Democratic Left

Taking on the Student Loan Industry

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By Elizabeth Henderson

On a wintry evening last December, about two dozen people gathered at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia’s Center City for the first general meeting of Strike Student Debt, a group that was co-founded by members of the local Democratic Socialists of America as part of DSA’s Drop Student Debt campaign.

Seated in a circle, the attendees, who were mostly in their twenties, introduced themselves. Some had found out about the meeting through Strike Debt, the other co-organizer, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street. But many of the people were there for one reason: they had student debt, they were pissed off, and they wanted to do something about it.

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The Case for Ecosocialism

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MST Rally in Brazil.  April, 2013. by Fotos GOVBA/Flickr).

By Colin Kinniburgh 

In her editorial in the last issue of Jacobin, Alyssa Battistoni makes an eloquent case for a more ecologically-minded left politics.  “It’s ridiculous that we still bracket climate change and water supplies as specifically environmental issues,” she writes: “the questions at hand are ones of political economy and collective action . . . things the Left has plenty to say about.” It’s an obvious point but one that remains under-acknowledged on the Left, especially among socialists; “Environmental leftism,” as Battistoni notes, “tends to have an anarchist bent.”

Still, an increasingly coherent left environmentalism is beginning to take form under the banner of “ecosocialism,” a school of thought that has advanced critiques not unlike Battistoni’s own for some three decades now. But Battistoni herself rejects the label in favor of the provocative “cyborg socialism.” The notion of ecosocialism, she complains, is “too earth-toned."

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The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform

To Citizens United v FEC, add McCutcheon v FEC

By Shawn Gude

This month's  Supreme Court ruling — in which the justices struck down a cap on the total contributions an individual can make in an election cycle — provoked a paroxysm in the campaign finance reform community, reminiscent of the Citizens United backlash.

McCutcheon, Demos warned, “will do incalculable harm to our democracy.” The Supreme Court “might as well have tied a big bow around Congress and deliver[ed] it to the 1%” the Sunlight Foundation charged. And Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders attacked the Supreme Court for “paving the way toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson will control our political process.”

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An Occupier’s Trial

By Maurice Isserman

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Cecily McMillan has had trouble concentrating on the master’s thesis she is supposed to be writing this spring under my direction at the New School in New York City, a study of the political beliefs and career of the late, great socialist, pacifist, and civil rights campaigner Bayard Rustin.

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Nothing is Certain Except Death and Taxes – and Maybe Not Taxes, at Least for Some

By Bill Barclay

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Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the feller behind the tree. – Sen. Russell Long

Taxes are what we pay for civilized society. – Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

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Bowl a Strike for Reproductive Freedom

By David Anderson 

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Everybody knows abortion became legal for all women with the “Roe v. Wade” Supreme Court decision in 1973. Fewer people know that in 1976, poor women lost that fundamental right to determine whether or when to have children. That is the year that the Hyde Amendment (named after Illinois Republican congressman Henry Hyde) was passed, which barred the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions. It ended the provision of abortions for poor women through Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for low-income Americans. The amendment inspired the passage of other similar provisions applying to a number of other federal health care programs (for government employees, U.S. military personnel and their families, Peace Corps volunteers, Indian Health Service clients and federal prisoners).

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Economy Still Limping: CPEG March Jobs Report

By Luis Diaz-Perez

A limping economy reflected in feeble jobs numbers and inadequate policy prescriptions – those are the conclusions to be drawn from the Department of Labor’s March jobs report and Federal Reserve Bank Chair Janet Yellen’s March 31 speech in Chicago.

The March jobs situation illustrates the problems of a static economy which added 192,000 jobs, down from February’s 197,000 jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent. Unemployment among African Americans rose over the previous month, from 12 to 12.4 percent, while Latino unemployment decreased slightly from 8.1 to 7.9 percent.

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Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future

By Maria Svart

Capitalism has entered a new phase. Regardless of whether it is a sea change or a shorter-term window of opportunity, new possibilities now exist to build a socialist left in the United States and greatly strengthen and expand DSA. Essentially, capitalism is losing the flexibility to repair the damage caused by its own failures. As a result, the system is losing the once unswerving loyalty of a sizeable and growing portion of the population.

Despairing that the government is capable of applying sufficient stimulus, even former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers admitted recently that economic stagnation may be the “new normal” and could last for decades.

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Michael Lighty Speaking at DSA’s National Convention

Michael Lighty helped to kick off DSA’s two-year national strategy review at our 2013 national convention by arguing that neoliberal capitalism’s belief that “there is no society, just individuals,” (as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher claimed) yields a politics of austerity and environmental degradation which impoverishes children, guts pensions, and threatens the future of the planet.

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April is Abortion Bowl-A-Thon Month

By Peg Strobel

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Socialist feminists know that women deserve free abortion on demand, a full range of reproductive health care and family services and an economic system allowing for full employment and compensation for caring for the elderly and young. "Reproductive justice" is a concept that moves beyond the notions of "choice" and "rights." It links the calls for reproductive choice (a woman's right to control her own body) to the broader issues of economic justice and human rights (creating conditions that enable people to have children, not only to not have them). Access to abortion is one small, but critical, part of reproductive justice.

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Upcoming Events

Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon

April 30, 2014 · 13 rsvps
in your local community

DSA's Socialist Feminism Commission is organizing our participation in the National Network of Abortion Funds Bowl-A-Thon fundraisers throughout the month of April. These bowl-a-thons raise money for poor women to access safe abortions.

DSA and YDS chapters are organizing 6-8 person teams, or you can organize your own, or you can join a team in your community as a "free agent" bowler.

Teams pick puntastic names (Bowlsheviks, Red Strikers, Roll v Wade, etc.), set a group fundraising goal and fundraising pages through the national Network, and start spreading the word.

Socialist feminists know that women deserve free abortion on demand, a full range of culturally appropriate reproductive health care and family services and an economic system allowing for full employment and compensation for caregiving of the elderly and young. "Reproductive justice" is a concept that moves beyond the notions of "choice" and "rights." It links the calls for reproductive choice (a woman's right to control her own body) to the broader issues of economic justice and human rights (creating conditions that enable people to have children, not only to not have them). Access to abortion is one small, but critical, part of reproductive justice. 

RSVP and the Socialst Feminist Commission will be in touch with details about how to register or join a DSA or YDS team.

NOTE: April 30th is not the event date - bowl-a-thons happen on different dates in different communities, and we will put you in touch with your local event once you RSVP.

 

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