Democratic Left

Thank You for Not Killing Us

By Jeremy Mele

John McCain is a true American hero” is a sentiment that has exploded across mainstream news sources and the Internet this week. After he voted against the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a not insignificant portion of the media and general public have been quick to sing the senator’s praises as they rushed to proclaim that the “maverick” McCain they knew and loved had returned to them. One would think, from all of the admiration sent his way, that McCain had accomplished something superhuman. McCain, however, did not alter the course of a mighty river, nor did he leap a tall building in a single bound. He voted against 15 million people having their health insurance taken away from them.

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Bolsheviks and Beyond

By Michael Hirsch

Ten Days That Shook the World - by John Reed, originally published 1919, Penguin Classics, revised ed., 2007

John (“Jack”) Reed wasn’t looking backward to the French Revolution or even the Paris Commune when he chronicled the seizure of power of the Russian Revolution of 1917. As a 30-year-old independent radical journalist, he was looking at it with fresh eyes. What he saw was not just the overthrow of a repressive monarchist oligarchy and its attendant bourgeois class, but a vast democratic, majoritarian movement based on “soviets,” or councils, made up of workers, soldiers, and peasants. Although he had been embedded in Pancho Villa’s rebel army in Mexico and covered Industrial Workers of the World strikes in New Jersey and miners’ struggles in Colorado, it was witnessing the cataclysmic events in Russia that confirmed him as a revolutionary.

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Member Opinion: A Polite Disagreement on Racial Politics

By Paul Glaze

To the delight of capitalists everywhere, the newfound momentum of the left in the United States has, so far, been easily slandered as predominantly white and male. In light of these fair criticisms, many, most notably Jacobin Magazine, and recently Matt Hartman on this blog, have pointed towards a path that reads well, but misses the mark for political organizers - particularly in the inner cities and deep south. 

On a practical level, Hartman argues that “to succeed in the long term, we must address that problem at the root by prioritizing organizing projects that create material connections between the everyday lives of DSA members and the working class more broadly.” 

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Member Opinion: The Case for Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution

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(Allyson Neville-Morgan/Flickr)

By Jason Schulman and Tristan Sloughter

Note: Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

A protest movement-turned-revolution met with such criminal brutality that it created the most awful humanitarian crisis since World War II. A counter-revolution led, on the one hand, by a second-generation dictator, supported by far-right and fascist parties throughout Europe, and on the other an apocalyptic “Islamic” cult.

One would think such facts should make a stance of clear solidarity from the left with the Syrian revolution obvious. But all too often, this has not been the case. As democratic socialists we find it very important to consider why this is, how to fix it and how we can and should act in solidarity with those fighting not only for freedom but for their very survival.

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A Brief History of Democratic Socialists of America (1971-2017):

Bringing Socialism from the Margins to the Mainstream

By Joseph M. Schwartz

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)—and its two predecessor organizations, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) and the New American Movement (NAM)—had their origins in the early 1970s, at the beginning of a long-term rightward shift of U.S. and global politics. This shift to the right—symbolized by the triumph in the 1980s of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher—somewhat overshadowed the central role these organizations played in the movements of resistance to corporate domination, as well as in today's ongoing project: organizing an ideological and organizational socialist presence among trade union, community, feminist and people of color and other activists.

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There Are No Valid Reasons to Leave the Socialist International

Response to DSA Internationalism Committee April 2017 Report

by Enrique Calvo 

            The DSA Internationalism Committee released a report in April proposing that the Democratic Socialists of America either sever ties with or downgrade its status in the Socialist International, “an association of political parties and organizations which seek to establish democratic socialism.” The rationale of the Committee can be boiled down to four arguments: (1) that internationalism costs money, (2) that the DSA should disassociate itself from the policies and programs of the International, (3) that the DSA should disassociate itself from the austerity and neoliberal policies of some parties affiliated with the International in an effort to appease competing parties outside the International such as Podemos in Spain, Die Linke in Germany and SYRIZA in Greece and (4) that the International and the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) routinely ignore the DSA and YDS. These arguments are factually problematic or otherwise unconvincing.

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Social Movement Organizing and Electoral Struggles

A Comradely Response to Mike Hirsch’s commentary (DL blog 6/28/17) on Joe Schwartz’s “Coalition Politics and the Fight for Socialism” (Democratic Left, Summer 2017 and DL blog 6/14/17)

By Joseph M. Schwartz

Mike Hirsch knows my politics and history of social movement activism over the years well enough to know that I would agree with him that democratic socialists should prioritize building social movements that empower working people and communities of color. Electoral politics represents only one tactic in broader movement building. Most of my political work with DSA was first in just such movements (e.g.; tenants’ rights, anti-apartheid).

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Organizing for Resistance

By Jessie Mannisto

Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In
By Bernie Sanders, Thomas Dunne Books, 2016

Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals
By Jonathan Matthew Smucker, AK Press, 2017

We live in a strange new political world, with a bigot in the White House on one hand and a swelling of the democratic socialist ranks on the other. How do we chart a path forward? One way is to learn from experienced leaders on the left, many of whom are putting their experiences out there as books.

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