Joseph Schwartz

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Joseph Schwartz

Joseph M. Schwartz is a leader of Democratic Socialists of America.

Married to Michele Rossi.

DSOC Youth

Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee's first youth organizer was Cynthia Ward, a former student at the University of Chicago. Other key leaders included Joe Schwartz, Mark Levinson, Jeremy Karpatkin and Penny Schantz.[1]

New American Movement 10th convention

In 1981 Abby Cassin, South Jersey NAM; Mel Pritchard, San Diego NAM; Penny Schantz and Joe Schwartz of Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee and Peg Strobel, Co-Chair, Campus Commission led a workshop entitled Campus Organizing Strategies at the 10th Convention of the New American Movement. The convention was held in a union headquarters in Chicago and ran from July 29 - August 2, 1981.[2]

Tribute to Ben Dobbs

On Sunday, June 7, 1981, the Los Angeles Chapter of the New American Movement sponsored a Tribute to Ben Dobbs for "His lifelong commitment to socialism". The event was held at the Miramar-Sheraton Hotel, Santa Monica, California. Sponsors of the event included Joseph Schwartz.[3]

DSA Conference delegate

In 1983 Joseph M Schwartz was a Boston, Massachusetts delegate to the Democratic Socialists of America conference in New York City, October 14-16, 1983[4]

DSA Feminist Commission

In 1986 Joseph Schwartz of Massachusetts was listed as a member of the Feminist Commission of the Democratic Socialists of America.[5]

Jesse Jackson campaign

Joseph Schwartz is veteran of Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign,[6]

DSA member

In 1990, Joseph Schwartz was a member of Democratic Socialists of America[7].

In 1994 Schwartz and Theresa Alt of Ithaca, New York were members of the Democratic Socialists of America Steering Committee.[8]

Schwartz, of the Ithac,a NY DSA and the Philadelphia DSA, was elected to the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, at the November 1997 DSA National Convention in Columbus Ohio.[9]

DSA Racial Diversity Task Force

In 1992 Joe Schwartz was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America Racial Diversity Task Force - charged with finding ways of recruiting (and retaining) more "people of color" into the organization[10].

Speaking with Obama

Barack Obama spoke at a Democratic Socialists of America organized forum at the University of Chicago in early 1996.[11]

Over three hundred people attended the first of two Town Meetings on Economic Insecurity on February 25 in Ida Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago. Entitled "Employment and Survival in Urban America", the meeting was sponsored by the UofC DSA Youth Section, Chicago DSA and University Democrats.

The panelists were Toni Preckwinkle, Alderman of Chicago's 4th Ward, Barack Obama, candidate for the 13th Illinois Senate District, Professor William Julius Wilson, Center for the Study of Urban Inequality at the University of Chicago, Professor Michael Dawson, University of Chicago and Professor Joseph Schwartz, Temple University and a member of DSA's National Political Committee[11].

Center for Democratic Values

The Center for Democratic Values, a progressive think-tank developed with Democratic Socialists of America sponsorship, made its first public appearance at the Socialist Scholars Conference in New York, April 12 - 14. 1996 . CDV cosponsored two panels at the conference and held a reception to introduce the Center to the assembled socialist scholars and activists.

The first panel dealt with rethinking the role of government. The discussion centered around a paper authored by DSA member and CDV organizer David Belkin which challenged the left to seriously reopen the issue of the role of government in a democratic society. Carol O'Cleireacain, former New York City Budget Director, another member of the panel, stressed the need for the left to pay more attention to organization and management as well as policy and structure, the traditional focuses of socialist theories. Joe Schwartz, a DSA member and professor at Temple University, also spoke.

As chair of Philadelphia DSA, Kathy Quinn participated in the second CDV sponsored panel, which was titled "The Next Left". The panel was chaired by DSA National Director Alan Charney. It featured David Sprintzen, head of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, and Quinn focusing on local organizing, and philosophy professors Steven Eric Bronner and Ron Aronson talking in broader and more theoretical terms about the prospects for progressive organizing[12].

2001 DSA leadership

Nineteen people ran for the sixteen National Political Committee positions elected at the 2001 Democratic Socialists of America Convention. The winners were:

The Young Democratic Socialists representatives to the NPC (sharing the one Youth Section vote) were Joan Axthelm (Chicago) and Fabricio Rodriguez (Arizona).[13]

DSA’s Cuba Letter

Joseph Schwartz signed an April 2003 Statement on Cuba, initiated and circulated[14] by prominent Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Leo Casey, calling for the lifting of trade sanctions against Cuba.

“a statement circulating among democratic left/socialist folks, largely by members of Democratic Socialists of America, condemning the recent trials and convictions of non-violent dissenters in Cuba”.

The petition criticized Cuba's poor human rights record, but shared the blame for Cuba's problems with reactionary elements of the U.S. administration...

The democratic left worldwide has opposed the U.S. embargo on Cuba as counterproductive, more harmful to the interests of the Cuban people than helpful to political democratization. The Cuban state's current repression of political dissidents amounts to collaboration with the most reactionary elements of the U.S. administration in their efforts to maintain sanctions and to institute even more punitive measures against Cuba.

Many of the petition's 120 odd signatories were known members of DSA.

DSA Renegotiate NAFTA petition

In 2009 Joseph Schwartz signed a petition calling on President Barack Obama to Renegotiate NAFTA. The petition was initiated and circulated by Democratic Socialists of America.[15]  

Memo to Obama

For their January-February 2009 issue, Tikkun magazine asked a number of "liberal and leftist academics and activists" to draft a "Memo to President Obama". DSA's Labour movement blog Talking Union pre-published a memo drafted by Temple University politics lecturer and Democratic Socialists of America Vice-Chair Joseph Schwartz[16].

The impressive depth and breadth of your electoral victory, combined with Democratic gains in both the House and the Senate, provides the possibility of reversing three decades of growing inequality that is the primary cause of an impending depression. But to do so you will have to act boldly and quickly. As a constitutional law scholar, you realize that the system of checks and balances and separation of powers established by our founders consciously aimed to forestall rapid change. Thus, almost all the reforms we identify with the twentieth-century Democratic Party—Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act, the Civil Rights Acts, and Medicare—occurred in the periods 1935-1938 and 1964-1966, the only times when the Democrats controlled the presidency and had strong majorities in both chambers of Congress.
If upon taking office you lead with boldness, your administration could pass major legislation in regard to universal health care, massive investment in green technology, and labor law reform that would transform United States social relations for generations to come. But as a former community organizer you know that such reforms did not come from the top down; they arose because moderate elites made concessions to the movements of the unemployed and the CIO in the 1930s and to the Civil Rights, anti-war, women’s, and welfare rights movements of the 1960s. While your office cannot conjure up mass social movements, you can call your supporters to ongoing grassroots activism.

Schwartz is referring here to the communist led union/mass movements of the 1930s which pushed Roosevelt into the "New Deal" and the communist/New Left led movements of the 1960s which brought about Lyndon Johnson's "New Society". DSA sees the next few years as the next "New Deal" Schwartz wants Obama to be guided by (and no doubt to finance) this movement.

Even before taking office, you confront the most serious breakdown in the global economy since the Great Depression. Hopefully well before you take office, you and your Treasury Secretary nominee will push the lame-duck Congress to pass a massive stimulus package of at least $500 billion or $600 billion...
The stimulus package should include major government funding of job training in the inner cities (in green technologies, for example) and of opportunities for both GIs and displaced workers to return to university as full-time students (and for women on TANF to fulfill their “workfare” requirements through secondary and higher education pursuits). While affluent suburbs provide their residents superb public education and public services, federal cutbacks in aid to states and municipalities has worsened the life opportunities of inner city residents.
Your election as the first African American president is of inestimable symbolic import; but its promise will be soured if your administration does nothing to address inner city poverty and the massive rise in the incarceration of young youth of color. Only federal funding of pre-K education and of after-school programs for vulnerable youth can begin to redress rampant educational inequalities.

Schwartz is urging the presient to re-distribute the wealth-especially to the areas where socialists are most influential. Fund government programs that socialists will control. The communists of the 1930s infiltrated and lived off Roosevelt's myriad make-work schemes. The socialists of the new century aim to do the same. Re-distribute the wealth-especially to socialists.

The inefficient and inequitable United States health care system cries out for replacement by a universal and cost-efficient alternative... While the power of the insurance lobby may preclude your backing a national single-payer bill, you must back progressive Democratic amendments for opt-out provisions from your “pay or play” system of private insurance. Such opt-outs would allow states to create their own single-payer systems, and allow Medicare or the federal employees health plan to market to employers as a lower-cost alternative to private group plans.
But how to pay for all this? You should attempt to reverse not only the Bush tax cuts, but also the Reagan-era cuts in marginal rates on high-income earners (approximately $300 billion in revenues, each). In addition, abolishing the 15 percent tax rate on hedge fund and private equity managers’ earnings could garner another $100 billion in annual revenues.
Ending the war in Iraq should save $100 billion per annum; a one-third cutback in United States military bases abroad and an end to Cold War era plans to build a next generation of fighters and an anti-ballistic missile defense could save $216 billion in federal revenue per year.

The military budget is hideously oversized for a nation that claims armaments are necessary for defense, and not defense of empire.

When the Ponzi scheme of “securitized mortgages” collapsed with the end of the irrational run-up in housing prices, the federal government had to bail out Bear Stearns, then Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and then AIG. American capitalism has privatized gain, but socialized risk. Yet if risk is to be socialized, then so should investments. Your administration should not only demand equity shares in the banks and corporations that are bailed out by the public treasury, but should also require that consumer, worker, and government representatives be added to the board of directors of corporations receiving government aid.
A “new New Deal” would have to restructure international economic institutions so that they raise up international labor, living, human rights, and environmental standards. In large part you owe your victory in the key battleground states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania to the efforts of one of the few integrated institutions in the United States—the American labor movement. Restoring the right to organize unions (which de facto no longer exists in the United States) is a key policy component in the battle against economic inequality. Given the already massive corporate and media offensive already launched against the Employee Free Choice Act, you will have to place the entire prestige of your office behind the legislation...
Your victory by no means guarantees the bold policy initiatives necessary to restoring equity with growth to the United States economy. Your campaign did not advocate major defense cuts, progressive tax reform, and significant expansion of public provision. But FDR did not campaign on bold solutions in 1932. It was pressure from below that forced FDR’s hand. Similarly your victory may provide space for social movements to agitate in favor of economic justice and a democratic foreign policy. But as a president who understands the process of social change, I trust that you will understand that those demanding the most from your administration are those who can best help you succeed in office.

Schwartz is admitting that President-elect Obama didn't campaign on socialism, but FDR didn't campaign on the "New Deal" either. He did what he did, because the communists and socialists forced him to.

Ithaca DSA forium

In February 2009 Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America held a public forum, “Advice for the New President: The Economic Crisis,” featuring DSA’s Joseph Schwartz as well as Shaianne Osterreich, an economist; Eric Lessinger, a doctor; and Dominic Frongillo, a town legislator and energy independence advocate..[17]

DSA vice-chair

Democratic Socialists of America Vice-Chairs in 2009 were;

Elaine Bernard, Edward Clark, Jose LaLuz, Steve Max, Harold Meyerson, Maxine Phillips, Christine Riddiough, Rosemary Ruether, Joseph Schwartz, Ruth Spitz, Motl Zelmanowicz[18].

Committees of Correspondence conference

At the 6th National Convention of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) at San Francisco's Whitcomb Hotel July 23-26 2009 a Symposium roundtable conversation on "Building the Left and the Progressive Majority." featured CCDS leader Mildred Williamson, Judith LeBlanc of the Communist Party USA, Joe Schwartz of Democratic Socialists of America, Michael Rubin of Solidarity, Jamala Rogers of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and Linda Burnham. The panelists discussed the importance of building the left within the current upsurge, working for left unity in struggle against the right, and the tactical issues that arise in uniting the progressive majority.[19]

DSA NPC member

At the Democratic Socialists of America 2009 National Convention Evanston, Illinois November 13-15, 2009, a new National Political Committee was elected;[20]

DSA 2011 leadership

Elected to serve on the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee – the leadership body described as “the engine room of the organization”, in November 2011, were;[21]

Plus the two YDS co-chairs, Sean Monahan (Philadelphia, PA) and Jackie Sewell (Lawrence, KS).

US Social Forum

In June 2010, groups from all over the country in Detroit for the U.S. Social Forum. They presented over 1000 workshops on topics as diverse as American foreign policy, the economic crisis, global warming, and trade unionism. Democratic Socialists of America presented five workshops, including "Socialism is the Alternative" — DSA members Joseph Schwartz and David Schweickart, Communist Party USA representative Libero Della Piana, Committees of Correspondence representative Carl Davidson, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization representative Eric See discussed a vision for 21st century socialism, why it is still relevant, and how we can promote unity among socialist organizations. The room for this workshop had to be expanded to accommodate the large audience.[22]

Socialist International

At the Meeting of the Council of the Socialist International, United Nations, New York, 21-22 June 2010, delegates included Puerto Rican Independence Party members Ruben Berrios Martinez and Fernando Martin Garcia and from Democratic Socialists of America, Frank Llewellyn, Joseph Schwartz, David Sasha Duhalde-Wine, George D. Roberts, Luis Alejandro Duhalde.

Participants included representatives of the Socialist Party of Albania, MPLA (Angola), Bulgarian Socialist Party, Socialist Party of Chile, Sandinista National Liberation Front (Nicaragua), Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, Democratic Left Alliance (Poland), African National Congress (South Africa), Movement for Socialism (Venezuela) Observer parties included Polisario (Western Sahara) Consultative parties present included Fatah (Palestine), All-Nation Social Democratic Party (Kazakhstan).[23]

2011 YDS Winter Conference

TheirCrisisFLYER Color Final6.jpg

On the weekend of March 18th-20th, 2011, the Young Democratic Socialists held their annual Winter outreach conference "Their Crisis, Our Pain: The Democratic Socialist Response to the Great Recession". Cornel West "will be the featured speaker on Saturday the 19th, and we will also host John Nichols, Bertha Lewis, Mark Engler, and Dan Cantor from the Working Families Party.

Other listed speakers included Komozi Woodard, Corey Walker, Fabricio Rodriguez, Christian Parenti, Stephanie Fairyington, Christine Kelly, Sheila Collins, Billy Wharton, Liz Shuler, Martin Weinstein, Michelle O'Brien, Skip Roberts, Joseph Schwartz.

Panels on race, the environment, organizing, and other topics will allow participants to learn from and communicate with fellow activists on some of the most important domestic and international issues. The event is perfect for both newcomers to Democratic Socialism/YDS, as well as activist veterans.

Add your name to the list here and you'll be notified when online registration goes live. Invite all your friends!

Location, Bayard Rustin High School 351 W 18th St New York, NY 10011.[24]

Occupy movement

Occupy Wall Street has been heating up in New York and around the country. DSA honorary chair Cornel West was arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court as part of an Occupy DC protest against the Supreme Court's "complicity in unfettered corporate financing of politicians".

The New York Times quoted DSA vice-chair and National Political Committee member Joseph Schwartz and Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) Northeast Regional Organizer Cecily McMillan about Occupy Philadelphia and #Occupy Wall Street respectively.[25]

Mapping Socialist Strategies

Mapping Socialist Strategies was convened from August 1-4 in Briarcliff Manor, NY, by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office. It brang together 100 influential progressives and leftists from across the United States, Canada, and Europe for an “un-conference” on socialist strategies.

Attendees included Joseph Schwartz.

DSA 2016 leadership

The 2016-17 Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee elected members are: Jared Abbott, Hope Adair, Theresa Alt, David Green, Jose Gutierrez, Elizabeth Henderson, Frank Llewellyn, Sean Monahan, Simone Morgen, Brandon Payton-Carrillo, Joseph Schwartz, Peg Strobel and Russell Weiss-Irwin. The convention also voted to add two new honorary vice chairs: Deborah Meier and Bhaskar Sunkara. [26]

Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward


Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward was a phone in webinar organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the wake of the 2016 election.

Now what? We’re all asking ourselves that question in the wake of Trump’s victory. We’ve got urgent strategizing and work to do, together. Join Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Movement for Black Lives and Freedom Road, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Jodeen Olguin-Taylor of Mijente and WFP, Joe Schwartz of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Sendolo Diaminah of Freedom Road for a discussion of what happened, and what we should be doing to build mass defiance. And above all, how do we build the Left in this, which we know is the only solution to the crises we face?

This event will take place Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific.

"Trump’s Victory Is a Wake-Up Call to the Left"

"Trump’s Victory Is a Wake-Up Call to the Left: Did we do enough in 2016? And how can we build a broader electoral movement?" was written by Calvin Miaw (Lynn Koh) for In These Times, Nov 18, 18, 2016;

Today we have a number of inspiring movements (and encampments!) that will continue under the Trump administration. We have incredible multiracial alliances—from the National Domestic Workers Alliance to Grassroots Global Justice—all across the United States. We have cutting-edge work in electoral politics through our mass organizations at the local level (like San Francisco Rising or the South Bay Labor Council) reaching into the state level (with New Virginia Majority and New Florida Majority). There's a lot going for us, but whether we are able to build a worthy successor to the Rainbow, which replicates its achievements while avoiding its quite obvious failures, depends on us moving beyond what we've been doing.

Special thanks to Kayan Cheung-Miaw, Lucia Lin, David Monkawa, Dan DiMaggio, and Joseph Schwartz for feedback on this article.

Peoples Summit panel


Judith LeBlanc, Thomas Wayne Walker, Shuron Jones, Joseph Schwartz, Timmy Lu were panelists on a Democratic Socialists of America sponsored panel at The People's Summit 2017 in June in Chicago.

It was entitled "Electoral Politics and transformative Politics:A View from the Left".

The Left We Want to Build: Breaking Out of the Margins

In June 2017, Joseph Schwartz Democratic Socialists of America signed the letter The Left We Want to Build: Breaking Out of the Margins.


Joseph Schwartz was active in the 1984 and 1988 Jackson campaign, as well as in the movement behind Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential effort.[27]

Socialists have the incumbent obligation to broaden out the post-Sanders, anti-corporate trend in US politics into a working-class “rainbow coalition.” We must also fight our government’s imperialist foreign policy and push to massively cut wasteful “defense” spending. We should be involved in multiracial coalitions, fighting for reforms like equitable public education and affordable housing.
Democratic socialists can be the glue that brings together disparate social movements that share an interest in democratizing corporate power. We can see the class relations that pervade society and how they offer common avenues of struggle. But at 25,000 members, we can’t substitute ourselves for the broader currents needed to break the power of both far-right nativist Republicans and pro-corporate neoliberal Democrats.
We have to work together with broader movements that may not be anti-capitalist but remain committed to reforms. These movements have the potential to win material improvements for workers’ lives. If we stay isolated from them, we will slide into sectarian irrelevance.[28]

Endorsing Fetonte

Democratic Socialists of America members who endorsed Danny Fetonte when he ran for DSA NPC in 2017 included Joseph Schwartz, Philadelphia.[29]

NPC candidate

In August 2017 Joseph Schwartz stood for election to the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, at the National Convention in Chicago.[30]

I teach radical political thought and US politics at Temple University, where I’m an elected rank-and-file leader of the 2800 member AFT union (adjuncts included). Scores of former students of mine are active in DSA. I grew up in a multi-racial working class neighborhood in the Bronx and got involved on the left as a high school activist in the anti-Vietnam war movement. Later I served as DSA’s first campus organizer (1979-1981) and played a major role in the US anti-apartheid movement. Subsequently I’ve been active in the movements for single-payer health insurance and for affordable housing and equitable public education. I write frequently for In These Times, Jacobin, and Dissent, and have represented DSA in interviews with MSNBC, the BBC, Huffington Post and PBS News Hour. I also have written two books in radical and socialist theory. I’m partnered with DSA socialist-feminist activist Michele Rossi and our three year old daughter Leah Rossi-Schwartz will be attending her second DSA convention. I also have a twenty-five year old son, Michael Migiel-Schwartz, who is a labor researcher and organizer and DSA member..[31]

Democratic Socialists of America Unity

Joseph Schwartz supported the Democratic Socialists of America Unity grouping, established for the 2017 Democratic Socialists of America National Convention in Chicago.[32]

2017-2017 DSA NPC members

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Members elected to the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, August 2017;

DSA convention delegate

Philadelphia Democratic Socialists of America delegates to the August 2017 Democratic Socialists of America National Convention in Chicago included Joseph Schwartz.

DSA Disability Caucus/Working Group

Members of the DSA Disability Caucus/Working Group, closed Facebook group. as of July 16, 2017 included Joseph Schwartz .[33]



  1. Michael Harrington, "The Left Wing of Realism," Democratic Left, vol. 1, no. 1 (March 1973), pg. 5.
  2. NAM 10th Convention Agenda, July 29, 1981
  3. Tribute to Ben Dobbs program, June 7, 1981
  4. DSA Conference delegate list Oct. 12 1983 update
  5. 1986 DSA Feminist Commission Directory
  6. Democratic Left, Summer 2009
  7. 8th Socialist Scholars Conference, April 6-8 1990, conference program
  8. email from C Riddiough to S Tarzynski Dec 9 1994
  10. Memorandum, Steve Tarzynski-May 26, 1992
  11. 11.0 11.1 New Ground 45, March - April, 1996
  13. [1] Democratic Left, Winter 2002, page 5
  15. Renegotiate NAFTA website: Signatories to the petition to President Barack Obama, April 16, 2008
  17. Democratic Left, Summer 2009
  20. [2] DSA 2009 National Convention Evanston, Illinois November 13-15, 2009 report, DSA website, accessed June 11, 2010
  21. Dem. left. Winter 2012
  22. [3] Over 15,000 attend US Social Forum, David Green, Talking union Blog, July 3, 2010
  23. [4] List of participants, SI website, accessed July 13, 2010
  24. YDS website, Spring Conference, Their Crisis, Our Pain: The Democratic Socialist Response to the Great Recession, accessed Feb. 23, 2011
  25. , Sacramento DSA website, accessed Nov. 2, 2011
  26. Dem Left, DSA Convention: New Strategy for a New Era Posted by Dsa on 11.18.15 Barbara Joye
  27. DL Joseph Schwartz, After Super Tuesday: Building a Sanders “Rainbow” Campaign Posted on 03.07.16
  28. [ D L What Should Socialists Do? Posted on 09.11.17 By Joseph M. Schwartz and Bhaskar Sunkara]
  29. [ Danny Fetonte for NPC AUSTIN DSA·SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2017]
  30. [5]
  31. [6]
  32. [7]
  33. [8]