YDS National Project: Immigrant Rights, Capitalist Globalization, and the Domestic Low Wage Economy
As democratic socialists, devoted to a politics that is both visionary and pragmatic, our campaigns must broadly analyze the political moment and offer specific ideas on the way forward.
Right now the underpinnings of American empire are weakening, while simultaneously those of us who fight to end that empire also face the erosion of our (already seriously flawed) democracy. This is clearly evident in the erosion of the power of nation states in the global arena, even of the United States, in the face of international financial institutions. With an overloaded military and unstable reliance on foreign banks, the US has become more brutal in its quest to control the global market. Meanwhile, other oppressive financial and military powers in the world jockey for a position near the top of the world economic order. Injustice spreads abroad but also at home, where the mainstream political leadership is not responding, except for those politicians controlled or cowed by a rising racist and evangelical movement that has already begun to turn back the work of a century of struggle.Because the capitalist modes of production and consumption shape how people respond to social divisions, the American obsession with individual responsibility allows the Right to use coded language around issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation. In an age of rising poverty and instability, this scapegoating can be highly effective, and even liberals are afraid to fight for a vision of social justice for all, let alone democratic socialist ideals like the redistribution of wealth, affirmative action and racial justice, or truly universal provision of public goods. When we the people can be so easily divided, we will never be able to unite against the corporate elite and dismantle the economic and political structures which dictate every aspect of our lives. As democratic socialists we deeply oppose anti-immigrant sentiments and policies that are being enacted in the United States and across the globe. As socialists, we believe that all human beings are entitled to participate in democratic decision making regarding the communities they live in, and to have their basic needs met – food, shelter, healthcare, education etc. It is the moral obligation of governments to ensure that all the people that reside within their national borders have their needs provided for. Anti-immigrant measures are policies enacted as a means for the government to relieve themselves of their obligation to provide for those who reside within their territory. Additionally, anti-immigrant policies seek to motivate citizens of the nation to view immigrants as a drain on the economy and therefore create the false impression that immigrants, not the government and the economic system of capitalism, are responsible for domestic poverty.
As socialists, we join together with our brothers and sisters around the world to hold governments accountable to provide for all peoples needs. Thus, we reject all measures, such as guest worker programs and race based immigration quotas, that governments use to distract attention from their failure to provide for peoples needs, particularly anti-immigrant initiatives which seek to pit marginalized groups of people against one another (in the case of the United States, frequently working class white citizens against undocumented people of color). Young people particularly face the impact of this xenophobia. Immigrant youth, or children of undocumented parents, are targeted simply because of the circumstances of their birth and often face major obstacles to attaining higher education or decent jobs. Young American citizens face a future of racial and class strife, where weak unions and a divided working and middle class allow the right-wing to run rampant.
Democratic socialists and social democrats abroad have fought to hold governments accountable for ensuring a brighter, fair future for all young people, and to fend off anti-immigrant legislation that seeks to exclude a particular segment of the population based on their national origin. For example, since 2000 in Denmark conservatives and liberal (in the European sense) political parties have been pushing xenophobic anti-immigrant measures on the basis that immigrants are a drain on the national economy. Social Democrats within Denmark and Sweden have organized to resist these policies, which undermine working class solidarity.
Like our democratic socialist brothers and sisters abroad, YDS is committed to fighting anti-immigrant legislation and promoting working class solidarity in the fight to hold government accountable for providing that all people have their needs met. Furthermore, YDS believes that we must highlight the role of global capital and the need for internationalist solutions. The following is a concrete proposal to help meet that goal.
1) This campaign would specifically address immigrant rights, racism, capitalism, and American foreign policy.
2) The problems it would address:
• Xenophobia and attacks on immigrant communities.
• Lack of understanding of capitalism and corporate globalization, domestically and internationally.
• Racism (white against people of color, and between communities of color).
• Working class fear of job competition.
• Liberal fear of addressing the root of the problem.
3) Resources needed:
A) Talking points
C) Short literature piece or statement
D) Study guide with articles and discussion questions
E) Short list of relatively big-name speakers who have agreed to speak
F) Instructions for chapters on how to find other good speakers from their surrounding communities
G) List of ideas for chapter activism
4) What this campaign would create or change: put out a deeper analysis of the situation of this country, how immigrant rights are related to it, and why progressives aught to be looking at the larger picture and issues as integral to the solution.
5) This campaign would represent YDS’ unique political ideology because we will:
• Talk openly about capitalism and how it interacts with other forms of oppression – ie analyze the bigger political context
• Talk about internationalism and solidarity
• Include electoral activism as a large component
6) Potential chapter activities as part of a national immigration campaign (try to pick one or more from each group):
• Volunteer (or fundraise) for a state or local pro-immigrant initiative (or against an anti one)
• Offer solidarity to a day laborer center in case they need people to help them monitor Minutemen or other anti-immigrant activity
• Volunteer for a progressive Democrats’ campaign (co-sponsor with Dems)
• Volunteer at (or fundraise for) an immigrant worker center
• Organize a counter-demonstration when the Minutemen come through town
• Table or hold a study break and have students write letters to their elected officials or make calls to politicians’ offices on cell phones in exchange for food
• Build a coalition and campaign to get your campus to cancel their contract with McDonalds or Chipotle (national campaigns)
• Support the workers or workers’ union on your campus, since many are probably immigrants
• Invite a moderate Democrat to speak on campus and grill them on their immigration stance (co-sponsor with Dems)
B) Public Socialist Education
• Hold interactive workshops at a teach-in
• Screen a pro-immigrant movie like “El Norte,” “The Letter,” or “Farmingville” with discussion afterwards
• Host an educational speaker for the campus community (a policy expert on immigration or global capitalism, for example, or an immigrant worker)
C) Internal Political Education
• Have the everyone in the chapter write letters to the editor in response to a specific article, then send them in at the same time so there’s more chance one will get printed
• Hold a series of discussion meetings with readings