service is given to the notion of a post-racial America, you would think we’ve gotten this race all figured out.
You would be wrong. Dead wrong.
Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Renisha McBride [three unarmed young black people killed by whites—Editor] are but reminders of how much work remains to be done. They show us that stereotypes are not only lamentable—they are deadly.
“It’s quite often that the radicals, including the socialists, do the organizing work and do the consciousness-raising to get the project to the table, to the mainstream, and then are ambivalent or disappointed about the results of their own work, as if they could have done more. . . . When you go from the margins to the mainstream, you get caught in the muck of the middle. And you fight the fight as far as you can go, until you achieve all you can achieve. You leave nobody on the battlefield, but you use up all the energy at your disposal, knowing that the final phase will be memory, looking back to see what was achieved and what can be built upon. . . .
There are facts that only socialists believe are not common knowledge. So, for the record, the Soviet Union was no paradise. It morphed into a bureaucratic tyranny and abandoned the democratic rights necessary for any socialist society.
It also no longer exists.
So if Stalinism has failed and been abandoned everywhere it was implemented, where does this leave the Third Camp socialists who were critical of both the Soviet Union and Western capitalism? It’s a group (with which I identify) that should feel vindicated. But more often than not, most within it have become something of a “sore winner.”
Consider the response by a vocal minority to Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara’s obituary of Pete Seeger. Sunkara’s less than 700-word article was critical of big-C communism, while attempting to redeem the legacy of its American rank and file. It was well received and widely shared among the general public, but some deemed it insufficiently anti-Stalinist and ahistorical. Dan LaBotz’s “Learn—Like Seeger Did—To Sing Another Tune” took such a stance.
As talk of immigration reform dominated the new Congress, editor Duane Campbell conducted separate interviews with DSA Honorary Chair Eliseo Medina (former secretary treasurer of SEIU and former Executive Board member of the United Farm Workers) and immigrant rights activist Alma Lopez.
The interview with Medina was posted here on Feb.14, 2014. See below. Both interviews will appear in the spring issue of Democratic Left.
Alma Lopez, an activist in Sacramento, was a co-presenter with Campbell at an immigration workshop at the DSA national convention, held in Oakland in October 2013. Here, Campbell talks to her about young people and immigrant activism.
DC: What do you think has been the effect of immigrant rights activism on young people?
AL:Students and young people have been playing a major role, along with immigrant community members. In Sacramento, our group has been working with people in northern and southern California who have been arrested in protests against ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and deportations
American education just received another beating. This one came in a December report from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). While the United States is the top economic and military power globally, once again our 15-year-olds scored below average in math and only middling in science and reading. American students did not make it into the top 20 on any of these tests across the 65 participating nations.
As talk of immigration reform dominated the new Congress, Duane Campbell conducted separate interviews with DSA Honorary Chair Eliseo Medina (former secretary treasurer of SEIU and former Executive Board member of the United Farm Workers) and immigrant rights activist Alma Lopez.
From November 12 until December 2, 2013, Medina and hundreds more participated in a Fast for Families, setting up tents on the Washington Mall to engage the nation and Congress in issues of immigration reform. Politicians, union leaders, community activists, and faith leaders, from Jim Wallace of Sojourners to Barack Obama, stopped by to talk, listen, and provide support. Medina fasted for twenty-two days, taking only water.
Here, Medina explains the need for broad coalitions and public education.--Ed.
A Tribute to Bob Dahl (December 17, 1915 – February 5, 2014)
By Jeffrey Isaac
I first met Bob Dahl in the fall of 1979 when, as a new graduate student in Yale’s political science department, I enrolled in what I came to learn was his most famous seminar: “Democracy and its Critics.” I was familiar with some of his work, especially Who Governs?, and also familiar with his reputation as a “pluralist.” Having studied at Queens College, CUNY with a group of brilliant left-wing professors, I was steeped in neo-Marxism and eager to learn everything I could, and also to argue as much as I could, especially with “pluralists.”
This world famous “expert” put on no airs, claimed no intellectual privileges and was extraordinarily down to earth. This guy was no “corporate liberal” (another pejorative of my youth). He genuinely seemed to walk the talk of “democracy,” in the classroom, in the world of Brewster Hall where the political science department he helped to create was housed, and in the world.
The anemic recovery of the labor market proceeded apace in January, with unemployment ticking down by only a tenth of a point, from 6.7 to 6.6 percent (10.2 million people.) Job creation sputtered along at little more than half the rate that prevailed in the autumn, with only 113,000 jobs added. That is only just enough to keep up with population-driven growth in the labor force.
This webinar is about how to make projects work and keep them on track despite all odds.
Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.
NOTE: This training is at 7:00pm Eastern. The same training takes place later at 9:00pm Eastern. Please RSVP for the webinar that works best for your schedule.
Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy
In Project Planning you will:
Learn about when to schedule events and campaign activities, working backwards to make an effective timeline, dividing up the tasks so that the collective can do more than the individual can, triaging when the unexpected hits and avoiding disaster.
Workshops are free for any DSA member in good standing.
Workshops will be via free webinar, so you need a computer with internet access. Or, you can request the slides as a PDF in advance and listen via phone conference call.
Your computer must have microphone and speakers, or you can follow along on the phone via conference call, but you will have to pay for any long distance charges.
You can participate in every one, since each workshop builds on the previous ones, or just attend once in a while.
Workshops will generally be the first and third Mondays of each month from 7:00-8:30pm Eastern Standard Time and repeated at 9:00-10:30pm Eastern Time.
Participation requires that you register at least 48 hours in advance.
NOTE: This training is scheduled for 7:00pmEastern Time (6pm Central, 5pm Mountain, 4pm Pacific).