American public discussion of socialism arguably hit a new level when Wally, the coffee-drinking, do-nothing character in Dilbert, the daily comic strip send-up of office politics, declared his conversion to that point of view. Unfortunately, as Wally’s case reminds us, much of this increased socialism talk comes from people who don’t like and/or understand the idea. That more of it needs to come from the actual left is clear. Less clear is exactly what we should say when we talk the talk.

Simultaneously, a series of recent foreign elections — most notably Germany’s — have prompted talk of a global revival of the left. And yet, Germany is an example of the left’s failure to take power, in part because of its inability to unite — and perhaps because of its failure to take the prospect of governing seriously. Are we American socialists prepared to move our ideas from the lecture halls to the halls of power?

Our speaker will be long-time Democratic Socialist Tom Gallagher. Tom was elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1982. Running as an open socialist, he quickly earned the affectionate nickname, “Tommie the Commie.” Since then, he has remained active, and true to his Democratic Socialist values . Tom has served as a Democratic National Convention delegate for both George McGovern (1984) and Bernie Sanders (2016).

Speaker: Since moving to San Francisco, Tom has remained active as union member (United Educators of San Francisco, AFL-CIO) and president of the local Democratic Club in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. He is a long-time anti-war and political activist who has authored five Iraq and Afghanistan antiwar resolutions adopted by the San Francisco Democratic Party. In July 2015 he published his pamphlet, The Primary Route: How the 99% Takes On the Military Industrial Complex, which makes the case for socialists running in Democratic Party primaries, the route actually followed by Bernie, AOC, the Squad, and others, though Tom does not claim that any of them actually read his pamphlet. Tom is also well-versed in Marxist theory, having completed all three volumes of Capital.