By Harold Meyerson
There comes a time in the life of all revolutions when circumstance erodes solidarity, when cracks, splits, and factions emerge. As anyone who’s been watching the Democratic Convention can attest, that time has come to the Sanders Revolution. The factions this time around aren’t Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. They’re more like the Realos (realists) and Fundis (fundamentalists) who fought each other in Germany’s Green Party once the party began to win some power. That’s not a bad way to describe the two wings of Sandersism, though the Sighted and the Blinkered might do as well.
By Michael Hirsch
Review: My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency, by Doug Henwood (O/R Books, 2016)
Dustin Guastella and Jared Abbott
As the US primary season closes we are faced with a bitter choice between an uninspiring Democrat and a shockingly popular racist demagogue. As such writers on the Left are bracing for the general election and lining up behind one of two supposed “strategies”: Fight the Right and Bernie or Bust.
Fight the Right
Max Elbaum makes his call to “crush the racist right” in this piece. Elbaum urges us that “thrashing the right is the immediate step needed to open a path toward more democracy … and the reconstruction of an inclusive working class-based movement.”
In practical terms this means the Left should vote for and work to elect Hillary Clinton -even in safe states. The “thrashing” Elbaum describes refers to the need to “run up the score” against Trump (i.e. defeating him by huge margins) in order to thoroughly reject racist right-wing populism while isolating Trump and the racist far-right.
Though many leftists agree with this argument, from a socialist perspective it is limited in several respects.
DSA believes that a Donald Trump presidency would represent a victory for the most reactionary nativist, misogynist, Islamophobic and racist forces in the country. A Trump administration would bring immediate harm to many people and would create conditions hostile to organizing for progressives. Therefore, DSA will work with the emerging labor, immigrant, and anti-racist-led “Dump Trump” movement. For this reason, we do not endorse the #BernieOrBust tactic, though we understand the sentiment behind it. Our perspective can best be summarized as: “Dump the Racist Trump: Build the Left from the Grassroots Up.”
By Duane Campbell
History and social science textbooks in public schools in California and most of the nation are racist, class-biased, and ignore LGBT history. This condition will change in California in 2017 when new textbooks are adopted.
Under a unanimous decision by the California Board of Education made on July 14, 2016 , California students will finally be encouraged to know the history of Latino civil rights leaders like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and Filipino labor leaders like Larry Itliong, as well as an accurate and inclusive history of LGBT activists as a part of the history of California and the nation. These topics are currently substantially absent from public school textbooks.
Slow March to Surprising Victories
Book Review: This Is an Uprising, Mark and Paul Engler (Nation Books, 2016)
Movements for change are unpopular. They’re disruptive and discomforting, and they face seemingly impossible odds against the institutions that seem to have all the power. Yet, as Mark and Paul Engler outline in their outstanding and important new book, This Is an Uprising, they often win. So much so, the authors argue, that opportunists often take credit for movements they opposed, while pundits write off hard-won victories as the inevitable result of progress. At the same time, cynics posing as “realists” are quick to declare that the movements won’t be able to or have not changed anything—a charge, the authors point out, that has the advantage of not requiring any evidence. A serious evaluation of success is more difficult, not least because the most notable successes may come years after the headlines have dissipated. This is certainly the case with the Occupy movement: nearly five years after the encampments, the list of taxes on millionaires and minimum-wage increases—once nearly universally deemed “unrealistic”—continues to grow. [Full disclosure: I count Mark Engler as a friend and have shared ideas and contacts over the years with him but have never formally worked with him.]
The Need for A Democratic Transformation of the Criminal Justice and Police System
Issued by the National Political Committee of DSA, June 12, 2016
Democratic Socialists of America condemns the recent police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. These are the latest in the endless taking of black lives by the excessive and precipitous use of deadly police force. Despite the increased attention to these arbitrary killings by the militant protest of #BlackLivesMatter, the deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and scores of others go unpunished.
This devaluing of the lives of African Americans derives from a racist criminal justice system that serves to repress and contain low-income communities rather than promote peace and well-being. The close working relationship between prosecutors and police precludes the impartial investigation and prosecution of police violence. Thus, in addition to greater community control of policing and the demilitarization of police, DSA calls for independent investigation of all uses of lethal police force.
As an organization committed to nonviolent political action to achieve social justice, DSA also condemns the murder of police in Dallas this past week. This senseless loss of life occurred during a peaceful protest against police brutality and in a city where a relatively integrated police force has taken some useful steps towards community and accountable policing.