Democratic Left

A Memorial Day Observance: The Destruction That Is War

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A collaborative effort of the DSA Veterans Working Group

Memorial Day began as a consecration of war dead following our Civil War by recently freed people honoring their comrades who fought and died with the Union Army for their freedom. Its purpose was one of mourning, not celebration; it is only in this generation that it has become — in the mass culture of the United States of America, at least — a festival for commerce and pageantry, far removed from any context or awareness of battlefield casualties. Out of respect for those who died and for those whose lives were forever changed by war, we must not allow this to happen. We don’t need bumper stickers or parades; we need solidarity.

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Lessons from the 1937 Republic Steel Memorial Day Massacre

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By Susan Hirsch

Earlier this month, on the South Side of Chicago, members of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and its retirees commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre. In 1937, as the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee (SWOC) attempted to unionize the steel industry, ten strikers were killed and scores wounded when Chicago police opened fire on peaceful protesters at the Republic Steel Plant. Both the reasons the massacre occurred and the response to it suggest to me the magnitude of what has to be done today to reverse the decline in our nation’s minimal protections for the life and well-being of our citizens.

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DSA Chapters: Propose National Candidate Endorsements by June 1

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By David Duhalde

The June 1 deadline for national DSA to endorse candidates for elected office who are recommended by local chapters is coming up in just a few days. Here’s why we are doing this:

The Democratic Socialists of America’s current national electoral program presents a not totally new, but certainly improved approach for socialist action in United States elections. Building on our past work, especially around Bernie Sanders, our countrywide election strategy aims to mobilize our members to elect socialists at the local level. The goal is not only elected socialists, but to also strengthen resistance to both the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party and the Donald Trump administration.

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#ForaTemer: Brazil’s Social Movements are On the Move

By José Sanchez

On May 5th, up to 40 million workers held a one-day general strike across Brazil bringing the American behemoth (second only to the U.S. in population and wealth, world’s fifth-largest in area) to a standstill. Roads and subways were empty throughout São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Belém; as well as the capital, Brasília, and other metropolises and towns throughout the country. Beyond the charred barricades, clouds of tear gas, and pitched battles between masked, stone-throwing youths and cops that the Brazilian and international media were fixated on, the massive crowds of demonstrators in their hundreds of thousands in various places were typically peaceful, yet undeniably impassioned. That day’s general strike was the largest since the demonstrations that brought down military rule in the mid-1980’s and illustrated the Brazilian state’s precipitous collapse of popular legitimacy. Elected by no one, President Michel Temer is now polling in the single digits, and with him and the rest of his far-from-youthful, all-white and all-male administration facing corruption charges, those numbers don’t appear to be growing anytime soon.

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DSA Condemns Texas Senate Bill 4

by the National Political Committee, Texas DSA chapters, and the National Anti-Racism Working Group - Immigration Committee

On May 7, 2017, the Texas Senate passed SB4, a bill that allows local law enforcement to check the immigration status of people in most instances, such as routine traffic stops. This "show me your papers" law will result in racial profiling throughout Texas communities. These illegal arrests will increase tensions between law enforcement and the communities they seek to protect and serve. SB4 will allow law enforcement to detain Texas residents lacking legal status until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrives to take them to privatized detention centers for processing.

All Texans will be endangered when fear of law enforcement and their continuous collaboration with ICE outweighs the need for help from those same government agencies when the victim of a crime.

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Gender and Sexuality in Iranian Politics

Janet Afary Talks with Peg Strobel

Janet Afary is professor of Religious Studies and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her Sexual Politics in Modern Iran won the British Society for Middle East Studies Annual Book Prize. —PS

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 Janet Afary
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For Municipally Guaranteed Jobs

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 "Works Progress Administration Project 1937" sign on the City Hall in Stewartville, Minnesota.

By Jeremy Mele

The Great Depression was a horrible time during US history that saw poverty skyrocket and employment levels reach new lows. It was an unprecedented moment in American history that shook the country and created economic devastation that made the millions of unemployed struggle desperately to support their families.

Today, we are not living in an economic downturn of the magnitude of the Great Depression. But we nevertheless continue to struggle with poverty and joblessness: twin scourges that do much to contribute to and exacerbate other issues in our society, such as, as I shall argue, political disengagement. The current unemployment rate stands at 4.7%: a number which, though far from an all-time high, still signifies that millions of people lack the chance to earn a living. Worse, that number fails to account for persons who are under-employed (that is, individuals whose only source of income are part-time jobs and, therefore do not have the chance to earn a full living).

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Attica and its Aftermath

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Heather Ann Thompson talks with Matthew Countryman

Last year, on the 45th anniversary of the largest prison rebellion in U.S. history, historian Heather Ann Thompson’s book Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 and its Legacy was published to critical acclaim. The uprising of nearly 1,300 men for better conditions ended in mass bloodshed, with 39 people killed by the state on the day of the retaking and 128 shot and wounded seriously. Using extensive interviews with survivors, relatives of hostages and prisoners, law enforcement, and legal defenders, as well as never-before-published material, Thompson tells the story of what happened in the tense four days of the uprising, the state-sponsored violence that followed, and the decades-long struggle for prisoners’ rights. Historian Matthew Countryman talks with Thompson about the rebellion and the “new Jim Crow.” The transcript below has been edited for length.—Ed.

MC: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Could you talk first about the reaction to the book?

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