Working people have been handed some tough losses at the Supreme Court over the past few weeks; it both lifted the federal eviction moratorium and silently laid waste to the remnants of Roe v. Wade. We should all feel rage that because of the whims of an unelected, conservative, and capitalist Court, more families will find themselves thrown out of their homes and fewer people will be able to access abortions.
But while we feel that anger, let us also remember: For the poor among us, many laws are overturned every single day by local judges, police, employers, and landlords. For many of us, a point of no return was not crossed last week — it had been crossed long ago.
In Philadelphia and across the country, the poor and working class have been evicted during the pandemic when landlords just changed the locks and nobody stopped them, or scared tenants into leaving the home, or even sought and received the outright approval of a court. The same type of thing is true of reproductive rights: poor people were unable to get abortions long before last week because they couldn’t take multiple days off work, they were manipulated by a crisis pregnancy center, or they were bullied out of it by family or community.
Yet despite this reality for many Americans, last week we saw wall-to-wall coverage of the Supreme Court’s decisions from the mainstream press, centrist politicians, and prominent lawyers — but silence from these actors both before and after. That silence is no accident. Our political and cultural elites demand we focus on the Supreme Court rather than the evictions, denials of abortions, and every other daily inhumanity because it justifies the unjustifiable: It tells us that we’re a nation of laws, that the courts decide what rights we have, and that there is justice in it all.
As socialists, we know this is a lie. We all know, for example, that Brown v. Board means nothing to the millions of children who, today, learn in segregated, toxic, and inadequate schools some 65 years after the Supreme Court waxed grandiloquent about the “inherently unequal” nature of segregation. By directing our attention unceasingly toward the Court, elites cause us to believe that the Court really is the solution to our problems — and consequently that we are little more than audience members in a national drama we’re unlikely to ever influence. And conversely, they cause us to forget that the people who really determine most of our rights are the people most proximate to us: the cop who pulls us over, our landlord or boss, a local school board. And as long as a huge swath of people have no power in relation to these local tyrants, the laws as written mean little.
Let’s not fall for the trap. Philly DSA is organizing across the city in the workplace, at home, in our schools, and more. Whether you’re a new member or have been with us for a while, we need you to get involved. Together, we will build power for the working class in the face of the petty tyrants who would control us.
In other words, the dominant narrative about the Supreme Court (and the law more generally) causes us to lose focus over those in our own backyards who we can influence and over whom we can exercise power — if we are organized.
Written by Sam D., At-large Steering Committee memberIf you’d like to have your writing featured in the bulletin, please email [email protected].
On the calendarUnless otherwise specified, all events are held via Zoom.
Green Schools Phonebank, September 9, 14 & 15 at 6pm Call and text parents, teachers, and DSA members to support Jamaal Bowman's Green New Deal for Public Schools legislation. RSVP
Housing Committee Meeting, September 9 at 8pmDiscuss our ongoing tenant organizing through the Stomp Out Slumlords campaign, think through new canvasses for the fall, plan a new housing reading group, and more! RSVP
Labor Branch Meeting, September 12 at 12pm A regular meeting of the Labor Branch to discuss unionization efforts across the city. RSVP
New Member Meeting, September 12 at 2pmAn introduction to Philly DSA for new members and people thinking about joining the local. RSVP
Green New Deal Commission Meeting, September 13 at 6:30pmThe GND Commission will discuss the Green New Deal for Public Schools campaign and organizing around PGW. RSVP
Steering Committee Meeting, September 14 at 7pm A regular meeting of the Steering Committee to discuss chapter business. RSVP
Racial Justice Committee Meeting, September 15 at 6pmWork to promote multi-racial solidarity and build an anti-racist foundation in DSA and in Philadelphia. RSVP
LILAC x Philly Bail Fund Expungement Clinic Call-a-thon, September 14 & 21 at 6pmJoin members of the Racial Justice Committee to make calls to people with withdrawn or dismissed cases to promote an expungement clinic run by the Philly Bail Fund. RSVP for 9/14, and RSVP for 9/21
View the full calendar
Updates from the branches
Delco DSA: General Meeting, September 15 at 7pmAll are welcome to discuss campaigns and chapter business. RSVPView all events
BuxMont DSA: Socialist Social, September 17 at 7pmNew members are especially encouraged to join a discussion of socialism in the suburbs and play virtual games. RSVPView all events
This week in unions
“A career, or a life, structured according to individual benefit is one structured by cruelty — by the assumption that other people are exploitable and disposable." - Dana Kopel
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