Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DSA hears of the Kansas historical role of socialism

By SJ Otto
The Appeal to Reason newspaper in Girard, Kansas and other facts about Kansas socialist history was explained by Jim Phillips, this Saturday, at the Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) camp out, last Saturday.
"We inherited a long tradition here in Kansas," Phillips said. "Kansas was mostly socialist through the 1800s. In the West, the Indians had common ownership of land. Mexico also had some communal farms."
Phillips went way back in history to stories about peasant revolts in the middle ages. He talked about Karl Kautsky one of the earlier theoreticians behind  democrat socialists.
Phillips talked about the history of DSA. The group was formed in the early1970s when the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee(DSOC) merged with the New American Movement(NAM).
"Many people from the NAM had split off of the Communist Party (CPUSA)," Phillips said.
Phillips explained the long history of democratic socialism in the US with such figures as Eugene Debs.
"Debs had written for the Appeal to Reason," Phillips said.
The Appeal to Reason was a weekly left-wing political newspaper published in Girard, Kansas, from 1895 until 1922. The paper was known for its politics, lending support over the years to the Farmers' Alliance and People's Party before becoming a mainstay of the Socialist Party of America. In 1910, it had a weekly circulation of 550,000 and a subscription base of 450,000.
Phillips talked about the People's Party, which was a populist party in the Midwest. It was not so much socialist as it was anti-capitalist.
"In the 1880s, Kansas and Oklahoma were largely farmers," Phillips said. "They had trouble paying for their implements, rail roads priced gauged them. By 1896 they disappeared. The Socialist Labor Party (SLP) came together by 1901.
"The Appeal to Reason published without any problems until World War I," Phillips said.
"There was a socialist college, a working class college, in Fort Scott. 30 miles from Girard," Phillips said.
He added that such well known socialist writers as Emanuel Haldeman-Julius came to Girard.
He also discussed what he sees as the future of DSA.
"There has been a surge of new DSA members since the Bernie Sanders campaign," Phillips said. "We have a lot of young people getting involved with us for the fist time. The March for Our Lives movement is bringing a lot of young people into the political system and they will not settle for business as usual."
Phillips said that neoliberal (economic liberal policies) are making the Democratic Party useless. He added that we have a Republican Party that is solidly neoliberal and their is no way to change that.
"It is also known as corporatism," he said. "We need to fight against that in the Democrats."
Phillips also brought up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) a historic document that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its third session on 10 December 1948 as Resolution 217. The resolution claims that all people on earth are entitle to adequate health care, housing and education. The document is non-binding.
"Both the Republicans and Democrats have rejected it," Phillips said. "They just want to let the free market fix those things. They market is supposed to fix everything."
Phillips also said he thought the radicals of the 1960s ignored bread and butter issues for the Vietnam War. There was as divide between socialist oriented students and American workers.

1 comment:

Fred Whitehead said...

Thanks much for the post...glad to hear Jim Phillips is still engaged.