APRIL 3, 2020
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Comrades, it’s time for some internal democracy – another annual chapter-wide election! It’s an important time when you and yours get to set the agenda for the chapter. We will be holding elections for Secretary, Treasurer, and At-Large Steering Committee Members. Nominations are now open for two weeks. A complete timeline can be found here. Discussion or questions about this can be brought to the #2020-steering-election Slack channel, or directed to the Temporary Elections Working Group (@Zach E, @Liz, @cmdownes) or at email@example.com –Zach E, Secretary
NoVA: Migrant Justice, Mutual Aid in COVID-19 Emergency Comrades, the situation in Virginia regarding migrant justice and mutual aid is changing quickly in response to COVID-19 and job losses, with our communities being hit hard. There are direct ways for people to get involved in efforts with the chapter and allied organizations.
The Northern Virginia branch of Metro DC DSA has signed onto a set of principles and demands on federal, state, and local officials regarding: free and universal healthcare, economic support, canceling rent, and freeing incarcerated and detained people. Join the #northern-virginia and #nova-migrantjustice Slack channels if you’d like to get more involved.
Regarding mutual aid and rent from our allied organizations:
- LaColectiVA, International Mayan League, and SURJ NoVA are collecting donations and distributing food/supplies to impacted communities throughout NoVA. There is a sign-up form for critical support (deliveries and translation) and links to donate here.
- New Virginia Majority is circulating a petition to cancel rent and evictions, and for longer-term relief. Tenants and allies in Virginia can sign onto the petition here.
- Tenants and Workers United has started a fund to help directly impacted members in Alexandria/Arlington purchase basic essentials, and have been asking for others who can volunteer from home to contact them as well.
Regarding freeing people who are incarcerated and detained:
- On Thursday we learned that at the ICA-Farmville detention center in Virginia, there are already COVID-19 cases reported, and detainees have started a hunger strike. Sanctuary DMV sent an urgent set of actions for people to take, and we expect more in the upcoming days.
- Detention Watch Network held a digital week of actions starting on March 30th to #FreeThemAll. The day-by-day breakdown is here; this is continually being updated and there are actions still on Friday and Saturday this week. *–Kaiser F**
The Washington Socialist As you’ll see in detail below, this April newsletter features these articles:
- “On Capitalism, Socialism, and Coronavirus”
- “Reject the Return”
- “The Tyrant Virus: Reconceiving the Right to Assembly”
- “Fear at Work”
- “The (Incomplete) Triumph of Harringtonism”
- “Reflections from the Past: 1985”
We are happy to announce a new web-page which displays all articles and updates in this edition of The Washington Socialist. We are still in the process of uploading older editions to the webpage; however this new directory will organize posts by month.
Online Agitation: Here is a petition draft from the DC Tech Workers Coalition along with the Athena organization to support poorly protected Amazon workers.
National DSA has issued this petition frontlining our national set of “people before profits” demands in the official response to COVID-19.
UNITE HERE Local 23 represents the concessions workers who serve the Wizards, Capitals, and Nationals fans at Capital One Arena and Nationals Park. The suspension of many sporting events, while the right thing to do, is creating a tremendous hardship on these hard-working people, many of whom are themselves die-hard fans of the team and have enjoyed working at games for decades. The concessions workers at Capital One Arena and Nationals Park are loyal workers and loyal fans, and deserve to be paid for missed games so that they can survive in this difficult time. Can you join us in demanding that concession workers receive regular paychecks for the home games they will miss as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak? ➡️ Support workers at Nationals Park ➡️ Support workers at Capital One Arena – Nikko Bilitza, DC Jobs With Justice
From DC JwJ - On Monday April 6 at 1:00 PM, learn about the Reclaim Rent Control campaign and how it can help you! Learn about Hardship Petitions! Our platform proposes narrowing the scope of hardship petitions (so landlords can’t poor-mouth the city and get unmerited rent increases), staggering allowable rent increases, and making increases temporary rather than permanent. This one-hour webinar will take you through the details so that it won’t be hard for you to right the ship when it comes to landlord petitions! Join us for this one hour webinar. Register here!
**Pod Mapping: Organizing your community during COVID: TODAY - **Friday, April 3 at 6:00 PM. Are you a resident council or tenant association leader? Are you deeply connected to you neighborhood and want to learn about how to protect your community during these times? Then join the DC Mutual Aid Network Virtual Teach in on Pod Mapping.
You can join online with this link, or dial in by phone at 415-762-9988 (meeting id #: 9944737) or dial in by phone at 415-762-9988 (meeting id #: 9944737)
DCNA demands DOH test nurses exposed to COVID-19 - “Blatantly irresponsible” and “dangerous.” That’s what the District of Columbia Nurses Association (DCNA) is calling the D.C. Department of Health’s failure to test all health care personnel who have been exposed to patients or staff. “A patient at United Medical Center in southeast D.C. has died from COVID -19, and another patient at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital tested positive for the virus,” said DCNA. “In both cases, DC Health refused to test the nurses and other hospital staff who cared for the patients, thus jeopardizing not only their health, but the health of other staff members at the hospitals and their families.” At Howard University Hospital, a nurse died from coronavirus last Friday. He was the first member of DCNA and National Nurses United to succumb to COVID-19, and DCNA Executive Director Edward Smith warned that “If an inordinate number of clinicians become ill in the District, it will result in a tremendous strain on D.C. hospitals to deliver care during this crisis, and we don’t want that to occur in the nation’s capital.” *—- From the Metro DC Labor Council’s Union City Thursday, April 2**
DC voters can now request mail-in ballots for the (delayed to June 2, at this point) DC primary election, involving not only the presidential primary but DC Council candidates including our endorsed Ward 4 candidate Janeese Lewis George. DC has no-excuse absentee voting, but the absentee ballot request deadline is 7 days before the election.
The Socialist Night School session “What is Marxism?” took place virtually on Monday evening (March 30) and was conducted by our comrades Chip Gibbons and David Kaib, with viewer questions handled at the finale. But through the magic of live-streaming members can still check the 1-½ hour session out on demand here.
ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE OF THE WASHINGTON SOCIALIST
What’s in the April Washington Socialist? Nearly all our articles this month are about COVID-19 and a left/socialist response, no surprise. But if you can remember life before COVID-19 (those memories fade fast) we have two historical pieces as well.
Leading our novel coronavirus coverage is Andy Feeney’s take on COVID-19 and capitalism, tracing the materialist history of capitalist social structure that leaves urbanized societies sitting ducks for fast-spreading contagion due to inequality and the prioritizing of accumulation over preparation.
Gary Z tracks the way that the capitalist practices that gripped us through workplace and consumer marketplace are totally upended by COVID-19’s effects, and makes the case that the last thing we need is a return to that market-dominated, austerity-fetishizing version of “normal.”
Woody Woodruff explores the modes of response to the health-economic crisis in left organizations – inward-facing protection and care, outward-facing alertness to organizing paths – as the pandemic illuminates the weaknesses of capitalism.
Kurt Stand provides a meditation on the way sureties in a workplace break down, shard by shard, as the pandemic advances – shattering the human routines but potentially sharpening solidarity.
And socialist history:
From the 1985 local chapter’s Democratic Socialist, a lengthy interview with legendary labor organizer Victor Reuther, in whose radical family socialism was always at the breakfast table.
Longtime member and contributor Bill Mosley outlines and contextualizes the high tide of DSA’s efforts to become a reforming movement within the Democratic Party, during the 1980 election – a paradigm of a debate that has continued in the organization ever since.
Previously Published in Updates during March, Kurt Stand’s teasing out of radical threads in Women’s History Month, and NoVA comrade Eric S’s account of Bernie Sanders’s rally in Springfield, Va. on February 29 – one of the last public events in the primary campaign before the pandemic ended them.
MDC DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR APRIL
Sunday, APR 5 | 2:00 PM MoCo DSA General Branch Meeting Virtual session, Zoom Meeting
Monday, APR 6 | 6:30 PM
Socialist Night School: Sanctions as a US Weapon
Virtual session, Zoom Meeting TBD
Monday, APR 10 | 7:00 PM
A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal - DC Book Launch
Adapted to a virtual panel discussion, Zoom Meeting
Thursday, APR 23 | 7:00 PM
NOVA Branch DSA Organizing Meeting
Likely virtual, Zoom Link TBD
Our chapter’s website hosts a specific page dedicated to compiling news, resources and links to external support networks during the COVID-19 emergency. This page will be continuously updated. Propose additional resources for the page at our #publications Slack channel.
Because we are all Zooming now, the Metropolitan Labor Council’s newsletter Union City has passed along a primer from Wired magazine on how to trouble-shoot everything from your own device in Zoomland to human interactions in virtual meetings. It is, of course, titled “OK Zoomer.”
PUBLICATIONS SCHEDULE: Updates for April will be published Fridays April 10, 17 and 24 and the May Day issue of the Washington Socialist will be published Friday, May 1 – article deadline will be Saturday, April 25.
We at the Publications WG and Tech Tools Central are happy to announce that we have redesigned our MDC DSA website and will be using this as a template going forward. The website is designed to be more succinct and static. The goal is to help establish a clear digital presence for both our membership base and the communities we engage in at large. We hope all MDC DSA members feel like they have input into the design and structure of the site. We welcome all comments, questions, or observed issues with the new site from members. Much of the site is still a work in progress - so please excuse errors; but please send notices through the Red Desk or notify us in our #publications slack channel.
Like all our working groups, the Pubs WG needs pitch-in from members: writing on subjects close to our socialist hearts (including what your WG/caucus/campaign has been doing or plans to do); editing, design, creating ‘zines and one-off flyers for our work, and doing website work to keep our MDC DSA profile on the new site dynamic. So fill out our contributor’s form and we’ll be in touch. Our new website and new chapterwide email launcher are now live.
What does the MDC DSA local chapter do, week in and week out?
See our working groups, caucuses and campaigns in the DMV here.
What can I find out from MDC DSA Slack and how do I join?
Many of our campaigns, working groups and caucuses keep the conversation going between meetings on our MDC DSA Slack platform. If you are a DSA member in good standing and aren’t on our Slack you may not be getting the full picture about the rich array of activities suggested in the chapter structure link above. To get on Slack, use the email by which DSA knows you and request access from firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week’s Update (March 27) sported an extra-rich Good Reads full of COVID-19 left perspectives; if you missed some, here’s the lot.
How a Crazy Corporate Debt Buildup Multiplies the Economic Impact of COVID-19, and Why Public Controls Must Accompany the Fed’s Rescue of the Financial Sector. The coronavirus epidemic threatens the world economy with a deep depression or worse, [Christian Parenti and Dante Dallavelle write] in a new issue of Jacobin. Why? The huge, irresponsible increase in corporate debt that’s occurred in the wake of the measures that governments took to end the 2008 financial crisis is a major factor making the risks of COVID-19 economic breakdown so bad today. After central banks in the US and elsewhere reduced short-term interest rates to a minimum after 2008, to restart economic growth following the financial crash (and as some European countries drove down interest rates to below zero), big corporations embarked on an orgy of stock buybacks and mergers and acquisitions financed by a crazy buildup in corporate debt. Now, Parenti and Dallavalle warn, an enormous amount of that debt could go into default as the coronavirus crisis disrupts global supply chains and devastates consumer demand, threatening indebted companies if not entire industries with collapse.
The Federal Reserve in the past weeks has moved rapidly to pour trillions of dollars into credit markets to keep corporate debts from cratering the US economy. But the Fed’s heroic rescue measures alone can’t keep the corporations and the financial industry, for the benefit of their wealthiest shareholders, from engaging in exactly the same sorts of shenanigans that will trigger another, similar crisis in the future. “A replay of the 2008 bailout, which involved lots of public money but very little public regulation and planning, will only mean a long slump followed by a bubble for the rich,” Parenti and Dallavalle warn. Far more public oversight and regulation are needed, in the interests of financial stability as well as justice. A version of the article is also accessible here. –Andy Feeny
TX to our TX (Houston) comrade Dr. Bob Buzzanco for this tip: William I Robinson argues that overaccumulation has left the world exposed to greater crises after shocks such as the coronavirus. These crises can be opportunities either for the far right, or a struggle from below to create socialism.
Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman point out the US “free market, employ at will” ideology is so ingrained in policy makers, they are going to let the fabric of the economy die instead of freezing it in an induced coma until it’s safe for people to leave their homes. “In Europe, people will be able to return to work, as if they had been on a long, government-paid leave.”
Righteous assertion of the publicness of essential utilities in The Hill, op-ed co-authored by Thea Riofrancos, who was among the authors of A Planet to Win (See April 10 book launch in the MDC DSA Calendar).
Economist Richard D. Wolff of Democracy at Work in “Coronavirus: A Capitalist Crisis” says “the catastrophe demonstrates the results when public health is subordinate to private profit and to a governmental apparatus that adulates the superiority of private over public administration. …Will so huge a failure finally tip U.S. ideology and politics in favor of socializing health care?” It’s in Dollars and Sense and Portside.