Democratic Left

The Role of a Socialist Organization in the Era of Austerity

Joseph Schwartz speaking at the DSA national convention

DSA National Vice-Chair Joseph M. Schwartz gave this address to a plenary session at the 2013 National Convention. He argued that DSA’s founding strategy assumed that socialists would be the left wing of a revitalized New Deal coalition grounded in the traditional labor movement. But since DSA’s 1982 founding, the Democratic Party’s national leadership (though not all the party's grassroots activists or elected officials) has embraced a bipartisan consensus favoring “the four Ds of neoliberalism”: deregulation, de-unionization, decreasing taxes on the rich, and defunding social services. Thus, DSA strategy has to both defeat the anti-democratic far Right and build ties between a weakened labor movement and movements of the dispossessed: immigrants, low-wage workers, victims of the prison-industrial complex, and indebted recent college graduates. Finally, Schwartz urged DSA to be more militant in its critique of capitalist injustice, while offering a visible socialist alternative to neoliberal capitalism.

Joseph M. Schwartz is a Professor of Political Science at Temple University and a Vice-Chair of DSA. He serves on DSA's National Political Committee and on the executive committee of his AFT local. Active on the left since the anti-Vietnam war movement, Schwartz was the first campus organizer for DSA (1979-81) and has been active in the anti-apartheid movement, the fight for single-payer health care, and the struggle against austerity cuts to funding for education and other vital public services.

Putting the Unemployment Numbers in Perspective

CPEG’s analysis of the November 2013 Jobs Report

by Bill Barclay, Chicago Political Economy Group

The markets – Dow is up more than 150 points - and the media – “economy set to add most jobs since 2005” - liked today’s jobs report: 203,000 jobs created in November 2013.  And, of course, we should be glad over 200,000 people had jobs in November who didn’t have them in October.  But does this mean that the economy is up and running for us?  Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to take three dates: Nov 2007, the last month before what has been labeled the “great recession,” June 2009, the official end of the “great recession”, and today and look at the job numbers.  The table below provides that comparison (all numbers in 000s, population and labor force are people 16 and over, seasonally adjusted).

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Remembering Nelson Mandela

DSA mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela, a democratic fighter for freedom, on Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was 95.

Mandela.jpgMandela spent 27 years imprisoned for his beliefs and leading the mass struggle against apartheid. This struggle came to full fruition in the mass student and trade union revolts of the 1970s and 1980 -- as well as through the work of the exiled ANC leadership; the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonte we Sizwe; and the international movement for global economic sanctions against the apartheid regime.

Mandela stressed the importance of building mass organizations with numerous rank-and-file leaders. After his election to president he promoted reconciliation between the different people of his country. Mandela remains an international icon for freedom and racial justice.

Mandela also recognized that South Africa could never achieve full emancipation for the African majority without radical redistribution of wealth and power. That effort must continue, if the legacy of this great revolutionary leader is to be realized.

“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”  –Nelson Mandela, 1918 - 2013

We Must Celebrate the Life and Work of Nelson Mandela

Young_Mandela.jpgI expected to hear the news.  I did not know when it would arrive.   I did not believe that he had much longer to live.  So, when, this afternoon, I heard that Nelson Mandela, at the age of 95, had passed away, I was nevertheless surprised at my reaction.  Actually there were two reactions.

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Building a New Generation of Socialists; Revitalizing Socialist Strategy

By Maria Svart

The 2013 DSA convention, held in Emeryville, Calif. from October 25-27, brought together socialists from across the country to rejuvenate DSA’s organizing capacity and reorient our strategy.

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Thanksgiving - More Than a Turkey Dinner

By Lawrence Ware

It’s Thanksgiving once again: the day every year when we all engage in gluttony to celebrate the fact that White People were saved by Native Americans — at least that is how it has been framed historically.

I was horrified to learn that my son was being taught that the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving is because Pilgrims (read: white people) were given food and learned farming techniques from those helpful, colorful Indians. In class he was shown pictures of happy Native Americans bringing food to joyful Pilgrims — as if the whole thing were a dinner party. 

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The Detroit Financial Crisis

By David Green

The national media have trumpeted the neoliberal narrative for Detroit’s financial woes. Detroit is portrayed as a mismanaged municipality whose corrupt politicians have driven the city into the ground. Our municipal debt (including pension obligations) approaches $18 billion. Our former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, was recently convicted of racketeering. He and his associates reportedly extorted a 10% premium on all city contracts. Over several decades, the city’s elected leaders allegedly negotiated sweetheart deals with municipal labor unions in exchange for political support. Recently, the New York Times reported in a front page story how Detroit’s pension fund managers had depleted the funds over many years by handing out annual bonuses to pension holders.

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“12 Years a Slave”: A Reflection with Spoilers

By Lawrence Ware 

12-Years-a-Slave.jpg

[EDITOR’S NOTE: “12 Years a Slave” is a 2013 British-American film, an adaptation of the 1853 autobiography Twelve Years a Slave   by Solomon Northup.] 

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