168-1 DSA News

Talkin’ Socialism

Episode 68 A Tale of 2 Cities and Rev. Edward Pinkney

Recorded August 25, 2016. It’s a story of racism, class, corporate power and the denial of democracy and justice. It is a story of how neoliberal policies are affecting all parts of our country. Tom Broderick interviews Robert McKay and Paul Sakol about how Reverend Edward Pinkney ran up against an obdurate and vindictive local Establishment that has put him in jail… for possibly a long time.

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DSA in the News

compilied by Bob Roman

The William Patterson Young Democratic Socialists were mentioned as joining a vigil remembering Cherelle Jovanna Locklear, according to Shamika Sanders at Hello Beautiful.

Grace Walker and Alex Vanden Heuvel featured the University of Georgia Young Democratic Socialists at The Red & Black. Casey Schmauder mentioned the Young Democratic Socialists in passing in a post-Bernie article at The Pitt News.

Salar Mohandesi includes DSA in a long analysis of the Sanders movement and the prospects for a permanent social democratic current in U.S. politics at Viewpoint Magazine. Scott Tucker mentions DSA as part of the “reactionary left” at Popular Resistance. A somewhat mangled post-convention account by Rufina Vignone mentions the Young Democratic Socialists at Mag-SeriesUsa (possibly an automated pseudo-news site). The campus is the focus of another post-convention article, this by Alex Daugherty, that mentions the Young Democratic Socialists at the McClatchy newspaper chain’s DC bureau. Elizabeth Henderson tracks the trajectory of Bernie delegates at The Nation, and DSA gets mentions.

Protests at the University of Southern California against the Dakota Access Pipeline were covered by at Tanushree Kakani at the Daily Trojan and by Rachel Ramos at USC Annenberg Media, both mentioning the Young Democratic Socialists’ co-sponsorship.

Tom Broderick boosts the Illinois People’s Summit gathering on Saturday, October 1 (DSA among the conveners) at the Wednesday Journal.

Socialist International

The Socialist International’s Presidium met in New York at the United Nations on September 21. Refugees and migrants were a major topic of discussion, though developments related to elections in Nicaragua and human rights in Guatemala were also on the agenda.MORE INFORMATION.

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168-1 Politics

Make Illinois Tuition-Free

State Representative Will Guzzardi has announced a grassroots campaign to waive the cost of in-state public college for Illinois residents. You can find out more (including a kick-off rally at the UIC Forum on October 7) and sign an online petition in support if you CLICK HERE.

Tenants’ Bill of Rights

It’s an obscure bit of history, largely forgotten, but Chicago DSA was instrumental in getting Harold Washington elected Mayor of Chicago, and that eventually made possible the passage of the historic Tenants’ Bill of Rights ordinance, which Chicago DSA was also very much involved in facilitating. (The Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s annual Ralph Scott award is named after a Chicago DSA activist.) Now Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) is proposing a small amendment to the ordinance that would seriously undermine tenant protection. Curtis Black writes about it HERE.


In a parallel legal universe where privileged corporations make their executives immune from criminal prosecution, bleed small nations dry and scare the bejezuz out of the large… It’s not Hollywood horror but the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism that is a standard feature of most “free trade” agreements, including the pending Trans Pacific Partnership. Chris Hamby has a series of articles at Buzzfeed that are very worthwhile reading. It’s not a court system, really; it’s a gold mine:


More than 50 delegates from trade unions representing Mondelēz International workers around the world gathered in Chicago on September 20- 21 at a Global Summit to address the rampant and calculated destruction of jobs by Mondelēz, whose global subsidiaries include Nabisco, Cadbury, LU and Milka. MORE.

Chicago teachers voted (90.6% turn-out) to authorize a strike (95.6% in favor). MORE. Find out how you can help HERE.

Dr. David Gill

Dr. Gill thought he had more than enough signatures to be on the ballot as an independent in the 13th Congressional District, but the Illinois’ election board disagreed. He appealed. The court put him back on. The appeal was appealed. The appellate court took him off. Dr. Gill appealed to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The Peoria Journal-Star was among those seriously irritated by this.

Why is Puerto Rican Oscar López Still a Political Prisoner?

At Democratic Left, Margaret Power begins the story by explaining:

Oscar López Rivera is the longest-held Puerto Rican political prisoner in U.S. history. He has now served 35 years in U.S. federal prisons, including 12 in solitary confinement. The movement calling for his release has intensified, broadened and strengthened in the last few years. For example, on June 20, 2016, solidarity events with Oscar López took place on all six continents, and in 39 countries, including Chile, Cuba, Eritrea, France, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Syria, Switzerland and Venezuela. In addition, five Nobel prize winners, Archbishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa); Jose Ramos-Horta (East Timor), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Argentina), Jodi Williams (United States) and Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Ireland) took part that day in actions urging President Obama to release López. Who is Oscar and why is he still imprisoned? Why is the movement for his freedom growing, and how does it relate to the current economic crisis in Puerto Rico?


168-1 Ars Politica

The Lively Politics of 1930s Art

At In These Times, Alex McLeese writes:

During the Cold War, much of the political art of the 1930s was overlooked, overshadowed by other artistic movements like Abstract Expressionism. Now, however, the period is receiving more attention.

The Art Institute of Chicago is showing America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s. The exhibition, which includes 53 paintings, is advertised as featuring Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe and Grant Wood. Audiences will also encounter less well-known artists, some of whom made strong political statements.

While not all of the exhibit’s paintings engage directly with the era’s pressing social issues, much of America after the Fall reminds us of the power of political art. Although some art historians In These Times spoke with wished the exhibit included more background on the period’s radical politics, the show does the public service of inviting the viewer to look at past — and present — political art anew. After the show’s run at the Art Institute, which ends on Sunday, the show will travel to the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris and to London’s Royal Academy.


168-1 People

Ron Baiman

Did you take a class in economics? Could be high school, could be college; it doesn’t matter. What’s the one thing you’re most likely to remember? “Supply and demand.” What people often forget or don’t know: Most of the subsequent classes teach the various ways in which it ain’t necessarily so. Ron Baiman’s latest book, Ghost Curve Ideology and the Value Neutral Aspect of Neoclassical Economics, takes a hammer to the concept, proposes alternatives and, furthermore, asserts that claims of neoclassical economics as value neutral are not just untrue but have contributed to many of the public policy disasters we’re suffering through today.

Baiman appeared most recently on Chicago DSA’s Talkin’ Socialism in January of 2016. He and Bill Barclay discussed whether the aftermath of the “Great Recession” is the “Great Stagnation”.

William Pelz

Historian William Pelz has a new book that brings the spirit of Howard Zinn to European history: A People’s History of Modern Europe. “From the monarchical terror of the Middle Ages to the mangled Europe of the twenty-first century, A People’s History of Modern Europe tracks the history of the continent through the deeds of those whom mainstream history tries to forget.” You can watch Pelz’ discussion of the book HERE.

Pelz was interviewed on Talkin’ Socialism in June of 2015 on the occasion of a re-issue of an earlier book, Eugene V. Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle.

Margaret Power

Historian Margaret Power was interviewed on Talkin’ Socialism in November of 2015 about her forthcoming book (co-authored with Timothy Kelly and Michael Cary), Hope in Hard Times: Norvelt and the Struggle for Community During the Great Depression. As day follows night, the book has been issued by Penn State University Press.

Norvelt, a town in western Pennsylvania named for EleaNOR RooeVELT, was established as part of a New Deal program to create about 100 new towns, removing destitute families from desperate urban industrialism to a Jeffersonian cooperative community. The book examines a “still-unfolding narrative of transformation in one Pennsylvania town, and the struggles and successes of its original residents against the backdrop of one of the most ambitious federal endeavors in United States history.”

168-1 Democratic Socialism

White Trash, Hillbillies, and Middle-Class Stereotypes

At Working-Class Perspectives, Jack Metzgar begins:

During election years white people who do not have bachelor’s degrees (the increasingly common definition of “the working class”) become both a somewhat exotic who-knew-they-were-here-and-in-such-large-numbers object of discussion and a target for freewheeling social psychologizing. Thus, it is more than a little refreshing to see two books attempt to tackle the more exotic side of Donald Trump’s beloved “the poorly educated.” White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, by LSU historian Nancy Isenberg, is a progressive-leaning account of the disdain shifting groups of white workers and vagrants have suffered throughout U.S. history. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by Silicon Valley executive J.D. Vance, is a politically conservative account of Vance’s rearing by a drug-and-alcohol-addicted mother, rough but loving grandparents, a wonderful sister, a reliable aunt, and the U.S. Marines. Hillbilly Elegy is by far the better book.


DSA in the News

compiled by Bob Roman

DSA gets mentioned in a book review by Maurice Isserman at Common Reader.

DSA was among several groups sponsoring an Our Revolution kick-off party in Oklahoma City, according to Serena Blaiz at Oklahoma Activist. The organization of a new DSA chapter was part of Kim Schneider’s account of post-Sanders organizing at Duluth News Tribune. A somewhat longer version of Schneider’s article is at the Grand Forks Herald. Jake Johnson highlighted DSA as among the major beneficiaries of the Sanders movement at Common Dreams.

The Young Democratic Socialists were among the groups in a solidarity protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to Michelle at Wesleying. The Dakota Access protest was also covered at The Wesleyan Argus by Gili Lipman, who also mentioned the Young Democratic Socialists.

Steve Wiandt covered a Jill Stein rally and quoted DSA member David Brinovec at the Cuahoga Falls News-Press.

Right before New York’s state primary, Haley Markbreiter listed DSA among state Senate candidate Debbie Medina’s endorsers at In These Times. (Medina lost with 38%.)

Andrew Stewart touches on DSA as part of a discussion of Israel, Syria, empire, and why evil Putin is nonetheless a force for progress at Counterpunch.

DSA member Stiofain Gael Mac Geough had an op-ed explaining socialism in the Idaho State Journal.

Our Revolution: It’s a Start

by Bob Roman

On Wednesday, August 24, Bernie Sanders launched his post-primary organization, Our Revolution, with a livestream webcast around which over 2000 viewing parties were organized. Two of the parties belonged to Chicago DSA. The City of Chicago branch hosted one at the Chicago DSA office at Diversey, Kimball and Milwaukee in Chicago. The Greater Oak Park branch sponsored the other at the home of Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel in Oak Park.

Each CDSA viewing party drew over a dozen participants. The City of Chicago party had sixteen. For the Chicago DSA office, this is standing room only but not quite a full house. The Greater Oak Park party was notable for being organized just a few days prior to the launch and drawing about as many as the City party. Attendance was boosted by a few referrals from other Oak Park viewing parties that had reached capacity. Both events were publicized via the web / internet exclusively; if, as a Chicago DSA member, you didn’t hear about them, it’s likely because we don’t have your email address. At both parties, we collected names and addresses for both DSA and Our Revolution. At the Chicago party, attendees spontaneously made donations toward our expenses.

The launch was accompanied by some controversy as a substantial portion of the Our Revolution staff had quit over disagreements on organizational development strategies. Nonetheless, Our Revolution already has a list of several dozen local, state and federal candidates to support, several ballot initiatives, and position papers on over a dozen problem areas with proposed solutions. It’s worth noting that while many items on the list are of concern to the labor movement with solutions that would be congenial to the labor movement, there is none specifically dealing with labor, labor organizing, or collective bargaining. (The “A Living Wage” paper is the closest.) There is also nothing on socialism although arguably some of the proposals are subversive to capitalism. In fact, neither of the words “socialist” nor “socialism” can be found at ourrevolution.com, according to a site search through Google.

It also requires a certain degree of faith in Sanders to, on one hand, agree with him that change comes from the bottom up while, on the other hand, accepting a prefabricated agenda handed down from above by Our Revolution. One can only say it is a start. Given the large number of elected offices in our country, supporting 60 to 100 candidates is a very modest start, indeed.

The webcast was basically an extended infomercial, and Sanders’ presentation drew heavily from his campaign stump speeches. For the curious, the video record is available via YouTube. Most of it was applause worthy, though one assertion was risible. Sanders is fond of claiming that we succeeded in making the 2016 Democratic Party Platform “the strongest, most progressive Democratic Party Platform in the history of the United States.” This simply is not true. Some other years are perhaps as good as 2016 given the context of their times. One at least, the 1972 platform, is superior. The 1972 platform called for an end to the Vietnam war; the 2016 platform does not call for an end to the current wars. The 1972 platform called for the establishment of a universal National Health Insurance program as well as an impressive list of related programs; the 2016 platform essentially says: Isn’t Obamacare Nice? Both platforms advocate for expanded labor rights and standards, but the 1972 platform provides a fairly detailed list of reforms. The 2016 platform advocates a $15 an hour minimum wage; the 1972 platform advocates a $2.50 an hour minimum wage – $14.13 an hour in 2015 dollars. In fact, the 2016 Platform Committee could have simply amended the 1972 platform and had a much better document.

And yet, what of it? Who actually pays attention to such documents? Not the candidates running their campaigns. Not the legislative caucuses even before the election is over. We will, assured Senator Sanders. The movement will make it happen.

One reason for claiming a platform victory was perhaps the biggest failure of the Sanders campaign: the Democratic National Convention itself. Once beyond the Potemkin democracy of the platform committee, the event reverted to type: A staged rally for the presumptive nominee with no role for the delegates but to cheer. This was very nearly inevitable given Sanders’ prior commitment to support Clinton, but it hardly makes for a political revolution.

It may be a further disappointment to some sanderistas, but nothing thus far indicates that Our Revolution will be much different than a somewhat more radical version of Moveon.org or Democracy for America. Even if it’s only that modest, anything that mobilizes the left of center electorate is to the good, and if it can contribute to mobilizing around politics outside of elections, even better.

Yet for all the ways the Sanders campaign has fallen short, Sanders’ claims that we have “changed the national conversation” and mobilized millions, especially the young, are absolutely true. And this has manifested itself in the creation of national lefty organizations like Our Revolution and A Brand New Congress, new local organizations, as well as growth among a galaxy of already established organizations, including DSA. Most DSA chapters have seen some growth and an increased level of activism, but DSA’s greatest increase has been in the number of new chapters and organizing committees.

In Chicago, DSA has been organizing follow-ups to the Sanders campaign with National Nurses United, Reclaim Chicago and other groups. We are currently helping to plan a local follow-up to last June’s Peoples Summit (which we also participated in planning). Details to follow, stay tuned.