The Washington Socialist <> December 2013
By Kurt Stand
Congressional action and inaction last year – part of a right-wing/corporate assault on democratic rights – victimized millions via the sequester and the government shutdown, through budget cuts that hurt the neediest and tax breaks that help the wealthiest. And among those most hurt by such action/inaction have been immigrants, millions of whom are forced to live in a shadow world because Congress has refused to pass just and comprehensive immigration reform legislation, as well as because of federal and local enforcement of unjust laws that deem categories of people living in the country as “illegals.” These laws are and should be seen as unjust like those segregation laws that defined African Americans as being second-class citizens.
Difficulty in making progress nationally has therefore pushed the struggle to the states – and there progress has been made in Maryland. . Last year, state legislators passed the Dream Act, enabling children of immigrants – many who have spent virtually their whole life in the U.S. – to attend college. This important measure opened up opportunities, the chance for a future, for many whose hopes up til then had been denied. Nonetheless that step alone didn’t fully legalize their status or the status of their family members; the danger of being subject to unfair and unjust treatment under the law, including the danger of deportation, remains. Thus the battle for immigrant rights in the state has taken a new direction. Prince George’s County State Senator Victor Ramirez (D-47th) – with support from Casa de Maryland, SEIU, and the ACLU – is proposing the “Maryland Trust Act,” legislation that would prohibit local police from holding immigrants for transfer to federal immigration unless they have been charged or convicted of felonies.
This legislation is designed to establish community trust in law enforcement, trust impossible when something as simple as a traffic ticket can lead to someone’s deportation, splitting families, taking livelihoods, creating fear. Such a measure is an assertion of state authority designed to protect civil liberties, and stands in direct opposition to state measures of voter suppression and civil rights abuses directed at African Americans in states like Alabama, North Carolina and Texas – states also at the forefront of targeting and harassing immigrants. Absent such laws, local police can be used by right-wing forces to disrupt community organizing, and can be and have been used by business interests to try and undermine union organizing drives. The past two decades have seen numerous instances of collusion between local police and immigration police to arrest and deport workers who are raising their voices in packinghouse and other industries.
Ramirez’s bill is modeled on a similar measure signed into law last month in California and is based on research and policy proposals developed by the ACLU and presented in the report “Restoring Trust: How Immigration Detainers in Maryland Undermine Public Safety Through Unnecessary Enforcement.” According to a “Maryland Juice” post, key findings in the ACLU report include:
If the bill is passed it will be a step toward equalization of rights between communities. Another such initiative is taking place now in the on-going labor/community legislative drive to increase the minimum wage in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties in Maryland and in Washington DC, in order to create a regional minimum wage of $11.50 per hour, indexed to inflation. The idea behind pushing the same bill in all three jurisdictions is to create a common front so that lower wages in one area are not used to push down wages in other areas. And indexing the gains to inflation means that today’s progress won’t be lost each time the local cost of living rises. Absent that, a full-time worker with two children has a standard of living at or below the poverty level, makingany path out of that poverty far more difficult.
Initiatives such as these won’t substitute for needed federal action, but they are important stepping stones toward that end. Victory, however, will not come easily — as seen in Washington DC where Walmart used its economic power to blackmail the city and force a rollback of proposed wage increases that had been easily passed by the City Council. And, as comments on Ramirez’ legislation indicates, his bill will be fought by demagogic appeals to fear and hatred, by the effort to blame our country’s economic distress on those without rights so that those with power are held unaccountable. Yet the progress made in Maryland last year is a sign that these victories can be won – and each such victory can provide a basis to further social and economic equality and thereby fight back against corporate power’s attempts to render democratic rights meaningless.
“Maryland bill would limit local immigration policing,” AP, Frederick News Post, (http://www.fredericknewspost.com/content/tncms/live/2),
November 19, 2013
“ACLU Report Details How Immigration Detainers in Maryland Undermine Public Safety Through Unnecessary Enforcement,” ACLU Press Release, Juice #6, 11/22/13, Maryland Juice: Advance Justice Through Information (David Moon) (http://www.marylandjuice.com/2013/11/juice-kagan-vs-simmons-for-d17-senate.html#sthash.NvT2A7bU.dpuf)
Minimum Wage Bill:
“ACT NOW: One Vote Needed to Pass Montgomery County Minimum Wage, Progressive Neighbors MD, Press Release, 11/23/13 (email@example.com)
Resolution # 11 “Minimum Wage, Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, 10/26/13 (http://md.aflcio.org/mddcstatefed/index.cfm?action=cat&categoryID=23a00fdb-ef0b-4eba-9e4f-3355d6d977b2
The Washington Socialist <> December 2013
By Bill Mosley
Review of The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration by David Bacon. Beacon Press, Boston, 2013.
The debate over U.S. immigration policy has largely become a question over what to do about immigrants already in the United States. Smooth their path to citizenship? Give them green cards and enroll them in guest-worker programs? Throw them out? Send them to prison?
To assume that large numbers of people from abroad will always clamor to enter the United States, legally or not, unfortunately casts the debate in terms favorable to the anti-immigrant right. Charismatic xenophobes such as Fox TV commentator Lou Dobbs and Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio eagerly raise the specter of foreign hordes at the gates – or inside the gates – aiming to steal our jobs and corrupt our culture while refusing to learn English. Even liberals and the left tend to focus on legalization and a path to citizenship, rather on the more fundamental question – why do so many people from Mexico and other countries come to the United States in the first place?
Labor journalist and former union organizer David Bacon provides a necessary corrective to the notion of the inevitability of large-scale immigration with his new book The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration. The book could be viewed as Part II of Bacon’s dissection of U.S. immigration policy, following 2008’s Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants.
In his latest book, Bacon supplements his own reportage and analysis with narratives by migrants themselves, describing in their own words their experiences in the United States – why they left Mexico, their exploitation and mistreatment by their employers, and their attempts to fight back. Bacon relayed some of these stories in a talk last October at Democratic Socialists of America’s national convention in Oakland, Calif.
In both of his books, Bacon shows why so many Mexicans and persons of other nationalities are desperately trying to enter the United States – not from the lure of living in “the land of the free,” but because globalization and U.S. corporate priorities are driving them here. And while Bacon largely examines migration of Mexicans, his analysis also could apply to many of the countries and regions that are the source of large numbers of migrants, especially Central America and Asia. Yet his focus on Mexico allows him to more sharply illustrate the impact of globalization on the country that is by far the source of the greatest number of migrants – both documented and not – to the United States.
In both books, Bacon skillfully connects the dots between neoliberal trade policy and the desperation that drives people from Mexico to the United States. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which took effect in 1994, broke down trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico. This allowed cheap, industrially produced U.S. agricultural products – notably corn – to flood the Mexican market, causing prices to plummet below the level that would allow Mexican farmers to make a profit. This drove countless Mexican farmers off the land to seek work elsewhere. Many migrated within Mexico, but many others crossed the border to the United States where certain kinds of jobs were plentiful – seasonal agricultural jobs or work in meat-processing factories lured many of them. Although many of these jobs were difficult and dangerous, and almost all of them paid below a living wage for a U.S. worker, the difference between the cost of living in the United States and Mexico made it possible for Mexican migrant workers to subsist while sending part of their pay back to their families south of the border. This suited the Mexican government, because the remittances – in excess of $20 billion annually — were a valuable source of income, and encouraged successive Mexican governments to collaborate with U.S. neoliberal trade policy.
U.S. corporations welcomed the migrants because they were willing to work cheap – especially undocumented immigrants, who were trying to stay under the radar of U.S. immigration authorities and therefore tended to be reluctant to fight back against unjust treatment. And there has been plenty of that: Bacon documents rampant abuses faced by migrant workers, such as wage theft, barely habitable housing, exposure to toxic pesticides, sexual assaults on female workers and much more.
Bacon makes sense of the seeming contradiction of U.S. corporations eagerly exploiting desperate migrant workers while the U.S. government, in the form of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), hunts them down for deportation or even imprisonment. In fact, the companies and ICE work hand in glove: When migrant workers become too assertive in protesting brutal conditions or, especially, when they become so bold as to try to organize a union, the employer tips off ICE, which then rushes in with arrests and deportation orders – a practice that has accelerated during the Obama administration. The company then hires a new batch of undocumented workers and starts afresh.
Even under such oppressive conditions, a surprisingly large number of migrants have attempted to speak up or fight back. In Los Angeles, Mexican migrant workers became leaders of International Longshore and Warehouse Union and United Electrical Workers locals. Sometimes workers fired for lack of documents take to the streets, as did large numbers of San Francisco janitors in 2010, although their protests failed to win them back their jobs. Bacon also illustrates the growth of solidarity between unions on both sides of the border with the growing recognition that U.S. and Mexican workers face a common struggle.
Some employers, mostly bigger companies that hire large numbers of non-citizens, would prefer an expanded guest-worker program rather than rely on undocumented workers – in other words, a return to the bracero program that brought large numbers of Mexican workers to the United States from the 1940s to the 1960s. These workers, initially imported to compensate for worker shortages during World War II, came to be used regularly by companies to replace striking workers and break unions. The bracero program also was characterized by abusive treatment of the workers, and was not so different from today’s program that provides a limited number of temporary visas for foreign workers who are recruited by specific companies. These companies seek a more “managed” form of immigration, one that provides them with a low-cost, docile workforce without the threat of ICE raids. Smaller employers, however, tend to prefer undocumented workers, who will work cheaper and be even less likely to speak up against unfair treatment.
Employers are supposedly subject to sanctions for knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants. But, as Bacon shows, companies are hardly ever penalized for the practice. ICE will frequently notify a company that many of their employees have Social Security numbers that do not match their names, a sign that the numbers may be fictitious or “borrowed” from real cardholders and therefore being used by undocumented immigrants. However, this only encourages the company to fire the suspect workers, and there are seldom further repercussions for the employer – but for the employee, the result is unemployment and possibly worse.
Bacon argues that the immigration debate must emphasize reducing the need for people to leave their communities in the first place. Organizations such as the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations have led strikes and other protests, largely in the poorer regions of southern Mexico, demanding alleviation of the conditions that drive people out of their communities in order to survive.
“”Without addressing the sources of the displacement that pushes people into the guest worker stream, recommendations for better management assume an inherent desire on the part of workers to come to the United States,” Bacon writes.
A major step in halting forced migration, Bacon asserts, would be to renegotiate NAFTA and other trade agreements that are the cause of displacement. Progressives should support policies that strengthen local economies in Mexico, making them more self-sufficient and less subject to the vicissitudes of the global economy.
Canceling or reducing Mexico’s foreign debt would go a long way to making unnecessary the remittances by Mexican workers in the United States. Remittances account for 2 percent of Mexico’s GDP, but these are largely swallowed by the country’s debt payments, which are 3 percent of GDP. Without the debt, the payments could be used for local development projects that in time would make the remittances unnecessary.
Another part of the solution must be better treatment of all migrants in the United States. One way to make guest-worker programs less oppressive, Bacon argues, would be to allow holders of work permits to seek employment anywhere they wish, rather than have their right to be in the United States tied to employment with a specific company. The current system is a form of indentured servitude in which the company can threaten employees not only with firing but almost-certain deportation if they become too assertive.
A welcome challenge to the criminalization of migrants was the AFL-CIO’s reversal of its stance on immigration. Once concerned about migrants as competitors for their members’ jobs, in 1999 the federation “called for the repeal of employee sanctions, legalization of the undocumented, and enforcing labor rights for all workers,” Bacon writes. In addition, last year President Obama told ICE to stop deporting young people who were brought to the United States as children if they were attending or had graduated from school or served in the military – although he was unsuccessful in persuading Congress from passing the Dream Act, meaning that their ability to remain here is subject to the whim of whomever occupies the White House.
Migrant activists and their allies amplified their demands by participating in the 2011 Occupy protests and by protesting the attacks the same year against Wisconsin public-sector workers. In communities such as Seattle, San Diego and Oakland, Calif., the Occupy movement’s tactics were inspired by the Mexican tradition of the planton, an encampment in a public square designed to focus public attention on a particular demand or injustice. In Wisconsin, Bacon writes, the message of migrants and U.S. citizens alike was: “We all work, we all contribute to our communities and we all have the right to a job, a union and a decent life.”
Yet a sensible, just solution to the immigration crisis is contrary to corporate interests and those of their cronies in both the U.S. and Mexican governments. It will take a vocal, sophisticated movement on both sides of the border to force the “right to stay home” onto the agenda of policymakers. That movement is growing in Mexico, and it needs more allies north of the border. Yet David Bacon has done his part in providing that movement with facts, ideas and stories that will help it succeed.
The Washington Socialist <> December 2013
By Carolyn M. Byerly
First, the back story.
It’s a fact that more and more of the world’s people are getting their news online these days, but the traditional news media – increasingly called the “legacy media” – remain the main employers of both print and electronic journalists. Add to this another fact: Those media still actively discriminate against their women employees the world over.
But how bad is it, and how does it differ from nation to nation?
In 2008, I was asked by the International Women’s Media Foundation to oversee a global study of women’s employment in the traditional news companies to answer these questions. The project would take over my academic life for several years, culminate in more statistical data than anyone would ever use, and produce two publications – a technical report and an academic text. This was not done singlehandedly – I had a small budget that was used to secure and pay a team of 160 researchers in 59 nations (whom I would also supervise – that was fun). The project would encompass interviews with executives at 522 companies (newspapers, TV & radio stations). The media we surveyed published or broadcast in nearly 40 different languages; however, completed questionnaires were submitted to me in English, Spanish and French. After months of data entry and fussing with numbers (hooray for statisticians), I wrote (and IWMF published) the 400-page technical report in 2011(See Global Report on the Status of Women in News Media, downloadable free at www.iwmf.org).
What the study found will be summarized shortly.
But now the current story:
In late October, the second publication, The Palgrave International Handbook of Women and Journalism, came into print. It included 29 of the original 59 nations, with most chapters written by the original researchers for those nations. (See details on the book at http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=634271)
Did I mention looking for a publisher? It turns out that book publishing has gone through the same conglomeration process as other media (all over the world), and few academic publishers in the social sciences want to publish real research (which now goes almost exclusively to journals). Publishers have shifted to textbooks, mostly, which are more lucrative. The UK-based Palgrave Macmillan Company is one of few that still recognizes the value of original work and its editors were excited about the project from the outset.
What distinguishes the Palgrave Handbook from its predecessor Global Report is that the findings for each of the 29 nations are discussed in greater detail, within a context of history, politics, media-government relations, culture and women’s status. I authored four chapters, including one on feminist political economy of news that makes an effort at situating women in the neoliberalized (is that a word?) news industry. The book is arguably the biggest effort to date to determine where women fit into the newsmaking apparatus of companies across the world. While not comprehensive (we did not even set out to gather data on all companies), it is representative – and revealing.
When aggregated, the data from those original 59 nations show women beginning to do quite well within the profession at the reporting ranks, and, in some nations, even in the lower rungs of newsroom management. But in nearly ALL nations, there is a clear glass ceiling, with men dominating in top management and governance roles of traditional media companies. Women are also marginalized in technical jobs, e.g., camera work and production.
There are some surprises. Women journalists seem to fare best in the former communist nations of Eastern Europe, where the goal was to educate women for the workforce. Women are near parity with men and in some nations (e.g., Russia) even surpass them in number. Why? Journalism became feminized during the Soviet-era news industry, which was both heavily oriented to state propaganda and also low paid. After the Berlin Wall came down, and those nations moved toward democracy, women were already in place in those newsrooms and have retained their jobs. Authors of these nations, however, are quick to point out that sexism still abounds in the news and other employment sectors and across the broader society.
Women journalists also fare well in the Nordic nations, where the Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish authors noted “gender equality is a public consensus” and laws for several decades provide the framework for women’s advancement professionally. It also helps that these nations have extremely generous maternity and paternity benefits, as well as community based public daycare centers.
By contrast, in Japan, men outnumber women 7:1 in news companies. In Bangladesh, India and Jordan, the ratio is 5:1, and in Lebanon, 2:1. Here in the USA, women are inching toward parity with men in reporting roles and even in middle management (e.g., senior editors), but not so in the higher roles of decision making. The glass-ceiling is firmly in place even in this nation which has experienced a more vigorous era of feminism than many others.
Leftists are likely to dismiss traditional news media as sources of the truth; however, there is no way to dismiss those them as workplaces. Newsrooms have greatly (also gravely) been affected by major structural shifts these last two decades, the most obvious two being digital convergence and a rapid process of conglomeration. Often overlooked are the gendered dimensions of these events, and so it is significant that the majority of the authors in the Palgrave Handbook talked about media conglomeration and its impact on women journalists in their countries (both developed and developing). Some examples are layoffs, the switch from full to part-time (or freelance) positions, and a level of emotional tension on the job produced by uncertainty. Women feel these pinches disproportionately within this occupation, as they do in others, and it falls to leftist feminist researchers to examine these lest they be ignored.
The Washington Socialist <> December 2013
By Daniel C. Adkins
The 2013 Virginia elections were unique in that it was the Democrats against the Tea Party. The Democrats seem to have won the state-wide offices although the Attorney General race is headed for a recount. The Tea Party’s war on women’s health aided the Democrats, as women voted in larger numbers for Democrats. The government shut-down also aided the Democrats by pissing off federal workers, their contractors, and the workers and businesses that support them.
The race was won partly because a civil war is starting in the Republican Party. There was much criticism of the Republicans’ having a convention to choose their statewide slate. This tactic favors the extremists. Some business-oriented Republicans stopped funding their party and supported the Democrats. In other parts of the US, business-oriented Republicans are supporting candidates in primaries for the first time in order to minimize the Tea Party effect and get electable candidates. Demographic changes aid the Democrats and Asian-Virginians made appearances in several races.
However, the multi-cultural environment of Northern Virginia and cities has not spread to southern Virginia. Given the Republican gerrymandering and the slowness of demographic change, we should not count the Tea Party out anytime soon.
Sometimes we question the time spent on elections. However, protecting the poor, workers, the environment, and stopping the war on women are important goals. Also there is an opportunity to organize our neighborhoods, condos, and apartments. A useful tactic we can do today is to get our apartment building or condos to post our polling places on our apartment websites. With the natural turnover of residents, it helps to get our allies to vote to the maximum extent. Also, in aiding elections we have a chance to meet politically committed people. Now is a time that many Democrats are wondering about what role their party has played in raising inequality in the US. This is still a great time for a discussion.
For specific results see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_elections,_2013
How the TARP Program for Banks Was Sold & How It Really Worked — Under Bush & Obama
The Washington Socialist <> December 2013
By Andy Feeney
Book review of Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, by Neil Barofsky, former Special Inspector General in Charge of Oversight of TARP. (New York: Free Press, 2012)
In October 2008, Neil Barofsky was an aggressive young prosecutor working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan on mortgage-related financial fraud. A lifelong Democrat, he was surprised when his Republican boss persuaded the Bush administration to hire him as Special Inspector General for the newly created Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), which then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had hastily cobbled together to avert the overall collapse of a tottering U.S. financial system.
In Bailout, his memoir of attempting to provide anti-fraud oversight for TARP, Barofsky provides the reader with a lively anecdotal account of how TARP evolved and functioned, first under the outgoing Bush White House and then under Obama’s team.
In telling the tale, Barofsky provides informative vignettes of – among many others— Neel Kashkari, the 35-year-old former Goldman Sachs vice president chosen to administer the new bailout program by Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and Herb Allison, a courtly 65-year-old financial industry veteran who was tapped by Obama’s new Treasury chief Tim Geithner to run TARP after Kashkari’s departure. Fascinating glimpses of other well-known Washington personalities also are scattered through the book, giving us insights into political players like Barney Frank, Elizabeth Warren, conservative Republican senator Charles Grassley, Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby, and many others.
Beyond the trove of collected personality profiles that Barofsky furnishes in this memoir, however, is one big and uncomfortable truth: in Barofsky’s estimation, TARP never worked well – or to be more accurate, it worked for some of the big banks, but it never delivered what its proponents and administrators had promised it would also deliver: relief for millions of heavily indebted homeowners whose mortgages were at risk of foreclosure in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Instead, Barofsky writes, first the Bush Treasury Department and then the Obama team devised scheme after scheme to employ hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds to bail out the biggest US banks that had helped to create runaway speculation in mortgage-backed securities, and that profited heavily from the trend until it exploded. Both administrations also resisted Barofsky’s proposals for anti-fraud controls on the TARP outlays, thus making it extremely difficult for him to do his job.
In response to his proposals, Barofsky reports of one tense meeting with the Bush team for TARP, “Kashkari suggested that requiring banks to report on their use of funds could actually destroy … TARP and perhaps, as a result, the entire banking system. He accused us of being politically motivated or just plain stupid.”
Despite Barofsky’s hopes, Obama’s new Treasury team, featuring Geithner and Allison, failed to bring much improvement over Kashkari and the Republicans. Under Democratic as well as under Republican auspices, the bailout program continued to shovel huge sums of money in the direction of the bankers, with minimal if any oversight from the Special Inspector General’s office.
When Geithner’s Treasury Department, which by now was attempting to relabel the TARP program as the Financial Stability Plan, unveiled a huge new scheme for helping endangered mortage holders as well as the financial industry – a plan that Geithner called the Public Private Investment Program (PPIP) — Barofsky and his staff were stunned by the potential financial holes and loopholes in it.
“The fraud risks jumped out at us,” he writes. “Although it was going to be funded overwhelmingly with taxpayer dollars, PPIP had been designed by Wall Street, for Wall Street. We only later learned, in connection with one of our audits, that at the same time that Treasury had been keeping us in the dark, it had been working on the design of the program with … two of the giant investment houses that would later manage funds under the program and stand to profit from it the most.”
Yet – at least according to Barofsky’s account – Geithner and other Treasury Department officials stoutly resisted his attempts as Special IG to prevent serious abuse of the program. As Barofsky fought back against his Treasury Department superiors by using his power as an auditor to issue a series of well-publicized reports outlining potential problems with the ongoing bailout efforts, he found himself being attacked in the Wall Street Journal by anonymous Treasury officials who accused him of trying to scare bankers away from the financial rescue package. Late in his career as Special Inspector General for TARP, he was attacked by name by a White House press official, an Obama appointee, for allegedly undermining the program.
Why was there such bipartisan pushback against efforts to provide financial oversight of TARP and its successor programs? Why did those administering the programs repeatedly sacrifice the interests of homeowners facing foreclosure while focusing obsessively on helping the banks, as Barofsky reports they did?
Bailout offers an intriguing series of insights as to what may have motivated the Republicans and Democrats who administered TARP. To start with, Barofsky strongly suggests, the pressures of electoral politics in an off-year Congressional election year probably explained some of the hits that the TARP Special Inspector General’s office took from the Obama team in 2010.
The added fact – much lamented by the political left at the time — that both the Bush administration and the Obama White House filled high-ranking economic policy positions in Washington with financial veterans of the same professional circles on Wall Street that had helped to create the near-financial collapse of 2008 in the first place was, in Barofsky’s view, another key factor.
Such Treasury appointees as Paulson, Kashkari, Geithner and Allison all had the same or similar backgrounds as the banking officials they were overseeing, and Barofsky thinks they simply could not imagine that their old colleagues – who had previously driven the global financial system to the brink of the abyss – might somehow lack the integrity or the genius to save it.
But one far more basic and highly disquieting fact about TARP as Barosky portrays it is that the program was sold under false pretenses from the start. Hank Paulson, after previously denying that there was anything seriously wrong with the US financial sector, rolled out a proposed $700 billion TARP program in the fall of 2008 in hopes of preventing a total failure of the banks.
Paulson promoted his original scheme as a way to relieve endangered homeowners as well as banks by using TARP’s unprecedented budget to buy up “toxic” mortgages and remove them from the bankers’ books, Barofsky notes. Some progressive Congressional Democrats reluctantly supported the plan for that reason. But by the time Congress finally approved the program, Paulson had already decided his original scheme would be too slow to provide the relief needed, and he therefore carved a $250 billion sub-program out of the original $700 plan to provide immediate infusions of cash to several of the biggest banks, without doing anything about their toxic mortgages.
When Congress howled in protest, Paulson insisted that the banks getting the money were healthy, and that the new funds would help spur them into lending money and restarting economic growth. But Paulson himself later admitted to him, according to Barofsky, that at least two of the banks getting the CPP money were believed ready to collapse, and as it turned out, the banks getting relief were still too uncertain about the economy’s health to lend out the funds they’d been given. Instead, they sat on them, for the sake of their own security, and the benefits to the economy were limited.
CPP and in a larger sense TARP, in short, were designed by Paulson to inject huge amounts of government money into the financial sector to prevent immediate economic Armageddon, and the assurances given to Congress and the public about relief for homeowners were just window dressing for this fact. This suggests that Kashkari may have been completely sincere in saying that Barofsky’s proposed anti-fraud safeguards for the bailout fund might have wrecked the entire financial sector. Treasury officials wanted to rescue the banks, period, without drawing anyone’s attention to their perilously fragile condition, Barofsky concludes; and naturally, they hated the idea of the Special Inspector General’s office drawing public attention to this.
Geithner apparently didn’t confide in Barofsky as Paulson allegedly did. But judging from Bailout’s narrative of the Geithner years, the Obama Treasury Department seems to have been motivated by the same fear of total collapse that apparently motivated Paulson and Kashkari.
The root problem, Barofsky argues late in this book, is that the US financial sector in 2008 really was dominated by a few giant banks and other financial institutions that were so entwined with one another and with other parts of the financial industry that they had become “too big to fail,” and both Bush Republicans and Obama Democrats deemed it urgently important to throw money at them to prevent that potential disaster – but without being candid with the voters or underwater homeowners that this was the government’s aim.
Since 2008 and the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, as Barofsky and many other commentators have noted, the largest banks have gotten even larger and more central to the financial sector than they were at the time of the last financial collapse. What’s more, the health of our capitalist U.S. economy depends in large part on private investors’ – whether wealthy individuals or large institutions— having the confidence (what Keynes once termed the “animal spirits”) to risk large sums on making new investments in production, distribution and exchange.
Having a financially fragile banking system – and what’s worse, having smart and aggressive regulatory officials from the government, like Barofsky in his tenure – publicly commenting on the system’s weakness is potentially fatal to investor confidence, as Barofsky comes close to admitting in this memoir.
What this suggests to many socialists, anyway, is that until we devise a somewhat different economic system with somewhat different arrangements for insuring investment and re-investment in the real economy, we can probably count on bailouts of this ilk being repeated, and Treasury officials lying to the public as this occurs.
The Washington Socialist <>December 2013
Some of the best articles (linkable, that is) we (and you) have run across since the last issue:
Fran Piven and Fred Block review the interplay of inequality and the Clinton-legacy welfare programs (plus some that are even older) in an article from DISSENT. They couch it as a letter to Hillary Clinton…
Recently discussion took place among some local members about the value of the Working Families Party, which is strongest in New York state and those other areas where fusion voting (candidates listed on more than one ballot line) is legal. Here, via Jacobin, is some further grist for the mill:
Here’s a slightly wonkish econ piece by a Bush economic advisor outlining some good elements of the Dodd-Frank law and some places to enhance it. It’s especially interesting on changes brought by Dodd-Frank that could improve the fairness of the future unthinkable – the next “too big to fail” bailout.
The NYT and WaPo had same-day articles on the impetus behind local and regional minimum-wage increase attempts.
And here’s one from AlterNet, more polemical, by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers:
Send us your nominees for “Good Reads” – to firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington Socialist for November 2013: Local labor action, distant DSA convention, strategic discussion, past injustice, future planning. Enough for ya?November 2nd, 2013 / Author: woodlanham
Welcome to the November edition of the Washington Socialist, monthly online newsletter of the DC Metro Democratic Socialists of America.
Metro DC DSA’s regular November membership meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 at a downstairs meeting room (A-9) at Watha T. Daniel/Shaw branch library, 1630 7th St NW, Washington, DC (map) and literally right next to the Shaw metrorail station. The steering committee meeting begins at noon; meeting is open.
Thursday, Nov. 21 visit the Socialist Salon at Hunan Dynasty on Capitol Hill, 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 6:30 p.m. Check our Meetup site for updates on all DSA meetings.
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Labor activity, some of an alt-labor flavor, erupted locally. Members of one union and one union-in-formation did job actions with impact in Montgomery County, striking recalcitrant and exploitative trash pickup contractors for the county. Montgomery’s reputation for progressive policies took a hit as it was apparent the county was hiding behind a contracting-out arrangement that kept workers well below the county’s own living-wage threshold. Both groups were back at work Oct. 30 with Unity workers gaining some traction on recognition.
No action, yet, in a budding set of disputes that DSA ally Jobs with Justice is engaged on: creeping privatization of public Metro transit through two ancillary services, MetroAccess and the Circulator. MetroAccess drivers have been trying for a new contract but getting heavy pushback from management; Circulator drivers are being harassed because they are protesting the poor management of the already-private contractor — unsafely maintained (or not maintained) vehicles as well as a push by Metro to expand the service area of the Circulator, the subsidized yuppie alternative, into traditional Metrobus routes. ATU local 689, representing the bulk of WMATA workers, has taken on privatization as well.
And Giant and Safeway workers in Local 400 UFCW see their contract expire pretty much as this newsletter gets to your boxes (midnight Oct. 31). UFCW off-duty workers and stewards have been passing out cards in front of many stores that patrons can sign and deliver to the customer service desk, indicating their support of a fair contract. When you go shopping today or in the future, check to see what’s going on and how you can support the workers. UPDATE 11/2/13 the contract was extended for two more weeks; negotiations continue.
While all this was going on in our backyard, national Democratic Socialists of America held a biennial convention in Emeryville, Calif. (Oakland) Oct. 24-27. A report is below.
As the convention approached, a selection of strategy documents from the past and present of DSA, the country’s largest socialist organization, was put out for consideration over the next two-year horizon to stimulate a new set of strategies for the strange and wondrous aspects of capitalist crisis that are coming to the fore. In these days of the Tea Party and the sluggish recognition of the collapse (three decades ago) of the post-WW2 Fordist moment, some of DSA’s principles are being tested as never before. Local co-chair Jose Gutierrez and steering committee member Andy Feeney have both made responses to specific documents in that collection. Read complete article (Gutierrez) Read complete article (Feeney)
As a local delegate, Andy Feeney has filed a report, as well, on major features of convention deliberations. Read complete article
We are seeing new examples every day of the undemocratic bias that has metastatized in what some still call the US criminal justice system. From the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer to the abusive treatment of Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the mechanics of oppression are illustrated in the behavior of courts and prosecutors. Kurt Stand outlines the internationally infamous case of the Cuban Five as a paradigm for understanding this institutionalized inequity, and traces the relations with other examples that make the system such a convenient tool for corporate capitalism and the national security state. Read complete article
The District of Columbia government’s colonial status in the halls of Congress brings many abuses of sovereign self-rule, but seldom more onorous or humliating than when the federal government is shut down by the likes of the Tea Party minority in the House Republican caucus. Bill Mosley outlines why the latest example of congressional oppression clarifies and intensifies the need for statehood – and liberation – for the District. Read complete article
Democrats of the progressive stripe in Northern Virginia have met to discuss some fightback measures in that GOP-haunted state. Could there be a chance for a recovery? Don’t count your Cuccinellis out quite yet, but hope springs eternal. Dan Adkins has an account of two such events. Read complete article
Congressional budget foibles come and go – and may come again as soon as December, if the latest version of the Supercommittee fails to agree on some modifications to the next tranche of sequestration. But outside that, Barack Obama has told SecDef Chuck Hagel to cut the Pentagon’s budget growth, and it’s actually happening. In Maryland, progressives hope to seize the opportunity offered by a potential for big losses of defense jobs there – legislation for a commission to plan the transition from Lockheed to sustainable green industries and the jobs and job skills to match. Woody Woodruff reports on the project, which would make the Free State the next pioneer back into industrial policy. Read complete article
Our November collection of “Good Reads” includes Brit comedian Russell Brand’s outrage-inducing piece in the New Statesman (he was a guest editor for a day), several non-optimistic articles on climate change (one from Jacobin, one from Naomi Klein), several more observations on the AFL-CIO’s move to include non-labor groups, and plenty of other goodies to be consumed when your Hallowe’en haul runs out. Read complete article
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The Washington Socialist <> November 2013
By Jose Gutierrez
Even though “Toward Freedom” is from the mid-1990′s, many passages from the document are relevant to the United States of 2013 and should be studied by DSA members.
I’ll mention some of the parts that I think we should discuss in the future
“Democratic Socialism does not rest upon one sole tradition: it draws upon Marxism, religious and ethical socialism, feminism, theories that critique human domination. Socialism is a choice, its vision never permanently secured.”
“Toward Freedom” argued in favor of the continued relevance of Marxism at a time when many thought it was not and instead celebrated “The End of History”.
The document also argued that even under worker self-management, there would be a need for political pluralism.
“Toward Freedom” argued that there would be areas of expertise and job specialization under socialism, but these matters should be decided democratically. The rotation of menial tasks, frequent sabbaticals, job retraining, a shorter work week, more leisure is also proposed.
The importance of a coalition strategy is emphasized.
The document argues that Marx was overly optimistic about the development of class consciousness.
It also argues that in no country has there been a mobilized, conscious majority for socialism and asks why.
The reasons for this lack of support are the association of socialism with authoritarian communism, the post World War II prosperity and welfare state and finally the possibility of a capital strike where new investment is withheld or flees countries. Chile under Salvador Allende and France under Francois Mitterrand are often mentioned as examples of a capital strike.
It is interesting to note that two of these factors are but a memory. The Soviet Union ceased to exist over twenty years ago, and the wage of the average American has stagnated since 1973. Perhaps this one of the reasons why opinion polls show increased support for socialism in the United States, in particular among young people.
A left coalition would need to bring together the working class, the middle strata, and unorganized clerical workers and service sector workers and would need to stress democratic control over consumption and social provision.
It is truer now than then that the middle class can’t afford health care, housing, education or child care.
Decommodification of these basic needs would be supported by progressive taxes and a reduction of military spending.
The importance of mass mobilization and democratic legitimacy is mentioned and that, as Rosa Luxembourg argued, after a revolution there should be a rapid restoration of civil liberties.
It is recognized by the writers of the document that capitalist democracy is not entirely bourgeois but not entirely democratic.
In the section of class consciousness and civil society the concept of counter hegemony which was developed by Antonio Gramsci, the Italian communist, is mentioned and analyzed.
There is a need for organizing the workplace, the neighborhood, the church, the synagogue, the mosque, the PTA.
There is a need for organizing in civil society, for cultural, educational, ideological work.
The writers propose a socialist globalization to replace neoliberal globalization.
The transition to socialism is likely to happen not at once but during a whole historical period, an era where there is a gradual displacement of capitalism and through worker buy outs, democratic control over pension funds and mandated worker and consumer representation on corporate boards.
As I wrote at the beginning much of it is relevant and thought provoking but it is up to us in the year 2013 to determine how the document can inform our actions and worldview.
The Washington Socialist <> November 2013
By Andy Feeney
Over the next few years, DSA’s national office and the members of our National Political Committee (NPC) would like members of the organization to study, debate and amend our organizational strategy, which was last significantly altered in 1998.
The need for such a rethinking of DSA strategy seem obvious, although the task of bringing our strategic and organizational ideas up to date with current realities is obviously a challenging one.
This article deals mainly with two documents considered for updating: “Building the Next Left: The Political Perspective of the Democratic Socialists of America,” and “Toward Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice.”
A Few Minor Changes That Have Occurred to the World Since Bill Clinton Held Office Back in 1998
A. Wars and Rumors of War
In the political economy of the United States and the world, as we all know, the last 15 years have featured some dramatic and often upsetting changes. These include – just for starters — the launching of two major US wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan; the traumatic events of 9/11/01 and the “war on terror” that flowed from them; the further flowering of the U.S. national security state under Bush as well as Obama, the massive expansion of government spying on the American public and the people of the world by the NSA, and the well-publicized rise of Al Qaeda as the supposed face of radical Islamic jihad across much of Africa and Asia.
B. Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America
Since the late 1990s the world has also witnessed the establishment of a “Bolivarian” revolution in South America championed by the late Cesar Chavez of Venezuela and kindred leftwing radicals in Bolivia and Ecuador.
C. “Re-Orienting” the Global Economy: China, Inc. and the Asian Tigers
The global capitalist marketplace meanwhile has been partly transformed by the continued economic expansion of China and its emergence as the second-largest economy in the world. The ongoing industrialization of India is promising to alter world market realities still further, as these two prominent Asian economies – accompanied to some degree by the smaller “Asian Tiger” economies of East and South Asia — shake off the memory of western imperial domination and resume what some historians believe was their status before 1750 – as the world’s leading export economies.
D. The Bush Revolution on the Supreme Court, and the Election of Obama
Just within the borders of the United States, meanwhile, politics since the 1990s have been radically changed by the appointment of two new conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court by George W. Bush, by the court’s subsequent overturning of legal restrictions on corporate political advocacy coupled with its recent weakening of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and by the election of the nation’s first non-white president — Barack Obama – along with a white backlash that has followed.
E. The Real Estate Speculation Bubble and the Onset of Global Economic Crisis
Over this same fairly brief span of time, both the U.S. and other western capitalist societies have been wracked by the puncturing of a huge global real estate investment bubble and collapse or near-collapse of major financial institutions – a shocking and potentially catastrophic economic event in 2007 and 2008 that then gave rise to a massive growth in government indebtedness, both in the US and in many leading market economies of Europe.
F. Government Debts and Financial Crisis in the Eurozone
As they have scrambled to take on corporate debt to prevent the further destabilizing of national economies, therefore, western governments in such places as Greece, Ireland, Iceland, and Spain have essentially collapsed or been replaced by the European authorities as the price of having their loan payment deadlines delayed by the bankers.
Many European nations and the U.S., to a lesser extent, have fallen into economic recession as this process has taken place.
G. The LGBT Revolution and Its Discontents, and the Immigration Question.
Meanwhile the US and several other western countries have experienced a cultural and legal revolution as the gay rights movement has increasingly won victories in the legal arena, even to the extent of advancing gay marriage in some states of the Union. The victories of the gay rights movement arguably have helped to feed the emergence of a homophobic and politically conservative religious right, although some observers think this anti-gay backlash is now diminishing a bit.
The US and most of the capitalist societies of Europe have meanwhile experienced a huge increase in immigration, both legal and undocumented, as well as the emergence of angry nativist movements aimed at combatting further immigration. The building of a huge anti-immigration wall along the Texas/ Mexican border and the recent acceleration of deportations of undocumented workers under the auspices of the Obama White House are partial testaments to the vehemence of that backlash.
Feeding both undocumented and document legal immigration to the US, meanwhile, has been an awkward side effect of NAFTA and other “free trade” treaties adopted with bipartisan support in the 1990s. As poor peasants in Mexico and Central America, in particular, have been displaced through the invasion of their national economies by large transnational corporations given new access to Latin markets by NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO), millions have been forced northward to look for work in the agricultural fields, meatpacking plants and many other industrial enterprises of the United States, putting the immigration controversy on the front pages.
H. Electronic Media and the Arab Spring Revolutions
The spread of “social” electronic media – Facebook, Twitter and the World Wide Web, plus the seemingly relentless ownership of cell phones – has significantly transformed common forms of human communication over this same period. Arguably the latest developments in electronic media, especially Twitter and Facebook, helped to foster the Arab Spring revolutions of a few years ago and the overthrow of repressive and dictatorial governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, among other places.
I. The Politics and Economics of Climate Catastrophe
Finally, as all of these social and political transformations, and others besides, have been changing the face of the United States and the world, the continued inability or unwillingness of most governments and large corporations to curb industrial emissions of CO2 and other “greenhouse” gases has pushed the planet further along the road to catastrophic climate change.
The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released last month, makes this clear. Many environmentalists and climate activists would point to last summer’s catastrophic floods in Colorado and equally disastrous wildfires in California as evidence that the IPCC’s conclusions are correct, and that they bode ill for human beings in many climate-sensitive parts of the world.
So What Needs to Change in DSA’s Strategic Vision?
Under these radically changing circumstances, how adequate is DSA’s basic strategy document that members debated and finally endorsed in the late 1990s?
After briefly reviewing two 1998 strategy documents, “Building the Next Left: The Political Perspective of the Democratic Socialists of America,” and “Toward Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice,” as part of a project by members of the Metro DC Dsa Steering Committee, I would argue that many key passages in these document are surprisingly contemporary in tone. However, many the more catastrophic events of the past 15 years have discouraged many DSA chapters from following them.
I think other findings of these documents either are less accurate than DSA members thought in the late 1990s, or that most DSA members have simply forgotten about them because they seemed too difficult to put into practice, leaving our organization in the embarrassing pickle of failing to practice what we preach.
I would also suggest that DSA’s relatively loose administrative structure and the freedom of individuals and chapters to depart at will from the national organization’s stated principles have made the more impressive and most controversial aspects of “Building the Next Left,” especially, much less important in practice than they undoubtedly seemed to many DSA activists at the time.
Even European Social Democracy Was “Obsolete,” DSA Activists Argued in 1998: Do Most DSA Members Today Still Agree?
One bold statement in “Building the Next Left” that some DSA members strongly agree with, for example, is that thanks in part to “the unbridled power of transnational corporations … Traditional left prescriptions [for political and economic change] have failed on both sides of the Communist / socialist divide.”
Or as the authors of “Building the Next Left” put it, “Global economic integration has rendered obsolete both the social democratic solution of independent national economies sustaining a strong social welfare state and the Communist solution of state-owned national economies fostering social development.”
Within the Metro DC chapter and around DSA, however, it is clear that many members still have considerable hope in the “social democratic solution of independent national economies sustaining a strong social welfare state.” We may have to admit that this solution seems to be failing miserably in Spain, for example, even when Spain is formally led by democratic socialist politicians, but many of us are not willing to concede that this “social democratic” answer has failed in – say, Germany or Scandinavia.
How do democratic socialists feel – and how should we feel – about using Scandinavian social democracy as our model for progressive politics in the U.S.? This is an issue that current DSA members need to debate and rethink, I would argue.
How Much Did DSA in the 1990s Still Believe in the Democrats? How Do Most DSAers Feel About This Today?
A second major theme of the 1998 strategy documents that leaps out – to me, anyway – is the decreased faith that the authors of “Building the Next Left” felt about working for change within the theoretical limits of New Deal liberalism or the political confines of the Democratic Party.
“Today,” the 1998 document states, “the mildly redistributive welfare state liberalism of the 1960s, which accepted the corporate dominance of economic decision-making, can no longer be the programmatic basis for a majoritarian progressive politics.
“New Deal and Great Society liberalism depended upon redistribution at the margins of an ever-expanding economic pie. But today corporations no longer aspire to expand production and consumption by raising global living standard; rather, global capital engages in a race to increase profits by “downsizing’ and lowering wages.”
Rather than calling for the reassembling of a Democratic majority politics characterized by “strong trade unions, social movements and urban, Democratic political machines,” the 1998 document argues, “a next left must be built from the bottom up.”
Has DSA since 1998 found any strategic success in rebuilding the left “from the bottom up,” I wonder?
How many newer members have joined DSA over the last two years mostly because they are still committed to the New Deal liberalism of the 1930s and the “mildly redistributive” politics of the 1960s Great Society (along with the expansion of civil rights for African Americans, women and gay people that has occurred since the 1960s), and hope that somehow, DSA can basically goad the Obama administration and the national Democratic Party to pursue a basically liberal and basically traditional agenda?
How many older DSA members still harbor hopes for the Democrats, if only out of horror at the damage that the victorious Republicans accomplished following George Bush’s dubious victory over Al Gore in 2001, and the onset of Republican war-mongering, Republican tax cuts for the wealthy and Republican attempts to privatize Social Security after 2001?
How many current DSA members still agree with the authors of the 1998 “Rebuilding the Left” document that democratic socialists can work either for third parties or for reform within the Democratic Party? For that matter, how many current DSA members, especially younger ones influenced by the Occupy movement, have given up hoping for reform through electoral politics at all?
A Road Not Taken: Global Solidarity to Combat the Might of Global Corporations
A striking theme of the 1998 strategy document is that thanks to the growth of transnational corporations, purely national approaches to social and economic progress are obsolete, that “today’s social movements must be as global as the corporate power they confront; they must cooperate across national boundaries and promote democratic regulation of transnational capital.”
Historically, the U.S. left seemed to be taking a major step in that direction with the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” protests and civil disobedience against the G-20 summit. Huge demonstrations here in Washington DC against the annual meeting of the IMF soon followed.
But in the wake of the World Trade Center bombings of Sept. 11, 2001 and the “war on terror” that followed, the international movement against corporate globalism seems to have faltered; at least, participation in it has become riskier for anti-corporate demonstrators, and the tactics employed by the Black Bloc anarchists at some of the latest anti-globalization protests have been controversial with liberals and probably with some democratic socialists.
How do most DSA activists feel today about international anti-global solidarity? Equally to the point, how much has DSA, either nationally or at the level of individual chapters, actually engaged in global solidarity work? If we chose to start acting on this principle from the 1998 strategy document, how should we do so?
Is a Global “Leveling” Up of Living Standards — And Also Resource Use — Still Feasible?
DSA in 1998 , in condemning the overseas outsourcing strategies of major corporations and the decreased U.S. living standards that resulted from them, called for socialists to fight for a “leveling up” of wages and living standards around the world. Fighting for rising standards for all was seen as the left’s only moral alternative to the global “leveling down” that the corporations were pursuing at the expense of American workers.
The political and moral logic of “leveling up” seems intuitively impeccable at first glance. But in a world of limited natural resources where the richest capitalist societies contribute disproportionately to problems like global climate change, most environmentalists agree that it would be catastrophic if all of the world’s peoples somehow, through whatever miracle, achieved the same levels of resource use and engaged in same kinds of consumerism that now characterize American society as a whole.
Obviously income distribution within any given capitalist society is important, and there are extremely poor people here in the US who still need to see their living standards and their wages improve. There are even more desperately poor people in many formerly colonized societies who need sharply increased living standards to achieve even minimal levels of human decency, and socialists need to fight for this.
But on a finite, if resource-rich, planet with finite reserves of non-renewable fossil fuels and metallic ores, and with finitely bounded natural systems that are essential to human civilization (examples include ocean fisheries, tropical and temperate forests, and productive soils that supply humanity with food), most environmental analysts argue that it is simply impossible for all 7 billion people on Earth to enjoy the same levels of resource use that the average American now enjoys.
If everyone on Earth could be “leveled up” to current U.S. levels of consumerism, the scientists warn, a single Planet Earth would be insufficient to support all of us; indeed, we would need to exploit two or three Earth-like planets to sustain the global population at current U.S. levels.
How should democratic socialists, both in the Metro DC area and nationwide, grapple with this dilemma imposed by the physical constraints of resource availability, while still supporting socialist and egalitarian values?
On “Economic Democracy” and the Solidarity Economy
For many of us familiar with the writings of the old Left, with the economic ideas of Marx, Lenin and even many of the European democratic socialists, a striking feature of the 1998 “Rebuilding the Left” document is its focus on “economic democracy” – on the idea of building the next left partly by supporting the idea of a mixed market and government economy coupled with the development of a strong sector of worker-owned businesses and cooperatives that could conceivably struggle to compete in such an economy and – over time – provide an alternative to large-scale corporate businesses that employ alienated labor.
A Metro DC “Socialist Salon” on David Schweickart’s notions of how such a system of “Economic Democracy” might be built provoked some sharp arguments within our chapter early in 2013, and it seems clear that some DSA members feel it would be a betrayal of “real socialism,” although other members support it.
How far should DSA go in promoting “Economic Democracy” in the future, and how should it be integrated – if it is integrated at all – into our other work for incremental economic reform on behalf of the unemployed, low-wage retail workers, labor organizing rights, and government spending on the poor and dispossessed under capitalism?
Also, what sense should DSA make – if any – of Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution, or the street fighting that has occurred in Spain and Greece against austerity policies dictated by stronger European economies and the financial industry?
How should democratic socialists incorporate into our thinking the perils and the political possibilities raised by the near collapse of the capitalist global banking system in 2007 and 2008, accompanied by what left economist David McNally says was a $20 trillion loss in paper economic value?
These are some of many questions that I argue for all DSAers, or at any rate, for the most committed among us, to be keeping in mind as we review DSA’s old strategy documents and engage in the long process of revising them. I hope that the Washington Socialist’s coverage of the strategy reassessment project will help people in the chapter to begin on that difficult but important task.