Democratic Left

Reflections on Memorial Day

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By Weeden Nichols 

Memorial Day has meaning to the person observing it when he puts faces to sacrifice and loss.  My dear cousin, Bobby and my dear friend Don are my faces. But an even more effective way to face Memorial Day might be to try to wrap one's mind around the thousands and millions of non-combatants who have suffered and died in wars, or as are result of wars. I am a Vietnam veteran, and so I have to confront the reality of war, but I think everyone should make the choice to do so.

 

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INCITE! Conference Tackles Violence Against Communities and Women

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Color of Violence

 By Nadine Naber 

Between March 26 and 29, 1,600 radical women, gender non-conforming and trans people of color gathered in Chicago for the fourth “Color of Violence” conference, organized by INCITE!. COV4 commemorated the 15-year anniversary of INCITE!, a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and our communities through direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots organizing. For 15 years, INCITE! has been engaging in grassroots organizing projects, critical conversations, national actions, transnational campaigns and community building strategies to end colonial, racial and gender-based violence against women of color, trans and queer people of color, and our communities. COV4 highlighted emerging strategies and new frameworks that focus on ending violence without relying on policing, mass incarceration, restrictive legislation and other systems of violence and control. 

COV4 was a platform for furthering our conversations about (1) how anti-violence movements must centralize an analysis of state violence and how racial-class justice movements must centralize an analysis of sexual violence in order to account for realities that disenfranchised women of color and transgender people of color experience and (2) how state violence shapes and impacts interpersonal violence.

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Children of the Revolution: How to Make DSA Accessible to Parents

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By Natalie Midiri

As democratic socialists, we recognize that we must fight multiple systems of oppression beyond just capitalism to put real democratic control into the hands of working people, and that this fight begins by making participation in our locals accessible to all classes of people—including parents. We don’t always think of parents as an oppressed class, but the United States is the only industrialized western country that provides almost no support to the people who are doing the work of nurturing the next generation. Your local or any organization can be allies to parents. Although some of these guidelines are specific to children, many of us also care for adult dependents and these guidelines may be adapted as necessary to support your activist community. 

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Gramsci, Financial Insecurity and the Sanders Campaign

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Gramsci Monument Bronx NY/ Flickr

By Bill Barclay

Why do many people in the U.S. "vote against their interests?"  Why do many people not vote at all?

There have been a variety of answers suggested to these questions but not many have thought about these questions in the framework of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s analysis of common sense and good sense.  A recent report, “The Politics of Financial Insecurity,” provides some important insights when interpreted in Gramscian terms.

The report confirms a pattern common to U.S. voting and politics: there is a fairly strong relationship between economic well-being and choice of party.  The economic well-being measure is more complex than simply income, however.  It is based on a series of questions about whether a household has a checking account; savings account; credit cards; retirement account(s); or troubles financing mortgage or rent, medical or food costs.  Taken together, these questions measure financial security/insecurity.

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Women and Economics in Fiction

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By Isabel Anreus, Fatou Camara, Chris Riddiough, Peg Strobel

We asked members of the DSA feminist list to tell us about their favorite fiction that illustrates the impact of economic policies on women. Here are their choices:

Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise is a close examination of the department store phenomenon rising in mid-nineteenth-century Paris. Zola’s usual social critiques can be found in this novel, but with a stronger focus on women and the transformative role they play in Europe’s industrial shift. Readers follow heroine Denise Baudu and her attempts to make a life for herself, as she ends up working at the newly founded department store dubbed “The Ladies’ Paradise.” Zola’s detailed prose captures the birth of the consumer society and the story of the hard work behind it. —Isabel Anreus

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Not the Perfect Victims

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Rally for Marissa Alexander/Picsora

By Emma Roderick

In January 2014, Marissa Alexander, whose lengthy prison sentence for firing a warning shot into the air in order to fend off an attack from her estranged husband galvanized feminists and anti-racist activists around the country, was released after spending three years in prison. She will live another two years under house arrest, wearing an electronic ankle bracelet for which she must pay the state $105 per week. Alexander did not harm anyone. But what about women who do kill their abusers?

These women get significantly less media attention and significantly less support from feminists. Yes, they are the sympathetic subjects of several hit country singles: Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead” and Martina McBride’s Independence Day have both been covered on American Idol, and I remember rocking out to the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” with friends when I was 13. Even when the women in these songs appear callous (Ain’t it dark, wrapped up in that tarp, Earl?) they are clearly the heroines: young, white, and conventionally attractive, they win the moral high ground. Only one of the songs alludes to legal consequences.

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Black Bodies, Self-Care, and the Limits of Class

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By Deirdre Cooper Owens

I first read Audre Lorde’s quotation about the political nature of self-care about two years ago. Black feminist activist Lorde exhorted, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Her words changed my life. I had never viewed self-care as a radically political act. Like many women I knew, I conceived of self-care as exercising, taking a bubble bath, visiting a salon to receive some beauty service and treating myself to an especially tasty meal. Before Lorde’s mantra entered my life, I defined self-care as engaging in some act that was indulgent and represented a reversal of roles; I was the recipient of pampering services and not the provider. It did not dawn on me that “caring for myself” could be either revolutionary or a political act. 

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The High Cost of Prison Phones

call_home2.jpgBy Bernadette Rabuy

Technological advances may have brought down the costs of communicating, but there is a niche telephone industry that charges millions of families $1 per minute to keep in touch. The prison and jail telephone industry and correctional facilities profit from families desperate to stay connected. The phone companies reap high profits, and the correctional facilities use phone revenue to augment strained budgets.

 

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