It’s hard to get through a day since the inauguration without hearing about the Biden Administration’s “first 100 days.” To us, most have felt woefully disappointing. Democratic Left is thus honored to share the words of the January panel featuring all of the above DSA committees, 100 Days of Socialism. The event’s mission was to discuss what the first 100 days of a socialist government might look like, and to share visions for a socialist future. Stay tuned, after the introductory remarks below from Sanjiv Gupta and Daphna Thier of the national Political Education Committee, for visions from Afrosoc, Socialist Feminism,Labor and Green New Deal Committees. We’ll roll out one every week over the next month–and would love to hear more from readers.(Ed.)
100 first days of socialism. What would we do if we were in power?
Amid the consequences of a global pandemic, deepening economic crisis, and the looming peril of the far right, we’re witnessing the weakness of American liberalism, looming danger from the far right, and the absence of a strong, organized Left on the main stage. Many are looking for analysis and political vision beyond the insufficient Democratic and Republican establishment business-as-usual responses.
DSA provides an alternative vision of a truly democratic society, where all are cared for and equally free to live dignified lives. To help lay out this vision, the DSA’s National Political Education Committee invited leaders from different parts of DSA to answer the question: what would we do if we were in power? We are publishing edited versions of those statements, from comrades representing the National Political Education Committee, the Afrosocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus, the Green New Deal Campaign Committee, the Socialist Feminist Working Group, Young DSA (our student section), the International Committee, and the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission.
These do not represent every political position in our organization, but they begin to lay out a vision for us to organize around. They will give some perspective, and hopefully open a period of discussion around our political goals, and the strategy we need to achieve those goals, in the coming months ahead of this summer’s convention.
Because we’re building a movement that is rank and file, that is democratic, everyone needs to be equipped to weigh in and raise their voice. We need to build an organization of workers who are, regardless of formal education, intellectuals at the highest level, big thinkers, and visionaries. But these are skills, not things anyone is born doing. That’s why in political education we try to give everyone an opportunity to work out their thoughts and ideas with comrades. Here is our vision of what it would mean to take a socialist vision of education beyond DSA and extend it to all people.
[To step back a bit:] Here’s our current scientific understanding of the origins of the universe. 14 billion years ago there was nothing. Not even empty space, because you need objects to have empty space between them. Not even time, because to measure time you need objects that change over time. Everything in the known universe was compressed into an infinitely small point called a “singularity.” 14 billion years ago this infinitesimal speck exploded, spewing forth all the matter and energy in the known universe, and also creating the dimensions of space and time into which we’re all born, live and die.
You might be wondering, what does this have to do with anything? How is this knowledge useful? Well, it’s not—unless you’re aspiring to be one of the handful of people who make their living as astrophysicists, this knowledge is useless in any practical sense, and you’re likely to forget it quickly. But for a few minutes perhaps you experienced wonder or pleasure; perhaps you experienced curiosity, a desire to learn more, simply because it’s cool.
As socialists we believe that all people have a natural right to these feelings of wonder, connection, curiosity, as much as we have the right to health, nutrition, political expression and so on. If you know any babies, you know that we’re born with this urge to learn and explore. That is what education should be about. So we don’t just want free education, though that’s very important: we want nothing less than _to free_ education from being mostly about trying to survive the relentless waves of technology and automation.
We want nothing less than to free education so that it is instead mostly an indulgence, about taking pleasure in learning new things. That means freedom from economic uncertainty, racism, patriarchal oppression, war, the destructive effects of climate change. These things sap our individual and collective capacity for enjoyment and wonder.
In the first 100 days of a socialist government, we will start night schools in every town for people to teach each other all kinds of useless things: how to write songs and poems, how to draw, how the universe began. At the same time we will be canceling student debt, implementing the Green New Deal and all the rest. The less we need to worry about the cost of education, the more time and energy we’ll have for real education.
In the meantime, NPEC encourages all chapters to conduct their own Socialist Night Schools on the basic ideas of socialism. If your chapter doesn’t have a structure in place, we’d love to help. Those 100 Days can start right now,