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.

Neoliberal capitalism’s attack on unions and the social safety net has weakened working people and the public programs we demanded and won from government during the New Deal. But the dramatic rise in inequality caused by bipartisan policies of austerity and upward income redistribution has given rise to grassroots resistance by low-wage workers, immigrants, and indebted former college students. Convention sessions focused on how socialists can strategically help build these new movements. The convention also marked the beginning of a generational transformation within DSA, as those under the age of 35 constituted almost one-third of the 100 attendees.

The Friday plenary session on “Understanding Power and Oppression” introduced a series of caucuses in which delegates reflected on issues of class, gender, age, race, and sexual orientation.  To accelerate the recruitment of younger members, convention delegates committed to expanding DSA’s “Drop Student Debt” campaign. The campaign works for a short-term alleviation of the student debt burden through an expansion of the Obama administration’s Income Based Repayment program, while raising the long-term transformative goal of free and universal higher education. DSA local chapters using the campaign have increased their visibility and recruited younger members into their activist core.

The convention also began a two-year, organization-wide grassroots strategy discussion designed to build on DSA’s historic strengths while reshaping our politics so as to respond to 21st century neoliberalism. Introductory talks by me, DSA Honorary Co-Chair Gus Newport, and National Nurses Union Political Director Michael Lighty (who served as DSA national director from 1990-1993) set the context for the “strategy reboot.”  I addressed the need for the socialist movement to root itself among a young generation that is skeptical about capitalism.  Newport, the former mayor of Berkeley, Calif., and a veteran civil rights activist, urged socialists to join mass struggles against the prison-industrial complex and voter suppression. Lighty argued that neoliberal capitalism’s belief that “there is no society, just individuals” yields a politics of austerity and environmental degradation that impoverishes children, guts pensions, and threatens the future of the planet. 

DSA National Vice-Chair Joseph Schwartz’s Saturday morning plenary address set the stage for small group discussions. 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 1983 founding, the Democratic Party’s national leadership 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, Schwartz argued, 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 held, DSA should be more militant in its critique of capitalist injustice, while offering a visible socialist alternative. 

The East Bay DSA chapter hosted a packed house of delegates and Bay Area supporters for a public event featuring rousing speeches by Nation writer John Nichols, LeftRoots co-founder Steve Williams, and Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (see excerpts from and links to videos of their speeches on this page).

Author, photographer, and immigrant rights activist David Bacon illustrated the grim results of global capitalism run amok with his moving presentation and slideshow at the convention banquet. Remarks by Tom Hayden, the other banquet keynote speaker and veteran social-change activist, are available at www.dsausa.org/convention_2013_report.

Our convention affirmed that to take on the capitalist oligarchy, DSA chapters must be rooted in the local grassroots resistance movements.  Only by building an international movement that prioritizes human and labor rights over the accumulation of profit can we accomplish that task. Building DSA at the local and national level, delegates affirmed, will contribute to this project of a lifetime.

Grassroots Fundraising: Paying for the Revolution (9pm Eastern)

June 23, 2017
· 46 rsvps

Are you new to socialist organizing? Or after many years do you still struggle, raising money from members when you need it but without a steady flow of income or budget to plan ahead? Are you afraid to tackle fundraising because it seems so daunting or you are uncomfortable asking people for money?

In this webinar, you will learn why fundraising is organizing, and how to do it – face to face, through fundraising events, and other ideas.

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

Instructor:

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

Training Details:

  1. Workshops are free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have preferably headphones or else speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt talt@igc.org.
  5. If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt schmittaj@gmail.com 608-355-6568.
  6. Participation requires that you register at least 21 hours in advance -- by midnight Thursday for Friday's webinar.

NOTE: This training is scheduled for 9:00pm Eastern Time (8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific, 5 pm Alaska, 3 pm Hawaii).

Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 8 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.