Democratic Left

DSA Statement on the Islamic State and the Crisis in Iraq and Syria

Once again the United States government is ignoring history and trying to solve an intricate political crisis, the rise of the so-called Islamic State (I.S.), by aerial bombardment. The bombing by the U.S. and its “allies” must stop, as must the threat of further military escalation. Bombing is a blunt, indiscriminate tactic that kills innocent civilians and often drives innocent bystanders to support the very foes we bomb.

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Socialists, the 2014 Elections and Beyond- Part 2

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Jorge Mujica /votemujica.org

By Joseph M. Schwartz

The Fight for the Senate: What’s at Stake for Progressive Social Movements

In part due to a massive corporate political offensive, the center of socio-economic policy discourse has shifted to the right over the past 40 years. However, the national Democratic Party leadership’s move to the pro-corporate center masks the underlying reality that the ideological differences between the two parties are the greatest since the civil war.  The extinction of pro-labor “liberal” Northeast Republicans and white “blue dog” Southern Democrats means the respective party congressional caucuses vote in a more uniform manner than in the past. Given that 92% of Republican votes come from whites, and 42% of Democratic votes come from people of color (and that Democrats outside of right-to-work states are heavily dependent upon labor movement ground troops) it is no accident that 100 percent of Democrats in the House and Senate support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 while only 2 percent (!) of Republicans do.  The Democratic Senate caucus backed the Employee Free Choice Act 51-4, while not one of 45 Republican senators supported the bill. 

How much can change politically if the Republicans take the Senate in November, given their impregnable House majority and a consensus-oriented President who did not move against Wall Street even during the two years when he had a Democratic Congressional majority?

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Socialists, the 2014 Elections and Beyond

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Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

 By Joseph M. Schwartz

The Dialectic between Social Movements and Electoral Politics

Throughout modern history, the property-less, women, people of color, and undocumented immigrants have fought and died for the right to vote.  People understand that those who hold state power shape everyone’s lives through legislation and the administration of the law. Democratic social movements, however, have never solely relied upon their electoral numbers to bring about social reform; they have also protested against and disrupted the dominant rules of the game in order to redistribute power and resources. Social change has come most rapidly when people believed the state may be responsive to their needs; the militancy of the 1930s and 1960s arose when, first, trade unionists and, later, civil rights militants protested because the nominally liberal governments they helped elect were not fully responsive.

A 40-year corporate offensive against the gains of the 1960s has rolled back some of these gains, particularly in regards to reproductive justice – such as abortion access -- and income support for single mothers with infants. But even this offensive needed democratic numbers; the corporate-funded, think-tank propaganda of Tea Party politicians worked to deflect the anger of white middle and working-class voters away from the oligarchs and towards people of color, feminists, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and the poor.  On the other hand, the gains in human rights experienced by the LGBTQ community illustrates how social mobilization can lead to democratic change even in a conservative era. Thus, the complex interaction between social movements and electoral politics is a permanent fixture of capitalist democracies.

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Southern Workers: In for the Long Haul

After the UAW’s bid to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee was narrowly defeated last winter, mainstream pundits wrote off the AFL-CIO’s much-vaunted commitment “to develop a Southern organizing strategy.” But the obituaries are premature. Just days after the vote, panelists at a crowded forum in Durham, North Carolina, rejected the pessimistic conclusion that organizing unions in the South remains futile and pointed to areas of potential growth. Their common message was that unions can win in the South through a variety of tactics, such as reaching out to new constituencies, cultivating and mobilizing community support, running innovative campaigns, recruiting and retaining public sector workers, and political action.

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YDS Report from Ferguson

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By Femi Agbabiaka

This weekend, I, along with several other students from the University of Missouri-Columbia, traveled to Saint Louis to stand in solidarity with the protestors in Ferguson. What I saw and experienced there was astonishing and enraging. Every night there are strong, young, and radical voices engaging in nonviolent, but militant, civil disobedience. They’ve organized in groups such as Lost Voices, who have slept out on the streets and protested nightly since Mike Brown was murdered. They’re critiquing not just the police state, but also patriarchy and white supremacy in an attempt to take back their community for themselves.

Friday night, we arrived in Saint Louis around 9 p.m. and immediately started marching to the Ferguson police station, following a candlelight vigil. The march was loud, focused, angry, but not violent. We were stopped momentarily by a few police checkpoints, but kept marching through. Once we reached the police station, we were greeted by a group of about 400 other protesters, and together we marched to the police barricade shouting chants such as, “No justice! No peace!” and “Mike Brown means we’ve got to fight back!” I stood together with others, arms locked, as we provided a barrier between the police and the peaceful protest. When we were finished there, we marched back to West Florissant Street, chanting all along the way, as police in helicopters beamed down on us. 

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Cecily McMillan Acquitted on ‘Obstruction’ Charges

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Maxine Phillips

By Maxine Phillips

After deliberating for about an hour and a half and asking that the charge to them be re-read, a six-person jury today acquitted DSA member Cecily McMillan of "attempting to obstruct the administration of government, second degree." The acquittal came after a week in which McMillan's lawyer, Martin Stolar, focused on discrediting the testimony of two Transit Authority plainclothes officers who arrested McMillan on December 7, 2013, after she allegedly interfered with their detention of a young couple who had entered the Union Square subway station in New York City without paying the fare.

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Quarantine the Mad: The Criminalization of Mental Illness

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Wikimedia

Few stars shine over the small California town of Ione. Residents have become accustomed to starless nights since 1987, when the lights of Mule Creek State Prison began to cast a red glow over the sky, a constant reminder of the great Other imprisoned on the outskirts of Ione: darker skinned, disenfranchised, presumed dangerous, and nearly half of the town’s census designated population.

One such inmate was 36 year old Joseph Duran. Severely mentally ill, Duran also breathed through a tracheotomy tube in his throat, compounding the medically sensitive nature of his imprisonment.

On the night of September 6, 2013, Duran was placed in a single cell under suicide watch after he lapsed into a manic state. When he refused to remove his hands from the cell's food port, a guard unloaded over 16 ounces of pepper spray into his cell, covering his face and neck.

Despite the pleas of the prison’s medical staff, the guards refused to remove him from the cell until the next morning, when they found his body. He had desperately torn out his breathing tube and had apparently suffocated. The prison classified his death as suicide.

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DSA Statement in Support of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) supports the goals of the Hong Kong movement for democracy (the “Umbrella Movement”).

When the British handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997, the Chinese government promised both in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the mini constitution of Hong Kong (the Basic Law) that a democratic system eventually would be implemented in Hong Kong.

However the current resolution passed by the Chinese National People’s Congress for implementing that promise by 2017 would sharply restrict candidates for political office to those preselected by an unrepresentative body representing mainly business interests.

The struggle to create a political system with more democratic self-determination is an essential step towards rectifying the growing economic inequality in Hong Kong.

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