Originally published in Wisconsin Uprising: Labor Fights Back (2012)

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Take on Wisconsin state flag. Design by Mike Konopacki

Throughout February and March of 2011, I couldn’t help but wonder if I were living in a folk tale: in a flash tens of thousands of people rallied at the state capitol in Madison; teachers shut down public schools in a statewide “sick strike”; and union workers physically blocked the Legislature doors. I remember being at work listening to the radio when we all stopped to cheer at the breaking news about the fourteen state senators fleeing the state to halt a vote on the governor’s anti-labor bill.

And for over…


In 2011, I wrote a series of dispatches about what was happening in Wisconsin when thousands rallied in Madison to protest Scott Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill”, leading to some teacher sick strikes and the occupation of the capitol building. I wrote at night after attending demonstrations all day, reading local newspapers where I could, and adding my personal commentary about the feel of things. There are a few things I got wrong at the time, a mix-up here and there about someone’s title or the particulars of a legal case, some underestimations of forces at play. …


With Hakan Yilmaz, originally at Tempest.

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A mob of far right protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 after President Trump called and partially funded a “Save America” rally to mobilize his supporters against the results of the 2020 election. Trump called on the crowd to march to Congress as the election results declaring Joe Biden as winner were being certified. The swarm of protesters, including QAnon conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, militia groups, Proud Boys, and neo-Nazis, advanced to enter the Capitol building, overwhelmed the light detachment of police and pressed past the barricades. Congress was evacuated as…


Gallup has reported that two-thirds of people in the United States approve of labor unions, the highest rating in two decades. And yet, unions represent the smallest share of the workforce in one hundred years — fewer than before there was a legal right to form a union and collectively bargain with an employer. Only one in ten workers in the U.S. are represented by a union, in the private sector it is even fewer: roughly one in twenty (6.2 percent).

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With so few union members, even workers who are favorable to unions have little direct experience with the labor…


Originally posted at Tempest; co-authored with Joe Evica.

New socialists and the rapidly growing Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have dived into elections and tried to win left candidates to office since 2016. They have renewed debates socialists have had for generations about elections and the path to building a working class party in the United States.

The rise of DSA on a national scale shook the dust off these age-old debates and brought the “dirty break” to center stage as a socialist strategy for engaging in electoral politics. The “dirty break” is a plan to build forces through the…


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At this point, most people are pretty familiar with Kshama Sawant’s election to the Seattle City Council. Sawant first ran for the Washington State House of Representatives in the fall of 2012 and used her notoriety and unexpected positive reception to run again at the municipal level in 2013, defeating her opponent Richard Conlin in a tight race.

In the weeks that followed her victory, very different parts of the US left have weighed in on what the election of a socialist to office in a major US city means. As Nate Hawthorne has pointed out, most observers have fallen…


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2020 is a year that no one was prepared for. The sudden shift from an electoral season that dominated political life to pandemic and Black rebellion has drastically upended our expectations of how politics would play out in the first year of the new decade and forced us to acclimate to a new normal. Crossing these dramatically different rhythms of political time (election campaigning and mass protest; organization building and movement support) hasn’t been particularly easy for activists. For socialists who have committed to an orientation based on an assessment of a period that is rapidly closing, it’s been disorienting.


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Every week, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)’s National leadership, the National Political Committee (NPC), posts a brief report of the votes they take at their meetings on the DSA Discussion Board. Probably most members don’t follow this, either because they don’t know about the Discussion Board or have found the Board to be unpleasant and stopped looking, but since the 2019 NPC took office they have posted these regular updates as a measure of transparency, using the Discussion Bulletin to keep the information restricted to DSA members only.


If there is one basic guide for how to bring the working class into power, to lead society and build towards socialism, it is that the working class needs to have its own party that can fight for its political demands. Without a workers’ party, working class interests are subsumed into the interests of other opposing classes (namely, the capitalist class).

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The problem is that there is no labor or social democratic party in the United States, and the rules of the system are undemocratic and are designed to keep the political establishment in power. Since a political party won’t…


What do we do now? Socialists in the US are trying to make sense of the Sanders moment a plot a course for the future. The conclusions one draws from the Sanders campaign are bound to affect our sense of what to do next.

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Over the last month, a number of socialists have put out their perspectives in hopes of shifting the debate and influencing the direction the movement goes: the Red Nation, an indigenous revolutionary socialist organization with What’s After Bernie Sanders?; the Emerge caucus in NYC DSA, Reflections on Bernie’s Loss; and Charlie Post and Ashley Smith spawned…

Andrew Sernatinger

Socialist and labor activist in Wisconsin.

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