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New Ground 132

September - October, 2010

Contents

  • YDS: the Next Generation by Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel
  • Polling the Death Penalty by Tom Broderick
  • Reflections on the Swedish Model by William A. Pelz
  • Why I'm Running by George Milkowski
  • When the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul by Bob Roman
  • Jobs and the Future of the U.S. Economy: Possibilities and Limits
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Thank You
    Radical Feasts

    New Ground 132.1 -- 09.29.2010

    0. DSA News

    DSA at One Nation Working Together by Frank Llewellyn
    YDS at One Nation Working Together
    Socialist International Presidium Meets in New York

    1. Politics

    One Nation Marches for Jobs
    FBI by Bob Roman
    Little Labor
    SDS
    Citizen Action

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Copy Left
    Cooperatives

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 132.2 -- 10.15.2010

    0. DSA News

    Marching to Washington
    (Chicago) DSA at 10.02.2010 by Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel
    A Social Medium of Our Own

    1. Politics

    Hotel Temperature Rising
    And at Loyola University Too
    Good News from Immokalee
    Strike at UIC?
    Lobby Against the Death Penalty
    Resurrection Hospitals
    Social Media: What's It Good For?
    Hotline
    The Tea Party's Cold War Roots

    2. Ars Politica

    Music Is Hell

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Red Plenty: Lessons from the Soviet Dream
    That Slightly Imaginary Scandinavia: the Welfare State in Europe

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 132.3 -- 10.29.2010

    0. DSA News

    Why We Marched
    Red Letter

    1. Politics

    Vote!
    Wage Theft
    Another Victory in Immokalee
    Regional Anti-War Rally
    More FBI
    Shel Trapp

    2. Ars Politica

    Ballad of Gregory Koger by Hugh Iglarsh

    3. Democratic Socialism

    The Politics of Abundance
    Are You Rich? by Bob Roman
    The Zapatista Caracoles and Good Governments
    To the Finland Station

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest


    YDS: the Next Generation

    by Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel

    Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) held their summer conference and retreat on August 4 - 7 in Wurtsboro, NY, and we were there. The turnout and the politics were impressive and reassuring for anyone concerned about where DSA will go as a new generation of socialists comes to the fore as leaders.

    The 40 attendees were predominantly from the northeast and midwest, representing chapters in NJ, NY, OH, IN, and KS. However, there were individual members from KY, SC, CA, and FL. Equally impressive, however, was the diversity of the gathering. This was true by gender, race and ethnicity, and class. YDS leaders were pleased because the 2009 conference had seen an overrepresentation of white male members. In addition to the mix of attendees, however, we were also very impressed with the nature and sophistication of the politics and political discussion. The conference included sessions on socialist values, the nature of neo-liberalism and the need to build an explicitly socialist organization. The retreat opened with a session on socialist feminism and continued with an evaluation of strategic plan adopted in 2009 as well election of leaders and discussions of an "Activist Agenda." YDS members expressed a desire to build stronger ties between DSA and YDS.

    Most sessions began with presentations by both YDS and DSA members followed by break out sessions in smaller groups that allowed for maximum participation by attendees. It was through the break out sessions that we saw most clearly the level of political analysis in YDS. Participants not only understood what were often challenging readings, they were also able to develop the links between the theoretical analysis of the readings and the political work in which chapters were engaged. YDS chose as priorities campaigns for "free higher education," including endorsement of the October 7th national mobilization to defend higher education, and "blue-green action" that includes a national day of action to support unionized green jobs to rebuild US education.

    All of this is on top of the impressive chapter work. The YDS chapter at William Patterson University in NJ, for example, supported campus food service workers torn by the Workers United -- UNITE HERE! battle. Like William Patterson YDSers, Indiana University-Bloomington YDS members are exploring ways to relate to off-campus communities. Several YDS chapters are alive and well established, having survived the graduation of their founding cohort. Others are rebuilding.

    Having a campus focus enables YDS to concentrate its resources. On the other hand, YDS does not have a clear role for people to play in a chapter once they leave campus. YDS members who advocate for more interaction between DSA and YDS point to this factor, as well as benefits of DSA's experience with labor in the William Patterson University labor struggle.

    We came away buoyed by the realization that the future of socialist action and politics is in good hands. If you want to find out more about YDS, visit their new web site at http://www.ydsusa.org/ and their online journal, The Activist, at http://www.theactivist.org/ .


    Polling the Death Penalty

    by Tom Broderick

    There's a sense that by a slight margin, people support capital punishment. This year, between April 15 and April 19, Lake Research Partners from Washington, DC conducted a telephone survey of 400 registered voters in Illinois. The survey included three statements about the death penalty:

    • The penalty for murder should be death.
    • The penalty for murder should be life in prison with no possibility of parole.
    • The penalty for murder should be life in prison with no possibility of parole and a requirement to work to make restitution to the victim's family.

    Survey participants were asked to pick the statement that best reflected their position. Thirty-two percent selected death as the appropriate penalty for murder. More than 60% responded that they would prefer a sentence other than death, with 43% choosing life without possibility of parole and a requirement to work to make restitution to the victim's family.

    The survey clearly shows it is time to remove the death penalty and the threat of the death penalty from our justice system. Illinois ranks second in the nation when it comes to exonerating people wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. This does not prove we have a system that works. It proves we have a system more concerned with conviction than justice. It proves we have a system guaranteed to execute the innocent.

    Former Illinois Governor George Ryan entered office a supporter of the death penalty. He signed the first death warrant that crossed his desk and Andrew Kokoraleis was executed. But Ryan was troubled. In 2000, Gov. Ryan instituted a moratorium on executions and subsequently ordered a formal review of the capital punishment process. He asked for recommendations to reform the system.

    Ryan got what he asked for, but the commission's report ended with a warning that even if all their recommendations were enacted, there could be no guarantee that an innocent person would not be executed. In 2003, acknowledging a broken system, George Ryan commuted the sentences of all who had been condemned to death in Illinois. This was the largest emptying of a state death row in the history of the United States. As to the commission's recommendations for reform? About 25% were eventually enacted.

    Another poll question brought an answer that initially surprised me. Participants were asked if they were aware that Illinois has a death penalty. Only 39% knew that execution was still an option in our state. But this makes sense. More than ten years have gone by since we last executed someone in Illinois.

    The emptying of our death row was well publicized in Illinois, across the nation and around the world. The moratorium on executions enacted by former Governor Ryan was kept in place by former Governor Blagojevich and has been maintained by current Governor Quinn. There has also been a state-wide decline in death penalty cases. In day to day life, most people in Illinois are not confronted by capital punishment, although our pockets are picked to support it.

    According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, since 2003 there have been 4,760 murders in Illinois, but only 16 death sentences have been handed down by our courts. Prosecutors still seek the death penalty, ofte}8using the threat of execution as a tool to plea bargain an admission of guilt to close one or more criminal cases, or to turn one defendant against another. The threat of death by professionals in our criminal justice system strikes me as torture. I'd like to see that "right" removed.

    Poll respondents were also concerned about the high cost of pursuing capital cases. Illinois spends an estimated $12 million dollars annually to prosecute death penalty cases. That money could be better put to use in crime prevention rather than retribution. It could also be used to help victims' families.

    Death penalty cases take an average of 10 years to complete. They generate a lot of attention. How do the duration and media spotlight impact murder victims' families? There are organizations of victims' families who oppose the death penalty. Many family members say the long process is difficult to endure. I've heard more than one say that the idea of putting someone else to death for the murder of one of their family members offers no justice.

    The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is conducting two speaking tours this fall. The first, mostly in the Chicago suburbs, is from September 14 through 23rd. The second tour, scheduled for October, will be in downstate Illinois and is still being planned. The intent is to have one exonoree and one victim's family member speak. For information, check the ICADP website (www.icadp.org) or contact Liz Moran at 312 673 3880.

    In Illinois, the death penalty can only be abolished by our State Legislature. Reach out to your current Representative and Senator. Ask if they support repeal of the death penalty. It's election time. The death penalty is one small issue in the realm of state politics, but ask the candidates who are running to represent you as your State Representative and State Senator what their positions are on the death penalty. Talk with all who are running in your district. Don't limit yourself to Republicans and Democrats.

    As a member of the West Suburban Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty, I made a visit to a Representative in a near suburb to discuss capital punishment. He said he had a personal, moral interest in abolition, but never had one of his constituents asked him about the issue. As a constituent, your contact could make a difference.

    The moratorium on executions is at the whim of the Governor. Any Illinois Governor could continue it or lift it as a matter of choice. While I don't know the position of all candidates, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn supports the death penalty but has pledged to maintain the moratorium. Republican candidate Bill Brady supports the death penalty and says he will lift the moratorium on executions. Green candidate Rich Whitney supports abolition of the death penalty and continuation of the moratorium.


    Reflections on the Swedish Model

    by William A. Pelz

    Most people have heard of Sweden. They know it is a country in Northern Europe where many people with blonde hair live. Beyond that, their impression is most likely of a dark society depicted in Swedish mysteries like the recent Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or the earlier Martin Beck series. Interestingly, the vast majority of Swedish mysteries attack society from the left. This past July I had occasion to travel to Sweden and visit her three largest cities: Stockholm, Gotenburg and Malmo. I should stress that my remarks are more impressionistic than scientific.

    First, it is important to stress that Sweden is no utopia. It isn't even what most leftists would consider socialist and it has a center-right government in office as of now. Yet comparing it to the red with blood from claw to fang type of capitalism we have in the USA is interesting. Americans, long use to hearing that they live in the best of all possible worlds, might be surprised to see a kinder and gentler society.

    Despite recent immigration, Sweden's population is mainly descendants of the Vikings, not exactly a crew renowned for their warm, fuzzy and peaceful ways. Moreover, we often are taught that wars and injustice are inevitable. Yet, Sweden has not been at war since 1814. Residents enjoy comprehensive quality health care while women (and men) receive a year off work after the birth of a child with no loss of pay. After age one, there is free child care. Public transportation, like trains between cities and subways and trams within cities, is clean, efficient and practical.

    There are certainly poor people but they suffer less than in most nations because of public welfare programs. During my time in Sweden, I saw no beggars with the closest thing being an Iraqi peddler in the immigrant neighborhood of Malmo who insisted it would be a mistake not to buy his tasty figs. By contrast, my first day back in Chicago I encountered eight beggars in my first hour out on the street. Of course, there are over 17,000 homeless in Sweden according to government statistics. Estimates for the USA run from 600,000 to as high as 2.5 million.

    Make no mistake, Sweden is a capitalist country with tony districts where the well heeled gather in expensive cafes. But, and this is a key point, the Swedish labor movement has forced the capitalists to provide a standard of living that would be the envy of many Americans. According to the CIA, Swedes have a life expectancy of almost 81 years (9th best in the world) while Americans can expect to die around 78 (49th among the world's countries).* In Sweden, where the vast majority belong to unions, bosses realize that any too severe attack on welfare capitalism could re-ignite the class struggle of the early 20th century. Of course, there are those who admire the American model, hate immigrants and so on. In America, people such as these are often touted as patriots. In Sweden, people in casual conversation refer to these people as "the Nazis."

    Of course, this Swedish Model can't work cry the free market fanatics, their drones at the University of Chicago Economics program, and the devotees of Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. In fact, the pressure of global capitalism has helped erode many of the advantages Sweden once enjoyed. Still, even the Anglo-American business paper, the Financial Times (23 August 2010) predicts a 4.5% growth rate and wonders "might what has worked for Sweden now also work for others?" If a clearly more humane, if far from perfect, society can be achieved by the labor movement within capitalism, imagine the possibilities if labor actually achieved socialism?

    *CIA Factbook 2010


    Why I'm Running

    by George Milkowski

    I am a Green Party candidate for the Cook County Board for the 13th District. I decided to run because I am fed up with the Republicans and Democrats and I feel that the Green Party has a chance of bringing about needed change in this nation. I believe the Republicans are, and generally have been, a disaster for the ordinary working citizen in this country. The Democrats aren't any better as they have no backbone. In the Congress, both Pelosi and Reid have been too interested in being polite and "bipartisan" to get anything done and the majority of congressional Democrats are more than willing to go along with them. When Pelosi first became Speaker, she responded to the media that the possibility of a George W. Bush impeachment is "...off the table." I ask, "Why not?" It seemed clear to me that Bush had blatantly violated numerous U.S. laws and U.S. treaties. In the Senate, Reid has been just as bad. Any time Republicans threaten to filibuster, Reid caves in to them without a fight. The same goes for the way he deals with blue dog Democrats and the "independents" like Lieberman. Why couldn't he push through progressive legislation and then let the Republicans kill it and let them become known as the obstructionists that they are instead of kowtowing to them, thus making the Democrats look incompetent? This is what Harry Truman did in the late 1940s. Attacking the "do nothing" Republican controlled Congress worked for him quite well. The current state of the health care bill is good example. Although it has a few good points, it is more of a really good bill for the drug and health insurance industry; it is not real reform.

    The Obama administration has been the same. After nearly a year in office, he has been successful in continuing many Bush policies. He is prolonging and expanding the wars. He has ignored the issue of "don't ask, don't tell" in the military. He supports continued illegal domestic spying on citizens. He wants to close down "Gitmo," but wants to transfer its illegal functions to Bagram. He has taken no real action against the Wall Street oligarchs. He believes the big financial institutions are too big to fail and thus guarantees treasury funds that allows them to continue in their greedy behavior, knowing that Obama will, like Bush, cover their asses when, not if, they screw up again. Yet he expects working people like the members of the UAW to take cuts in pay, benefits, and job security. He didn't present a strong health care bill to the Congress to be a starting point for health care reform and instead caved in on every crucial point raised by the Republicans to try to be bipartisan.

    On the state level, it is the same. For thirty years the General Assembly and the various governors from either of the two larger parties have ignored the mounting debt crisis Illinois is facing. Now the Great Recession has decimated working families. Illinois' proposed solutions include increased borrowing that further weaken the State's credit rating, cutting programs that directly affect the poor and the working class, and/or raising taxes (heaven forbid!!). I will give Governor Quinn credit for trying to tackle the problem by proposing to change the income tax laws in a way that would raise needed revenue, but not impact the poorest of our society, but he is an exception, not the rule.

    Chicago is a one party state that is run, very poorly, by Daley and what is left of the machine. He has been able to replace the machine with privatization and Tax Increment Financing districts, which gives the Mayor a lot of clout by being able to dole out TIF funds to the faithful and withhold the same for those who won't toe the line. Again, the ordinary Joe gets shafted!

    Lastly, at the County level, patronage still seems to reign supreme. This, paired with the general incompetence of County "leadership," has resulted in a failure to deliver services to those in our society who are most in need of them.

    Are Democrats better for the average citizen than the Republicans? I believe they are, but I would contend that they are only marginally so. That's why I decided to go Green.

    One common theme at all levels of government is the apparent influence of money, especially of big money. This is what attracted me to the Green Party. The Green Party accepts no corporate donations and thus is only beholding to the voters, not to those holding the fattest checkbooks. As long as the influence of the very wealthy and the large corporations continues unabated, it is unlikely that any change in policy from any level of government will occur.

    If elected to the Cook County Board, I propose that the County establish its own bank, modeled after the bank incorporated in 1919 in North Dakota and still in operation today. It would conduct all the functions of a regular bank, but also concentrate on helping small businesses, which are the real generators of jobs.

    I would also like to eliminate the County property and sales taxes and replace them with an income tax based on actual, not adjusted, incomes. All individuals would get a $25,000 personal exemption with a $40,000 exemption for couples, and $2,000 exemptions for each dependent. Such a tax would burden the poor and working families the least. The wealthy should not object because this tax would be deductible on federal income filings, in contrast to current sales taxes, which are not deductible. Businesses would also be eligible for a $25,000 personal "personnel" exemption per full time worker, up to fifty workers.

    Cook County Jail has a program currently called the Virtual High School Program that originally focused on teen offenders to try to give them real high school diplomas. This program has caught the attention of Loyola and University of Chicago professors because of the education and life skills it provides as well as the potential to reduce the teen recidivism rate (although some judges are sending much older inmates into the program to reduce jail overcrowding). Preliminary evidence indicates that the program appears to be working. If it is, then it should be expanded.

    The Green Party provides a viable alternative to the shortcomings currently exhibited by the both major party administrations. I feel my candidacy will strengthen the Green Party and the programs I propose will address essential issues faced by the citizens of Cook County.

     

    Editor's Note: George Milkowski has been a member of Chicago DSA since 1994. The local has not made any endorsements for the 2010 General Election and at press time there is no indication that it will, but we do have an interest in encouraging our members to run for public office. Folks desiring more information or to become involved in Milkowski's campaign can call him 773.262.7026, email him at gmilkowski@sbcglobal.net . or go to http://northsidegreenparty.org/drupal/ . Larry Sufferdin is the incumbent and the Democratic Party candidate for the 13th District. His campaign can be found at http://www.suffredin.org/ or call 312.603.6383 for information. For you conservatives out there, the Republican Party candidate is Linda Thompson LaFianza. You can try contacting the Evanston Township Republican Party, http://www.evanstongop.com or 847.491.9190.


    When the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul

    by Bob Roman

    Kennedy vs. Carter: The 1980 Battle for the Democratic Party's Soul by Timothy Stanley (University of Kansas Press, 2010)

    Kennedy vs. Carter is an historical narrative covering 1976 through 1980, a time when liberalism, left-wing radicalism, and labor were in retreat. Its author, Timothy Stanley, is a fresh British historian (Leverhulme Research Fellow at Royal Holloway College, University of London) and a left of center Labour Party activist. Because these years are considered a turning point in American political history, it's a subject worth reading about. Obama in particular seems vulnerable to comparisons to Jimmy Carter though Marx would probably furiously scribble a two or three page tirade against such superficial foolishness, as he did in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. But DSA members have an additional reason to read Stanley's book as it's one of just a few histories of mainstream politics that spends any time discussing the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC), a predecessor to DSA.

    Stanley is very much a traditional historian, for whom the past is a foreign country and for whom history is as much story telling as social science. This makes for a very readable text with a wealth of details, each contributing to the narrative. If you lived through the Carter Administration, you'll find much to be reminded of but also some that's new. If you are too young for that, you'll learn much about the period, though the book's focus is pretty tight on the years in question and the conflict between Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter in particular. Some context will be lacking.

    For context, you might pick up Judith Stein's recent (Yale University Press, 2010) Pivotal Decade. While there is some overlap with Stanley's work, Stein's concern is just how the United States economy traded industry for finance. As this had (and has) profound consequences for the union movement, it drives many of the events described in Stanley's book. Also worth referring to: William Greider's book on the Federal Reserve, The Secrets of the Temple (Simon and Schuster, 1989) and Michael Harrington's presentation on the crisis of economic theory (http://www.chicagodsa.org/audarch4.html ).

    Kennedy vs. Carter is a polemical book. The conventional argument concerning this transitional decade is, in Stanley's words, "that while President Jimmy Carter had been a moderate, decent man, his base had failed to appreciate the changing dynamics of the era. The American public rediscovered its innate conservatism. [I]n an act of extreme and arrogant opportunism, Edward Kennedy agreed to lead [liberals] in an ill-considered, futile charge against the president. His defeat in the 1980 Democratic presidential primaries suggested that liberalism was on the decline even among Democrats." Stanley hopes to demonstrate that liberalism and the left were still a very potent force during the later 1970s, and that Kennedy was actually a stronger general election candidate than Carter; among other things, despite his liberalism, Kennedy also drew support from conservatives. "The American public in the 1970s," Stanley writes, "was neither liberal nor conservative, but instead anxious, angry, and desperate for leadership from any direction."

    Stanley supports his argument in detail, including a fair amount of polling data. It's helpful that Stanley's "revisionist" version of the late 1970s is largely common sense; he mostly needs to demonstrate Kennedy's potential strength as a candidate against Reagan and Anderson. I think he does that. It's more difficult to imagine Kennedy overcoming the advantage that came with Carter's incumbency to win the Democratic nomination, but the case Stanley makes does serve to demonstrate the strength of liberals and the left in the late 1970s.

    The book has a number of weaknesses and problems. In discussing conflicts within what he calls liberalism, Stanley draws a distinction between "older New Deal liberals" and what he refers to as the "New Politics." He never adequately defines the terms, though he does deal with it briefly in the introduction. Mostly, you are left to pick up what is meant from the context of its usage. New Politics are Democrats who are "liberal" on social, environmental, civil rights, or foreign policy issues, but "conservative" on economic issues, particularly those related to labor. Typically, these are politicians who represent constituencies where the labor movement was weak if not absent: suburban or rural districts, states in the Great Plains, the south, or the Rocky Mountain west.

    It also would have been helpful to discuss just where the term "New Politics" came from. I vaguely recall it being in the vocabulary of insults used by George Meany / Max Shachtman social democrats, evoking the disastrous National Conference for New Politics held here in Chicago in 1967 (a big to-do: some 5,000 attended, few left unscathed). You can get a better sense of Stanley's thinking from an essay he posted at The Utopian about the U.S. Anti-Vietnam War movement: "The Long Haired Conservatives: the Children of '68 Reconsidered" at http://www.the-utopian.org/2008/05/000026.html. There are also relevant references included in the book's notes, but these are sources inconvenient to the average reader.

    While Stanley does use a considerable amount of polling data, this is all integrated into the text. This is where well done tables and graphs could have made his argument much more compelling. The same data could be used to game possible alternate outcomes of a Kennedy - Reagan - Anderson 1980 election, but that would likely have made for a dry and technical book.

    Being British, and a lefty, Stanley takes organizations more seriously than most academics and political observers in the United States. Consequently, one gets an account of the doings of not just political leaders but various political organizations as well. Given the multitude of national organizations, Stanley inevitably must be selective. The New Democratic Coalition (a 1970s version of Progressive Democrats of America) ends up with but one mention, in passing, and no listing in the index, for example. So how does DSOC rate several pages?

    During the 1960s and 1970s, there was an effort on both the right and the left to "realign" the Republican and Democratic parties so that all the conservatives would be Republican and all the liberals would be Democratic. On the right, William Buckley and the Young Americans for Freedom, among others, led the effort. On the left, getting a later start, there were groups including DSOC and the New Democratic Coalition. Both sides had some reason to believe that a majority of the electorate would be on their side.

    Among Democrats, this effort at realignment was conflated with a populism that sought to cut out the middle-man of party organization, making candidates, as much as possible, directly selected by the Democratic Party electorate. And as public officials, they were to have some accountability to that same electorate. The demand for direct selection of candidates led to an accelerated spread of primary elections over conventions and caucuses as a means of selecting candidates, delegates, and party officials. This has facilitated the "realignment" of what we call the Democratic and Republican parties.

    On the national level among Democrats, the effort at accountability led to the establishment of a "mid-term" national convention. The first such convention was held in 1978. It was the only such convention because of the near success of Democratic Agenda, a project of DSOC, at holding Jimmy Carter accountable to the many promises he made to win his nomination by the Democrats in 1976. Democratic Agenda elected, lobbied and organized convention delegates, and came very close to defeating a sitting president on a number of votes. The votes were close enough that Carter's victories were counted as defeats. An American analyst would have ignored the organizational details and labeled Democratic Agenda as a stalking horse for the Ted Kennedy for President campaign and paid no more attention to Democratic Agenda. Stanley does not.

    Democratic Agenda at the 1978 convention gave DSOC a great deal of "street cred" among political professionals. It also is the root of the enduring DSA stereotype: that DSA works exclusively within the Democratic Party. Oh, yes. Carter's floor manager (thus DSOC's chief opponent) at the mid-term convention? Hillary Rodham.

    This was accomplished on a shoestring by mainstream standards. Democratic Agenda had a yearly budget of about $61,000 (in 2009 dollars, about $217,000) half of which was donated by three unions: the UAW, the Machinists, and AFSCME; a Washington office; one full time director and two part time field staff. Part of the point Stanley is making is that Democratic Agenda was able to accomplish so much with so little because it was sailing with the political wind.

    Stanley does get some things wrong. He moves DSOC off the stage with a paragraph that begins dramatically: "an acrimonious internal split tore DSOC apart over primary tactics." This is story telling. In fact, no such split occurred and the reference he cites does not support it. He is correct, however, that the opening DSOC exploited was closing. The 1978 mid-term convention was the only one the Democrats ever held though a carefully neutered 1982 mid-term "conference" was held in Philadelphia, mostly as a way of gracefully backing out of having such meetings. The 1980 Democratic National Convention was the last where delegates actually had much autonomy or anything of consequence to decide. Subsequent conventions became extended TV commercials for the putative nominee. DSOC never came to any consensus regarding what to do in response and the debate about that was indeed sometimes heated. Instead, DSOC began negotiations with the New American Movement to merge, all the while continuing to press the Democratic Agenda lever (later rebranded and repurposed as "Democratic Alternatives") like some over-trained pigeon in a Skinner Box. Even so, DSOC continued to grow. Stanley notes that membership stood at about 3,000 in 1979. That year the organization set a goal of 5,000 members by 1980, and exceeded it.

    Stanley also misattributes the December, 1980, "Eurosocialism and America" conference to Democratic Agenda. The conference brought together political leaders (indeed, future presidents and prime ministers) from Europe and the United States for an extended policy discussion. Some 2,000 people attended, and an unknown number were turned away by the Washington, DC, fire marshal for exceeding the venue's capacity. The conference was a DSOC project, held under the auspices of the Institute for Democratic Socialism, DSOC's 501c3 affiliate, and it says so in the reference Stanley cites (Eurosocialism and America, edited by Nancy Lieber, Temple University Press, 1982). The conference, incidentally, seriously irritated AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland and the now defunct Social Democrats USA; the AFL-CIO did its best to sabotage the event while not being too public about it.

    These are minor points but worth mentioning because, after all, this is a DSA newsletter.


    Updated 09.16.2010

    Jobs and the Future of the U.S. Economy:

    Possibilities and Limits

    Friday, October 1, 9 AM to 5 PM

    Howard University, Armour J. Blackburn University Center - Hilltop Terrace, Washington, DC

    The U.S. economy is in the midst of the greatest jobs crisis since the Great Depression. But this crisis is more than a short run phenomenon. For many decades we have experienced a long-term failure to generate jobs for all. A fundamental restructuring of the U.S. economy is essential to overcome both the crisis and reverse the long-term failure to generate jobs.

    A number of proposals have been offered to make jobs a central priority of U.S. economic policy. Our purpose in calling this conference is to bring together the proponents of these various programs, to discuss their similarities and differences, and develop a strategic perspective on how to proceed.

    We invite all who wish to contribute and further this effort to participate.

    Current sponsors include: the Howard University Economics Department, the Chicago Political Economy Group, the National Jobs for All Coalition, the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, and the U.S. Solidarity Economics Network.

    At registration, a donation of $20 will be requested to cover expenses and lunch. The fee is waived for Howard students.

     

    Program

    Registration 9 AM to 9:30 AM

    Welcome 9:30 AM to 9:45 AM:

    Howard University Representative

    Jobs Proposal Presentations 9:45 AM to 12:15 PM

    Introduction and Moderator: Haydar Kurban, Howard University. Ron Baiman, Chicago Political Economy Group & Center for Tax and Budget Accountability; Joshua Bivens, Economic Policy Institute; Mathew Forstater, Center for Full Employment and Price Stability & University of Missouri, Kansas City; Darrick Hamilton, New School for Management and Urban Policy & Center for Economic Policy Analysis; Philip Harvey, National Jobs for All Coalition & Rutgers University Law School, Camden; John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research; Jeffrey Thompson, Political Economic Research Institute & University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

    Summary and Discussion of Similarities and Differences of Jobs Programs 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM

    Chair: Janet Griffin-Graves, Howard University. Helen Boushey, National Jobs for All Coalition & Brooklyn College; Michael Golash, Amalgamated Transit Union, Washington, DC; Lisa Saunders, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The morning panelists and attendees will engage in a facilitated discussion and exchange.

    Lunch Break 1:45 PM to 2:45 PM

    Strategic and Political Considerations 3 PM to 4:45 PM

    Panelists (institutional affiliation for identification only): Moderator - Aisha Thompson, Howard University; Treston Davis-Faulkner, National Jobs with Justice; Trudy Goldberg, National Jobs for All Coalition and Aldephi University; Rodney Green, Howard University; Julie Matthaei, U.S. Solidarity Economics Network & Wellesley College; Elce Redmond, South Austin Coalition (Chicago); Mel Rothenberg, Chicago Political Economy Group & University of Chicago.

     

    For more information, email hkurban@howard.edu


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

     

    Thank You

    That's for the folks who contributed to our annual Labor Day issue of New Ground. Your contributions make this publication possible. In terms of money, this was a somewhat better than average year. We've done better but we've also done very much worse. The average amount contributed was also not a record but it was larger than usual, a healthy $57. What was somewhat out of the ordinary was how many contributors were happy with just tossing money in the pot. This seems to have been a trend these past few years but especially notable this year. Folks were just plain shy.

     

    Radical Feasts

    Debs Foundation will be holding its annual banquet on Saturday, October 2, at Indiana State University's Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. The event begins at 6 PM and this year honors Bobby Duval, who is being recognized for his human rights work in Haiti. Tickets are $35 and may be obtained from The Eugene V. Debs Foundation, PO Box 9454, Terre Haute, IN 47808. The Debs Foundation maintains the family home of Eugene V. Debs as a museum. More information is available at 812.237.3443 or at http://www.eugenevdebs.com .

    National Lawyers Guild - Chicago will be honoring People's Law Office attorneys Joey Mogul, John Stainthorp, and Flint Taylor. The dinner will held on Saturday, November 13, at the Irish-American Heritage Center's 4th floor Erin Room, 4626 N. Knox in Chicago. More information will be available at http://www.nlgchicago.org/ or by calling 312.913.0039.

    Illinois Labor History Society will be holding its annual banquet on Friday, November 19, at the National Association of Letter Carriers, 3850 S. Wabash in Chicago. The event begins at 5:30. This year's dinner has special importance to the Society as they are raising money specifically for rehabbing the Haymarket Monument in time for its 125th anniversary next year. Apropos, they will be inducting both the monument itself and the late Irving Abrams into the Union Hall of Honor. Tickets remain at $75 each and may be obtained from The Illinois Labor History Society, 28 E. Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604. More information is available at http://www.illinoislaborhistory.org or by calling 312.663.4107.


    New Ground #132.1

    09.29.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    DSA at One Nation Working Together by Frank Llewellyn
    YDS at One Nation Working Together
    Socialist International Presidium Meets in New York

    1. Politics

    One Nation Marches for Jobs
    FBI by Bob Roman
    Little Labor
    SDS
    Citizen Action

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Copy Left
    Cooperatives

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    DSA at One Nation Working Together
    from Frank Llewellyn, DSA National Director
    We are looking forward to saying hello to as many DSA members as possible at this Saturday's March for Jobs, Justice and Education. You can find DSA at our staging area, at our table in the official table area and at our reception Saturday night and evening. Here are the details:

    Organizational Tables are located near the reflecting pool. The cross street closest to the table locations is 17th Street. DSA's table should be open by 7:00AM

    DSA Staging Area: DSA members are gathering in the mall at the northeast corner of 14th and Jefferson SW beginning at 8AM. It is on the Independence Ave side of the Mall, a short block in to the Mall. The closest Metro Stop is Smithsonian at 12th street. Walk towards the Washington Monument to find us. Look for DSA banners and signs. DSA leaves the staging area and proceeds to the rally area at 11:00 AM. We will stay on the Independence Ave side of the Mall and get as close to the stage as we can while remaining as a group. If you arrive after we leave try to catch up with us by following our route.

    DSA Reception: An informal reception will run from 2PM (before the rally ends at 4PM) until 6PM at the Hunan Dynasty restaurant at 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. (between 2nd and 3rd SE) The closet metro stop is Capital South. Exit on the escalator. Exit on First. Walk up the hill to C St. Turn right on C St. walk one block to 2nd St. Turn left on 2nd. Walk one long block. Turn right on to Pennsylvania. (Independence merges into Pennsylvania at this corner). Light food will be provided while it lasts. Cash Bar available and you may order off the menu.

    DSA and YDS 10.2.10 union made caps will be available at the march. Those who have already ordered theirs will be able to pick up their cap at the staging area, the table or the reception. We strongly encourage those who want one of these limited edition caps to place their order on line ASAP. Visit the DSA web site to order with a Master CARD or VISA.

    YDS at One Nation Working Together
    YDS will participate in the youth feeder march meeting point as follows: Gather at the US Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue Southwest, beginning at 10 AM, depart around 11. March to the Department of Justice and meet up with the main rally.

    Socialist International Presidium Meets in New York
    On 20 September the Socialist International held the annual meeting of its Presidium with the participation of Heads of State and Government at the United Nations Headquarters. Taking place in connection with the Millennium Development Goals Summit, discussions centred upon the contribution of the global social democratic movement to the achievement of the MDGs, the outlook on the global economy, prospects for the forthcoming COP16 meeting in Cancún and the current negotiations for peace in the Middle East. Read More.



    Politics

    One Nation Marches for Jobs
    The Chicago send-off rally for folks going to the One Nation March on Washington for Jobs will be at Teamsters Local 705, 1645 W. Jackson, Chicago. Speakers will include The Chicago Jobs with Justice Unemployed Workers' Council's Lorraine Mora-Chavez & Anthony Scorzo.

    FBI
    by Bob Roman
    If you've not heard about the FBI raids on the homes of anti-war activists in Chicago, you were probably off fishing. This is apparently what the FBI was doing as no one was arrested, but boxes of documents and computers were confiscated and carted away as "possible evidence." One wonders if any of it will ever return to its owners.

    The FBI is investigating possible sources of material aid to terrorists, meaning the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Colombia's FARC. The victims of these raids maintain they have nothing to do with terrorism. The problem is that the laws regarding aid to terrorists are so broadly drawn that one could have nothing to do with terrorism and still be guilty of breaking the law. Advice on how to lay down the guns and switch to non-violent civil disobedience and lobbying could be considered "material aid," for example.

    The victims of these raids are claiming FBI harrassment of the anti-war movement: Hoover may be dead but his spirit lives on, apparently. On the face of it, this sounds absurd. The Chicago anti-war demonstrations organized by these folks in recent years have mobilized, at best, several hundred, making noise worth making but no threat whatsoever to the Pentagon or anyone else. On the other hand, consider that the U.S. Department of Justice's Inspector General reported that FBI has been spying on anti-war groups and others, and lying about why. See "A Review of the FBI's Investigations of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups." For context, see this commentary by the ACLU of Massachusetts' Nancy Murray. Why do FBI agents do it? Possibly as an exercise in career building, but in any case because they can. "Lady Law never stands so tall as when she stands on someone's hand!"

    So what are the raided doing? They're lefties. What do you think they're doing? They're organizing. First with a demonstration on Monday afternoon, September 27, in front of the Chicago FBI offices that drew over a hundred and some media attention. And they've seet up a "Committee to Stop FBI Repression" with a web site. To learn what you can do, check it out.

    Incidentally, the FBI isn't alone in dubious invasions of privacy. Check out the ACLU of Illinois' hassle with the Illinois State Police.

    Little Labor
    Why do pundits babble about "Big Labor?" In the Summer, 2010, issue of Pathways, sociologist Jake Rosenfeld nails his subject rhetorically: "The only thing that remains big about labor unions today is their problems." His article goes on to document the shocking decline in union membership, density, and activity, then goes on to examine some of the surprising (and not so surprising) consequences. Read More.

    SDS
    is holding its national convention at an undisclosed location in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 22 through October 24. Click here for more.

    Citizen Action
    Citizen Action/Illinois has announced their endorsements in the November General Election here.



    Democratic Socialism

    Copy Left
    At Eurozine, Mikhaïl Xifaras examines the concept of "copy left" in the context of the history of intellectual property. (Also see New Ground 97, "Intellectual Property as Thought Crime" by Steve Weierman.)

    Cooperatives
    October is National Coop Month: not exactly a national holiday, even among democratic socialists. But even though most participants in the cooperative business community do not think of themselves as socialists or social democrats or anything at all ideologically, and even though there's not much correlation between coops and politics (ask, for example, or the Coalition of Immokalee Workers about how the growers' marketing coop stood in the way of improving field labor's organizing efforts), coops are a socialistic approach to business. For a primer, check out National Coop Month and Go Coop.



    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Friday, October 1, 6 PM
    One Nation Working Together Send-off Rally
    Teamsters Local 705, 1645 W. Jackson, Chicago

    Saturday, October 16, 12:30 PM
    Midwest Regional March for Peace and Justice
    Michigan Ave & Congress Parkway, Chicago
    Starting with a brief rally. For more information, click here.

    Sunday, October 17, 5 PM
    25th Annual Mother Jones Dinner
    UIS Public Affairs Center, Springfield
    Edwin Hill, President of the IBEW will speak; Chicago's Bucky Halker will sing. Proceeds to be donated toward troubadour Anne Feeney's medical expenses. Tickets $25 each from Mother Jones Foundation, PO Box 20412, Springfield, IL 62708-0412. Call Jack Dyer @ 217.691.4185 or Terry Reed @ 217.789.6495 for information.


    New Ground #132.2

    10.15.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Marching to Washington
    (Chicago) DSA at 10.02.2010 by Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel
    A Social Medium of Our Own

    1. Politics

    Hotel Temperature Rising
    And at Loyola University Too
    Good News from Immokalee
    Strike at UIC?
    Lobby Against the Death Penalty
    Resurrection Hospitals
    Social Media: What's It Good For?
    Hotline
    The Tea Party's Cold War Roots

    2. Ars Politica

    Music Is Hell

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Red Plenty: Lessons from the Soviet Dream
    That Slightly Imaginary Scandinavia: the Welfare State in Europe

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

     

    Marching to Washington
    "News from DSA" carried this brief account of DSA's participation in the One Nation Working Together demonstration in Washington, DC. (Those metal tubes supporting be banner courtesy of Chicago DSA.) Donate and get a DSA or YDS cap! Also something of a hit with right-wingers, Representative John Conyors' appearance at the DSA reception that afternoon. You can see it on DSA's Vimeo Channel.

    (Chicago) DSA at 10.2.2010
    by Bill Barclay and Peg Strobel

    Thousands of people streamed out of the Smithsonian Metro station, nonstop, as we waited over an hour for the seven-person contingent from Oak Park River Forest High School to appear from the subway below. (We had flown; they took the bus.) People poured out without interruption, energetic and eager to let their views be known. "Move to the right; move to the right," barked the volunteer traffic monitor from Transport Workers Union to direct the crowd toward the rally. That was, of course, not the message the crowd was delivering to the Obama administration through the October 2 rally for "Jobs, Justice, and Education."

    An estimated 175,000 rallied in beautiful weather, summoned by a coalition of 400 myriad groups led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), with strong support from SEIU, the AFL-CIO, numerous union locals, and organizations ranging from African American sororities to United for Peace and Justice and community peace groups. The crowd reflected the diversity of the US population, although perhaps with somewhat older mean age and a lower mean family income.

    National DSA was well positioned on the Mall along the route to the Lincoln Memorial with a banner, announcing that "Obama is no Socialist but we are." When we arrived there, however, the banner was sagging because of flimsy poles. We, on the other hand, had strong, US-manufactured metal poles, which we loaned to the national effort. The result was no Chicago DSA banner aloft but lots of attention, lots of pictures of the DSA banner and DSAers, and the chance to distribute DSA's leaflet, "A Social and Economic and Bill of Rights for the 21st Century." We ran out of them long before the official start of the rally.

    During part of the rally, DSA organized a reception. It was further from the rally than we realized but a nice chance for dozens for DSAers from around the country to meet and exchange ideas and experiences. A highlight of the reception was the attendance of Representative John Conyers and his staffers. They were there both to thank DSA for support -- the Detroit local has worked in Conyers' campaigns -- and, more importantly, to call attention to HR 5204, Conyers' jobs creation bill.

    HR 5204 was submitted in May but got little attention until now. This legislation gets many things about the need for jobs right:

    (i) It is funded by a tax on trading financial assets;
    (ii) The jobs to be created undertake socially useful work such as child care, restoring neighborhoods suffering from blight caused by foreclosures, and painting and refurbishing educational and health facilities; and
    (iii) It does not require extensive skill training and can be started up quickly.

    In short, this is analogous to the New Deal's Civil Works Administration, not the Public Works Administration. There are some flaws in the bill as currently drafted, but it will have to be resubmitted to the next session of congress and Conyers staff emphasized that they are open to ideas and suggestions for revision. Perhaps of equal importance is the idea to build a movement around the bill similar to that created around HR 676, Conyers' single payer proposal, with town hall meetings, rallies and efforts to gain co-sponsors.

    For more information:

    Photos by Peg Strobel
    One Nation 1
    One Nation 2
    One Nation 3
    One Nation 4
    One Nation 5
    One Nation 6

    A Social Medium of Our Own
    No Chicago DSA has not acquired a Ouija Board, but something just as good: "Join Us on Facebook." And, yes, we're working on other media.



    Politics

    Hotel Temperature Rising
    The workers at the San Francisco Hilton are already on strike, and UNITE HERE Local 1 says that workers at the Chicago Hilton and Towers (and possibly at other Hilton properties in Chicago) will be going out at any time, quite possibly by the time you read this. Contract negotiations have been dragging on for hospitality workers for over a year now in Chicago, with very little movement from management, we're told.


    The folks at UNITE HERE have declared a boycott against the following Chicago area hotels as part of their effort to negotiate a reasonable contract:

    • Congress Hotel, Chicago (old news: on strike)
    • Hyatt Regency Chicago, Chicago
    • Hyatt Regency O'Hare, Rosemont
    • Park Hyatt, Chicago
    • Westin Chicago Northwest, Itasca
    • Wyndham Suites Chicago, Chicago

    Chicago hotels "at risk of dispute" (e.g., a strike at any time):

    • Affina Chicago, Chicago
    • Drake Hotel, Chicago
    • Essex Inn, Chicago
    • Hilton Chicago, Chicago
    • Hilton O'Hare, Chicago
    • Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Chicago
    • Hyatt Rosemont, Rosemont
    • Inn of Chicago, Chicago
    • Palmer House Hilton, Chicago
    • Sheraton Chicago, Chicago
    • The Blackstone - Renaissance, Chicago
    • The Westin Michigan Avenue, Chicago
    • The Travelodge Hotel Downtown, Chicago
    • Tremont Hotel, Chicago
    • W City Center, Chicago

    For more information, CLICK HERE.

    And at Loyola University Too
    UNITE HERE Local 1 is also involved in organizing food service workers at Loyola University. On Wednesday, October 13, they presented management with a petition from the workers, signed by a super majority of the workers asking for recognition. CLICK HERE.

    Good News from Immokalee
    Pacific Tomato Growers, one of the country's oldest and largest tomato producers, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the Florida-based farmworker organization spearheading the Campaign for Fair Food, have signed an innovative agreement that sets new standards for social responsibility and accountability in Florida's tomato industry.

    The agreement represents a significant step forward in the CIW's decade-long campaign for labor reforms in Florida's tomato industry. Not only is it the first formal agreement between the CIW and a major tomato grower, but the new accord establishes several practical systems designed to implement cooperatively the key principles of the Code of Conduct at the heart of the Campaign for Fair Food. Those principles include a joint -- and, when need be, external -- complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process aimed at insuring that farmworkers themselves are active participants in the social responsibility efforts.

    The agreement also provides for third-party auditing of both the systems needed to implement the Code and payment of the "penny-per-pound," the price premium designed to raise farmworker wages that is part of the CIW's agreements with nine major retail food companies, including sector leaders McDonald's, Whole Foods, and Compass Group. Read More.

    Strike at UIC?
    Workers at the University of Illinois - Chicago have been suffering through stalled contract negotiations for over a year now, and they are sending signals that their patience is about gone. The university has not seen a strike in 45 years, but Monday, October 18, may change that. The workers are represented by SEIU Local 73. CLICK HERE.

    Lobby Against the Death Penalty
    The Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty and its coalition partners will be having two lobby days planned: Veto Session Opening Day on Tuesday, November 16th and a special People of Faith for Repeal Lobby Day on Monday, November 29th. The ICADP will provide buses from the Chicagoland area to drive down to Springfield and back. More information coming soon at the ICADP website. To reserve your space on the bus, contact ICADP staff Mara Forster-Smith at 312.673.3816.

    Resurrection Hospitals
    West Suburban Medical Center and Westlake Hospital were sold by Resurrection Health Care to Vanguard Health Systems effective August 1. According to the Oak Park / Austin Health Alliance, Vanguard is being required to 1) keep both hospitals open for a minimum of three years rather than two as originally proposed, 2) keep all current services at both hospitals for a minimum of three years, and 3) invest $15 million in the hospitals. The initial application made no commitment for any future investment. These are binding conditions with penalties if Vanguard fails to follow through. As the sale involved the transfer of property from a non-profit health care corporation to a for-profit corporation, the State of Illinois' Health Facilities and Services Review Board was involved in setting the conditions. The Oak Park / Austin Health Alliance is among the groups monitoring the transition. The Summer, 2010, issue of Heartbeat has more details. Also see New Ground 129.2 and 129.3.

    Social Media: What's It Good For
    Since Chicago DSA is expanding into these media, it's time to consider the question. Tyler Clark at the Center for Working-Class Studies considers the question:

    "A recent demographic survey of Facebook users reveals 90% to have a high school diploma, though only 21% completed a Bachelors or Graduate degree. 68% earn more than $50,000 annually. If political actors are building consensus from social media users, therefore, they are missing the voices of less educated, lower-income workers. And the workers who are being organized are likely being reached through neighborhood groups."

    Read More.

    Hotline
    In response to the FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas of September 24, and in its continuing effort to defend the right to dissent, the National Lawyers Guild of Chicago has set up an emergency hotline. CLICK HERE.

    The Tea Party's Cold War Roots
    from Michael Baker
    At the New Yorker, Sean Wilentz explains how Glenn Beck's view of American history stems from the paranoid politics of the fifties. And since DSA is one of Beck's favorite hate objects, we now understand why Communist Party honchos have been looking at us so strangely.
    CLICK HERE.


    Ars Politica

    Music Is Hell
    from Hugh Iglarsh
    At Counter Punch, the strange and disturbing story of the musical sweatshops of the 18th century -- it makes the Dr. Seuss musical, "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T," look like a documentary.
    CLICK HERE.



    Democratic Socialism

    Red Plenty: Lessons from the Soviet Dream
    From the Guardian UK: It started with the launch of Sputnik and ended with the Cuban missile crisis, but for a moment ­ so brief it has almost been forgotten ­ it looked as if the Russian dream of unrivalled prosperity would be realised. Francis Spufford on the lessons to be learned from the Soviet "experiment." (First lesson: don't try this at home, kids.) CLICK HERE.

    That Slightly Imaginary Scandinavia: the Welfare State in Europe
    Democratic socialists do like to point at Sweden especially and Scandinavia generally when fumbling about for concrete examples of democratic socialism, despite the still predominantly capitalist nature of the economy and society. In New Ground 132 we published William Pelz' impressions of his recent visit to Sweden, and you can find similar, earlier accounts in New Ground 37 here and here.

    Re-public, an online journal focusing on innovative developments in contemporary political theory and practice (including transhumanism!), recently posted interviews with Jutta Urpilainen, the new president of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, and (way outside Scandinavia) with Victor Ponta, president of the Romanian Social Democratic Party, both focusing on the need of the welfare state, defending it and expanding it. Note that in the United States, in order to get through Congress (the Senate in particular), what passes for "welfare state" is focused on those who are in some way "deserving," as if it were a form of charity. Programs in Europe are often not crippled in that manner. "Revolutionaries" will smugly note the lack of a transformative agenda in the interviews, though it may be less work than one might imagine to graft one on to a welfare state.



    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Saturday, October 16, 12:30 PM
    Midwest Regional March for Peace and Justice
    Michigan Ave & Congress Parkway, Chicago
    Starting with a brief rally. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Saturday, October 16, 1:30 PM
    One Nation, One Dream Candidates Forum
    Thompson Center Auditorium, 100 W. Randolph St, Chicago
    Sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. CLICK HERE to preregister (space limited) and for more information.

    Sunday, October 17, 5 PM
    25th Annual Mother Jones Dinner
    UIS Public Affairs Center, Springfield
    Edwin Hill, President of the IBEW will speak; Chicago's Bucky Halker will sing. Proceeds to be donated toward troubadour Anne Feeney's medical expenses. Tickets $25 each from Mother Jones Foundation, PO Box 20412, Springfield, IL 62708-0412. Call Jack Dyer @ 217.691.4185 or Terry Reed @ 217.789.6495 for information.

    Monday, October 18, 2 PM to 4 PM
    Chicago Kefauver Senate Hearings 60th Anniversary
    Carruthers Center for Inner-City Studies, 700 E. Oakwood Blvd, Chicago
    A reading of the transcript on the occasion of the 60th anniversary, followed by a panel discussion on the hears' effect on criminal justice in Chicago and the operations of the mob, chaired by Richard Steele. For information, call 773.330.6960.

    Wednesday, October 27, Noon to 1 PM
    Comparing the Budget Proposals of Quinn, Brady, and Others
    Roosevelt University's Gage Building, 3rd Floor Commons, 18 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago
    The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability's Bill O'Connor and Ralph Martire on the gubernatorial candidates' budget proposals. Bring lunch & beverage. Free, but space is limited; reservations required. Email or call Kathy Miller at 312.332.1481.

    Wednesday, October 27, 6 PM
    "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln & American Slavery
    Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St, Chicago
    Historian and Author Eric Foner on his new book. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Thursday, October 28, 5:30 PM
    2010 Cunningham - Carey Dinner
    Maggiano's, 516 N. Clark St, Chicago
    Featuring Sr. Helen Prejean, author "Dead Man Walking." Tickets $125. For information or purchase tickets CLICK HERE.

    Thursday, October 28, 6 PM to 9 PM
    OPAHA Community Labor Dinner
    Euclid Avenue Methodist Church, 405 S. Euclid, Oak Park
    A celebration of the efforts by Oak Park & Austin residents and West Suburban & Westlake hospitals employees to secure the future of their community hospitals. Suggested donation: $5. Please call Tina @ 773.792.2430 x 5811 to make a reservation.


    New Ground #132.3

    10.29.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Why We Marched
    Red Letter

    1. Politics

    Vote!
    Wage Theft
    Another Victory in Immokalee
    Regional Anti-War Rally
    More FBI
    Shel Trapp

    2. Ars Politica

    Ballad of Gregory Koger by Hugh Iglarsh

    3. Democratic Socialism

    The Politics of Abundance
    Are You Rich? by Bob Roman
    The Zapatista Caracoles and Good Governments
    To the Finland Station

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Why We Marched
    "Democratic Socialists at One Nation Working Together" is the latest addition to the DSA Vimeo channel. We predict this will be no where near as popular with conservatives as the Congressman John Conyers recording, also made at One Nation Working Together.

    Red Letter
    The Fall, 2010, issue of the Young Democratic Socialists' newsletter The Red Letter is on the web.



    Politics

    Vote!
    If you haven't cast your ballot yet, Tuesday, November 2nd, is Election Day. While it might be satisfying to mumble about how that only encourages them, you really need to take care of this business. Chicago DSA has made no endorsements, not even any recommendations, so you won't find any suggestions on how to vote here. Except this: there are always a few folks on the ballot who deserve encouragement and a few other scoundrels worth voting against. This would be the spot to insert a Chicago joke, but the conservatives out there would take it seriously.

    Wage Theft
    Interfaith Worker Justice has called for a National Day of Action on November 18 to highlight the ongoing crisis of wage theft and ways that workers and communities are organizing to stop it. November 18 is one week before Thanksgiving, a time when we celebrate our plenty at feasts throughout the nation -- but workers who have had their legal wages stolen will be struggling to provide for their families this season. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Another Victory in Immokalee
    Six L's -- Florida's largest tomato grower -- joins forces with CIW for Fair Food!Six L's has agreed to pass on the penny-per-pound and to adopt the Code of Conduct at the heart of the campaign, including a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process aimed at insuring that farmworkers themselves are active participants in the social responsibility efforts. For more information, CLICK HERE.

    Regional Anti-War Rally
    Chris Geovanis posted these photos of the Saturday, October 17, Midwest Regional Anti-war March here.

    More FBI
    The group formed in response to the FBI raids on the homes of anti-war activists in Chicago and the Twin Cities, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, is planning a national planning meeting in New York on Saturday, November 6. You can learn more about it here, plus updates on the legal situation.

    Shel Trapp
    1935-2010: community organizer, co-founder of National People's Action.


    Ars Politica

    Ballad of Gregory Koger (a/k/a, Stay Away from Skokie)
    by Hugh Iglarsh

    So stay away from Skokie,
    Where ya'll wind up in the pokey
    For the crime of gettin' beaten black an' blue.
    The coppers, they'll hammer ya,
    If ya dare to point a camera
    They got better manners in the Brookfield Zoo.
    Let's hear it for Appeals Court,
    With judges of a higher sort
    Than 'Justice' Quinn, a Machine hack t'hrough an' t'hrough.
    She denied Gregory bail,
    An' sent a good man straight to jail,
    For the sin of bein' beaten black an' blue.

    Gregory Koger was beaten up by Skokie police and sentenced to 300 days in jail for the heinous crime of videotaping a public event at the Ethical Humanist Society. Originally refused bail by Justice Marguerite Quinn (remember her name on election day), he is now free pending his appeal. A "Jazz for Justice" benefit on his behalf will take place November 12. For more information, CLICK HERE.



    Democratic Socialism

    The Politics of Abundance
    University of Chicago YDS alumnus Peter Frase attacks the current mania for austerity, pointing out:

    "...the politics of austerity is not driven by some inevitable economic necessity, and it has little to do with ensuring economic growth or prosperity. It is a purely political project, an attempt to shore up and renew ruling class power and neoliberalism. For the rhetoric of austerity is based on a lie: that we have suddenly entered a world of scarcity, in which there is less wealth for all and so we must all collectively suffer. But this is not a scarcity dictated by the material state of the world ­ it is not as if our factories have been destroyed by an asteroid, or our people wiped out by a plague. This scarcity is entirely a result of the dysfunction of the capitalist economy, in which idle resources confront unmet human need. We live in a world with greater material wealth than at any previous time in human history, which makes the idea of abundance more important than ever. It falls to the left to insist that a higher standard of living is possible, if only we muster the political will to make it a reality."

    Read More.

    Are You Rich? (Who's Your Daddy?)
    by Bob Roman (h/t to Michael Baker)
    Just exactly what constitutes being "rich?" And why is our perception of the distribution of income in the U.S. so skewed? Marketplace Money tackles these questions and more here.

    A funhouse mirror perception of wealth in America is not new. Likewise, people have a distorted perception of poverty in America. Some 15 years ago, Guy Molyneux (a former YDS organizer and today a partner in the polling firm Peter Hart Research Associates) wrote about the working poor for the Los Angeles Times: "The truth is, middle-class and upper-middle-class America actually thinks of the working poor as an oxymoron -- we don't believe they exist."

    Michael Harrington's study of poverty in the United States, The Other America, was an attempt to make this real to middle class America. In a New York Times retrospective essay, Maurice Isserman wrote:

    'Echoing [anthropologist Oscar] Lewis, Harrington argued that American poverty constituted "a separate culture, another nation, with its own way of life." He elaborated on this idea in "The Other America: Poverty in the United States," published in the spring of 1962. It was a short work with a simple thesis: poverty was both more extensive and more tenacious than most Americans assumed. An "invisible land" of the poor existed in rural isolation or in crowded slums where middle-class visitors seldom ventured. "That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them," Harrington wrote. "They are not simply neglected and forgotten. . . . What is much worse, they are not seen."

    'Harrington argued that poor Americans were "people who lack education and skill, who have bad health, poor housing, low levels of aspiration and high levels of mental distress. . . . And if one problem is solved, and the others are left constant, there is little gain." Instead of relying on a rising tide of affluence to lift all boats, he argued, America needed a broad program of "remedial action" -- a "comprehensive assault on poverty."'

    Since then, the concept "culture of poverty" has been enlisted to blame or sometimes justify. A good example of this is a 1997 essay by Robert J. Samuelson in The Washington Post that quotes both liberal sociologist Susan Mayer and conservative political scientist Edward Banfield as part of an argument that simply supporting the the poor eventually shows diminishing returns.

    More recently, "culture of poverty" has undergone a revival of interest. In a New York Times essay, "'Culture of Poverty' Makes a Comeback," Patricia Cohen surveys some of the current thinking on the subject.

    And, of course, don't you love it when people talk about you as if you're not really there? Cohen's essay stimulated a fair amount of "discourse" in other publications and on the web. Ta-Nehisi Coates' essay in The Atlantic is one of the few from someone who's been there. For another (fictional) perspective predating the Cohen essay, see Stephen Elliott's A Life Without Consequences (MacAdam/Cage Publishing, 2001).

    Note that the insights described by Elliott and especially Coates are very similar to those described in Geoffrey Canada's Fist Stick Knife Gun, and they are essentially about the adaptations needed to be come middle class (or "better"). Canada and his Harlem Children's Zone have become pets of conservatives and centrists of late, for obvious reasons, even though the Zone's basic methodology (hostility or indifference to the union movement aside for the moment) has a great deal in common with the social democratic "It Takes a Village" (or Harrington's "comprehensive assault on poverty") approach to education; see these two NPR programs here and here. Teaching people how to fit in to capitalist society is not exactly the same thing as transforming it, but what are the presently available alternatives?

    The Zapatista Caracoles and Good Governments
    In State of Nature, Paul Chatterton provides a civics lesson on the Zapatista "Good Government Juntas."

    To the Finland Station
    In The New Statesman, Lesley Chamberlain offers a retrospective essay on Edmund Wilson's 20th Century classic:

    "Edmund Wilson's To the Finland Station is a 20th-century classic by a great American critic about the origins of the Soviet Union. First published in 1940, the book only gained proper recognition in the 1960s, when a new generation began to ask why the Russian Revolution had failed. Its power became legendary, though it was always more admired than understood."

    Read More.



    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Saturday, October 30, 11 AM to 2 PM
    Rally to Restore Sanity
    Grant Park, Jackson & Columbus, Chicago
    A satellite rally to John Stewart's DC event. More information.

    Monday, November 1, 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM
    Day of the Dead Procession to Protest Pollution
    Start @ UIC Quad, 750 S. Halsted, Chicago
    Protest pollution coming from the Fisk coal-fired generating plant. Ends at Alivio Medical Center with party. More information.

    Tuesday, November 2, 6 AM to 7 PM
    Election Day

    Thursday, November 4, 4:30 PM to 6 PM
    Interfaith Service for Hotel Workers
    in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 151 E. Wacker Dr, Chicago
    In support of hotel workers are in an intense struggle to prevent their employers from destroying the health care, wage and workload standards that workers spent years establishing. Please RSVP by calling 312.663.4373x231 or email.

    Thursday, November 4, 6 PM
    Judy Chicago
    Harold Washington Library Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St, Chicago
    Artist, author, feminist and educator Judy Chicago, discusses, shows images from and signs her new book, Frida Kahlo: Face to Face

    Friday, November 5, 5:30 PM
    Colombia: Building Peace in a Country at War
    DePaul University Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Av, Room SR 103A, Chicago
    Featuring Colombian human rights activist Father Jesus Alberto Franco, plus music, plus refreshments. For more information contact Ken Crowley @ 202.423.3402

    Friday, November 5, 7 PM to Midnight
    From Pilsen to Progreso, Honduras
    Decima Musa, 1901 S. Loomis, Chicago
    Live radio broadcast on Honduras' Radio Progreso, discussion about human rights, the resistance and the role of indpendent media in Honduras.

    Saturday, November 6, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
    Media Democracy Day
    Teamsters Building Hall, 300 S. Ashland, Chicago
    Conference promoting alternative media by the Metropolitan Chicago Progressive Media Network. Admission $10 or $5 student / unemployed.

    Tuesday, November 9, 11:30 AM
    Rally in Support of a Responsible Illinois Budget
    Thompson Center, Randolph & Clark, Chicago
    Raise taxes before cutting programs. For more information, call Rosalie Isaacson @ 312.787.2382.

    Friday, November 12, 8 PM
    Jazz for Justice
    Grace Gallery, 1741 N. Western Ave, Chicago
    A fundraising concert to benefit the legal expenses of Gregory Koger, featuring Ted Sirota and Fred Lonberg-Holm. $20 donation requested. More information.


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