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

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 82 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 47 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 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. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.