Night School

Socialist Night School

Learn and discuss the nature and tenets of socialist ideology, organizing, and action. These group discussions allow us to learn, coordinate, build on and discuss organizing a better future for all of us. Past presenters at the Socialist Night School have included Noura Erakat, Vijay Prashad, Grace Blakely, Bill Fletcher, Tim Shorrock, Daniel Denvir, Johanna Fernández and Sarah Jaffe. To contact us with questions or comments, to learn more about Socialist Night School, or to get support for your chapter’s political education, please email us at politicaleducation@mdcdsa.org.

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PAST SESSIONS

The Basics

What Is Socialism?

What is capitalism? What is socialism? How do DSA activities help us get there? How can you get involved in the DSA?

What Is Marxism?

A focus on the Marxist view of capitalism, how capitalist profit is rooted in the exploitation of labor, and the identification of class struggle.

What Is Neoliberalism?

The ascendance of neoliberalism into a hegemonic doctrine in global affairs is discussed in this globally minded session.

Socialists and the Labor Movement

This session explores the history and the present of socialist interactions with labor unions in the US.

Social Reproduction

The question of social reproduction is the question of how workers are reproduced in order to keep capitalism surging.

DC, Maryland, and Virginia Issues

DC Budget 101

The path to racial and economic justice in DC must go through the city budget. This session provided an introduction to the DC budget process, budget advocacy tips, and discuss how to improve the budget process in the future.

Right-to-work laws and Virginia Labor History

This session provided a brief overview of the history of labor in Virginia, from slavery, to Right to Work’s Jim Crow origins.

Uber and the Gig Economy

Learn more about Uber, the gig economy and how cities manage their place in global capitalism.

School Privatization in DC

In this session we explore the tactics and history of the corporate-funded political group Democrats for Education Reform, and the funding, spending, and influence that has allowed them to advance the school privatization project here in DC.

Greenbelt, MD: A New Deal Experiment in Social Housing

A history of a planned community on the radical edge of New Deal era housing programs. Resources page to come.

Mutual Aid + Policy Advocacy

What role does mutual aid serve? What is the role for policy change? Why do they need to work together to really get things done?

Sex Work Decriminalization

You will learn first-hand from sex workers and HIPS, alocal harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement group, through a Sex Work 101 presentation, a conversation debunking myths about sex work, and a Q&A session.

Seize the Means of Consumption - a harm reductionist fight for drug decriminalization

Come learn more about the War on Drugs, and the socialist arguments for why we need to decriminalize drugs and invest in a harm reduction approach in supporting the health and wellness of people who use drugs.

Internationalism

Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement

The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST or Landless Workers’ Movement) is a Marxist movement which provides access to land for poor workers while simultaneously attacking income inequality, racism, and sexism.

The US-China Cold War

A resource on how to understand U.S.-Chinese relations, how they are rooted in growing dysfunctions of the neoliberal global order, and how socialists in the U.S. should oppose this new Cold War.

Sanctions as War

The impact of sanctions on civilian populations and how sanctions are not an alternative to war.

The US Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Mainstream depictions of the world’s first use of nuclear weapons paint it is a military necessity. In fact, it was a political decision on the part of US leaders. Peter Kuznick discusses the decision to use the atomic bomb, its impact, and the ramifications of this decision 75 years later.

A Socialist Response to COVID

This session explores how a socialist government has responded to COVID in India.

Ending the War in Yemen

The war in Yemen is one of the world’s most pressing crises right now, having intensified in March 2015 when a U.S.-supported Saudi-led coalition intervened against Houthi rebels aligned with the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Ending Vaccine Apartheid
The global COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequalities of capitalism. Nowhere has this been more transparent than the inequalities to vaccine access between the Global North and the Global South. This session features Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla is a member of the Cabinet of Progressive International and leads its policy pillar, Blueprint.
Palestine and BDS 101

Why is Palestine a socialist issue? This panel contextualized the recent uprisings of Palestinians in response to the escalation of violence and dispossession in Jerusalem, covering the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and what we as socialists can do to support Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality.

Puerto Rico's Fight Against Colonialism

The struggle of the Puerto Rican people has its roots in the colonialist relationship it has been forced into by the United States. This is an essential part of the vision the US had when invading in 1898 and its evolution ever since. We will cover important events and of this colonial history and how these have affected Puerto Rico, the internal resistance against imperialism, and the ultimate goal of independence.

Where Does Brazil Go Now?

Sabrina Fernandes and Andre Pagliarini led a conversation about the campaign and its implications, Brazilian history, the left, and possible futures for Latin America’s largest nation.

Policing and Prisons

Immigration Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System

A brief history of U.S. immigration enforcement leading up the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. This session examines some contemporary policies and programs intersecting immigration enforcement and the criminal justice system, and discusses some of the relevant data sources.

Police Abolition

In the wake of continuing protests in response to the police murder of George Floyd, we invite all MDC DSA comrades to join us for an emergency Social Night School on police abolitionism.

State Repression of Dissent

The history of repression of dissent and the US left, focusing largely on the role of the FBI in conducting political surveillance.

Police, Police Unions and Racial Capitalism

In the wake of protests against police violence and calls to defund the police, a major obstacle opposing any and all reform or even criticism, are police unions. How do police operate as political actors? What is the role of police unions in preventing reform? How can we address policing when police and their unions wield such power?

Immigration and Abolition

In this session, we explore the connections between the criminal punishment system and the immigration enforcement system.

National Issues

The Healthcare Fallout

We discuss the inadequacies of our health care system, how the pandemic exacerbates it, and how to organize to fight for a single-payer system.

Rent Strike!

What are tenants doing to fight for their homes in the middle of pandemic, and how does it fit with historical tenant struggles?

Work, Love, and Capitalism

You’re told that if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Whether it’s working for “exposure” and “experience,” or enduring poor treatment in the name of “being part of the family,” all employees are pushed to make sacrifices for the privilege of being able to do what we love.

Reconstruction and Democracy in the South

The Reconstruction era represents America’s first attempt at multiracial democracy. Why did this valiant attempt end so abruptly? What was acheived, and what lessons can we draw from this experience for the 21st century? A session led by Robert Greene II, an Assistant Professor of History at Claflin University.

Sanctions as War

The impact of sanctions on civilian populations and how sanctions are not an alternative to war.

Ecosocialism and the Green New Deal

Ecosocialism is a framework for combining insights from the rich tradition of Marxist social analysis with scientific knowledge of our biosphere. How does ecosocialism help us understand how capitalism and overlapping systems of oppression fuel the kinds of extraction that now undermine basic systems of life on Earth?

Technology and Inequality

Why do we keep trying to solve poverty with technology? A new book by Dan Greene, The Promise of Access, shows why it is so hard to get rid of the idea—which he terms the access doctrine—that the problem of poverty can be solved with the right tools and the right skills.

Abortion and Reproductive Justice

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to strike down Roe, and Republicans in many states legislating ever more restrictive abortion laws, join us for a teach in on abortion and reproductive justice. What were the limits of Roe and of the choice framework?

Demystifying the Federal Reserve

Historian and Writer Tim Barker details how the Federal Reserve works, with an emphasis on its key functions and the class dynamics of how the Fed’s policies affect workers and the world economy.

Socialist History

A Radical History of the Young Lords

The Young Lords were an explicitly socialist organization led predominantly by poor and working-class Puerto Rican youth. Their history is recounted in this session.

The Alabama Communist Party

Beginning in the 1930s, organizers in Alabama were able to build a majority-Black Communist Party that fought to free the Scottsboro boys and organize sharecroppers despite police violence, mob violence, and deeply entrenched racism that posed a real barrier to workers’ solidarity.

The Anticommunist Crusades

Journalist Vincent Bevins discusses his new book, The Jakarta Method. In 1965, the U.S. government helped the Indonesian military kill approximately one million innocent civilians, eliminating the largest communist party outside China and the Soviet Union.

Eugene Debs and American Socialism

In a conversation with Jacobin’s Shawn Gude, this Socialist Night School session will explore the life of Debs, his vision of socialism, how it was tied to his commitments to democracy and internationalism, and why it still matters today. 

Stayed on Freedom

The Black Power movement, often associated with its iconic spokesmen, derived much of its energy from the work of people whose stories have never been told. Stayed On Freedom brings into focus two unheralded Black Power activists who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom.

Next Shift

Gabriel Winant takes us inside the Rust Belt to show how America’s cities have weathered new economic realities.