When I was a college student, I participated in solidarity actions for unions at my school. I felt I was being true to my family’s union and immigrant roots. But it wasn’t until the first time I tried to organize my own workplace, and at a later job when I was a union steward, that I truly understood the undemocratic power a boss can wield in the workplace and the transformative power of a united, collective response by the workers. I realized that we can win, and at the same time I saw just how far the bosses would go to sow fear and division.
Many of the articles in this issue explore in one way or another how personal experiences shape our politics and our sense of the possible. What does that mean for us in DSA? To me, it’s clear: We must always be organizing.
Organizing gives us a new experience under neoliberal capitalism, where otherwise we would spend our lives in isolation. For many, significant social time is mediated by technology platforms that maximize profits for the few while leading to more loneliness for the many. Work is a race to the bottom as the owning class finds ever more ways to pit us against each other. Neighborhoods and schools are increasingly segregated, and civil society has with- ered away, to the point where individual consumer choices, such as wearing a T-shirt with the right slogan, are marketed as activism.
In contrast, organizing not only brings us together as comrades, it teaches us both the skills to run our society without the boss class and the skills to achieve such a society. DSA is a school for collective action. We are a laboratory for democracy. And we’re a team to build solidarity. That is the use of having an organization. Together, in strategy debates and on picket lines, we forge a new consciousness and a new confidence in our power.
On May Day this year, 86 chapters organized actions in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. We organized phonebanks and made one million calls asking voters in key states to call their senators to support the act. And we helped flip two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Angus King of Maine, who had been against the act. Few other national organizations have this kind of energized and empowered force bubbling from the ground up.
Our grassroots numbers highlight the other value of organizing: scale. The only way to reach the working-class millions who need to recapture their collective power is to stand side by side, understand what we have in common, and fight for it together. You and I and 94,000-plus comrades are not enough. We need all of us.