YDS Winter Conference 2014

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Throughout modern history, young people have kindled the flames of social movements across the world. In the last century, students initiated successful fights against Jim Crow and the Vietnam war, and the more recent struggles against neoliberal austerity in Greece, Quebec, and Wall Street have had an undeniably youthful energy. In 2014, the leftward trajectory of  youth in the United States  is visible in the increasing membership and participation of students in the Young Democratic Socialists (YDS).


This President’s Day weekend, over 100 young activists from across the country converged in New York for the annual YDS winter conference: Beyond Capitalism: Activism and Ideas for the Next Left. The conference offered plenaries, presentations and workshops to strengthen both the analytical and strategic acumen of YDS members, while also providing a welcoming environment to facilitate social networking among activists on a national scale.

The kick-off plenary, ”New Directions in Feminism,” drew over 140 conference attendees and New York community members to a discussion on the challenges and prospects of contemporary feminist thought and practice. The plenary featured the acclaimed and controversial writer Mikki Kendall, who emphasized the importance of the intersectionality of race and class with gender. Kendall was followed by Dangerous Minds writer and DSA National Committee member  (NPC) Amber Frost, who discussed the role of social media in modern feminism. Peg Strobel, a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a DSA (NPC) member presented on the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union of the 1970’s, providing a historical context to current debates in feminism.

In Saturday morning’s plenary, “Introduction to Socialism and Strategy,” DSA honorary Chair Frances Fox Piven and NPC member  and DSA vice chair Joe Schwartz introduced attendees to the political tradition of democratic socialism and the need to develop strategies to transform social relationships within capitalism.

The final plenary, “Socialist Self Education,” brought socialist intellectuals Emahunn Campbell and Nichole Shippen together with Jacobin Magazine founder Bhaskar Sunkara and Dissent Magazine associate editor Sarah Leonard to discuss their respective autodidactic processes. This new feature for the winter conference was well received by conference attendees, with speakers discussing the influence of authors ranging from Karl Marx to bell hooks on their intellectual development.

The majority of the conference was composed of workshops, both activist trainings and political education. Activist trainings focused on the nuts and bolts of organizing, with workshops offering practical guides to starting YDS chapters, transitioning leadership, tabling, and running campaigns. Political education workshops featured speakers who discussed a variety of political, social, and economic issues facing activists around the world, including racism in American politics, trans* inclusivity, the neoliberalization of the university, immigration, and precarious worker organizing. Introductory and advanced workshops on democratic socialism were also provided by YDS veterans. Between workshops, caucuses for women and gender minority, people of color, LGBTQ, and working class members along with caucuses for allies provided safe spaces for discussions on how to confront oppressive dynamics within the organization and at the conference.

In contrast with previous conferences, the majority of the workshop and plenary speakers were either current or former YDS members. This creates space for future engagement for newer members, presenting the organization as a nucleus for the leadership and intellectual development of young activists. Additionally, the presence of activists from Germany’s Social Democratic Party and Mexico’s Party of the Democratic Revolution at the conference gave attendees an added appreciation for the contemporary context of the international left.

This year’s conference was assuredly the strongest in recent years in terms of participation and content, and sets a standard for future conferences to live up to. More importantly, conference participants will go back to their chapters with a firmer grasp on theory and practice to inform their campaigns against student debt and school privatization in the coming year.

Roddy.jpgDavid Roddy currently serves on the National Political Committee of DSA and is active in the Sacramento local.

 

 

 

 

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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.