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This episode explores a perennial issue for socialist labor organizing, namely how to approach sexism, racism, and other violations of civil rights. When and how should unions fight against these violations for their own sake, rather than as strictly workplace issues? My guest is Lisa Xu, a member of Boston DSA and previously co-chair of its Labor Working Group. Xu is also a member of the Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color caucus. She is currently a staff organizer for Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD), a rank-and-file caucus in the UAW led primarily by auto workers with growing support in other sectors of the union. UAWD is fighting to pass a union-wide referendum vote later this year on adopting direct elections of its International Executive Board, otherwise known as "One Member, One Vote." You can find links in the show notes. She was also formerly a member of and staff organizer for UAW Local 5118, the Harvard Graduate Students Union.
Auto manufacturers in Detroit in the 1960s were among the largest private employers of Black workers. In 1969, black auto workers created the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. In this episode, Jerome Scott, a founding member of the LRBW, tells us about its motivations and accomplishments, why it was Black workers who began these revolutionary union movements, and how highly they valued political education and analysis.  Jerome Scott is a member of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, and a founding director of Project South Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide. He is a founding member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.  Further reading:
We discuss specific demands socialists should make of the Biden administration with regard to climate change, and the administration’s potential responsiveness, or “push ability” as Riofrancos calls it. More generally, we consider the differences between the U.S.’s two major political parties on climate change: how large and significant are these differences? Riofrancos also describes her research on the extraction of lithium, a key component of rechargeable batteries, and the political challenges this extraction poses for the left. Thea Riofrancos is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Providence College, and has served as visiting researcher in universities in Chile and Ecuador. She is the author of Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador (Duke University Press, 2020), and co-author of A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso Books, 2019). Riofrancos is also an organizer with the Ecosocialist Working Group of the Democratic Socialists of America, DSA. 
The 2020 Presidential election in the U.S. shows that the country’s electoral politics has entered a period of open “regime contention” between the two major political parties. One of these parties is coalescing around a nakedly anti democratic and racist resolve to subvert the electoral process by any means necessary.  Neither of them is interested in actually deepening mass political involvement. I discuss these developments with Amel Ahmed, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is author of “Democracy and the Politics of Electoral System Choice: Engineering Electoral Dominance” (Cambridge University Press, 2013). In a new book-length project, entitled Conflict and Cooperation: Institutional Sequencing and Regime Stability in Early Democratizers, she examines the long-term impact of institutions on democratic stability. Capitol Siege panel: Capital Siege footage:
We continue our “counter-inauguration” event with organizers from the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA. This second half presents the Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus, who point out the racial discrimination inherent in the very first 100 Days programs announced by FDR, the Green New Deal campaign, which asserts the importance of organized labor in addressing climate change, and the International Committee, which enumerates specific socialist demands to curtail U.S. imperialism. DSA: Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color: Ecosocialists and Green New Deal: International Committee:
Season 3 opens with an exercise in socialist imagination with organizers from the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA. A few days after Biden’s inauguration, we held our own counter-inauguration laying out our alternative‘100 Days’ program. This is not purely a speculative exercise—the extent to which Biden’s presidency goes beyond a “return to normal” will depend crucially on the left’s ability to mobilize around some of the demands and aspirations you’ll hear in this episode. Part 1: DSA’s National Political Education Committee, the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC) and the Socialist Feminist working group. Political Education: Democratic Socialist Labor Commission: Socialist Feminism Working Group: Soc Fem Day School:   GND: Join the DSA Labor Commission & Green New Deal campaign in organizing to win the PRO Act (in the actual first 100 days)! DSA’s ecosocialist Green New Deal principles: YDSA: ! International Committee: Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus:  
Should socialists in the U.S. be involved in electoral politics, and how? This episode looks at left and socialist involvement in the electoral politics of Rhode Island with Mie Inouye, PhD candidate at Yale University in Political Theory, and co-founder and Membership Coordinator of Reclaim Rhode Island. Mie is also co-chair of the Rhode Island chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color caucus. Reclaim RI offers a concrete example of socialists engaging with state budgets and elections to win specific campaigns and also communicate with people who would otherwise have little contact with left politics. 
Even after Trump, the Republican Party will remain a powerful institutional base for the far right in the U.S. We cannot take on the far right without taking on the Republican Party. How we do this without compromising our independence as socialists will be a defining challenge over the next few years.
Sweden guarantees health care as a constitutional right, and its citizens have generally followed their national health experts’ guidelines during the pandemic. And yet the infection and death rates per capita in Sweden are shockingly similar to those in the U.S. Stellan Vinthagen, Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance, Professor of Sociology at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, explains why. His latest book is Conceptualizing Everyday Resistance (Routledge, 2020). Vinthagen has been active in several environmental, peace and migrants’ rights movements since 1980, and was one of the initiators of the Swedish Ship to Gaza 2008, a coalition member of the Freedom Flotilla.
In their series ‘A people of color’s history of DSA,’ Alyssa de la Rosa and David Roddy present a detailed account of the role played by socialists of color in the DSA from its very origins. You’ll find this episode most useful as a supplement to their work (linked below). Alyssa De La Rosa has been a member of Sacramento DSA since 2016, and a Co-founder of the chapter’s Racial Solidarity Committee. David Roddy has been a Member of Sacramento DSA since 2009, a former member of DSA’s National Political Committee, and Western Regional YDSA organizer. He also hosts the leftist podcast Sh!t gets weird. Part-1-Socialism-race-and-the-formation-of-DSA/ Part-2-DSA-enters-the-80s/ Part-3-DSA-and-the-first-rainbow-coalition/ Part-4-DSA-Looks-Inward/ Cornel West, "Toward a socialist theory of racism' Joseph Shwartz, A history of DSA, 1971-2017 
Few people better understand the dynamics of crises in the U.S. political establishment than my guest for this second of two election special episodes. Cedric de Leon is director of the Labor Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His long resume as a labor activist includes campaigns with the United Farm Workers in Connecticut and California, SEIU in Providence, and the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan. De Leon is also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. His latest book Crisis: When political parties lose the consent to rule, compares the current dynamics within and between the two parties to those that led to the Civil War. De Leon defines a “crisis of hegemony” as a historical moment in which parties disintegrate into factions, and the people withdraw their consent to be governed by the political establishment. As socialists we need to pay close attention to the fractures within both parties over the next few years. 
In the first of two special election-related episodes this week, I talk with Vivek Chibber. You may already be familiar with Chibber’s popular pamphlets called ‘The ABCs of capitalism.’ In this episode I asked Chibber to expand on these, taking the “why” of class struggle as a given, but venturing into questions of who, where and how. We also discuss the stakes in the upcoming election. Finally we talk about Chibber’s forthcoming book on “the cultural turn” in Marxism, in particular the idea of ‘whiteness.’ Vivek Chibber is Professor of Sociology at New York University and editor of Catalyst, which is published by Jacobin. He is the author of several books, including two due next fall, which we discuss here. The ABCs of Capitalism  
To help us make sense of Marx’s Capital, and therefore capitalism, Hadas Thier has just published the book ‘A people’s guide to capitalism: An introduction to Marxist economics.’ Its fresh, contemporary prose makes Marx’s concepts more accessible without sacrificing their depth. In this episode we discuss the continued relevance of the concept of ‘surplus value,’ which occupies much of the first volume of Capital. Hadas Thier is a member of the New York City branch of DSA. She writes for Jacobin, In these Times and other publications. Like many New Yorkers, she is also a mother struggling with issues of child care and schooling during the pandemic.    
Gindin calls on us to transform America whatever the outcome of the U.S. election. We discuss socialist visions, Syriza, racial solidarity in the U.S., and the need for widespread socialist education. Sam Gindin has served as director of research for the Canadian Auto Workers union from 1974 to 2000, and Visiting Packer Chair in the political science department at York University. With co-author Leo Panitch, who appears on an earlier episode of this podcast, he has written extensively about the U.S. state’s role in globalizing neoliberalism. Most recently, he co-authored The Socialist Challenge Today: Syriza, Corbyn and Sanders. He is also a contributing editor of the Socialist Register.
The Trump administration’s naked callousness poses a unique challenge for socialists in the U.S. We’ve accurately described the Democrats’ betrayal of workers, their complicity in the unraveling of welfare and in the sharp increase in income inequality. So now we're finding it hard to assess the differences between the two parties that really matter. But this is just as much our responsibility as is laying bare the limits of bourgeois democracy. Here’s my case for why socialists should organize to defeat the Trump administration in November, with incidental birdsong. Comments welcome Covid mortality projection  Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Leo Panitch died recently of covid complications. A few months ago we discussed two issues which Panitch studied and wrote about for decades. First, whether the pandemic has fundamentally altered the geopolitical balance between the U.S. and other great powers, specifically China. And second, how socialists in the U.S. should approach the November elections. Panitch connected the two issues with his usual depth and historical rigor, qualities not always evident in the left discourse on these questions. He will be deeply missed. Leo Panitch was Professor Emeritus of Politics at York University in Toronto. He was co-editor of the Socialist Register and author of several books, most recently Searching for Socialism: The Project of the Labour New Left from Benn to Corbyn, co-authored with Colin Leys and published by Verso. Bernie Sanders' speech at DNC 2020 Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, "Trumping the Empire," Socialist Register 2019.  Leo Panitch, "Class theory for our time," Catalyst 2020.
This podcast began during the summer with the premise that the mass death, disease and economic misery caused by the pandemic are themselves political forces. Now, as summer dissolves into fall, these forces are converging with the most consequential struggle for state power in recent U.S. history. My starting point for this second season of the podcast is that we, as socialists in the U.S., have to grasp both the promise and peril of this convergence. To the themes of the first season—labor, unions, protest, socialist education—the fall edition adds electoral strategy, a closer look into the connections between race and class in the U.S., and the pandemic’s impact in other countries. 
This short talk provides one explanation of the term “democratic socialism.” I presented this talk at a regional political education training event in June conducted by DSA’s National Political Education Committee. The talk is best used in conjunction with the specific readings we used, linked below. 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights, from the Bernie Sanders platform; What is Democratic Socialism?, Neal Meyer, Jacobin, July 2018; Building Socialism from Below: Popular Power and the State, Ben Tarnoff, Socialist Forum, 2018
Rachel Himes is an organizer with NYC-DSA who coordinated the chapter's Bernie campaign, worked on its recent, successful campaigns for state senate and assembly, and is active in the chapter's Defund NYPD campaign. Himes is beginning a PhD program in Columbia's Department of Art History and Archeology. Himes assesses the state of the movement in the city, differences between this summer’s protests against the police and earlier ones, and the role socialists should play in this struggle.  
Doug McAdam is emeritus professor of Sociology at Stanford University and author or co-author of 18 books and articles on race in the U.S., American politics, and the study of social movements. These include the 2014 book Deeply Divided: Social Movements and Racial Politics in Post-War America, co-authored with Karina Kloos. McAdam places this summer’s protests in the context of the regional shifts since the 1950s within and between the Democratic and Republican parties. Race is the fault line of these movements. The Cold War also makes an appearance, as it did in the earlier conversations with Cedric Johnson. We talk also about the possible role of political polarization in the U.S. in the country’s growing income inequality.
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