Summer School 2019: Program

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Thursday Night’s Plenary

Socialist politics in 2019 Chicago election

Speakers include Alds. Byron Sigcho, 25th Ward, Jeanette Taylor, 20th Ward and Rosanna Rodrdiguez, 33th Ward as well as Shaniya Doyle and Ling, Young of Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP); Moderator: Robin Peterson, Solidarity and DSA

Socialists now make up 12% of the Chicago City Council, making up a radical core within a larger bloc of progressive aldermen. Although these campaigns each have roots in previous social movement and union struggles, they also benefited from—and offered directions for—the sudden growth of socialism locally and nationally. In this panel, we’ll discuss the histories that led to this moment, the challenges and opportunities of a limited electoral victory for Chicago socialists, and the broader socialist vision that these victories point towards.

Friday Work Shops & Panels

Marxist Feminism: Theory and Politics

How can a materialist analysis be useful to women’s struggles in class societies? The workshop will unpack the connections between capitalism’s core dynamics, the gender division of labor in caring work, and dominant cultural constructions of gender in processes of social reproduction. We begin here in to order to understand the evolving shape of women’s oppression and how the struggles continues to be limited despite decades of feminist challenge. From this point, we will consider the relevance of marxist-feminist theory for the development of an inclusive, expanded feminist politics for the 99%. How do we add to our demands and reach

A Roundtable on The Rank and File Strategy:  History and Current Prospects

Facilitator:  Jane Slaughter, former editor of Labor Notes presenters: 
Sam Harshner, faculty union activist, Marquette University,
Peter Landon, Teamsters for a Democratic Union staff,
Ted McTaggart, nurse activist, 
Debby Pope, Chicago teacher activist and CTU staff member.

In the 1970’s, socialist revolutionaries developed a “rank and file” organizing strategy in workplaces and within the labor movement to organize a militant minority of rank and file workers ready to challenge their capitalist employers and to build a more radical, self-organized labor movement.  Drawing on the experience of past and contemporary revolutionary socialist organizers, this roundtable will discuss what it means to be a socialist in the labor movement, what we have learned, and the prospects for the rank and file strategy today

Making Independent Political Action a Reality: the RPA Approach

Mike Parker, Steering Committee RPA

Richmond CA is known widely for successfully defeating Chevron and its millions of  dollars in campaign contributions

The workshop will examine some of the questions raised and lessons learned from the experience of the 15 year old Richmond Progressive Alliance.  These include attitude toward Democratic Party, holding candidates accountable, dealing with widespread myths about democracy and elections, and  problems about building a movement based on local politics.

Suggested Reading:  scroll to the bottom of the page for materials.

50 Years Of Queer Liberation: How Far Have We Come?

June 28th marks 50 years since the hallmark of American queer liberation: The Stonewall Riots. This resistance symbolizes a definite shift in radical organizing efforts from queer inclusion to queer rebellion. Queer organizing has evolved since Stonewall and there is power in understanding how we got to where we are now. Join us as we explore how the courageous actions have informed the demands of queer liberation in the 21st century.

Eco-socialism in the Era of Trump

Chair: Dianne Feeley, Solidarity Ecosocialist Working Group Panelists: Sean Estelle, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, Ansar Fayyazuddin, Solidarity, Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for 2020 presidential nomination
Sean Estelle (they/them) is a volunteer Executive Committee member in Chicago DSA, working on a campaign to municipalize Chicago’s private electric utility, ComEd. They are also involved in political education work locally, a member of the national Ecosocialists working group, and running for a seat on the DSA National Political Committee in 2019. 

This panel will engage with the challenges facing eco-justice movements, outlining activists’ perspectives on local and state initiatives to cut the use of fossil fuels and other measures. How is it possible to transition to a world where corporations aren’t setting the agenda? How can we make the transition to a future where workers and our communities aren’t the ones paying through pollution or unemployment? Are there technical fixes (geoengineering initiatives) that can address climate change while bypassing fundamental societal change?

The Latin America Left: Neoliberalism, Populism and International Solidarity

Jared Abott is a PhD candidate in political science at Harvard University and a member of Solidarity and the Democratic Socialists of America.
Dan La Botz is the author of many articles and several books on Latin America, most recently What Went Wrong? The Nicaraguan Revolution: A Marxist Analysis. He is a member of Solidarity and of the Democratic Socialists of America and an editor of New Politics.
Luis Rangel is editor of the socialist publication Bandera Socialista, trade union activist and member of the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) in México City.

In this panel and discussion we will explore the structural constraints facing leftist and progressive governments in Latin America, and how these constraints shape possibilities for the organized left and socialist transformation in the region. In the 1990s charismatic figures led new social movements in a rising Pink Tide (PT) that drove out the right and brought democratically elected leftist governments to power in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Ecuador. Buoyed by a worldwide commodities boom, the PT governments pursued progressive reforms, but global capitalism set strict limits, forcing them to choose between fiscal discipline and economic ruin. To keep themselves in power, the left parties often chose shortsighted and poorly run redistributed policies and engaged in political corruption. When commodity prices crashed, so did most of these governments, as rightwing populists and parties took power. Without strong leftwing parties or labor movement to check them, in the next two decades these governments moved to the right and became authoritarian.

These issues raise a host of tactical and strategic questions for the Latin American Left… Read More.

Red for Ed: Teachers’ Upsurge – Friday Night’s Plenary

Teacher rebellions have been in the forefront of labor’s struggles during the past decade. Starting with the Chicago Teachers Strike in 2012, the movement has grown and spread throughout the country into areas where unions, particularly in the public sector, have been historically weak. The inspiring struggles in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona etc. have drawn national attention both to labor and to the fight to fund education and pay educators a living wage. Strikes in the charter sector, in Los Angeles, and in Oakland have continued the wave in recent months. What’s happening? What does it mean? Where’s it going?

Nushrat Jahan is a 2nd grade teacher at Acero Cruz and was a participant in the Acero strike this past December. Outside of teaching, she is also a member of CDSA and CORE. She is a Chicago Public Schools and University of Chicago amumn, where she specialized in education policy and human rights, where her research focused on educational services provided to newcomers in Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys poetry, attempting to learn new dances, sucking up to wait staff at nice restaurants for free food and drink, and adding more books written by South Asian authors to her bookshelf.

Michelle Gunderson is a 32 year teaching veteran who currently teaches first grade in the Chicago Public Schools. She is an education activist and unionist currently serving as trustee for the Chicago Teachers Union and the co-chair of CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators).