Get revved up about revolution this October

Happy October, comrades! It’s the month of revolution. So, what better way to spend it than by reading about a historic revolution from Octobers past?

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a major achievement in the socialist movement, a blow against capitalism and its hold over the world. It’s also still hotly debated and dissected today, 101 years later. To help you get through this time in history and the years that followed, the Southern Maine DSA Education Committee has compiled a recommended list of books on the Russian Revolution.

All of these books are available in the Southern Maine DSA library, and you can borrow any of them by filling out this request form, or by requesting one of the books from our chapter librarian, Marc Normandin, at one of our meetings or events.

And, if you would like to learn even more about the Russian Revolution, the Education Committee will be hosting a presentation and discussion of the historic event on October 22, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community Room in the Reiche Community Center. Todd Chretien, editor of Eyewitnesses to the Russian Revolution, will lead this event.

To wrap up our month of focus on the Russian Revolution, this month’s book club entry is V.I. Lenin’s The State and Revolution. You can find this book in our library, at various booksellers, or for free online at Marxists.org. This book club meeting will be held at Quill Books & Beverage in Westbrook, ME, on November 1 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Solidarity!

Introducing the 2018 SMDSA Comrades!

The Comrades kicked off the 2018 Casco Bay League Softball season with a rainy 19-12 loss to What’s Up Buttercup on Sunday, May 6th in Portland. The Comrades started off strong with five runs in the first inning, but early pitching challenges allowed the Buttercups to surge ahead. Wet field conditions made things challenging, but the Comrades’ managed to contain the Buttercups’ lead and work on closing the run gap over the next several innings. Todd Chretien’s plate-spanking slide home was one for the record books (and also one for the first aid kit). The game was called in the 6th inning due to time. “I’ve managed a lot of teams, and this one has potential,” said Comrades manager Marc Normandin.

The Comrades face the Raging Thunder Bunts, on Sunday, May 13th at 3:30 pm at Kiely Field.

2018 Roster

 

 

 

It is Happening Here…

Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America Presents:

A Staged Reading of “It Can’t Happen Here”

Adapted from the play by Sinclair Lewis and John C. Moffitt and based on the Lewis Novel

On the Anniversary of the Inauguration: January 20, 2018

7:00 pm (Doors), 7:30 (Curtain)9:00 pm

Maine Irish Heritage Center, 34 Gray St, Portland, ME 04102, USA

A donation of $10-20 is requested at the door.

Sinclair Lewis was the first American writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature and also the first to decline the Pulitzer, which, in 1926, was given “for the American novel published during the year which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life, and the highest standard of American manners and manhood.” [1]

Best known for his critical treatment of American materialism, sexism, commercialism and capitalism, Lewis, the man, remained true to the democratic socialist ideals that fueled Lewis, the writer. “In America most of us—not readers alone, but even writers—are still afraid of any literature which is not a glorification of everything American, a glorification of our faults as well as our virtues,” Lewis declared in his Nobel acceptance speech in 1930, going on to describe the country as “the most contradictory, the most depressing, the most stirring, of any land in the world today.”[2]

Five years later, and over the course of only four months, Lewis would write the semi-satirical novel, It Can’t Happen Here, about the swindling of the American presidency by a dangerous demagogue, a so-called “man of the people” who rises to power by promising greatness for his militant followers, while vilifying immigrants, non-Christians, the poor, and the free press. Lewis was writing from a place of fear—namely that fascism, which was on the rise in Europe, could take hold in America.

His fears were not unfounded. In 1930, the country was digging itself out of the Great Depression: unemployment was up; manufacturing was down, and people were desperate to follow any law-and-order candidate who promised to restore their prosperity and self-respect. A 1939 pro-Hitler rally in Madison Square garden, attended by tens of thousands of fascist followers—all of them Americans—is a stark reminder of how close we came to the brink.

It Can’t Happen Here became a bestseller, spawning radio, theater, film and television adaptations that have reached millions. Fascism did not sweep across America in a great wave, razing all democratic institutions in its path, as Lewis imagined—but of course that is only how it happens in novels. In real life, fascism takes hold by degrees so small and incremental that we barely notice the creep of authoritarianism until it is too late to turn back the tide. Lewis understood, more than any other writer of his time, that in order to prevent fascism from suffocating the flame of freedom, we must continually remind ourselves that it can happen here.

Cast of Characters:

Doremus Jessep – Herb Adams
Mary Greenhill- Mikayla Damon
Fowler Greenhill – Krys Bigosinski
David Greenhill – Meg Reilly
Lorinda Pike – Kate Sykes
Shad Ledue – Bob Mahue
Francis Tasbrough – Kelly McDaniel
Effingham Swan – Carl Pease
Julian Falck – Kenny Lynx
Henry Veeder – Seth Berner
Mrs. Veeder – Tracy Allen
Clarence Tubbs – Vinney O’Malley
Dan Wilgus – Barney McClelland
Adalaide Tarr Gimmitch/Narrator – Cynthia Handlen
Mr. Dimmick – Meg Reilly
Jim Nickerson – Cynthia Handlen
Walt Trobridge – Zach Ringelstein
Pastor Prang – Jack O’Brien
“Buzz” Windrip – Harlan Baker
Adelaide Tarr Gimmich – Cynthia Handlen
Narrator – Cynthia Handlen
Commentator – Joey Brunelle

 

[1] The Sinclair Lewis Society

[2] John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, 15th edition, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1980), 791 via Wikipedia

2017 New England Solidarity Summit October 6-8

Join Democratic Socialists from all across New England for a weekend-long retreat to build camaraderie across state lines at the inaugural DSA New England Solidarity Summit, October 6-8, 2017.

This weekend is an opportunity for DSA members in New England to build relationships with people doing similar work in neighboring areas, talk theory, strategize, and have fun.

“By coming together for a fun, engaging weekend we fight the isolation brought on by exploitative wage labor and get an opportunity to collaborate and create new means of building people power back home,” said Southern New Hampshire DSA Co-Chair, Chloe Wojewoda. “We’re a new chapter and a lot of us are new to organizing entirely. We want to see what’s been working in other places and how we can best grow our group to strengthen democracy and socialism in New Hampshire.”

Attendees include members of Southern Maine DSA, Southern New Hampshire DSA, Boston DSA, Providence DSA, Worcester DSA, Clark University YDSA.

DSA comrades can participate in a wide variety of events and activities, ranging from purely social to strategic and educational. Activities are geared toward developing relationships between chapters and individuals.

This event is open to dues paying DSA members only. A “meet the public” pumpkin carving event will be open to the general public on Saturday, 6-8 PM. All are welcome to attend.

When:
Friday 10/6: 4pm – 11 pm
Saturday 10/7: 10 am – 8 pm (self-organized evening activities)
Sunday 10/8: 10am – whenever!

Where:
Maine Irish Heritage Center, 34 Gray Street, Portland ME 04102

Contact:
Chloe Wojewoda, Southern New Hampshire DSA: chlowoj@gmail.com

‘How to Kill a City’ Offers Warnings, Way Forward for Portland Residents Concerned About Gentrification

What can Portland learn from the gentrification stories of other American cities? How can residents take action to shape Portland’s future? On June 28th at 7 p.m., Longfellow Books and Southern Maine DSA will host author Peter Moskowitz for a discussion of his book How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood, published by Nation Books and available from Portland Public Library. DSA Member and Portland City Council candidate Joey Brunelle will moderate.

Gentrification is broadly understood to be the demographic reshuffling that occurs when more affluent people move into a neighborhood and begin to change it. We’ve all seen gentrification and felt its effects, but some members of our society feel them more sharply than others. Middle class residents experience gentrification as a gradual change: shops that served prior generations are shuttered and replaced by pricey boutiques; property taxes rise to the point where retirees can’t afford to stay, and faces on the street become increasingly unfamiliar. People living at or below the poverty line suffer gentrification as a violent upheaval that evicts them from their apartments, forces them out of jobs and neighborhood schools, splintering support networks and driving them into suburban areas where it’s harder to access childcare, public transportation and social services. In the end, both groups lose.

Cities must serve all of its citizens, not just the interests of real estate developers

In How to Kill a City, journalist Peter Moskowitz pulls back the curtain on gentrification in four American cities, revealing how mayors and city councils with ties to developers set policies that disempower, dispossess and displace citizens in order to transform neighborhoods into capital generators that further enrich political elites and the billionaire class. “A municipality opens itself up to gentrification through zoning, tax breaks, and branding power,” Moskowitz writes. Developers are further incentivized by the billions of dollars in federal tax credits available for affordable housing and historical building preservation. Not all development is bad, but for-profit affordable housing has been widely reported to shelter fewer people and cost taxpayers more than public housing.

When neighborhoods are economically cleansed, we’re more likely to forget that poverty, racism and addiction exist

As our neighborhoods change around us, we change, too, “increasingly viewing ourselves not as community members with a responsibility to each other, but as purchasers of things and experiences,” writes Moskowitz. American cities were once crucibles of art and activism, places where society was forced to come to terms with its own failures and stand up for social justice. Gentrification is changing all that. How to Kill a City poses the question: “What would cities look like if the people who lived in them, who made them function, controlled their fate?” We wonder, too.

Join us on June 28th at 7 p.m. at Longfellow Books and share your vision for Portland’s future.