Ferrets in "socialist" clothes: SDUSA spins its Never Ending web

Note by Hunterbear:

Although SDUSA has often been given terminal status, its reactionary
juices -- and its cunning backers -- have kept it maneuvering
single-mindedly in the "Never Ending" nether land of shadows and schemes
where the waters of right-wing socialism and corporate liberalism and
neo-conservatism  all flow into one another in surrealistic  alchemy.  Its
genealogy reaches, in twisted and torturous fashion, back into the old
Socialist Party but its circuitous trail has taken it a long way indeed from
that visionary turf of food and freedom.  [For a moment, the old Western
song wends through my mind: "Old Bill Jones, he had two sons -- one went to
Denver and the other went wrong."]  SDUSA, whose traditional Horror has been
a very sweeping interpretation of "Communism," and who continues to worry
much about that [ e.g., Cuba] is now finding other demonic challenges as
well with which to grapple via its traditional, undiminished
Machiavellianism -- always in the context of "boring from within.".
Hunter [Hunterbear]

Social Democrats, in New Turn, Urge Democrats Toward the Right

By Ira Stoll - New York Sun, May 19, 2003

WASHINGTON - A small but potentially significant group of political
activists gathered here this weekend and urged the Democratic Party
to back vigorously the spread of freedom and democracy abroad and
labor unions at home.

The meeting of Social Democrats, USA attracted Al Gore's 2000
campaign manager, Donna Brazile; a former president of the AFL-CIO,
Thomas Donahue; a veteran labor and civil rights leader, Velma Hill,
and a Clinton administration official, Penn Kemble.

The group has roots in the socialist political party of Eugene V.
Debs and Norman Thomas, but includes many who supported the
presidential campaign of Senator Henry M. 'Scoop' Jackson, a
Democrat who ran in 1972 and 1976, and President Reagan, the
Republican elected in 1980 and 1984.

With the Democratic Party suffering from electoral defeats and what
some participants here called a lack of leadership, the Social
Democrats are offering some suggestions of how the party might build
a winning platform for 2004.

They're hardly the only faction doing so. But the free trade union
movement led by Mr. Donahue and Lane Kirkland - whose widow, Irena,
and biographer, Arch Puddington, made appearances at the meeting -
played a key role in winning the Cold War.

So despite the relatively low profile the Social Democrats have
kept, the group has standing as the Democratic presidential field
takes shape in the middle of the war on terrorism.

'It is important that we not cede national security to the
Republican Party,' Ms. Brazile said Saturday in a speech at the
meeting, urging the party not to 'be afraid' of the 'peace wing.'

She said that to reach a majority, Democrats need to talk about
national security and sound like they mean it. September 11, she
said, 'has really altered American politics.'

'We need someone as chairman of the party who can enunciate some
vision,' Ms. Brazile said, calling the Democratic Party's current
leaders 'just place-holders.'

Another speaker at the conference, Jeffrey Herf, who is a professor
at the University of Maryland, said, 'if the Democratic Party cannot
convince the American electorate that, faced with the threat of
Saddam Hussein, it would have gone to war and won the war, then
it's not going to win elections for a long time to come.'

'It's as simple as that,' Mr. Herf said, cautioning Democrats who
would take a softer line that the terrorists 'won't respond to
'confidence-building measures' and Euro-speak.'

Mr. Herf suggested that Democrats should speak more about President
Franklin D. Roosevelt, a member of that party who led the nation in
World War II.

Mr. Kemble, who helped organize the conference and spoke at it, said
that the agenda of a stronger labor movement in America and a
strengthened American commitment to democracy abroad is about far
more than the Democratic Party's chances in the 2004 election. 'This
isn't about the Democratic Party, and if you cast it in those terms,
then you'd really diminish it,' he told the group, holding out the
possibility that Republicans might embrace elements of the Social
Democratic program. 'We're not committed to the Democratic Party,'
he told The New York Sun afterward, pointing out that he had voted
for Ronald Reagan and that other Scoop Jackson Democrats had become
Republicans. He said that Bush administration figures such as the
deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz, were in tune with the
Social Democrat agenda of promoting freedom and democracy abroad.

A discussion paper prepared for the meeting suggested that one
source of support for strengthening American labor unions could be
'conservatives who recognize the dangers of unchecked power and
value of mediating institutions.'

The discussion paper also made a significant leap for a group with
socialist roots. 'In our conception, social democracy is not an
adversary to capitalism that seeks, however gradually, to do away
with it,' the paper said. 'Social democracy can complement and even
strengthen capitalism.'

A labor union organizing consultant who spoke at the event, Richard
Bensinger, said that unless more private sector workers join unions,
'we are going to be relegated to being a quasi-public-sector labor

'I don't think that everyone does need a union,' he said,
acknowledging that there are some good employers out there. 'One
reason we don't organize in this country is workers are happy. As
organizers we hate that. Knock on someone's door: 'Uh oh, they're

How to explain all this to young people, for whom Social Democrats
might be mistaken for Democrats who aren't shy about shaking hands
at cocktail parties? It will take some time. Says the discussion
paper: 'Building an effective movement of the kind we envision will
be the work of a generation.'



Issodhos is, of course, quite correct in pointing to the "ridicule and stereotyping"  frequently thrown at gun owners by those -- usually from some in the Big, Big Cities -- whose knowledge of firearms and hunting and gun law and gun owners' advocacy groups is as arid and empty as the Funeral Mountains.  ASDnet is the only discussion list of the several on which I reside where I've seen this kind of ignorance transposed into a consistent ethos of venomous intensity.
I had my first firearm -- a .22 Winchester pump rifle, octagon barrel and curved butt-plate, Model 1890 -- at age seven.  In a recent tally, I can say that I've had close to 200 different firearms since then.  Most have been for conventional hunting, though a few have been revolvers.  I presently have, as I noted the other day, six Western-style lever action big bore rifles [two 45/70s, a .444, a .44 magnum, a 30/06, and a .357 magnum], one ten gauge magnum shotgun-- and a fine Ruger .22 Single Action ["Single Six"] revolver that was just given me as a gift on our long speaking junket via Jeep over 3700 miles and into nine states.  We saw, once again, a hell of a lot of great turf on that trip -- Rockies, Badlands, High Desert, Sand Hills, Plains, Midwest farms, Chicago, northern forests, and much more -- and it brought home, as these trips always do, that this is a very big and very diverse land of almost always friendly people. And we met many of those very good folks.
For years, I held a Federal Firearms [dealer's] License and am pretty well versed in United States gun law.
In addition to much hunting, I can certainly speak to the sensible use of firearms in self-defense situations  -- involving social justice organizers and personal citizenry -- where so-called "law enforcement" is either nil or very laggard or is on the side of the racists and company thugs.  This extends -- and broadly so in the United States -- right to the contemporary moment.  I've often said that I have every good reason to keep, as I do, a couple of loaded weapons at hand right here and right now in our Idaho home.
Issodhos, obviously, knows guns and related dimensions extremely well -- and may have more contemporary knowledge on some matters than I.
I recall an early ASDnet dispute with Leo Casey and the late Jim Chapin in which one made a comment to the effect that NRA goes down into Virginia and brings guns by the truckload into New York City where it sells them.  This was totally surreal.  In addition to never selling firearms in any sense, NRA [nor anything or anyone else] could take guns from Virginia into New York for sale without engaging in a massive violation of, among other things, the Federal 1968 Gun Control Act.  Anyway, I corrected this -- without drawing so much as an acknowledgement, let alone an apology.  In another instance, David Anderson, one of the Casey semi-faithful, posted a garbled URL mosaic on ASDnet which confused the NRA with the far more strident Gun Owners of America which tilts toward private militias.  I quickly corrected that and, twice, posted on ASDnet the formal NRA position vigorously opposing paramilitary militias -- and extremist groups.  Not a word of acknowledgement nor apology from Anderson -- whose knowledge of guns etc. appears to be totally nil.  [That NRA link, btw, is, once again
In this context of guns, Jim Chapin, ever the New York ethnocentric, was frequently prone to write off the great mass of rural American states that lie between, say, Ohio and Western California.  A couple of days ago, in connection with the gun issue on ASDnet, Matt Wilson made sarcastic comments about "red neck states."
And yesterday, Leo Casey, ever the Pavlovian Red-baiter, referred to "NRA agit-prop."  Being him, I'm wondering if he's accusing NRA of being "Communist-dominated" or "Stalinist" or "Stalinoid."
Speaks volumes as to why DSA hasn't been able to build anything of significance in rural and small town America -- or even in the smaller cities of the great "hinterland."  SPUSA has done much better -- representatively -- on a broad national scale.   But then, SPUSA and some other groups are committed to democratic socialism and grassroots America -- not the urban Democratic Party of mainline DSA. 
And Debs was always, of course, with Bill Haywood and many others, a strong supporter of firearms ownership.
As Ever - Hunterbear
Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunterbear]


This isn't an effort to stake out a "last word" -- but I do feel obliged to say this:  firearms ownership in the United States runs into the many, many, many tens of millions.  Hardly all of those are in Idaho or Vermont or North Dakota -- or rural and small town America generally.  A vast number of them are held by big city people, including the urban working-class [gun ownership among union members is extremely high] and among urban "minorities."  Individual self-defense via firearms is not at all uncommon in the cities.  In recent years,  NRA has provided considerable assistance to gay rights self-defense groups, almost all of these in urban settings.
Hunter [Hunterbear]