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Philly DSA

From the first moment Columbus set sail in the direction of the “New World” to the ongoing conflicts raging in the oil fields of Iraq, the entire history of the capitalist epoch has been defined by imperialist activity.

Though often associated with Europe’s industrial revolution, it could be argued that capitalism would never have developed without imperialism. Marx himself wrote that capitalism “compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production… In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”

With readings focusing on early colonialism, US imperialism during the twentieth century ...

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Despite a commonplace myth that education is the pathway to knowledge, it is often difficult to separate schooling from the anarchy of the market. Subject to privatization and budget cuts, K-12 programs often look less like a means of fostering childhood development than a business opportunity. The situation in higher education is no different. Universities have expanded administrative costs while hiring more adjunct faculty and decreasing course offerings. Despite talk of excellence and advanced learning, the decisions made by presidents in boardrooms often seem guided by budgetary rather than intellectual concerns.

Join Philly DSA to discuss the complicated relationship of ...

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Though capitalism is built on the exploitation of the working class, it does not affect everyone equally. In particular, people of color disproportionately endure a range of injustices, including poverty, mass incarceration, housing
segregation, and police violence.

From WEB Du Bois and A. Philip Randolph to Cesar Chavez and Angela Davis, people of color have also led the charge against capitalism’s ill-effects, developing theoretical writings, political programs, and social movements designed to challenge class-based oppression.

This session features a reading from Adolph Reed about the relationship between race and class; one of the founding documents of the Black Panther ...

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The United States has long sustained one of the most aggressive penal systems, and today holds the single largest prison population in the world. Our dependence on incarceration has only increased in the neoliberal present, when for-profit prisons threaten to ensnare millions of working class Americans.

There is considerable debate among leftists as to how to challenge the prison state. Some have argued that socialists should pursue a horizon based on the total abolition of prisons. Others have questioned the feasibility of such an agenda, insisting that incarceration would still be necessary under a more democratic system.

Regardless of which ...

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If any thinker answered the socialist demand for political theory rooted in real world politics, it was Vladimir Lenin. Though best known as a revolutionary leader, Lenin was also a prolific writer who carefully studied law, philosophy, and history. In fact, he was stil​l revising his famous text The State & Revolution in the weeks​ ​just ​before the October Revolution brought the Bolsheviks to power.

Today, many socialist organizations still proudly brand themselves with Lenin’s name. Even so, his thought remains a matter of controversy. For some people, Lenin’s writing endures as a model for how to ...

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This week’s discussion, titled “Red October," turns toward the complex legacy of the Russian Revolution.

The October Revolution of 1917 saw the rise of the world’s most powerful communist state, fundamentally transforming human history in the process. A hundred years later, the Soviet Union continues to cast a heavy shadow over discussions of socialism. For its defenders, the country presents an enduring model for future working class projects. For its most ardent critics, the USSR demonstrates that socialism always leads to authoritarianism, its collapse proving that capitalism is unavoidable.

With a set of readings focused on politics and ...

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For some, Karl Marx’s work remains an urgently needed alternative to dominant modes of thought. For others, the legacy of Marxism hinders the development of a truly modern social theory.

Whatever Marx’s significance, widespread confusion obscures many of his core arguments. Though he wrote prolifically on topics from politics and economics to family life and art, Marx lives on largely in sound bites and the polemics of his critics.

This meeting attempts to clarify some of Marx’s key ideas. We will begin with his infamous 1848 “Communist Manifesto,” co-authored with Friedrich Engels. What—if any —are the ...

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For the very first session of the Socialist Night School, we’ll be starting at the heart of the matter: democratic socialism!

Though socialism has experienced renewed interest in recent years, there remains much debate about what the term actually means. There are many forms of socialism, each making different theoretical and political claims. This meeting seeks to answer a number of key questions: 

  • What is socialism? And what is capitalism, really? 
  • What is the DSA? What do its members want? 
  • How does democratic socialism differ from other socialist projects?

Whether you’ve just joined DSA or are a lifelong ...

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