Night School 2018-2019

  • 18
    SEP

    Night School: Democratic Socialism

    Bennett Hall, UPENN

    We're excited to announce that Night School will be resuming this fall!

    We'll begin the Night School by asking that ever-elusive question: What is Democratic Socialism?

    Though the word socialism has returned to the public vocabulary 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.

    Join us to discuss democratic socialism and what DSA wants to accomplish as an organization.

    Reading List:

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience.

    New members are welcome!

    Please contact Jarek Ervin at jarekpaulervin@gmail.com with questions!

  • 02
    OCT

    Philly DSA Night School: New Left 1968

    Bennett Hall, UPENN, Room 231

    The night school is back in full swing.

    This time around, we'll talk about the tumultuous political uprisings of the 1960s, revisiting–fifty years later–the period of civil unrest now known as May '68. We'll also explore the legacy of groups such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), asking generally about the lessons and warnings of the New Left.

    Readings:


    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience.

    New members are welcome!

  • 23
    OCT

    Philly DSA Night School: Electoral Politics

    Bennett Hall, UPENN, Room 231

    The next Night School will focus on the hot button issue of electoral politics.

    Campaigns have proved hugely important for DSA, as our numbers and public profile have often grown around electoral successes: Bernie Sanders' primary run, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's victory in the New York congressional race, and the work surrounding our very own candidates Liz Fiedler and Kristin Seale.

    Yet socialists have a long and contradictory history where this topic is concerned. As one of the only roads to power within the current capitalist state, the electoral arena has helped leftists implement major social reforms. But this path has also led to co-optation and the neutralization of political militancy.

    Join us to discuss ways that electoral politics might advance—or compromise—our interests.

    Readings

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience. New members are always welcome.

    We've now got a dedicated Night School page on the Philly DSA website, so stay tuned there for readings, dates, and other information!

  • 30
    OCT

    Philly DSA Night School: Imperialism

    Bennett Hall, UPENN, Room 231

    From the first moment Columbus set sail in the direction of the “New World,” to the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the entire history of the capitalist epoch has been defined by imperialist activity.

    Though associated with Europe’s industrial revolution, some have 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.”

    Join Philly DSA to explore the complicated politics of imperialist conflict. This week's readings focusing on the earliest years of imperial history; the violence that accompanied the anti-communist fervor of the twentieth century; and the ongoing role of the US military in global relations.

    Readings

     

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience. New members are always welcome.

    Keep an eye on our Night School website for future events, and feel free to write to us with questions!

  • 13
    NOV

    Housing Night School

    Bennett Hall - Room 231

    The United States is in the midst of a full-blown housing crisis. Most major cities are becoming unaffordable to working class tenants, homelessness is on the rise, and gentrification seems to have become a permanent feature of urban life. Meanwhile, housing policy meant to address the crisis is often just as likely to subsidize exploitative landlords and worsen housing segregation. What are the root causes of the housing crisis, and what are the demands that will solve it? Join Philly DSA as we examine the political economy of housing and the city, and look to visionary experiments in social housing from abroad.

    Readings:

    Mary Robertson, “Re-asking The Housing Question”

    Cedric Johnson, “Gentrifying New Orleans”

    Ryan Cooper & Peter Gowan, “The Solution is Social Housing”

     

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience. New members are always welcome.

     

  • 27
    NOV

    Gender & Sexuality Night School

    Bennett Hall - Room 231

    Questions of gender and sexual expression dominate politics and popular culture in a way not seen since the 1970s. Historically, socialists have been at the forefront of struggles for equality, but today the relationship between socialism and the politics of gender and sexuality is less clear. Capitalism’s interaction with much older forms of gender and sexual oppression is complex and contradictory, as shown by the celebration of female CEOs by liberal feminists, or the role of LGBTQ-friendly “gayborhoods” in gentrification. What role do economic forces play in the formation of sexual identity and family life? And what is the record of “really existing socialist” states in advancing women’s position in deeply patriarchal societies? Join Philly DSA as we try to untangle complex questions of capitalism, patriarchy, and sexual identity, with an eye towards moving beyond liberal egalitarianism.

    Readings:

    John D’Emilio, “Capitalism and Gay Identity

    Interview with Stephanie Coontz, “Capitalism and the Family

    Kristen R. Ghodsee and Julia Mead, “What Has Socialism Ever Done For Women?

     

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience. New members are always welcome.

    Keep an eye on our Night School website for future events, and feel free to write to us with questions!

  • 07
    FEB

    Socialist Night School: What Is Capitalism?

    Houston Hall, Ben Franklin Room

    The next session of the Philly DSA Socialist Night School is starting up again!

    What is Capitalism?

    We all know what we're up against: capitalism! But what exactly is capitalism? Is it a thing, a system, or something else? And, why does it persist in spite of the fact that it promotes so much instability, crisis, and suffering?

    There are many different ways to understand our economic world, not all of which are compatible. Figuring out exactly what we’re up against is crucial if our goal is to get it right.

    Join Philly DSA to discuss theories of capitalism, asking about what capitalism is–and what we should do to challenge it.

    Readings:

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience. New members are always welcome.

    Keep an eye on our Night School website for future events, and feel free to write to me with questions!

  • 21
    FEB

    Night School: Civil Rights

    Houston Hall, Ben Franklin Room

    Night School is back in session! Join us on February 21st when we talk about the civil rights movement.

    The civil rights movement, the “Second Reconstruction”, has by now taken its place in high school history textbooks alongside the American Revolution, Civil War, and New Deal. Even the most right-wing Republicans pay lip service to the legacy of Martin Luther King, recast as a patron saint of apolitical humanitarianism. Looking back after more than half a century, how do we understand the civil rights movement, both as a pivotal moment in American history and a lesson for today’s struggles? In what ways did civil rights (both as a movement and a rhetoric) challenge the structures of American capitalism, and in what ways did it legitimize them? Join Philly DSA as we read socialist and March on Washington organizer Bayard Rustin’s influential 1965 article “From Protest to Politics”, as well as two historical retrospectives on the movement.

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience. New members are always welcome.

     

    Readings:

  • 21
    MAR

    Night School: Education

    Houston Hall, Ben Franklin Room

    Night School is back in session! Join us on March 21st when we talk about education.

    The U.S. labor movement, at a historic low point, is being revived by the teachers’ strike wave that began in West Virginia. The strikers insist that their fight is not just for a better contract, but in defense of public education itself. This movement can be seen as the first steps of a counter-offensive to the decades-long, bipartisan project of privatizing public education, led by billionaire philanthropists and neoliberal think tanks. Join Philly DSA as we examine the politics of the education reform movement, the role of education in a capitalist economy, and the (real and imagined) crisis of public education in the United States.

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience. New members are always welcome.

    Readings

  • 04
    APR

    Night School: Mass Incarceration

    Houston Hall, Class of '47 Room
    The United States, once seen as a model of rehabilitation and humane punishment, today incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than any other nation on earth. In the past decade, critiques of mass incarceration have become increasingly mainstream, led by books like Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th. These narratives usually point to the War on Drugs, the privatized “prison-industrial complex”, or post-civil rights racist backlash as driving the explosion in incarceration rates that began in the 1970s. Yet, recent historical research complicates the standard accounts. These are not academic questions; understanding the cause of America’s “carceral turn” is key to defeating it. What policies actually drive high incarceration rates? What is the relationship between race, class, and incarceration? Join Philly DSA as we break down the politics and economics of mass incarceration in America.
    Readings:

     

  • 18
    APR

    Night School: Labor

    Irvine Auditorium, G7

    The labor movement has long played a key role in Leftist politics. For more than a century, unions were at the core of the socialist movement, a fact confirmed by the many ways capitalists attacked worker-based movements and persecuted organizers. Even so, some commentators have suggested that we focus elsewhere, given the rise of information-based economies and decline of unionized workforce in the United States. In this session, Philly DSA will ask: should the labor movement still be central to socialist theory and politics? If so, what avenues are left for such organizing?

    Readings:
    Moody, “The New Terrain of Class Conflict
    McAlevey, “Everything Old is New Again

  • 02
    MAY

    Night School: Technology

    Golkin Room, Houston Hall

    After visiting the fledgling Soviet Union in 1919, the left-wing journalist Lincoln Steffens remarked, “I have seen the future and it works.” In that time, many socialists had a deeply-felt, even utopian faith in the power of new technologies to eliminate poverty and useless work. More recently, Silicon Valley tech capitalists have elevated technology’s ability to “disrupt” into what is essentially a secular religion. As new technologies seem to be constantly disrupting workforces into precarity, if not obsolesce, we should ask: how should socialists understand the social function of technology? Far from a smooth, inevitable process, the development of technology is a site of struggle between workers and capitalists. Join Philly DSA as we survey struggles over technology, from the rise of “scientific management” in the Gilded Age to the Green Revolution in agriculture and the ubiquity of Google and Facebook.

     

    Readings

     

    The Philly DSA Night School is intended as a forum for discussing thinkers, "-isms," and current trends in socialist politics. All meetings are free and open to the public, and are designed for all people regardless of previous experience. New members are always welcome.

  • 16
    MAY

    Night School: Climate Change

    Ben Franklin Room, Houston Hall

    A “Green New Deal” to combat climate change has gone from a vague slogan, used even by centrists, to an increasingly concrete and popular demand. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s House resolution, although still preliminary, audaciously combines climate adaptation with more traditional socialist goals of full employment, social housing, and empowering workers on the shop floor. However, the political path forward to addressing the climate crisis is still far from clear. In this session of Socialist Night School, we’ll read Kate Aronoff’s in-depth analysis of the policy and politics of a Green New Deal, and how it might transform the lives of future generations; and, closer to our frightening present, influential urban theorist Mike Davis on the social impact of the catastrophic Camp Fire on two California towns: working-class Paradise and wealthy, suburban Malibu.

    Readings:

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