Metro DC DSA's January 2017 Newsletter: DSA and allies build a sustainable resistance; committee structure is generative from the inside; how our 2016 Salons prefigure our activism for 2017
Welcome to the January 2017 issue of the Washington Socialist, the free monthly email newsletter of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America
The advent of 2017 heralds a protracted struggle of the sort DSA and radical allies have tackled before – in the “Friendly Fascism” of the Reagan years, and in the bellicose administration of George W. Bush. A remarkable surge of interest in socialism – some stemming from the Sanders campaign and some from the startling victory of an unstable impresario as president – presents a heartening if daunting path of mobilizing a bottom-up resistance. It meshes with the work we have done over the years, but particularly in 2016, to strengthen and enrich our own ideas and practice.
This is laid out in part by a detailed recounting of our 2016 Socialist Salons provided by Kurt Stand in this issue. The issues we explored as socialists – as well as those we didn’t get to – together make up a substantive taxonomy of the task of the socialist left: to show the interlock, the intersectionality of the material of our everyday lives.
For socialists, the analysis of separate issues – work, consumption, community, inequality, power, the whole range of social exchange – is incomplete without an understanding of the way their interplay supports capitalist hegemony. As Stand put it in reference to labor work, we practice “a level of analysis that looks beyond surface issues.” That insight is what makes us socialists, not liberals, and gives us the sometimes unwelcome privilege of showing fighters on individual fronts how hard it is to win on their issue while systemic, functional contradictions are bringing losses in related areas that mute their efforts.
Our extended committees, a bonus from the major influx of interested members keyed around the events of Nov. 8, are to some extent issue-based sections but also are forming themselves generatively as organizing elements of our entire socialist activism. Communication/outreach in all its aspects, the specific tasks and perspectives of antiracist and anti-bigotry work, broadening the discourse about capitalism’s designed-in perversions of economic justice and the concrete remedies, and analyzing the widely understood danger to the planet as a dangerous externality of capitalism’s growth imperative are all shaping these groups. Each will be meeting during our Jan. 22 membership meeting and most have separate, earlier meetings in formation. Reports from those four committees are in this issue.
As we mobilize around those linked tasks, DSA’s “DC Bureau,” run by Deputy National Director David Duhalde, is getting upgraded digs at the Institute for Policy Studies and provides structural opportunities to welcome volunteers, opportunities our local has lacked for years. "If you are interested in volunteering with national DSA,” sez David, “please contact email@example.com for more information. There is plenty of work to be done at our office located in DuPont Circle." Metro DC DSA has a stake in the new office arrangement and we’ll be developing ways to mobilize on behalf of national and local tasks both.
The Agenda for January:
Meetings of our four main committees in advance of the membership meeting (see below, Jan. 22) are in formation. They will also meet as part of the membership meeting agenda.
Sunday, January 15th : DSA Socialist Book Group meets, 3 to 5 p.m., at the Kogod Courtyard, National Portrait Gallery, to discuss What Then Must We Do, by Gar Alperovitz. More details on the Meetup . Note also that Metro DC DSA is a co-sponsor Monday, Feb. 6 of Alperovitz’s talk in Northern Virginia, hosted by NoVa Our Revolution: “Building a System-Changing Response to Trump and Trumpism: Actions at the Community Level.”
Thursday, January 19th 6:30 p.m., Socialist Salon, “Full Employment and Basic Income” theme, with guests TBA. Hunan Dynasty, 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
Sunday, January 22 General membership meeting of Metro DC DSA, 3:30 p.m. at MLK Library, room A5, 9th and H St. (Gallery Place Metrorail Station). Agenda will be posted on Meetup page a week in advance, but (as above) our four main committees will meet as part of the general meeting’s agenda.
Sunday, January 8, 4:00 p.m. Progressive Neighbors, our allies in Montgomery County, plan their 10th Annual Legislative Forum in advance of the Jan. 11 opening of the Maryland General Assembly. Silver Spring Civic Center, One Veterans Plaza -- Ellsworth and Fenton Streets, short walk from Silver Spring Metro … State and county elected officials are confirmed. Details and more info: firstname.lastname@example.org or their Facebook page.
Saturday, January 14th, Georgetown doctoral and law students will hold a teach-in at Georgetown University, Resisting, Organizing, and Building in the Age of Trump and Beyond. The teach-in is free, open to the public, and will be held on campus from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. DSA is a co-sponsor and some of the student activists are working to form a YDS chapter at the University.
The teach-in brings together DC organizers and academics from across disciplines to discuss the urgent question of how the left should move forward in the wake of Trump's catastrophic election. Speakers will discuss:
- The history, ideology, and structural sources of injustice behind Trump's election and the rise of Trumpism.
- Strategies for direct actions, organizing new campaigns, and ways of best working with existing campaigns, a discussion which will be led by Black Lives Matter organizers and labor organizers.
- How we best protect, support, and stand in solidarity with already vulnerable and oppressed populations: Muslims, undocumented workers, African Americans, Latinos/as/xs, women, LGBTQ+, immigrants, those with disabilities, Jews, Native Americans, the economically oppressed, those living in the Third World, victims of American militarism, among others.
- Ideas, movements, and institutions that offer a genuine alternative to the reigning neoliberal, capitalist consensus and that build a genuinely democratic and just future economically, socially, and politically for all.
The list of confirmed speakers includes: Vanessa Wills (GWU, Philosophy), Eugene Puryear (ANSWER Coalition), Dominic Moulden (One DC), Michael Kazin (Georgetown, History and Dissent), Maurice Jackson (Georgetown, History), April Goggans (BLM DMV and KeepDC4Me), Denise Brennan (Anthropology, Georgetown), Alisa Carse (Georgetown, Philosophy), Josh Armstead (UNITE Here Local 23), Joseph McCartin (Georgetown, History), and representatives from The Next System Project, The Democracy Collaborative and other DC organizations.
Watch for a separate notice on this event from DCDSA and get updates on the event's Facebook page.
In this issue:
Our issues, our Salons: The monthly Socialist Salons of 2016 mapped our concerns as the Sanders campaign fell short and prospects for progressives darkened. Kurt Stand details what we talked about and how we did, and will, act on what we learned. read complete article
DSA extended Committee Reports: Our swelling membership has generated new standing committees and extended capacity. Here are reports from our four main committees:
Economic Justice: read complete article
Racial Justice/Antibigotry read complete article
Communication read complete article
Climate Change and Environmental Justice read complete article
What was the context for Trump’s strange pilgrimage to Mexico in mid-campaign? Carolyn Byerly, who has studied and reported on our neighbors, reports. read complete article
Beneath the parlous problems of the post-Chavez Venezuelan regime are the communes inspired and enabled by the Bolivarian spirit but generated bottom-up by their communities. Austin Kendall reviews a new book on the communes, authored by an academic who recently came under assault from Breitbart. read complete article
DSA’s relations with labor have become closer after the Sanders campaign but two longtime DSA labor activists think the relationship could be usefully reconceived. read complete article
Repatriating corporate boodle stashed overseas as a shelter from taxes has superficial appeal, but will Trump’s version just be another boondoggle with opportunities for stock buy-backs and similar evasions? Andy Feeney surveys the terrain. read complete article
Culture and Books
The new Museum of African American History has been so popular that it wasn’t till halfway through December that Bill Mosley could get a ticket. “It was worth the wait,” he writes, and you’ll agree. read complete article
A Long Island billionaire playboy humiliates two petty thieves but the last laugh is theirs after a drawn-out, patient sting operation. Donald Westlake’s decades-old caper novel has echoes of today, Andy Feeney reports. read complete article
James Livingston’s new book, No More Work, explores the unknown country for all of us when work – “what do you do” – inevitably stops being the value factor in many lives. Reviewed by Woody Woodruff read complete article
Good Reads recalls the sources – online magazines and aggregator sites – that furnish many of our best reads during the year. read complete article
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.The Washington Socialist is Metro DC DSA's monthly e-newsletter. Focusing on our local's events, socialist analyses of current events and book reviews, among other topics, The Washington Socialist is a great way to stay on top of the progressive goings-on in DC, Maryland and northern Virginia. We also encourage our readers to submit their own articles! Contact Editor Woody Woodruff for more info at email@example.com.
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