Welcome to the February 2018 issue of the Washington Socialist

What’s On in February




The YDSA Conference at AU approaches; can you offer housing? //General Body Meeting is Sunday, Feb. 11 // DC Comprehensive Plan under attack from developers; WG meets tomorrow, Coalition Feb. 10 // Four meetings tomorrow (Sat Feb. 3): Migrant Justice; IOC; Stomp Out Slumlords, Comp Plan WG. See listings here. // Four articles, three book reviews and Good Reads in this issue; links are below //




Strange Days

It’s always an uneasy time to be a socialist under capitalism, but these are really strange times.

Those who remember the bad old days of COINTELPRO, the surveillance program that targeted nonviolent opponents of national policies like Reagan’s Contras and Central America policies, can only wonder at the way the FBI today represents the bulwark of the rule of law against a manifestly lawless administration and Republican leadership in the House.

As we know, the law and US Constitution underpinning it are oriented toward the monument known as Property, and law enforcement at street level is focused on maintaining the kind of order that ensures that property is finally more important than liberty (ask the J20 defendants). Despite Trump’s persona based on the faux ownership called naming rights to bricks and mortar, the current debate over the law has oddly levitated itself above questions of acreage and air rights.
When has a president ever tested the boundaries and consequences of patently lawless behavior to this extent? Nixon said “I am not a crook,” one thinks, because he genuinely thought crookedness was not in the reach of presidents by their nature. Trump appears to be asserting that crookedness is OK once you have slipped through the Window of Ignorance into the White House, and dares conventional law to contradict him.

Trump is in the conventional sense suborning a violation of the Espionage Act by inviting the House Intelligence Committee to send him their take (including classified details) on how the FBI used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s authority to surveille a Trump minion who is being investigated by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.

The notion of rooting for the FBI-as-victim is kind of repulsive but don’t be surprised to find it invading your thoughts.

These GOP morons are the same people who have been howling for Hillary Clinton to be locked up because she, in using a private server, may have risked exposing classified information – and now marching lockstep down Pennsylvania Avenue waving classified information for all to see, on purpose and knowingly, Espionage Act be damned.

Eugene V. Debs was charged and convicted under that same Espionage Act just four months short of a hundred years ago for speaking against World War I, to the Wilson Administration’s lasting shame. As we know, he ran for president while in prison and won nearly a million votes. 

As socialists, our perspective on the law is that it protects the haves and pursues the have-nots in times when capitalist practices are rolling along undisturbed. By the tenets of “disaster capitalism,” in disruptive times this rule of thumb separates the classes even more widely. Trump, the disruptor President, is opening a different window into how the law works when authority itself is openly,. not covertly, lawless.

The outcome bids fair to be unusual and we had better be ready to take advantage of it as best we can.


Articles in this issue

What you’ll find in February’s number: The sleazy side of Francis Scott Key; more on “The Mud This Time;” China-US low intensity trade conflict; how Maryland criminalizes poverty; reviews of Forman’s Locking Up Our Own, Rothstein’s The Color of Law and Bray’s Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, plus Good Reads.


MDC DSA Notes and Actions

YDSA Convention looms — the MDCDSA chapter will be hosting YDSA comrades for their YDSA Conference February 16-18. Hundreds of YDSA members will explore thought and action for the current crisis and opportunities. We’re organizing a phonebank to call MDCDSA members and ask them to volunteer housing, if they’re able. Let us know what time works for you by filling out this poll: https://doodle.com/poll/srxvt6fvsn62u54n
If you want to volunteer housing yourself, here’s the form. Rusty the Red Panda

Developers are trying to steamroll the revision of the DC Comprehensive Plan. The gentrification machine in this city is hoping to sneak this by us – we’re asking every MDC DSA member who lives in the District to read this message from the Coalition and take action. Working group meeting tomorrow (Sat. Feb. 3); full coalition Feb. 10 – see listings here or at the message link.
— David Poms 


The DCReInvest coalition and Metro DC DSA’s ANC Initiative has been on the ground encouraging our local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) all over the District to take the lead in urging the D.C. City Council to sever its ties with Wells Fargo. Volunteers all over the District have been attending their ANC meetings, making short presentations, and asking their local commissioners to pass a resolution demanding divestment from Wells Fargo. So far, 7 ANCs in the District have passed a resolution.  It’s important that we keep this momentum going and add more ANCs to the list. Please join us at our next organizing and training meeting and learn how you can get involved in the campaign! Organizing & Training Meeting Saturday, February 10, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library 3160 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20010 . RSVP

 From the Labor Caucus
“Metro DC DSA is conducting a survey among its membership for the newly formed Labor Caucus. Membership in the Labor Caucus is open to union members, members of worker organizations, and those who wish to agitate in their workplace. This survey seeks to determine what kinds of relationships MDC DSA members may have with unions and worker organizations, and to see which groups are represented in the MDC DSA membership, as we develop the Caucus and plan actions.

(Words making the rounds in MDC DSA Circles that may not be 100% clear to everyone)
What does entryism mean? — Unpicking the latest resurgence in political name-calling on the British left.
By New Statesman (10 August 2016)
Entryism (n)
Entryism re-entered Labour’s lexicon in the summer of 2015 as thousands of members and supporters of other parties (among them Greens, Trotskyists and Tories) sought to vote in the leadership election. But the term historically refers to a far greater degree of strategy and organisation. 
The founding example of entryism was provided by Leon Trotsky and the “French turn”. In 1934, the Russian revolutionary persuaded his supporters to dissolve the Communist League into the Socialist Party in order to maximise their influence. The term has since been applied to any group that enters a larger organisation with the intention of subverting its policies and objectives. 
Labour’s most notable experience of entryism came with the Trotskyist Militant, which won control of the party’s youth wing (Labour Party Young Socialists) and a number of constituency parties. After its proscription by the National Executive Committee in 1982, hundreds of the group’s members were expelled during Neil Kinnock’s leadership, including two MPs (Terry Fields and Dave Nellist). Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, was a Militant supporter though never formally joined. 
“Operation Ice Pick” was the name given to Labour’s efforts to prevent entryists from voting in the 2015 leadership election, after the means of assassination used against Trotsky. Those barred included members of the Socialist Party, the successor group to Militant. The pro-Corbyn organisation Momentum has similarly banned outsiders from joining after MPs warned that it could become a vehicle for entryism. 
Responding to charges of infiltration, Jeremy Corbyn said: “The entryism I see is lots of young people who were hitherto not very excited by politics, coming in for the first time.”





Metro DC DSA Calendar


MDC DSA’s February meetings and events include environmental, labor, ANC divestment and anti-slumlord campaigns plus the YDSA Winter Conference coming to town at American University – including four meetings tomorrow (Sat. Feb. 3). Check them all out and our calendar of allied organizations’ events at

  Follow Link for Events and Details




The Washington Socialist is the newsletter and editorial publication of Metro DC DSA. The views and opinions expressed here may not reflect those of the chapter, and publication of any information should not be considered an endorsement. For our chapter's official statements, please visit the Statements section of our main site.

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