172-1 Democratic Socialism

Love Is the Only Law

At Leonard Pierce Dot Com, Leonard Pierce begins:

It’s been a busy week as I help my comrades prepare for the Democratic Socialists of America’s national convention, to be held here in Chicago in only a few months.  I’ll also be running for a leadership position in our local chapter — a prospect that, I must admit, fills me with dread.  Ever since my anarchist days, I’ve been allergic to the idea of leadership; who am I, after all, to tell anyone else what to do?  I want to be a strong leader but not a martinet, an effective leader but not a mere administrator, a leader who listens but isn’t just there to be manipulated.  I tell myself that the mere fact that I volunteered to run speaks to my commitment to socialism, but I’m terrified of doing wrong.


Fear of Hygge

At Working Class Perspectives, Jack Metzgar notes:

…much of the fear of hygge, as Anna Altman in The New Yorker points out, may be based on the “American” rejection of Denmark’s “high taxes and socialist ideas.”  Before snarkily dismissing it, Altman cites an alternative point-of-view:

“Perhaps Scandinavians are better able to appreciate the small, hygge things in life because they already have all the big ones nailed down: free university education, social security, universal health care, efficient infrastructure, paid family leave, and at least a month of vacation a year. With those necessities secured, according to [Meik] Wiking, Danes are free to become ‘aware of the decoupling between wealth and well-being.’”

The American working class does not have these big things nailed down, and their preference for belonging is more likely influenced by the fact that it’s cheaper and doesn’t require cash or a credit card.  In addition, in a belonging culture that is better at bonding than bridging, “pre-existing relationships” are not “the small things of life” but the big ones.



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May Day 2017: Born in the U.S.A.

At Democratic Left, Michael Hirsch begins:

For generations, May Day, the International Workers Day celebrated by working people in more than 200 countries, was ignored in the United States, the country of its origin. In fact, the annual holiday is as American as cherry pie, commemorating as it does the 1886 nationwide general strike in which U.S. trade unionists — largely foreign-born — walked off the job in support of an eight-hour workday.

This year’s observance marks the 128th anniversary of that campaign to humanize the workday — and of the tragedy at Chicago’s Haymarket Square that followed three days later.


May Day in Chicago

Episode 74 — Talkin’ Socialism

Recorded 04.19.2017. In this episode, Chicago DSA’s Tom Broderick sits down to discuss May Day 2017 with Artemio Arreola, the Political Director of Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Robert Reiter, the Secretary Treasurer of Chicago Federation of Labor, and Susan Hurley, the Executive Director of Chicago Jobs With Justice and a member of Chicago DSA.

Use the audio player below

or download to listen later [right click]:

MP3 (33.7 MB) or OGG VORBIS (20.5 MB) (33:05)

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No Easy Answers

At Vox, Zack Beauchamp attempts to deal with a question many have asked: “Why did voters who by and large benefit from social democracy turn against the parties that most strongly support it?” MORE.

At The Baffler, Sarah Jaffe’s interview with Cait Vaughan, an organizer with the Healthcare Is a Human Right campaign in Maine, might provide a partial answer HERE.

At the Working-Class Perspectives blog, Allison Hurst provides additional insight:

A friend of mine from college, someone raised on the less wealthy spectrum of the educated middle class, took issue with even the idea of the “working class.” What was this really? He knew a lot of blue-collar workers, plumbers, builders, who made a lot more money than he or his mother ever did.  I gave him the quick sociological explanations — it’s about power, not money, but his question remained with me. Based on power at work, two-thirds of Americans can be classified as “working class” (see Michael Zweig’s excellent The Working-Class Majority). That is a hell of a lot of people. They don’t all think alike. It struck me that sociologists, myself included, have spent untold ink arguing over the distinctions within the middle class (lower-middle, upper-middle, professional-managerial, those with economic capital vs. those with cultural capital, etc.) and where the line is between wherever this middle is and the top, and yet we have spent hardly any time  looking within the largest class of them all.


And then there is “the curious collaboration between the cultural left and the economic right….” Huh? Conrad Sweatman explains how to overcome it HERE.

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Socialism and Apple Pie

At Jacobin, Paul Heideman presents an excellent short history of socialism in early 20th Century America with the mildly revisionist argument that our country never possessed any special immunity against socialist politics. Heideman begins:

In the middle of Bernie Sanders’s unexpected surge in the Democratic presidential primary, Missouri governor Jay Nixon echoed some folksy wisdom against him: “Here in the heartland, we like our politicians in the mainstream, and [Sanders] is not — he’s a socialist.’’

Nixon would no doubt be shocked to learn of his own state’s history with the red menace. In the early twentieth century, the Socialist Party of America boasted 135 locals in Missouri. In St. Louis alone, 24 of the city’s 28 wards had a local.


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Every Part of Us Has Parts

At Working-Class Perspectives, Jack Metzgar writes:

One important insight from this early round of Trump-shock commentary and reporting is that the white working class is a very large, diverse, and complicated group –- one with people whose thinking is much more complicated than we educated folk tend to imagine. Some of them live in bubbles, too, and some of those bubbles are impenetrable. But just as many live a complicated rage that is open to conflicting and contradictory directions. Listening to and understanding that rage and arguing for a cogent progressive direction for it will take work of many different kinds. It will help a lot if we middle-class progressives begin with a heavy dose of humility and reflect on how our class position and experience, indeed our college educations, tend to make us unaware and dismissive of other ways of seeing and being in the world.


War on Workers

At Daily Kos Labor, Laura Clawson points out that union density continues to decline, not only the union membership rate as a percentage of employees but the absolute number of members as well:

union density

Why Are There No Capitalist Holidays?

by Aaron Armitage
In one sense, all our holidays are capitalist, of course. They’re celebrated by people who grew up under capitalism and who, therefore, have capitalist ideas hiding out in our brains even if we don’t want them there. Less psychologically, they’re capitalist in the sense of being marketing opportunities. There are holidays like Sweetest Day that were invented by capitalists just to sell more candy or cards or what have you. There’s even Black Friday, where they’ve managed to make shopping a beloved Thanksgiving tradition. (Hey, maybe you needed a break from your Trump supporting cousin. It’s okay.)

santa capitalistBut there are no Capitalist holidays in the way that there are religious holidays, or national holidays, or for that matter at least one socialist and anarchist holiday, May Day. The propaganda value of a holiday can hardly escape notice; if you can get people celebrating your idea, you’re pretty much there. But I don’t think that’s most of it. People like to party, and they’ll make anything they like an excuse to party. Birthdays for the individual people in your life; anniversaries for romantic partnerships. Most of the reason why there are religious holidays is that people like their religions, and so religiously significant dates naturally suggest themselves as a good excuse to have fun. People like their countries, so we get fireworks and parades and cookouts. Enough people like the idea of socialism that May Day is still a thing.

On a related note, there are a whole lot of red, socialist, and labor songs, even more nationalistic songs, and uncountably vast numbers of religious songs, but I have never heard capitalism celebrated in song. Celebrations of getting rich, yes, but nothing about how great private capital accumulation and market distribution mechanisms are.

Why are there no traditional observances for Adam Smith’s birthday or the anniversary of when the first stock market opened? I’ve never heard of otherwise — strange behavior that suddenly becomes normal one day a year in honor of the free market. The macabre gets a day, but the job creators don’t?

It’s almost enough to make you think that, even after all the years of propaganda, the wars, the false equation of subjugation to the bosses with freedom, nobody actually loves capitalism.

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Coop Trailer Parks

Residents at trailer parks are often at the mercy of the park’s owner. But not always. Sometimes, “trailer trash” rises up. At National Public Radio, Daniel Zwerdling writes:

…this was not an ordinary picnic. Residents were celebrating the fifth anniversary of a major achievement that could inspire similar communities across the country: The day they began to take more control of their lives.

Park Plaza is a mobile home park, or what industry calls a manufactured housing community. Five years ago, the residents banded together, formed a nonprofit co-op and bought their entire neighborhood from the company that owned it. Today, these residents exert democratic control over almost 9 acres of prime suburbs, with 80 manufactured houses sited on them.