Your Steering Committee would like to wish a very happy Passover to all! Passover is a holiday commemorating the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt by recounting the struggle against oppression, rejoicing in the joy of freedom, and celebrating the rebirth of spring happening around us. That celebration also comes with reflection and responsibility; our joy is tempered by the bitterness and pain of our brethren suffering in bondage, and our festivities are commingled with call to action: that none of us are truly free until all of us are free. This year, the themes and lessons of Passover could not be more relevant.
As we observe the second Passover under quarantine, the first a year ago as the COVID-19 plague was first taking hold and this year with hope finally visible on the horizon, we reflect on how COVID-19 became a plague – because of the hardened hearts of our modern-day pharaohs. Instead of providing mortgage freezes, income replacement, free healthcare for all, and freedom for those held in prisons and camps, half a million lives were sacrificed on the altar of capital. It is also a powerful reminder of the importance of building working class solidarity and power: those who benefit from the exploitation of the masses will not cede power if we do not come together to fight for it.
As we remember that Anne Frank died not in a gas chamber, but of an infectious disease caught in a concentration camp, we must act to free people like Malik Washington, who is being punished for reporting a COVID-19 outbreak in his halfway house.
Like the Jews escaping bondage in Egypt to spend 40 years in the desert, we are all striving to reach a better world that we may not live to see, but that we know is out there to be found together.
As many of us teach our children the story of our ancestors, let us adapt the traditional Four Children into a Marxist approach, and also teach them how to pursue justice in our time.
WHAT DOES THE REVOLUTIONARY CHILD ASK? “The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?” Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.” Give him readings, invite him to protests and public speeches, and encourage him to learn and to build the revolutionary organization.
WHAT DOES THE SKEPTICAL CHILD ASK? “How can I solve problems of such enormity?” Encourage her by explaining that she need not solve the problems, she must only do what she is capable of doing. As we read in Pirke Avot, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” Show her the long history of class struggle, the consistency of the working class rising up against the capitalist class and the few examples of success. Let her read about the Russian revolution and see the most backwards capitalist country in its time turn into the most progressive in just a few weeks of socialism. These examples are our guide.
WHAT DOES THE INDIFFERENT CHILD SAY? “It’s not my responsibility.” Persuade him that responsibility cannot be shirked. As Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” Show how capitalism is destroying the earth so that none of us can live on it. Show how crisis affects people of all classes, not just the most oppressed. Finally, show how the failure to build leadership leads to confusion at best, and bloody reaction at worst.
AND THE UNINFORMED CHILD WHO DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO ASK… Prompt her to see herself as an inheritor of our people’s legacy. As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Tell her about the infinite possibilities of socialism, the promises of the transitional program, and the joyous future we can build under socialism.
May next year bring a world where we are all free, and able to celebrate our freedom safely with our loved ones.
L’ Tikkun Olam – to the improvement of the world!
Your DSA SF Steering Committee
Stand with Dandelion Chocolate Workers Organizing with ILWU!
DSA SF’s Labor Organizing Committee have been working with Dandelion Chocolate Workers to organize with ILWU! Join us on Cesar Chavez Day, this Wednesday, March 31 at 6:00 p.m. in Dolores Park, to show that SF stands with the workers in their fight for safety, living wages, and a seat at the table! More information can be found here.
Intro to Socialist Feminism
How do we reconcile the socialist movement with the insights of liberal feminism? Join us Wednesday, March 31st at 6:30 p.m. for a lecture exploring capitalist patriarchy, misogyny, intersectionality, and social reproduction theory. There will be time set aside for questions and discussion at the end. Sign up here.
Healthcare and Labor Panel
Join us for our Healthcare and Labor Panel on Thursday, April 15 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.! This will be a panel discussion on raising class consciousness, fostering union militancy, and fighting for Medicare-for-All featuring:
Eunice Balancio, RN, MSN, NNU/CNA
Jamie Dawson, OFNHP/AFT Local 5017
Greg Gabrellas, Secretary-Treasurer of CIR-SEIU
John Pearson, ER Nurse, President of the AHS Chapter of SEIU 1021
We will discuss questions such as: how do we foster class-consciousness among our coworkers? How do we become effective workplace leaders, and how can we use our relationships to foster a militant union? How do we organize into a union where we have none, and how do we reform our unions if the leadership does not represent the rank-and-file’s interests? You can register for the Zoom meeting here!
The Future of Medicare for All: What Way Forward?
Join us on Sunday, April 18 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. for a panel discussion on the future of Medicare for All and a single-payer health care system that ensures care for all, regardless of wealth or employment status. The panel will include Dr. Susan Rogers, President, of Physicians for a National Health Program; Stephanie Nakajima, Director of Communications for Healthcare-NOW; Shamus Cooke, public sector worker, union activist and member of Portland DSA; and Michael Lighty, National spokesperson for the DSA Medicare for All Campaign, and will touch on maternal and infant mortality, life expectancy inequities, the need for mass action, and how we can bring about a multi-racial mass movement. Don’t miss it – Zoom link to register for the panel is here!
DSA SF Membership Drive!
Please consider becoming a member of National DSA, or making sure your membership is current, so you can stay up to date with what the National Organization is doing and participate in the member forums. Becoming a member also counts towards DSA SF’s delegate count for the August National Convention! As always, no one is turned away from lack of funds, all you need to do is fill out the dues sponsorship form. If you have any other questions or hurdles on membership, feel free to email email@example.com and we’ll figure something out together.
New on the San Francisco Independent Journal
This week, SFIJ has two new articles – an interview with DSA SF member and District 5 supervisor Dean Preston and a look at the battle over reopening public schools in San Francisco, despite the considerable risks posed to teachers and students alike. Give them a read!
If you have committee work or another story you want to be publicized by a friendly outlet, please submit tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
21st Century Socialism Reading Group
Come join your comrades tonight at 6:30 p.m. for a discussion on The Old Is Dying and the New Cannot Be Born: From Progressive Neoliberalism to Trump and Beyond by Nancy Fraser! Register here.
Future Economies Reading Group: Commons-Based Peer Production
If, as Marx says, “slavery cannot be abolished without the steam-engine,” what forms of domination can be ended with the advent of global communication networks? This month the Future Economies Reading Group will study new modes of production enabled by new technologies. Join us tonight from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
We will investigate a positive vision of a future centered around the redevelopment of the commons—imagine Wikipedia but for all of production. We’ll also read an introduction to McKenzie Wark’s theory of the Vectoralist Class, a new subset of the ruling class which draws its power from controlling overflows of information. Find the short readings and Zoom details here.