Democratic Left

Sore Winners: The Third Camp and the Legacy of American Stalinism

by David Duhalde

There are facts that only socialists believe are not common knowledge.  So, for the record, the Soviet Union was no paradise.  It morphed into a bureaucratic tyranny and abandoned the democratic rights necessary for any socialist society.

It also no longer exists.  

So if Stalinism has failed and been abandoned everywhere it was implemented, where does this leave the Third Camp socialists who were critical of both the Soviet Union and Western capitalism? It’s a group (with which I identify) that should feel vindicated. But more often than not, most within it have become something of a “sore winner.”

Consider the response by a vocal minority to Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara’s obituary of Pete Seeger.  Sunkara’s less than 700-word article was critical of big-C communism, while attempting to redeem the legacy of its American rank and file. It  was well received and widely shared among the general public, but some deemed it insufficiently anti-Stalinist and ahistorical.  Dan LaBotz’s “Learn—Like Seeger Did—To Sing Another Tune” took such a stance.

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Two Fronts, One Cause: Next Steps in Immigration Reform

As talk of  immigration reform dominated the new Congress, editor Duane Campbell conducted separate interviews with DSA Honorary Chair Eliseo Medina (former secretary treasurer of SEIU and former Executive Board member of the United Farm Workers) and immigrant rights activist Alma Lopez.

The interview with Medina was posted here on Feb.14, 2014. See below.  Both interviews will appear in the spring issue of Democratic Left.                                                             

Alma Lopez, an activist in Sacramento, was a co-presenter with Campbell at an immigration workshop at the DSA national convention, held in Oakland in October 2013. Here, Campbell talks to her about young people and immigrant activism.


Alma.jpgDC:
 What do you think has been the effect of immigrant rights activism on young people?

AL: Students and young people have been playing a major role, along with immigrant community members. In Sacramento, our group has been working with people in northern and southern California who have been arrested in protests against ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and deportations

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Why Education Reform Fails

By Jack Rothman and Amy Rothman

American education just received another beating. This one came in a December report from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). While the United States is the top economic and military power globally, once again our 15-year-olds scored below average in math and only middling in science and reading. American students did not make it into the top 20 on any of these tests across the 65 participating nations.

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Eliseo Medina on Immigration Reform and Activism

Next Steps in Immigration Reform

As talk of  immigration reform dominated the new Congress, Duane Campbell conducted separate interviews with DSA Honorary Chair Eliseo Medina (former secretary treasurer of SEIU and former Executive Board member of the United Farm Workers) and immigrant rights activist Alma Lopez.

 From November 12 until December 2, 2013, Medina and hundreds more participated in a Fast for Families, setting up tents on the Washington Mall to engage the nation and Congress in issues of immigration reform. Politicians, union leaders,  community activists, and faith leaders, from Jim Wallace of Sojourners to Barack Obama, stopped by to talk, listen, and provide support. Medina fasted for twenty-two days, taking only water. 

Here, Medina explains the need for broad coalitions and public education.--Ed.eliseo3.jpg

 

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Robert Dahl, Scholar of Democracy and Democratic Socialist

A Tribute to Bob Dahl (December 17, 1915 – February 5, 2014)

By Jeffrey Isaac


RobertDahl.jpgI first met Bob Dahl in the fall of 1979 when, as a new graduate student in Yale’s political science department, I enrolled in what I came to learn was his most famous seminar: “Democracy and its Critics.” I was familiar with some of his work, especially Who Governs?, and also familiar with his reputation as a “pluralist.” Having studied at Queens College, CUNY with a group of brilliant left-wing professors, I was steeped in neo-Marxism and eager to learn everything I could, and also to argue as much as I could, especially with “pluralists.”

This world famous “expert” put on no airs, claimed no intellectual privileges and was extraordinarily down to earth. This guy was no “corporate liberal” (another pejorative of my youth). He genuinely seemed to walk the talk of “democracy,” in the classroom, in the world of Brewster Hall where the political science department he helped to create was housed, and in the world.

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An Anemic Recovery: January Federal Jobs Report

By Sid Hollander

The anemic recovery of the labor market proceeded apace in January, with unemployment ticking down by only a tenth of a point, from 6.7 to 6.6 percent (10.2 million people.)  Job creation sputtered along at little more than half the rate that prevailed in the autumn, with only 113,000 jobs added.  That is only just enough to keep up with population-driven growth in the labor force.

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NSA's Political and Economic Crisis

by Daniel Adkins

Most discussion on the National Security Agency (NSA) concerns its appetite for electronic records and its conflict with the 4th Amendment: the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.  Although some NSA searches are covered by warrants, other efforts just scoop up data streams worldwide. NSA_copy.gif

NSA is a highly hierarchal and secretive agency.  Signals intelligence has been among the most closely guarded of secrets. The breaking of the German and Japanese codes during World War II resulted in important victories.  NSA culture treats opponents such as al Qaeda and Iran as existential enemies like Japan and Germany.  Yet the nature of the current conflict is more complicated than World War II or the Cold War.  

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Step Up and Speak Truth to Power: John Nichols Speaking at the 2013 DSA National Convention

“A. Phillip Randolph was a socialist. Bayard Rustin was a social democrat. Others who were involved [in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom] had been socialists or social democrats or radicals or progressives from different groupings, and the fact of the matter is John Kennedy and even Lyndon Johnson accepted them into the White House and said “You’ve got ideas.” . . . Ideas of economic and social justice were once invited into our political discourse. Now, at every turn, they are pushed out. And when a crisis occurs, the social democratic proposal to repair it is the first one taken off the table. . .

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