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Chester was a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) while at the University of Michigan in the 1960s, when he opposed the war in Vietnam. He was a member of New American Movement in the 1970s, and has been a member of the Socialist Party USA since 1980. He helped organize the faculty union while teaching at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is currently a member of the National Writers Union (UAW), an active member in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Socialist Party of Massachusetts, and the Socialist Party USA, and was the Socialist Party USA–s candidate for Vice President in 1996. The 1996 Socialist Party USA presidential ticket of Mary Cal Hollis and Chester received 4,765 votes. He campaigned for the SP's Presidential nomination for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 elections, but lost to David McReynolds, Walt Brown and Brian Moore, respectively. He twice ran for Congress from Massachusetts's First Congressional District, in 2002 and 2006.
Chester taught economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston (1973–1978; 1986) and San Francisco State University (1981). He has published four books, focusing especially on "the hidden secrets of U.S. foreign policy" and "the connections between U.S. foreign policy and social democrats, in this country and abroad". In an interview with Contemporary Authors, he described the resulting difficulties in archival research, "the search for previously undiscovered primary source documents", and often a declassification process that "usually entails extended appeals as provided for under the Freedom of Information Act." Chester is unwilling to rely on the public record, and urges researchers "to probe beneath the surface" and keep in mind that "the goals and actions of decision makers, as well as their envoys, are frequently in marked contrast to their public statements."
As of 2007, Chester is Convener of the International Commission of the Socialist Party USA. In 2006-2007 he also served as a member of the International Solidarity Committee of the IWW. He advocates supporting and uniting the new radical and revolutionary anti-capitalist movements that are being generated by the conditions of worldwide economic globalization of capitalism, into a mass revolutionary socialist party that is independent of the two capitalist parties, the Democratic and Republican Parties. Following the principles and ideas of Eugene V. Debs and Rosa Luxemburg, he describes himself as a revolutionary democratic socialist.
|Party political offices|
|Socialist Party Vice Presidential candidate
Mary Cal Hollis
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