Democratic Left

EDITORIAL: ON PIECE REMOVAL & CENSORSHIP

 

We are presently developing an editorial policy. This roundtable is a discussion of how to handle political differences in a multi-tendency organization and our role as an editorial board in that process.

 

Evan Heitkamp Boucher

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Co-Editor, International Affairs

In the first few weeks at the newly-formed Democratic Socialists of America digital platform, there have been two coordinated online calls for piece or author removal from the now-legacy Democratic Left blog.

It is impossible to speak to the specifics of every individual’s reasoning for taking down articles. Yet the core underlying theory behind the removal demands seems to be that some pieces or people are just too dangerous or personally offensive be legitimized by a left platform. The problem with arguing for censure of dangerous “problematic” material as a matter of service to others is that it presupposes readers are highly suggestible and waiting to change their minds or suffer emotional trauma after reading something unless they’re protected by an ad hoc vanguard.

Personal offense, though, is not something that should be dismissed, because often both the reasons to be upset and the feelings themselves are perfectly valid and often are responses to the networks of oppression we’re fighting to undo. However, published articles mark a viewpoint that can be disputed on this same platform, which is a far more powerful method to weaken ill-conceived positions than simply removing them.

While the goal of the platform should be to shepherd content that explores key issues within left politics—thus avoiding the facile debates so often found on cable television that value of right wing or self-described “centrist” commentary for its own sake— this exploration does not assert that contentious material on the periphery of the left has no place, only that it should be vigorously discussed. That said, no piece on the platform should be so abominable that it puts the onus on marginalized groups to explain the value of bedrock ethics.

The true marker for removal is bad faith, not bad opinions and that standard is critical. In the meantime, the editorial team intends to articulate a clear policy moving forward to avoid publishing material that sits outside of the moral tenets of the DSA.

 

Miranda Alksnis

Toronto, Ontario

Co-Editor, Arts & Culture

This publication differs from other publications in that we are accountable to our readership, members in an organization that has specific political and ethical tenets at its core. It is not censorship to develop editorial policy that takes this special relationship into account, or to acknowledge that demands for a more transparent and accountable editorial process are completely on the mark.

No-platforming, open letters and demands for article removal are crucial if controversial elements of fighting fascism. We should acknowledge these efforts as a form of discourse, while acknowledging that we have a responsibility to represent the broad diversity of thought within the organization itself.

The blog editors will work closely together over the next month to articulate a policy which thoughtfully outlines ethical standards for publication. The policy must include generous guidelines for the range of acceptable rhetoric for the publication, and include the right to suggest the removal or editing of portions of text not in line with the most fundamental of Democratic Socialist beliefs, as defined by existing DSA documents. If the issue cannot be resolved, the editorial board reserves the right to not publish the article.

 

R.L. Stephens

Byran, Texas

Editor-in-Chief

I’m going to speak to the particularities of one recent controversy: the Open Letter to Democratic Left made in response to the February 2018 article “The Future China-U.S. Competition and Democratic Socialism.”

While the former committee published the piece, the petition is addressed “to DSA's editorial team, regardless of personnel changes.” Our new committee is in the process of establishing an editorial policy and publication guidelines, but this petition and its nearly 200 signatories deserve a direct response. The petition, Open Letter to Democratic Left, is in part an analysis of what the petitioners perceive to be political line expressed by the article in question.

The petitioners argue that the article “bills democratic socialism as a means to solidifying U.S. global domination in the face of China’s growing influence,” a position they say “is national chauvinist to the core” because “it pits the U.S. working class against the Chinese working class.”

They conclude that the piece “reifies national chauvinism,” “trades heavily in anti-Chinese prejudice” at a time when there is a “a sharpening of hostility toward East Asian nations.”

These arguments as to the nature of socialism and the socialist orientation to questions of nationalism and imperialism attempt to confront key political questions and are clearly reflective of political tendencies within DSA. That’s good, and the petitioners should be commended for their insight and hard work.

However, the views expressed by the original article are also reflective of a political tendency within DSA and they too are an attempt to address political questions. The article begins with the premise, “the US and China will compete more directly both economically and politically in the next decade.” This is a political fact, evidenced most recently by the open tariff battle between the two nations.

However, what this political fact means and how socialists are to orient to this dynamic are up for discussion. By putting the politics in command and making an argument, whether one agrees with the positions espoused or not, the original article on China surfaced a political line and created the opportunity for political differences to manifest and be engaged.

We must not suppress and censor the political line being put forward. Instead, we need the democratic method of discussion and persuasion. The object is not to police what can be said in our group, our purpose is to win people over in the process of winning political victory in society as a whole. Conflict among the people in the course of that journey is inevitable, and we cannot suppress and censor our way to social transformation.

Therefore, we cannot comply with the petition’s demand for the “immediate removal of the piece from Democratic Left and any other DSA publication.” DSA needs more political discussion, not less. The only hope for our organization is to put politics in command, to engage across political differences through the democratic method. We must not squander our historic opportunity before us, and this platform will be a space for rising to the challenge.

 

Joshua Whitaker

Chicago, IL

Co-Editor (Press and Electoral)

I generally agree with the above, (1) that censorship or removal is an extreme step that demands extreme circumstances and (2) that the DSA is an ideologically varied organization committed to debate and democratic process and our platform should reflect that.

I'm also glad Miranda wrote that "No-platforming, open letters and demands for article removal are crucial if controversial elements of fighting fascism" that should be acknowledged.

I doubt that we'd find many DSA members who take issue with any of those three points in the abstract.

As commented above, the response to this petition should articulate clear policy about where the line is for Democratic Left-published content—what speech is simply not allowed and what standards are applied to submitted work and authors. It should also make clear how and by whom those standards are enforced and the process to contest decisions.

Additionally, comments above mention more speech as the best antidote to bad speech, but that response is inadequate unless paired with changes to website functionality, for a couple of reasons:

  • Unless a piece links to past articles and is updated with future articles both on and off the DSA website, a casual reader lacks context of how an individual piece is situated in ongoing intra-DSA and intra-left debates.
  • The DSA blog lacks comment sections, letters to the editor, or other traditional ways readers engage and respond with content. Admittedly, the barrier to submit and publish on the blog is lower than a major newspaper, but it is still an intimidating and perhaps unlikely course of action for a member looking to meaningfully respond to a piece in their spare time.

We should use our current dilemma to inform the changes we'll be making to the blog platform:

  • How can we collate and organize content such that
    • any individual piece comes with the full context of ongoing debate?
    • topics can be viewed, consumed and understood holistically?
  • How can we facilitate response, debate, and discussion?
  • Should users be able to flag content as offensive, needing response, lacking context, or beyond the pale? Conversely, as well-researched, striking, actionable or not-heard-about-enough?

In solving these questions, I think we have an opportunity to do something unique and beneficial for online publishing. We can be leaders in creating a readership-accountable and -responsive publication that fosters meaningful online debate and builds an accessible, member-directed repository of knowledge.



Chris Lombardi

Philadelphia, PA

Managing Editor

I have a deep discomfort with the idea of removing any piece already published. In general, I’m with R.L. above; the solution to speech we dislike is more speech, ideally from multiple voices. I think Miranda’s general guidelines are useful, but my stomach twisted when she spoke of “the removal or editing of portions of text not in line with the most fundamental of Democratic Socialist beliefs, as defined by existing DSA documents.”

To remove a piece as requested feels like a broken promise, on both sides. Writing is labor, and time is often costly. When someone agrees to write for us, they’re contributing both. To remove a piece because of its ideas is too close to censorship for me to affirm it.

Tyler Curtis

New York, NY

Managing Editor, Co-editor (Organizing)

It would be difficult to make the case that the Democratic Socialists of America hasn’t seen a leftward shift over the past thirty or so months. For better or for worse, DSA remains a multi-tendency political organization, and it’s a safe assumption that at any given time most of us organize with Berniecrats and Leninists alike.

We’re certainly not a liberal organization, though, and I regret that, for a moment or two, I may sound like an acolyte of John Stuart Mill (I promise: I am not). Our multi-tendency character might well be what allows us to build a mass working class movement, but it also means we’ll need to be prepared to weather the occasional bad take without demanding total erasure.

We’ll also need to afford those who have previously had less-than-stellar takes the opportunity to make good faith contributions to the conversations we present in our various forums, and it’s our job as the editorial committee to discern which perspectives are disagreeable and which downright oppressive.

We hope we can do right by DSA’s membership, but this is a question of editorial policy as well as one of doing politics: our job as organizers is to meet folks where they’re at, and hopefully we can move them accordingly. We’re not perfect, but at its core DSA is fundamentally an anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist organization, and our materials should reflect that.

While we will increase the level of scrutiny to which we subject our commissioned articles, we will not remove pieces from our website, barring extraordinary circumstances. Our committee will soon articulate a new editorial policy that we hope most members will find both conscientious and fair, one that allows for disagreement and debate while also ensuring that published texts cohere to the politics of our organization, however broadly-defined they may at times be.

 

"An Untold Specter of Labor Unrest"

By Chris Maisano

As the Supreme Court deliberates over Janus v. AFSCME, the contours of the likely post-Janus order are beginning to come into view.

The Janus case addresses the question of “agency fees” in public sector employment. In states where agency fees are legal, public employees do not necessarily have to join the union in their workplace. If they choose not to, however,  they still must pay a fee to the union because they’re covered by the terms of the union contract. The plaintiff in the case claims that these fees are a form of forced speech, on the grounds that collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently political. In his view, therefore, agency fees violate the First Amendment and should be declared unconstitutional. A majority of the justices are likely to agree with him and impose a so-called “right to work” regime on public employment in every state.

Near the end of the oral argument, the union’s lawyer warned the court that a ruling against the union would “raise an untold specter of labor unrest across the country.” He made his point as the West Virginia teachers’ strike entered its second  week and kept schools closed across the entire state.

Despite its traditional reputation as a union stronghold, West Virginia does not have a collective bargaining law for public employees, and teachers lack the legal right to strike. Despite these challenges, and in the face of significant pressure from union leaders and a Republican-dominated state government, teachers flouted the law and won a number of substantial victories beyond a five percent wage increase.

Against all expectations, West Virginia launched a strike wave that’s sweeping Republican-controlled states around the country. This week, teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky descended on their state capitols to defend public education and press their economic demands, while in Arizona teachers are threatening to walk out if their audacious demand for a twenty percent pay raise is not met. The kindling that set this wildfire ablaze can be found throughout Republican-dominated states, where years of austerity have reduced public services to rubble and forced teachers to donate plasma or take on side jobs just to stay out of poverty. The fire shows no sign of burning out anytime soon.

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The Death of Stalin: Socialist History as Opera Buffa

By Jarek Ervin

There’s only one major problem with Armando Iannucci’s 2017 film Death of Stalin: it isn’t about Stalin, dead or alive.

Of course, on one level, the movie is obviously about Stalin. The topic is a power struggle that ensued following the dictator’s death in 1953, eventually culminating in the military coup that brought Nikita Khrushchev to power. Given that this prickly subject matter is presented as comedy, it’s also generally well-executed (though the hamfisted finale suggests reports of Iannucci’s virtuosity are exaggerated).

In a more general sense, Death of Stalin is also about the way the man’s ghost has haunted the Soviet Union since his demise. The film implies throughout that Stalin’s fearsome cult of personality allowed him to live beyond the grave. There are constant reminders of now-familiar stories: gulags and purges, daily lists of people to be executed, shocking excesses of power, etc. We are to take it for granted that life in the USSR was a farce: endless calculating paranoia, coupled with sheer irrationality.

This context is made clear immediately, in a lengthy opening prelude that juxtaposes a brutal nighttime raid by the secret police (NKVD) with a live concert of a graceful piano concerto by Mozart. Performed by Maria Yudina (Olga Kurylenko), the vignette evokes a real pianist who, like many musicians in the USSR, was persecuted for her religious and artistic commitments.

Even as his henchmen carry out their horrific orders, the soon-to-be late Stalin delights in a live radio broadcast of the moving piece, calling the station to request a copy. Instructed to expect the dictator’s staff posthaste, the station manager discovers to his horror that he did not bother to record the concert.

Realizing that failure may not be an option, the man frantically decides to encore the entire concerto. With an audience dragged in off the street and a conductor pulled out of bed to lead the ensemble in his pajamas, the orchestra frantically trots through a reading of the work. They know more than artistry is on the line.

It’s a striking episode. The demur elegance of Mozart stands as a dramatic foil to lived reality; at every moment, terror behind a thin veil.

There’s just one small issue with the scene: it is based on an anecdote from Solomon Volkov’s Testimony (1979), a memoir allegedly authorized at the deathbed of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich (himself a recurrent victim of Stalinist persecution). It’s a fun read, but many historians have asserted that much content in the book falls somewhere between impressionistic guesswork and outright forgery.

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Charlottesville DSA: Transforming Virginia Politics

(Photo by Charlottesville DSA).

By Michael Payne

On August 12, 2017, Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia. The tragedy made national news. At Heather Heyer's memorial service, Heather's mother Susan Bro defiantly said, “They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.”

Her words have proven to be prophetic. Since Heather’s death, thousands of residents have gotten involved in local politics for the first time, and the pervasive institutional racism long present in Charlottesville is being openly challenged and dismantled. Our Charlottesville chapter initially came together in October of 2016. In our first few months, we were a small group of roughly ten active members. We now have about thirty active members, hundreds of supporters, and dozens of community members who we partner with on coalition work.

But Charlottesville DSA, small as it was, had been hard at work before the rally on August 12, 2017. In fact, the Charlottesville chapter’s first major initiative started in March 2017 with Ross Mittiga's campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates. Our engagement with the campaign, which Mittiga ran on an eco-socialist platform, was rooted in its potential to foster local movement building, particularly around environmental issues. The capaign made the front page of the Washington Post, resulted in national endorsements from Our Revolution and DSA, and generated widespread awareness of our chapter locally.

Toward the end of that primary campaign, Charlottesville was targeted in a series of escalating threats from white supremacists. In March of 2016, a local community organizer (and high school student) Zyahna Bryant started a petition to remove Charlottesville's racist Robert E. Lee statue, ultimately resulting in the city council voting 3-2 to remove the statue. Throughout the process, there was a well-coordinated backlash from neo-confederate groups. They regularly disrupted city council meetings and launched a series of lawsuits and public demonstrations to prevent the statue from being removed.

While many of the neo-confederate groups were initially from outside of Charlottesville, a small group of local Fascist organizers coalesced and began garnering significant media attention. As the local Fascist organizers gained prominence, national neo-Nazi groups began to arrive.

In May, neo-Nazi groups violently disrupted an annual community event celebrating local diversity. This was followed by a flash demonstration with torches aimed at terrorizing local black residents. The threat continued into July, when a KKK group from North Carolina held a rally in Charlottesville. The rally sparked widespread counter-protests, resulting in the KKK being overwhelmingly outnumbered. After the KKK were escorted out of the rally by police, Charlottesville's deputy police chief illegally ordered the firing of tear gas at peaceful counter-protestors. His only response to criticism of that decision was to say, "You are damn right I gassed them, it needed to be done”.

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Remembering Wars, From My Lai to Iraq

Fifteen years ago this week, the U.S. invasion of Iraq began. I was teaching a class at the City College of New York, and we were reading Yeats. Despite the fast-breaking news of U.S. bombs falling on that nation, we nonetheless had to discuss what was on the class syllabus – Yeats’ response to the 1916 Easter Rising.  I and my students noticed many literary parallels to that 2003 moment. My students even spoke up against the Iraq war, and the pride I felt at their moral courage during those early days of the then-popular invasion cannot be overstated.

As that morning came back for me this week, I imagined that a similar courage likely came to those who discovered another tragedy that happened 50 years ago this week: the massacre of 500 civilians by U.S. troops in My Lai on March 16, 1968. Most of the public only learned about this tragedy 19 months later due to the stellar reporting of Army veteran Seymour Hersh.

For many people, the name My Lai evokes the historical trauma of Auschwitz, calling to mind images with which the mind has trouble coping. The tragedy of My Lai is also a story of a string of dissenters, all of whom deserve mention as beacons of courage in the darkness of war.

Photo taken by United States Army photographer Ronald L. Haeberle on March 16, 1968 in the aftermath of the My Lai massacre showing mostly women and children dead on a road. The photo is copied and used in many places which mention the massacre.

(Photo: Haeberle, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Intelligent analysis of U.S. foreign policy feels nearly impossible without the voices of those hired to enforce that policy who have witnessed its worst and spoken truth to its power. In the case of My Lai, those dissenters included not only Hersh and those who helped him get the word out, but also the soldiers who acted to stop it and ensured the tragedy was not forgotten.

Warrant officer Hugh Thompson did not plan to be one of these moral beacons when he flew over the province in support of Task Force Barker, 1st Infantry of the Americal Division of which the now-infamous Charlie Company was a part. The week of March 15, 1968, Task Force Barker’s mission was relatively straightforward: to wipe out the Việt Cộng 48th Infantry.

Despite the copies of the Geneva Conventions soldiers were instructed to carry, the division was also operating under orders that exempted “hot spots” like My Lai from the Conventions’ human rights protections. The directive from the division’s command stated, “Combat Operations: Minimising Noncombatant Battle Casualties,” but carefully noted that “Specified strike zones should be configured to exclude populated areas, except those in accepted VC bases.”[emphasis added]

As he flew over the area, Thompson knew that Charlie Company had just lost 34 men in a single grenade attack. He also knew that orders since the Tet offensive identified women and children as possible Việt Cộng. Despite this knowledge, Thompson and his crew were still astonished at what they saw from their helicopter on the 16th, reporting, “Everywhere we’d look, we’d see bodies. These were infants, two-, three-, four-, five-year-olds, women, very old men, no draft-age people whatsoever.” As one platoon turned their guns full force on a farmer, a horrified U.S. Army photographer commented, “They just kept shooting at her. You could see the bones flying in the air chip by chip.”

Despite a wealth of documentary evidence, the official post-operation Army communique on the matter made no mention of civilian casualties, numbering the Việt Cộng body count at 128 and noting that Charlie Company had recovered two M1 rifles, a carbine, a short-wave radio, and enemy documents. As for Charlie Company, there were a number of opponents within the company itself. Sgt. Ernst Bunning told his squad leader, “I wasn’t going to shoot any of these women and kids.” Similarly, another soldier, Stephen Carter, refused to shoot a woman holding a baby coming out of her hut. Paul Meadlo, who did participate when pressured by his officer, was described as “sobbing and shouting and saying he wanted nothing to do with this.” But even these refusers never told the outside world to what had happened. It took over a year before the silence was broken.

Thomas Glen from the 11th Light Infantry tried to come forward in late 1968, writing to a U.S. general that these events “cannot be overlooked, but can through a more firm implementation of the codes of Military Assistance Command Vietnam and the Geneva Conventions, perhaps be eradicated.” Abrams never responded, but his assistant, Major Colin Powell (yes, THAT Colin Powell), reprimanded Glen for such a general complaint. Powell remarked, “There may be isolated cases of mistreatment of civilians and POWs, [but] this by no means reflects the general attitude throughout the Division.”

Just as Powell was writing this missive, however, Corporal Ron Ridenhour was preparing to prove him wrong. Ridenhour had learned the news hinting at the intentionality of the massacre of My Lai from an old friend who had joined Charlie Company. Seized by the horror of the knowledge, Ridenhour tracked down members of Charlie Company one by one. “They couldn’t stop talking,” Ridenhour would say later. “They were horrified that it had occurred, that they had been there, and in the instances of all of these men, that they had participated in some way.”

In March 1969, Ridenhour wrote a letter as specific as Glen’s was vague, naming every soldier he’d interviewed with details of their accounts, including that the commanding officer of Charlie Company had warned soldiers never to speak about My Lai. “I remain irrevocably persuaded,” he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President, and every television network, “that... we must press forward a widespread and public investigation of this matter.” The resulting interviews and photos ran nationwide during the week of the moon landing in July 1969, so it took some time for all of us to get this glimpse of what we now know was standard operating procedure during that war.

In the discussion of My Lai, and retrospectives on U.S. imperial adventures more generally, I believe attention must be paid to the moral courage of those soldiers who dissented. In addition to reflecting on the sobering horrors of these and other tools of empire, we must also commemorate those who refused to participate and those who took risks to tell the truth.

 

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A Reflection from the DSA Veterans Working Group on the 15th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. On March 20, 2003, the United States began a large-scale bombing campaign, proudly referred to as “shock and awe.” The hubris of those initial days was misplaced. On this fifteenth anniversary, let there be no doubt: the war in Iraq was an abject catastrophe.

Premised on fabrications around Iraq’s nuclear ambitions and chemical weapons’ stockpiles, the war was illegal. The United States government knowingly fostered untrue speculation and fantasy in order to convince allied countries to join an invasion of another sovereign state. The fallout from the invasion continues to profoundly affect not only the people of Iraq, but also the world as a whole, with each tragic year compounding the horror of the last.

The Democratic Socialists of America Veterans Working Group is composed of people recovering from U.S. American imperial misadventures, and among our comrades are many Iraq War veterans. We deplore the war, condemn those who planned and effected it, beg forgiveness of the Iraqis we helped to brutalize, and call on our fellow U.S. Americans to own up to the murderous mistake that this conflict is and always has been. The ruling classes wanted a war to bring about a wider U.S. American empire. They never cared about U.S. American service members dying and never will. Their eyes now rest squarely upon Iran and North Korea, hoping to hoping to set the stage for intervention - not unlike they did in 2003. They will try again, as they can clearly see that no punishment occurred for any Iraq War architect or advocate. We must not let them succeed.

The Iraq War was an incalculable human and ecological catastrophe for the entire region. We sullied the earth and water of a country already impoverished and polluted by sanctions and airstrikes, while the war itself led to deaths, regional conflicts, permanent migrations, evacuations, epidemics, and other human disasters throughout the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. We did this out of imperial hubris and a desire for access to oil. In the process, we gravely worsened the environment of a fragile region. The U.S. government wanted a permanent base in the Middle East, a staging area to attack Iran, and a wholesale corporate raid of a resource rich nation.

The Iraq War was an economic catastrophe. With a lifetime total cost of $6 trillion, the war’s current estimated cost is $2.4 trillion. For the cost of an illegal and unjust war that ended so many lives, what might we have bought instead? By contemporary estimates, a nationwide Medicare for All plan would cost $1.4 trillion a year. A free college and trade school program would cost $70 billion a year. Had we not invaded Iraq, we could have educated hundreds of millions of U.S. Americans and improved the health of so many more. Instead of funneling taxpayer funds to corrupt multinational defense companies and local warlords, we could have improved the lives of our neighbors. Instead, our nation festers under the twin plagues of militarism and neoliberalism. We hear that we cannot afford any improvements to our quality of life or to our communities because, as we see from all the evidence before us, it was more important to take $6 trillion and set it ablaze in the deserts of a country that we tried and failed to conquer.

The invasion was a moral catastrophe and an act of unabashed opportunistic aggression that has killed an estimated half-million people and destroyed the lives of many more, due to the tragic lack of preparations made for the war’s aftermath. The U.S. military’s overwhelming firepower killed innocent people, and its strategic incompetence killed even more. The war should never have happened.

On the memorial of this day of outstanding shame, let us sound the call to our comrades across the planet: we must never again allow this to happen. Fight imperialism at every turn, reject U.S. American empire, refuse to allow the war machine to move forward another inch. Never again another Iraq War. Never again another human catastrophe, another limitless shame, another mass killing, another bonfire incinerating all the possibilities of a better world.

 

In solidarity,

DSA Veterans Working Group




Letter from the Incoming Editor-in-Chief

Publishing pieces to the DSA website is a thankless job of behind the scenes work that often lurches along unnoticed. The outgoing editors of the Democratic Left, under the leadership of Barbara Joye, have been the stewards of this platform for a long time and I want to acknowledge their hard work. Thank you.

DSA is in the midst of a communications overhaul. Soon we will have new web forums, a bulletin, and a redesigned website. The print publication, Democratic Left, has already undergone an editorial transition. The digital media platform, formerly known as the Democratic Left blog, has a new editorial team and will soon be renamed. In fact, we invite you to submit suggestions for the new name and we will select from among the responses. The new editorial committee is divided into sections, with section editors tasked with curating and editing pieces in the following categories: organizing, chapter roundups and profiles, press and electoral, arts, and international affairs. We want to cultivate a diverse range of perspectives on these and other topics as we make this platform a vibrant political space for DSA and beyond.

DSA members and chapters have amazing stories. Take Charlottesville, where protesters were injured in the tragically fatal attack last August; DSA members have built a vibrant chapter even as Nazis continue to threaten them. When prisoners in Florida went on strike earlier this year, DSA Miami participated in a coalition that provided them with aid and support. We have chapters challenging police brutality with brake light clinics, campaigning for Medicare for All, and pressuring lawmakers to end the U.S. involvement with the war in Yemen. As the new editorial committee, we want to help our fellow members tell their stories. With thirty thousand members and an international presence, DSA’s digital media platform can be a global beacon of socialist political engagement.

To truly make a mark, we must do more than tell stories - we will have to wrestle with ideas as well. Debates regarding political differences as to the nature or mission of socialism, and the methods of struggle to achieve it shall arise on our collective journey. We want this site to be a forum for these discussions. Our new committee is in the process of establishing an editorial policy and publication guidelines, which will be released soon. I want to make one thing clear from the outset: we will edit for clarity and accuracy, but we categorically reject censorship as a means of dealing with political differences. We cannot be a multi-tendency big tent if ideological divergence is not allowed to surface within our organization. I and this editorial committee stand firmly committed to DSA’s multi-tendency principle. Embracing debate is the only way to overcome the inevitable political differences between tendencies, a process which will in turn make this organization a stronger and more unified force. We want this platform to be a space where people can think aloud in common, where thoughtful questioning and disagreement are virtues, where principled political discussion may reside.

I have the honor of presenting our new editorial committee:

Chris Lombardi, Managing Editor

Tyler Curtis, Managing Editor

Bonnie Bailey

Miranda Alsknis

Lisa Newcomb  

Evan Heitkamp-Boucher

Anne Clark     

Daniel Gutiérrez  

Jorge Tamames  

Joshua Whitaker

Jarek Ervin

 

We will begin our new publishing cycle April 1st. Get your popcorn.

Thank You,

R.L. Stephens, Editor-in-Chief

New Democratic Left Magazine: Focus on Medicare for All

From the National Director: This is How We Win

Socialists care about power. We want to win it, and we want to wield it. We want power because that is the only way to get free. But what is power? How do we build it?

Fighting Unequal Access

A program of universal healthcare such as Medicare for All would have a significant impact on African Americans.

Women’s Double Healthcare Jeopardy

Women of color and disabled women are even less likely than white women to have any paid time off from paid work to fulfill health or care needs.

Does Medicare for All Advance Socialist Politics?

If we are to talk about the strategic importance of M4A for socialist politics, we must make an honest assessment of the contemporary power of the left.

Devil in the Details: Disabilities and M4A

Medicare For All is a fight that needs to be joined. But it presents special challenges for disabled people, and a universal program will require remedial legislation on the congressional level with attention to the regulations that provide the foundations of the program.

Labor’s Stake in Medicare for All

If a united labor movement were to get behind the campaign, it would be a game changer. Not only would it benefit millions of people, it would revitalize a beleaguered labor movement.

Hospital Closings Threaten Survival of Rural Areas

Rural hospital closings are killing rural America. A strong push by DSA to combat the trend through building support for single-payer healthcare could give rural Americans hope.

Changing the Conversation: Igniting a Poor People’s Campaign

One commemoration to which democratic socialists should pay particular attention, in part because their forebears had so much to do with it, may be slighted in the mainstream media: the Poor People’s Campaign launched by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

DSA Across the USA

A round-up of DSA Chapter actions and activities across the country.

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New Member Call, April 22

April 22, 2018

April 22, 2018

9pm ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT

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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.

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