Democratic Left

The “S” Word Lives

By Maxine Phillips

“Socialism Through the Generations”, a panel at DSA's Naional Convention.
The author was one of the panelists.

 “We’re going to have some press coverage. The reporter is sympathetic. Do you want to talk to him?” Sure, always happy to talk to a member of the press, even though I didn’t hold out much hope for a favorable story. This was, let’s face it, the 2011 convention of the Democratic Socialists of America. After three and a half decades as either a volunteer or a staff member, I’d been to too many conferences and conventions that got either no coverage or a few skewed paragraphs. My favorite example was the year one of the predecessor organizations brought to Washington such luminaries as Olof Palme, François Mitterrand, Michel Rocard, Michael Manley, Felipe Gonzalez, Willy Brandt, and Tony Benn—all either legendary democratic socialist leaders or soon-to-be prime ministers in their own countries. Three thousand people attended. We rated a few paragraphs in the style section of the Washington Post on what leftists wear to such an educational event (hint: knapsacks, because they’re probably sleeping on someone’s floor).

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A Member's Account from Charlottesville

By Austin Gonzalez

When I attended the counterprotest in Charlottesville on Saturday, I thought of my family. I come from about as diverse a background as one could imagine. My father was born in Puerto Rico, and my mother is a New Yorker of Italian descent. My parents are deaf. Being raised by deaf parents has always given me a deep sense of responsibility to help those in my community who cannot help themselves. I also thought of my friends. I thought of my fellow Democratic Socialists and other comrades who had turned out to counterprotest with me. I thought about a lot. But most importantly, I thought about all the friends and activists across the country who could not be there: people locked in jails for petty crimes, trapped in detention centers for fleeing violence in their homelands or otherwise silenced by hate because of the way they look, the way they think or the people they love.

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Member Reflections on Convention

(Reid Jenkins)

The recent convention in Chicago brought together a diverse group of members from all over the country. To get a sense of what members are thinking, Democratic Left invited convention attendees to submit their reflections on the convention. Below are a few personal accounts offering thoughts and takeaways on the largest socialist gathering since World War II. 

Jeb Boone, Metro Atlanta DSA

I was reading a lot of Debs in the weeks leading up to the convention. His speeches were masterpieces and he spoke of standing shoulder to shoulder with comrades as if it were the greatest joy we could ever hope to experience—he called it “the ecstasy in the handclasp of a comrade.”

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DSA Statement on Nazi Violence in Charlottesville

Statement of the DSA National Political Committee Interim Steering Committee, August 13, 2017

Yesterday's events in Charlottesville, Virginia are a stark reminder that we must fight for socialism or succumb to the barbarism of white supremacy.

We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the white supremacist, racist, anti-Semitic terrorist attack on our comrades in the DSA, the ISO, IWW, Antifa and all others who joined forces in the streets of Charlottesville, VA yesterday.

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Opinion: It’s Not About Bigotry On All Sides. It’s About White Supremacists

One dead after car plows into anti-racist demonstration. (Ryan M, Kelly/The Daily Progress)

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

I sat here listening to Trump’s remarks in connection with the violence carried out by neofascists in Charlottesville this afternoon, violence which has resulted in the death of at least one anti-fascist.  He condemned bigotry on what he called all sides.

Once again Trump obscures reality.  He either ignores the violence and terrorism carried out against traditionally oppressed groups, e.g., attacks on mosques, or he uses evasive language in order to avoid pointing the finger at the real perpetrators of racist violence.

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DSA In The News: Convention Round-Up

By Tom Ladendorf

Last week's annual convention in Chicago brought DSA's name to the headlines in a number of publications. Many outlets, including Chicagoist, Salon, Slate, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, New Republic, and The Week ran general pieces on the convention. Even CNN was willing to admit that, with 25,000 members, a historic convention, and a growing list of elected officials, it might be time to start taking DSA seriously.

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Assessing Leon Trotsky


By Jason Schulman

The Life and Death of Leon Trotsky

By Victor Serge and Natalia Sedova Trotsky, published in France in 1951; Haymarket Books, 2015

Leon Trotsky ,By Irving Howe, Penguin Books, 1978

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, a workers’ revolution led by a Marxist party with the intent of sparking a Europe-wide revolution, which never came. These two books on the leader of the Bolsheviks’ Red Army and the Marxist theorist of “permanent revolution” and “combined and uneven development” are worthy additions to any socialist’s personal library. One is co-written by Trotsky’s widow (herself a revolutionary) and an anarchist-turned-Bolshevik who joined Trotsky’s small international movement of anti-Stalinist communists (“Trotskyists”) in the 1930s. The other is by a former Trotskyist who became a founding editor of Dissent magazine and, with other erstwhile Trotskyists seeking a less “sectarian” existence, helped form what is now DSA. 

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Member Opinion: The Wrong Way to Resist Trump

By Patrick Stall

The palace intrigue around Donald Trump’s ties to Russia stewing since before last year’s election is crescendoing at a rapid pace. Mainstream news outlets bombard us daily with the latest revelations in an endless saga of allegations and denials of collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. A small but growing chorus, mostly of Democratic Party officials and liberal media correspondents, but also some activists on the ground, is now openly calling for the President’s impeachment. How should socialists react to these calls?

Trump is a reprehensible man who espouses and practices racist, sexist, and neoliberal politics. His policies are already having devastating effects on undocumented immigrants and refugees, which adds to the urgency of resisting and removing the President. Of course, this urgency has been translated into words and action. There was a start-up movement to convince members of the Electoral College to not vote for Trump in December 2016, even before the spectacular Women’s March and airport protests this January. Moreover, there is an open debate on the Left on whether or not to throw our weight behind the Russia investigations and proto-movement to impeach the President.

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DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

August 21, 2017
· 19 rsvps

Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.


Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 40 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
· 23 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.