Political education is not only an entry point to united class struggle, but a site to return to again and again for guidance in our anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist organizing. New and long-time comrades and interested community members are invited to join the Political Education Committee’s current ongoing Night School series — Lost Angles: Piecing Together a Socialist LA.
This series is designed to explore leftist perspectives and critical moments in the history of Los Angeles, with the aim of generating a deeper, shared analysis of what a socialist organization like ours should do to build a working class movement oriented towards a socialist horizon in our city. The Night School is comprised of five separate modules — each featuring a selection of readings, as well as a presentation followed by opportunity to discuss these concepts and histories further.
Classes will be held on Zoom, with additional special events designed to further engage with the Lost Angles materials held across the city, throughout the summer. Stay tuned for more announcements on special event details.
All attendees are encouraged , but not required, to review the texts in our class reader which can be found here.
List of calendar links to RSVP to Night School below (more complete details follow):
- The Horizontal City – Thursday, July 1 at 6 pm
- Building a Radical Los Angeles – Thursday, July 15 at 6 pm
- Red Hollywood – Thursday, July 29 at 6 pm
- Legacies of LA’s Third World Left – Thursday, August 12 at 6 pm
- The LA Secession Wars – Thursday, August 26 at 6 pm
1. The Horizontal City – Thursday, July 1 at 6 pm
South of the 10 Freeway. Going North on the 405. The 110 South. Freeways denote racialized and classed geographies of Los Angeles in profound ways. But who decided how, when, and where to build Los Angeles freeways? Which communities were torn apart when they broke ground? And, importantly, how did working class Angeleanos fight back in their dream to envision a Los Angeles built for everyone? In this class we’ll explore the important histories of working class struggle around the Los Angeles Freeway system. By exploring resistance to our current vehicle regime, we will also begin to imagine a future where public transportation, sidewalks, and other public spaces feature prominently in our vision for Los Angeles.
2. Building a Radical Los Angeles – Thursday, July 15 at 6 pm
Despite its frequent portrayal as a region of sun-drenched bungalows, citrus trees and quaint conservatism, Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th century was roiled by radicalism. A rise in worker militancy led to the development of the Los Angeles CIO, one of the most diversely led labor formations in the United States. Labor organizing and a racist judicial system, clearly seen in the trials following the Zoot Suit Riots, brought together community leaders, radicals, and communists in broad coalitions dedicated to defending the rights of the multiracial working class.
In this class we’ll explore how leftists built multiracial organizations in fields, factories and communities and think through the lessons these experiences might hold for socialists today.
3. Red Hollywood – Thursday, July 29 at 6 pm
“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?”
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, a wave of anti-communist hysteria took hold of the United States. Many across the US feared that a second Bolshevik revolution was imminent, one that would sweep away the cherished institutions of the West – “Church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life.” This was the first Red Scare. It led to massive wartime strikes, deportations, and a sustained, brutal crackdown on the political freedoms of the left, including the newly formed Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA).
The Second Red Scare began after World War II. Anti-communism, now a product of the Cold War, was back on the menu. And while no aspect of society remained free from its suffocating grip, a Los Angeles neighborhood known as Hollywood became the site of one of its most infamous expressions – the blacklist. The CPUSA, which since the 1930s had established a small but growing membership in Hollywood, was the prime target.
In this class, we’ll take a look at the real radicals whose lives were shaped and, in many cases, ruined by the blacklist and the pitched labor battles they engaged in to expand and protect the rights of labor in Hollywood.
4. Legacies of LA’s Third World Left – Thursday, August 12 at 6 pm
What if I told you that from the elected officials who manage the affairs of the bourgeoisie, to principled socialists who’ve soldiered on in proletarian struggles for decades, many figures in LA’s contemporary political landscape trace their lineage to radical organizations of the ’60s and ’70s?
The August 29th Movement, Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, El Centro de Accion Social Autonomo, East Wind — many of these groups were explicitly socialist organizations who organized largely along racial/ethnic lines and were part of what scholars call the Third World Left.
What were the material conditions and economic arrangements that shaped the development of these organizations? What kind of work did they undertake, and what fruit did it bear? How did their internal structures influence their external capacities? How did they relate to different class forces within nationalist movements? Through both firsthand accounts and secondary sources, this class session explores these questions as well as what all this means for socialists working in LA today.
5. The LA Secession Wars– Thursday, August 26 at 6 pm
In 2002, 67% of voters in Los Angeles City and 49% of voters in the San Fernando Valley came out against the proposed secession of the San Fernando Valley, San Pedro, and Hollywood regions. Nearly two decades later, though these geographies remain part of LA City, the political forces and city government responses that shaped this political battle are very much with us today.
Through the lens of the secession vote, this class explores the development of homeowners associations as political forces in Los Angeles, and examines tactics deployed by this movement in response to a shifting political and demographic terrain. As a reaction to the burgeoning movement for secession, LA City government reworked the city’s 71-year-old charter in the late 1990s “to provide a more responsive and less complicated political structure” — introducing for the first time Neighborhood Councils, described by the city today as a source of “local expertise and a local voice on the delivery of City services to their communities.” The limitations and opportunities of Neighborhood Councils remain contested today; this class seeks to ground contemporary debates and strategy in a deeper understanding of the origin of these political forces and structures.
Political Education Committee’s Study Series Archive:
We periodically revisit past study series curricula in Night School formats, and previous readers are freely available below:
Class on Class (2018)
This study series examines a selection of foundational concepts and inquiries, with the goal of more deeply grounding our collective struggle in rigorous socialist analysis.
Imperialism Study Series (2019)
Building on concepts introduced in the Class on Class, this series examines the relationship between imperialism and capitalism as articulated by leftists thinkers from the 19th century through today. Across installments, this series is designed to highlight the deep and varied theories on the left and create a space for open, healthy discussion.
Socialism & Electoralism Night School Series (2019-2020)
A series of informal Night Schools designed to complement DSA’s local and national commitments to Bernie’s campaign and engage with this candidacy within the broader context of socialist strategies and perspectives on electoral politics.