Socialist Night School is a rolling open course that provides opportunities for East Bay DSA members to ground their political work in the rich theoretical and historical traditions of the socialist left.
Classes are down-to-earth, inclusive spaces that give East Bay comrades a chance to grow their politics together, regardless of background knowledge, affiliation, or whether you've attended a class before. You don't even have to be a member of East Bay DSA — everyone is welcome!
The Police: What are They Good for Anyway?
July 7, 2020, 7-9PM
Every time protests erupt after yet another innocent black person is killed by police, “reform” is meekly offered as the solution. But what if drastically defunding the police – not reform – is the best way to stop unnecessary violence and death committed by law enforcement against communities of color?
The alternative is not more money for police training programs, hardware or oversight. It is to dramatically shrink their function. We must demand that local politicians develop non-police solutions to the problems poor people face. Instead of giving them more money for pointless training programs, let’s divert that money into building up communities and individuals so we don’t “need” violent and abusive policing.
What is the origin of the modern police force? What functions do police serve in a capitalist society? What does defunding the police actually look like? Could society really function without the police?
Join us Tuesday, July 7th at 7pm on Zoom as we discuss these questions and more, with a talk from featured speaker Brian Bean.
Interview with Alex Vitale “Policing Is Fundamentally a Tool of Social Control to Facilitate Our Exploitation” Jacobin (10 min read) **New York-based sociologist Alex Vitale weighs in on the failures of police reform efforts and why reducing police power is one of the best solutions available for combating systemic racism and advancing working class interests.**
Other Recommended Readings/Videos
Brian Bean The Socialist Case Against the Police Rampant (30 min read) **Police don’t solve, stop or prevent crime because they were never designed to. Cops are the tools of the bosses, from the day they were invented to today**
Brian Bean Abolish the Police Rampant (30 min read) **Cops are not part of the working class and perform no socially beneficial function. Only good things can result from abolishing the police.**
Alexandra Brabury Why a Local Labor Council Just Expelled the Seattle Police Guild Labor Notes (10 minute read) **The King County Labor Council expelled the Seattle Police Officers Guild in June. Next step for antiracist unionists everywhere: show up to support Black Lives Matter protests**
Alex Vitale We Need to Defund the Police Now Jacobin Stay At Home Video (1 hour video) **Deeper dive conversation with Alex Vitale on the role of police in capitalism and the why defunding, not reforming, them is best path forward**
Night School on YouTube
Missed a class? Want to revisit a lecture? Check out our YouTube channel, full of insightful socialist analysis from our membership.
See other socialist readings our Night School classes have recommended. You don't need to read everything here before joining a class, but we believe these readings will provide a useful foundation for better understanding socialism.
Find relevant readings on the political campaigns our chapter is currently fighting for.
What Is Democratic Socialism?
Want to know more about democratic socialism? Get to understand the basics of what democratic socialism is and why it's the only hope for the working class.
Critique of Capitalism
We all live under the exploitative economic system known as capitalism, but what are its internal contradictions and how can we overcome it?
Capitalism and the State
How do capitalism and the state interact? What support does the state lend to capitalism, and how does capitalism rely on this support to reproduce itself?
Capitalism is an inherently unsustainable economic system, yet past socialist movements have are always met with fierce resistance from capital. These readings offer a historical and material analysis of how we can learn from these outcomes and persevere.
Neoliberalism and Imperialism
What exactly are neoliberalism and imperialism? Are they different from capitalism? What are their origins and effects? These readings provide a definition of neoliberalism and imperialism through historical insight and examples of these ideologies at work.
Class, Race, and Gender
These readings example how class intersects with racial and gender oppression, how these divisions benefit capital, and how socialists have fought against these oppressions through the years.
Any analysis of socialism would be incomplete without a history of labor. Labor struggles in previous years, both successes and failures, provide valuable lessons for future struggles.