Democratic Left Magazine - Spring 2015

Children of the Revolution: How to Make DSA Accessible to Parents


By Natalie Midiri

As democratic socialists, we recognize that we must fight multiple systems of oppression beyond just capitalism to put real democratic control into the hands of working people, and that this fight begins by making participation in our locals accessible to all classes of people—including parents. We don’t always think of parents as an oppressed class, but the United States is the only industrialized western country that provides almost no support to the people who are doing the work of nurturing the next generation. Your local or any organization can be allies to parents. Although some of these guidelines are specific to children, many of us also care for adult dependents and these guidelines may be adapted as necessary to support your activist community. 

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Women and Economics in Fiction


By Isabel Anreus, Fatou Camara, Chris Riddiough, Peg Strobel

We asked members of the DSA feminist list to tell us about their favorite fiction that illustrates the impact of economic policies on women. Here are their choices:

Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise is a close examination of the department store phenomenon rising in mid-nineteenth-century Paris. Zola’s usual social critiques can be found in this novel, but with a stronger focus on women and the transformative role they play in Europe’s industrial shift. Readers follow heroine Denise Baudu and her attempts to make a life for herself, as she ends up working at the newly founded department store dubbed “The Ladies’ Paradise.” Zola’s detailed prose captures the birth of the consumer society and the story of the hard work behind it. —Isabel Anreus

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Not the Perfect Victims

Rally for Marissa Alexander/Picsora

By Emma Roderick

In January 2014, Marissa Alexander, whose lengthy prison sentence for firing a warning shot into the air in order to fend off an attack from her estranged husband galvanized feminists and anti-racist activists around the country, was released after spending three years in prison. She will live another two years under house arrest, wearing an electronic ankle bracelet for which she must pay the state $105 per week. Alexander did not harm anyone. But what about women who do kill their abusers?

These women get significantly less media attention and significantly less support from feminists. Yes, they are the sympathetic subjects of several hit country singles: Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead” and Martina McBride’s Independence Day have both been covered on American Idol, and I remember rocking out to the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” with friends when I was 13. Even when the women in these songs appear callous (Ain’t it dark, wrapped up in that tarp, Earl?) they are clearly the heroines: young, white, and conventionally attractive, they win the moral high ground. Only one of the songs alludes to legal consequences.

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The High Cost of Prison Phones

call_home2.jpgBy Bernadette Rabuy

Technological advances may have brought down the costs of communicating, but there is a niche telephone industry that charges millions of families $1 per minute to keep in touch. The prison and jail telephone industry and correctional facilities profit from families desperate to stay connected. The phone companies reap high profits, and the correctional facilities use phone revenue to augment strained budgets.


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Subverting Big Money’s Attack on Public Education

By Deborah Meier

Deborah Meier at SOS March, Washington, DC  August 2011

Sixty years ago, I was active in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) as well as the democratic socialist movement, and I subbed in Chicago public K-8 schools two days a week. Spending those days in the schools raised some doubts in my mind about both the civil rights and socialist agenda. It was clear that the average urban student was being trained to be “dumb,” thoughtless (in the literal sense) and accepting of what couldn’t be changed. Could we achieve the kind of democracy we dreamed of with such a “dumbed-down” public?

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Mapping Anti-Violence Strategies


Among the often unacknowledged side effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the war on drugs are the economic and physical violence they inflict on women, particularly brown and black immigrant women. Driven from their homes, where U.S. policies and practices make it difficult or impossible for them to earn a living, or widowed by the disastrous militarization of the war on drugs, which has killed an estimated 120,000 people in Mexico in the last nine years, or fearing for their lives, as femicide against workers and students throughout Mexico has increased, women go north. 

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The Dialectic of Rape

Chicago Women's Graphic Collective/

Rape keeps insinuating itself into our reality, by way of women’s protests and publicized stories. Emma Sulkowicz carries a mattress identical to the one on which she says she was anally raped by a classmate at Columbia University in order to prod the administration into punishing her perpetrator. Stories of gang rapes and assaults by male athletes, fraternity brothers, and high-profile entertainers pepper the weekly news. But rape is not a new problem or story. It has been an anchor issue of feminism for half a century, and it is on today’s news agenda because feminists put it there.

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I Have WAY More Stuff Than You: How Is This Normal, Just, or Right?

 Quarterly Journal of Economics
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Don’t Tax and Don’t Spend: How the Right Defunded the Government

Protesters attend a tax demonstration in Texas. Credit:

By Maria Svart

The spring issue of Democratic Left arrives before Tax Day, April 15. As socialists, we know how important a fair and progressive tax system is to a fair and progressive society. It’s important, then, that we understand how, for more than 30 years, the right wing has worked to lower taxes for the rich and use the reduced income as an excuse to starve government programs that benefit all of us.

We know that candidates for office consider it political suicide to talk about raising taxes, even on the rich, but it is a complete myth that U.S. income taxes are too high. The truth is that the United States is both the lowest and most regressively taxed nation in the developed world. We spend less of our collective income on public provision than any other advanced democracy. On the other hand, we do excel in spending in two areas that violently destroy rather than enhance human life: the military and mass incarceration. 

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Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

November 03, 2016 · 7 rsvps
Introduction to Socialist Feminism

Join DSA activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 8-9pm ET, 7-8pm CT, 6-7pm MT, 5-6pm PT.


Feminist Working Group

November 15, 2016 · 5 rsvps
Feminist Working Group Call

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's issues. We will discuss election results and their implications for DSA's work (30 minutes). Business will include reports on screenings of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, preparation for April Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon fundraising, and leadership development (up to 1 hour). 9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.