Convention 2013 Report

Building a New Generation of Socialists; Revitalizing Socialist Strategy

The 2013 DSA convention, held in Emeryville, Calif. from October 25-27, brought together socialists from across the country to rejuvenate DSA’s organizing capacity and reorient our strategy.

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Images From the Convention

Convention Resolution on Priorities 2013-2015

BUILDING THE NEXT LEFT

DSA’s main task in the coming two-year period is to develop a plausible democratic socialist vision for social justice in the 21st century. We will challenge the attacks of neoliberal capitalist austerity on the rights and freedoms of citizens and on key government programs. We will elaborate this critique and vision in dialogue with fellow social-movement activists and organizations that oppose neoliberalism and seek a better life for all. A discussion of the changed political terrain and DSA’s basic strategic orientation in the coming two years will educate, empower, and grow our current activist core, while equipping DSA with intellectual tools appropriate to this century.

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Statement on Restoring and Expanding Our Democracy

Anti-democratic practices have become a staple of U.S. politics. We have seen it in so-called electoral reforms in many states that restrict the opportunity to exercise the most basic of rights—the right to vote—of minority and other voters based on their party preference. We have seen it in Supreme Court decisions that have equated money with speech, privileging the political rights of corporations, millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the 99%. 

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The Role of a Socialist Organization in the Era of Austerity

Joseph Schwartz speaking at the DSA national convention

DSA National Vice-Chair Joseph M. Schwartz gave this address to a plenary session at the 2013 National Convention. He argued that DSA’s founding strategy assumed that socialists would be the left wing of a revitalized New Deal coalition grounded in the traditional labor movement. But since DSA’s 1982 founding, the Democratic Party’s national leadership (though not all the party's grassroots activists or elected officials) has embraced a bipartisan consensus favoring “the four Ds of neoliberalism”: deregulation, de-unionization, decreasing taxes on the rich, and defunding social services. Thus, DSA strategy has to both defeat the anti-democratic far Right and build ties between a weakened labor movement and movements of the dispossessed: immigrants, low-wage workers, victims of the prison-industrial complex, and indebted recent college graduates. Finally, Schwartz urged DSA to be more militant in its critique of capitalist injustice, while offering a visible socialist alternative to neoliberal capitalism.

Joseph M. Schwartz is a Professor of Political Science at Temple University and a Vice-Chair of DSA. He serves on DSA's National Political Committee and on the executive committee of his AFT local. Active on the left since the anti-Vietnam war movement, Schwartz was the first campus organizer for DSA (1979-81) and has been active in the anti-apartheid movement, the fight for single-payer health care, and the struggle against austerity cuts to funding for education and other vital public services.

 

Steve Williams speaking at the 2013 DSA National Convention

Steve Williams is a long-time community organizer in San Francisco and the cofounder and executive director (1997-2012) of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER). He recently completed a listening project with N’Tanya Lee in which they interviewed 150 organizers and activists from around the country. Williams now coordinates Left Roots, a national organization of leftists engaged in various social movements.

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John Nichols speaking at the DSA National Convention

John Nichols, the Washington, DC correspondent for The Nation, writes The Beat, a blog, and is cofounder of Free Press and author of many books including The "S" Word: A Short History of an American Tradition...Socialism.

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Catherine Tactaquin Speaking at the 2013 DSA National Convention

Catherine Tactaquin is executive director and cofounder of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The daughter of an immigrant farmworker from the Philippines, she was involved for many years in grassroots organizing and advocacy in the Filipino community on issues of discrimination and foreign policy. In 1994 she helped to found Migrant Rights International (MRI), a global alliance of migrant associations and other nongovernmental organizations. She represents NNIRR and the Global Coalition on Migration on the Steering Committee of MRI, and is on the board of the Poverty, Race and Research Action Council in Washington DC.

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Tom Hayden speaking at the DSA National Convention

Tom Hayden was a leader of 1960s peace, justice and environmental movements. In 1962 he drafted the “Port Huron Statement,” expressing the idealism of the New Left, and cofounded Students for a Democratic Society. He participated in civil rights work in the South and in Newark, N.J. and in efforts to end the Vietnam War. Elected to the Calif. State Legislature in 1982, he served for 10 years in the Assembly and eight years in the state Senate, authoring more than 175 progressive measures. He is also author of 20 books, including The Lost Gospel of the Earth; Ending the War in Iraq; The Long Sixties; Inspiring Participatory Democracy: Student Movements from Port Huron to Today, and Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader. Hayden founded and directs the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, Calif.

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David Bacon speaking at the DSA National Convention

Journalist, photographer and author, David Bacon speaking at the 2013 National Convention of Democratic Socialists of America.  His topic is the title of his latest book: The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 45 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 14 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 8 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.