In the Face of Barbarism, Thousands Turn to Democratic Socialism
By Jake Johnson
In his book The American Left and Some British Comparisons, published in 1971, the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith sought to analyze the persistent shortcomings of the Democratic Party. The stakes, he believed, were quite high, as the collapse of the New Deal order seemed imminent. Almost 50 years later, Galbraith's study makes for striking reading. Take, for example, the following observation:
"Everything considered," Galbraith wrote, "if the test of the success of a party is the quality and number of its office holders, the Democrats are not doing well."
Bogdan Denitch was active in democratic left politics throughout his life, joining the Young People's Socialist League at age 18, and later co-founding the Democratic Socialists of America. He served in a variety of leadership positions in DSA including as a member of the National Political Committee and an Honorary Chair. He was DSA’s principal representative to the Socialist International. From 1983 through 2004 he organized the annual Socialist Scholars Conference in New York.
By Harold Meyerson
By Joseph M. Schwartz
Michael Harrington often quipped that the problem with American socialism is that it would be American socialism. By this he meant that socialists in the United States cannot simplistically import lessons learned from Europe, Latin America, or Africa. We live in a continental nation of 50 different states, and, thus, 50 distinct political systems. We also operate within a republican constitutional structure that our “founders” consciously devised to make radical democratic change difficult. If we are to be effective, we have to understand and grapple with the structural biases built into our system. These involve our famous system of checks and balances and separation of powers, plus states’ rights and electoral procedures that are biased in favor of a two-party system.
We scheduled this post and Part 1 in celebration of today, Women's Equality Day, which commemorates U.S. women achieving the right to vote by the ratification in 1920 of the 19th amendment to the Constitution. Since then, notions of female and male continue to evolve, and new contestations emerged. -- Ed.
By Christine R. Riddiough
Gender shapes our lives from their very beginning. In part 1 of this blog post, I described two characteristics of gender as defined in the mid-20th century:
- It is binary – you are defined as either female or male when you’re born - when the doctor, nurse or midwife wraps the baby in a pink or blue blanket.
- It is a personal characteristic – everybody has one gender, the one they’re born with and that defines who they are and how they should act throughout their lives.
In discussing the gender binary in part 1, I defined four dimensions of gender: biology, identity, expression, orientation. The assumption most people have had is that each of these dimensions should be aligned. Biological females are women, who dress and act femininely and who are attracted to and have relationships with men.
By Dustin Guastella
June 28 marks the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969. Stonewall is often recognized as the beginning of the modern movement for LGBTQ equality. Out of these riots, early LGBTQ activists formed radical and militant organizations. The most notable among them was the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). The GLF sought to challenge hegemonic notions of sexuality and gender. Their politics was not narrowly confined to LGBTQ rights or a discourse of “normalcy” but rather consisted of an effort to liberate all people from the yoke of sexual and gender oppression.
By Selin Çağatay
Ankara, May Day 2014
The politics of gender in Turkey have undergone significant changes under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule. Since it came to power in 2002, the AKP carried the decades-long neoliberal socio-economic restructuring to its final stage while imposing a conservative and increasingly Islamist worldview upon social, cultural and political spheres of life. At the heart of this conservative neoliberalism lies the reorganization of gender relations towards a more profound exploitation of women’s paid and unpaid labor. On the one hand, women’s increasing employment in flexible, insecure, low-paid jobs is celebrated as "women’s inclusion in the labor market." On the other hand, conservative discourses that sanctify motherhood and pro-family policies make sure that women remain the main if not the only providers of housework and care work. This dual process reinforces women’s double burden, as a gendered division of labor persists at home while a gender-segregated labor market becomes the economic norm.
Throughout modern history, young people have kindled the flames of social movements across the world. In the last century, students initiated successful fights against Jim Crow and the Vietnam war, and the more recent struggles against neoliberal austerity in Greece, Quebec, and Wall Street have had an undeniably youthful energy. In 2014, the leftward trajectory of youth in the United States is visible in the increasing membership and participation of students in the Young Democratic Socialists (YDS).
This President’s Day weekend, over 100 young activists from across the country converged in New York for the annual YDS winter conference: Beyond Capitalism: Activism and Ideas for the Next Left. The conference offered plenaries, presentations and workshops to strengthen both the analytical and strategic acumen of YDS members, while also providing a welcoming environment to facilitate social networking among activists on a national scale.
By Alicia Williamson
March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), an annual tradition that began over a hundred years ago. While celebrations continue worldwide, few people remember that the holiday was first initiated by American Socialists. As legend would have it, they were inspired to hold a demonstration in order to mark the anniversary of an 1857 female garment workers’ strike in New York. However, the more accurate account is that in 1908, the Socialist Party of America established a National Woman’s Committee to aid in the party’s recruitment efforts, and the committee’s first action was to declare the last Sunday in February to be Woman’s Day.
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by Dan Hamilton
Director Michel Gondry’s latest work, which is a film-length interview with linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky, falls into the category of films that take high-profile thinkers as their subjects and aim to use the medium of film to convey a set of ideas. These films have been reviewed to a wide range of reactions, including everything from praise to apathy.
Gondry, previously known for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Science of Sleep,” begins “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” in the style of German playwright Bertolt Brecht, by showing his cards immediately. Brecht’s style as a playwright, part of his “Epic Theater,” sought to constantly remind the audience that they were not viewing reality, but rather the projection of a particular mind expressed through a story. In this fashion, Gondry reminds the audience at the outset that he is a filmmaker and what the viewer is about to see is a product of his vision, editing, selection and projection. He explains why he is making the film and that the viewer should understand they are subject to what he calls the “manipulative” nature of film making and viewing.