Socialism’s renewed vitality in America might seem novel or even unprecedented, but for the Midwest, it’s something of a return to form.
You’ll find significant socialist history nearly anyplace you look in the Midwest. Chicago’s Haymarket affair began as a strike for an eight-hour workday and ended up creating a worldwide holiday celebrating the working class. In 1910, socialists controlled majorities in Milwaukee’s city council and county board. That same year Milwaukee gave America its first socialist mayor, Emil Seidel. Eugene Debs, born in Indiana, five times ran for president on the Socialist Party ticket, culminating in a 1920 election where he received nearly a million votes while sitting in a jail cell for the crime of speaking out against World War I.
But of course, socialism is not defined by its leaders. It’s first and foremost defined by working people. As Midwestern chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America, we seek to democratize our communities so that decisions in all aspects of life are made by and for the working class.
We understand that politics is more than elections. Democracy is more than voting. The work of governance is not done only by bureaucrats in the halls of power but by ordinary people organizing in the streets. A society that is truly free and equal requires input from all of its members, especially those from its most marginalized groups. The only path to a humane society lies in democratizing all its spheres: democracy in our workplaces, in our economy, in our communities.
The Midwest in many ways is a microcosm of America. We have agriculture and industry, farming towns and metropolises. We hope to show that our vision of socialism can improve the lives of working people no matter where they are and what they do. The Midwest’s geographic diversity mixed with its rich socialist history make it an ideal petri dish for a bold, 21st Century vision of American socialism.
Midwest Socialist exists to show how activists and politicians from DSA and the broader socialist movement are working to create a more equitable, more democratic society for all people.
Our work builds not only on the efforts of leaders like Debs, but of generations of local activists. This publication arose from the decades of work that Bob Roman put into Chicago DSA’s New Ground (archive here) and the work that the late Tom Broderick did to fight for socialism and connect activists from all walks of life.
Learn more about Democratic Socialists of America’s values here, or find out about Midwestern DSA chapters below: