Metro DC DSA's December 2016 Newsletter: Shock and Awful followed by the Stages of Outrage; Paths to Progress Against Big Headwinds; the Consolation of Books
Welcome to the December issue of the Washington Socialist, the free monthly email newsletter of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America. Here you'll find opening ruminations, events for the month ahead, and annotated links to all the December articles.
Well, what a difference a month makes. That’s all.
As we were saying just recently, progressives will have to push back against the new administration’s pull to the right (maybe a leetle more than we expected).
A somewhat heartening narrative of recovery from the torpor of numbness and dread emerges here and around the precincts in which we are accustomed to working, coupled with resolution to seize an advantage in the streets and wherever else we can.
Keeping our heads down will simply accustom us to keeping our heads down; we know that.
The articles in this issue are keyed to that determination and defiance. It is surely no accident that two of our favorite magazines, In These Times and The Nation, independently headlined their first post-election covers with variations of “resist.”
If we all got a little complacent about the likely outcome of this election, Peter Frase in his new book (quoted in Austin Kendall’s review in this issue) cautions “the importance of assessing possibility rather than likelihood is that it puts our collective action at the center, while making confident predictions only encourages passivity” – on whose part or by whose intention, Frase is not clear, and Kendall is skeptical about the formulation.
But it is safe to say that passivity is not on the agenda now.
As we watch 2016, universally judged an awful year, trickle away during the holidays, we can rebalance our political lives with the best sauce – work and resistance, with a socialist perspective. December is often a month full of holiday interruptions and a return to the personal. We’ll all have to decide how much of that we can afford this December, given what’s slouching our way in January. Perhaps the right notion is: recharge, but don’t relax.
DCDSA LOCAL CALENDAR
SUNDAY, DEC. 11 – Metro DC DSA membership meeting, 2:30 p.m. in room A-3, Martin Luther King Jr. main library, 9th and G Sts. NW (Gallery Place Metrorail station). Development of working committees. See Meetup page for updates.
TUESDAY, DEC. 13 – a Talk with Cecily McMillan 6-8 p.m at Takoma Busboys| (Nicolás Guillén Room) -- From Occupy Wall Street to Resisting Trump -- McMillan, a DSA member, social justice organizer and prisoner rights advocate, will talk about her experience at the center of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York as well as about her time at Rikers Island, where she was subsequently imprisoned. Currently an organizer in Atlanta, she’ll discuss the relevance of that past to organizing challenges today. Copies of her book, The Emancipation of Cecily McMillan, will be available for sale. A Bread and Roses event at Takoma Busboys & Poets, 235 Carroll St NW, Washington, DC 20012 (Takoma Metrorail, Red Line) An RSVP is requested.
The Socialist Book Group's next meeting is January 15, but you can start reading the book: Gar Alperovitz's What Then Must We Do? Details are on the Meetup page.
NATIONAL NOTES – DSA is running frequent webinars on socialism and socialist activism through its website at dsausa.org . Members or those interested in membership should dig into the many resources on this site, including the Strategy Document approved at last year’s convention (when you are in the mood for a deep-dive read) or the articles on the Democratic Left blog.
IN THIS ISSUE: not exactly the stages of grief, but the offerings sort themselves out along the spectrum of “deal with it.”
>>The Trump victory was stunning not only for its contravention of conventional polling but for the vicious culture that suffused the winning campaign. Just to set the historical context, Bill Mosley reminds us of the unpleasant parallels between the Thirties in Europe and current events. Read complete article
>> Maryland transportation activists have put forward a plan – with some support from officials – that would stress transit, including enhanced MARC, against the roads-happy Hogan administration. But the climate for transit spending is not likely to improve. Read complete article
>> If there was any doubt that residents of the District of Columbia really, truly wanted statehood, their vote in the November 8 referendum on the subject dispelled it. In that election, Bill Mosley reports, 86 percent of DC voters who registered a preference checked “yes,” a significant increase from the 60 percent who voted in the previous referendum on statehood held in 1980. Read complete article
>>Digesting the election results Nov. 9 was rough on any individual, until we resumed speaking to one another. Carolyn Byerly recounts the somewhat uplifting response on her urban, black HBCU campus, Howard University, where the tradition of permanent resistance goes deep. Read complete article
>>How did a DC panel of progressives on The Day After shift gears from discussing how to influence President-elect Clinton to how to resist President-elect Trump? Woody Woodruff reports on a panel Nov. 9 at the Institute for Policy Studies. Read complete article
>>Two days after the election, DSA activists planning next steps at our monthly Salon found many, many new discussants showing up, spurred by a real sense of emergency for the newly enlarged categories of the vulnerable. The intensity continued three days later at a rally-size membership meeting. Read complete article
The Path Ahead
>> The National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America responded to the stunning election results with a road map for resistance and for finding the narrow but still-open apertures for advancing progressive causes and values. Read complete article
>>A November 17 rally that had been planned as a last defense against the Trans Pacific Partnership turned instead into a defiant throng ready to take on and defeat the Republicans who now stand astride the national government. Kurt Stand elaborates on the stakes and the ways to lead from our strengths. Read complete article
>>Where are the focal points of resistance to a near-takeover of national government by the right? Woody Woodruff argues that the existing institutional and governmental structure of states and especially cities are the most likely venues for progress, and notes that many other analysts concur. Read complete article
>>The failure of the Democratic Party to counter Trump with a progressive Sanders candidacy, let alone any progressive vision, has infuriated many, including Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford. He argues here that "It’s time for progressives to take the reins of the party from the Democratic establishment and begin to boldly organize our base for the fight of our lives." Read complete article
>>In a holiday season ordinarily consumed with notions of gifting, the approach of a Trump administration puts an unpleasant twist on the sentiment. Andy Feeney enumerates some kinds of gifts and gestures that are intended to counter the triumphalist Right, and perhaps get under its skin. Read complete article
Books and Culture
>>Bernie Sanders’s long-awaited account of his presidential race is, as always, packed with his trademark policy proposals but contains warm biographical material that shows a young man finding socialism and sticking with it throughout an unexpectedly successful political career. Bill Mosley reviews Our Revolution. Read complete article
>>Peter Frase discussed his new book, Four Futures, at a recent event in the District. Austin Kendall combines an account of his talk with a review of the book, which he finds weak in its linkage between the possible futures and the fractious present. Read complete article
>>One of the most compelling and comprehensive progressive perspectives on offer today comes from Rev. William Barber, whose “Moral Mondays” in North Carolina galvanized the state’s progressives and who rocked the Democratic Convention with a widely praised speech. Carolyn Byerly reviews his new book, The Third Reconstruction. Read complete article
>>How did the corporate influence-peddlers get “inside our heads,” from the 19th-century penny press to today’s fake-news firehose on the Internet? Tim Wu, media scholar and activist, has chapter and verse in The Attention Merchants. Woody Woodruff reviews his analysis of the persistence of monetarized attention. Read complete article
>>In December’s “Good Reads for Socialists” we find, as you can imagine, a good many analyses of the way forward for the Left and progressives, as well as persistent warnings that the US may not be the only polity under siege from right-wing sentiment and what can still credibly be called “false consciousness.” 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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