Democratic Left

Electoral Politics is a Socialist Priority, But It’s No Common Denominator: A Response to Joe Schwartz

By Michael Hirsch

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DSA is singular on the left as being both a broad radical socialist organization, encompassing left social democrats, Marxists and even a smattering of anarcho-syndicalists, combined with a strong face toward electoral politics. But an electoral orientation per se is not and cannot be the common denominator of our work. It is true that without an electoral face, any political organization is hamstrung and those on the left who argue that support for any Democrat anywhere is treasonous paint themselves into a corner. Electoral politics on the level it can be rationally conducted is worth doing. That, for me, is not in dispute. Its place in our work is what is problematic. Thinking in terms of power is about more than electioneering.

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The System Is Not Broken, It Is Working As Designed

A statement of the National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America

Democratic Socialists of America mourns with the family, friends, Teamsters local 320, and community of Philando Castile, or ‘Mr. Phil” as he was known at the school where he worked. He was beloved by the children that he served with care, thoughtfulness, and decency.

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Texas Showdown - SB 4

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Texas DSA members Join the Fight to Stop a New Anti-immigrant Law

By Glenn Scott, with Monica Olvera, Liliana Pierce and Jen Ramos

Austin DSA has built a large membership of over 640 members by being active as allies against a number of attacks on communities of color, women and LGBTQ people over the last two years. This work has intensified since Trump took office. Perhaps their most important campaign, which other groups can learn from, is their current fight against an anti-immigrant bill.

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South Dakota Leads the Fight for Campaign-Finance Reform

By Charles Austin

The power of big money to influence politics is a central fact of American life these days, something that felt more apparent than ever on November 8, 2016. The night capped a record-setting campaign season in which more than $6 billion dollars poured into federal elections, giving the U.S. its first-ever billionaire president in the process.

 

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Net Neutrality Is Essential to Online Democracy

A Statement of the National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America

In May of this year, the Federal Communications Commission voted in favor of dismantling one of the fundamental tenets of an open Internet: net neutrality. Enacted in 2015, net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should allow users equal access to all online content and applications regardless of the source. It classifies broadband as a utility, thus preventing providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from accelerating traffic to preferred sites (that is, sites that pay extra, are affiliated with them, or that they find politically savory) or obstructing traffic to sites they deem unfavorable.

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How Business “Partnerships” Flopped at America’s Largest University

By Lawrence Wittner

The State University of New York (SUNY)―the largest university in the United States, with nearly 600,000 students located in 64 publicly-funded higher education institutions―has served an important educational function for the people of New York and of the United States.  But its recent “partnerships” with private businesses have been far less productive.

In the spring of 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, joined by businessmen, politicians, and top SUNY administrators, embarked upon a widely-publicized barnstorming campaign to get the state legislature to adopt a plan he called Tax-Free NY.  Under its provisions, most of the SUNY campuses, portions of the City University of New York, and zones adjacent to SUNY campuses would be thrown open to private, profit-making companies that would be exempt from state and local taxes on sales, property, the income of their owners, and the income of their employees for a period of ten years.

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Whither the Rainbow? A Golden Opportunity, 1986: DSA Debates Its Role in Electoral Challenges

jackson_slightly_larger.jpgBy Shakoor Aljuwani, with notes by Duane Campbell

The following article appeared in our magazine Democratic Left (Nov.-Dec. 1986), as a part of “Roundtable,” with diverse points of view.  We cannot offer a link to the entire issue because we do not have electronic versions of Democratic Left prior to 2000. Shakoor Aljuwani was the chair of DSA’s Afro-American Commission at the time of this writing. – Duane Campbell

The candidacy of Jesse Jackson and the growth of the Rainbow Coalition were the most exciting developments of the 1984 election. Jackson’s impressive showing in the primaries, winning more than three million votes and more than 400 delegates to the Democratic National Convention shocked political pundits from left to right.  The Rainbow Coalition showed that it is possible to build a broad and powerful constituency of the “locked outs and drop-outs,” the poor, and working people -- a group that in other countries forms the base of parties of the left.  It was the major progressive voice to counter the onslaught of conservatism.  It brought dynamism to the otherwise lifeless efforts of the Democratic party against the Reagan offensive. In doing so, it helped to open up important space for the socialist perspective on the critical issues facing this country.

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Coalition Politics and the Fight for Socialism

By Joseph M. Schwartz

DSA has thrown itself into resistance to Republican rule of all three branches of the federal government and 25 state governments. Highly visible DSA contingents have marched in every significant mobilization since the presidential election and shown up at local town meetings to push back against efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). DSA chapters also are challenging the Democratic pro-corporate establishment at the national, state, and local level. Since the election, in fact, thousands have flocked to DSA to make it—at 21,000 members—the largest socialist organization in this country since the 1960s.

DSA is a rare bird in United States politics: a democratic, national, federated organization (with local and state groups) that is almost completely member-funded. Chapters have considerable local autonomy, and democratically elected local representatives set feasible national priorities at our conventions. DSA is also a multi-tendency organization that believes in democracy as both a means and an end.  We do not compel members to adhere to one ideological line. Our members’ commitment to socialism derives from a multitude of traditions ranging from religious socialists to left social democrats, to various strands of democratic Marxism. We have spirited but comradely internal political discussions. Our most effective chapters build “unity through diversity” by focusing upon a few key activist projects that enable us to work with organizations representing working-class people of all races and nationalities. We function as an independent, visible socialist presence in mass social movements and focus our energy on “non-reformist” or “transformational” reforms—changes in public policy that constrain corporate power and that illustrate how economic democracy better serves people’s needs, such as Medicare for All and free public higher education.

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Introduction to Democratic Socialism

July 06, 2017
· 45 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-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.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 6 PM MT; 5 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 Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

July 09, 2017
· 19 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

Running for the National Political Committee

July 11, 2017

Join this call to hear a presentation and ask questions about the role, duties and time commitment of a member of DSA's National Political Committee. In the meantime, check out the information already on our website about the NPC.

Feminist Working Group

July 12, 2017

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 12 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
· 11 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.