Taking GET UP on the Road

In June, Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel set out for California to do a GET UP workshop on “U.S. Capitalism in Crisis and Social Market Alternatives” at six different DSA locals. GET UP stands for “Grassroots Economics Training for Understanding and Power.” It covers inequality, housing, debt and finance, and the alternative policies that would restructure the US political economy. Laced with interactive exercises, its goal is to equip people to identify and counter neoliberal arguments about the economy and society.

Each local – Des Moines, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boulder, Fort Collins and Wichita – attracted more than their usual DSA attendees; in most cases, half or more were new people. They included local members of Occupy, community organizers, unemployed folks, students, union members and people from faith-based groups.

Boulder’s audience of 30 was a good size for maximizing audience participation. In the “income walk,” people representing the bottom four quintiles (20 percent) of the population, the 80-98th percentile and the top 1 percent take positions along a line that marks one foot for every $10,000 of income. They locate their place by 1979 income and then shift to their 2006 income (the cusp of the financial crisis).

DC DSA held a well-attended GET UP workshop Nov. 10, co-sponsored by DC Jobs with Justice, the Communications Workers of America, and United Food and Confectionary Workers Local 400.

It is stunning to see the 1-percent person not only leave the room, but disappear down the street! At the request of the Wichita folks, we included a special reference to the estimated income of the Koch brothers, whose headquarters are in Wichita. On the same scale, each Koch would end up about 23 miles out from the workshop.

In the housing skit, audience
members act out (with a script) the experience of buying a house in 2005 and refinancing in 2007, illustrating the actions of both mortgage lenders and the agencies that rated risky investments as safe, thereby contributing to the financial collapse of 2008. The workshop ends by contrasting “reforms” that increase the role of the market, with reforms that lessen the market’s role and social market alternatives that remove the role of the market – in the areas of health care, education, housing and labor.

In sum, this GET UP workshop argues: Together, the U.S. had three decades of growing inequality, with huge income growth among the top 1 percent. This income inequality generated a rise of speculative financial activity, which drove a housing bubble and financial crisis, followed by economic stagnation. We must move the political discussion towards social market alternatives.

Other GET UP workshops explore neoliberal principles, student debt and the decline in funding higher education. Contact the national office if you want to host a GET UP. t

Peg Strobel is a member of Chicago DSA and the DSA National Political Committee; former director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum; and professor emerita of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 44 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 3 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But check out their short the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 2 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.