April Dispatch — Protecting each other, transforming the world

In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, private health insurance and pharma companies have left us unforgivably vulnerable to the pandemic and hospitals now compete for ventilators on the free market, leading to a price jump from $20,000 to $40,000 each in just two weeks. Forty years of neoliberal austerity budgets are culminating, in the case of my own state of New York, in 2.5 billion dollars in Medicaid cuts by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo in our state budget. He’s also taking the opportunity to roll back historic bail law reforms which our movement had only just won months ago. Every state has its own story.

Wall Street Democrats have warned us for months that “if you like your health insurance now, you can keep it” to scare us away from Medicare for All. Now that the politicians have allowed 40 million people to lose work, and those of us still with private insurance face a 40% premium costs hike in 2021, a whole lot are realizing that was a hollow promise. Meanwhile, Donald Trump seeks to expand his right to detain us without trial, a power grab reminiscent of that completed by Hungary’s Viktor Orban just days ago, and deflects our fear and anger towards China and Chinese people.

We think we are at the mercy of the capitalist class.

But now is the time to think differently. As we huddle at home wondering where to get next month’s rent or tomorrow’s meal or whether ICE will come knocking, or venture into danger to make low wages doing essential work, or grieve in solitude the losses of friends, family or coworkers, it is the time to recognize our place. Our place is not at the bottom of the economic pyramid. It is not gasping for breath because a wealthy politician decided we are expendable.

In truth, our place is running this economy, and controlling it too.

Workers walked off the job at multiple Amazon worksites here and abroad, this week at Instacart & Whole Foods, and last week it was nurses, sanitation workers, meatpackers and others. Hazard pay, paid sick leave and personal protective equipment are becoming common demands as essential workers realize they are indeed essential. And they are often winning. 

But the thing that gives me the most hope, besides people realizing our collective power to protect ourselves and each other, is what I heard about General Electric workers: they demanded to make ventilators.

In the face of a deadly White House and often complicit Democratic politicians, workers are looking out for each other, demanding to control the means of production so they can meet human needs not corporate profits.

I am a socialist because I know that even after the tidal wave of layoffs in March, if we stand together we have the power not just to survive. We have the power to transform this society. We can change the capitalist economy that set us up to fail when the virus hit, and instead build a democratic socialist one. We can make an economy and society for the benefit of the many, not the few.

Our April Dispatch is full of ways you can get involved even while physically distant as well as organizing co-workers or neighbors if you have no choice but to go out.

We are in this together.

Maria Svart
DSA National Director

In This Dispatch

NEW LOCAL DSA GROUPS

A big welcome to our new DSA local groups! 

Congratulations to our new Chapters:

  • Corpus Christi, TX
  • Southwest Louisiana

Congratulations to our new Organizing Committees:

  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • High Peaks, NY
  • Southwest FL
  • Stanislaus, CA

UPCOMING NATIONAL CALLS AND ONLINE EVENTS

Next Thursday, 4/9, our weekly organizing training series continues with Strategic Campaigns During Social Distancing — Part 1. We’ll discuss strategies for keeping the pressure up during social distancing. We’ll talk big picture theory of change, brainstorm ways to show people their collective power while social distancing, and review how to cut an issue and identify a target. This two-part training for DSA and YDSA organizers will help you craft successful pressure campaigns to use in this moment and beyond. Don’t miss out — register now!

And join us for “Covid-19: A Man-Made Crisis — A conversation with Mike Davis, Marianela D’Aprile and Nafis Hasan,” Tuesday, 4/7 at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/5pm PT. Sponsored by our Political Education Committee, this call will lay out a broad picture of how capitalism created the COVID-19 crisis: from ecological disasters of unfettered capitalism; to a pharmaceutical industry fueled by profits not healthcare; to the gutting of healthcare, public health funding, and social safety nets; to the shameful response of the government — they sacrificed our lives and loved ones for their profits. This discussion will delve into the causes and character of the crisis, and its implications for the future of our world. More political education calls to come!

And do you know someone who is interested in DSA, but hasn’t actually joined? Invite them to our Q&A about DSA call this Sunday, 4/5! On this call, participants can get an overview of what DSA is, our socialist analysis of the COVID-19 epidemic, and what it means to take that next step and join DSA.

NATIONAL POLITICAL COMMITTEE STATEMENTS 

Our National Political Committee (NPC) is the elected leadership body of DSA, and acts as our board. Since our last Dispatch, the NPC has approved the following statements:

COVID-19: SIGN UP FOR OUR BULLETIN

Would you like to get more frequent updates on our COVID-19 work? The DSA COVID-19 Bulletin is designed to keep working-class people informed about the evolving COVID-19 crisis and its political implications. If you’d like to get the DSA COVID-19 Bulletin by email, sign up here, and share this link with your friends and comrades! Anyone can sign up. New bulletins come out several times a week, and are also posted on the News section of the website.

DSA FOR BERNIE GOES DIGITAL

As countries around the world struggle in the midst of this massive public health crisis, it only heightens the need for us to win Medicare for All, paid family leave, and to elect Bernie Sanders. That’s why DSA for Bernie has added new digital resources to our Beyond Bernie folder to continue organizing during social distancing, including a COVID-19 focused agenda and guide for holding a Beyond Bernie Meeting by Zoom and an updated remote outreach section of our Beyond Bernie memo, all to geared toward supporting chapters as they follow up with Bernie supporters in their community about joining DSA and engaging with our work.

We will also be launching our new and improved DSA for Bernie phone banks in the near future. Sign up here to be notified as soon as they are live and ready to go.

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMITTEE: NEW ENDORSEMENTS AND REACH OUT FOR TRAINING/ADVICE

Our National Electoral Committee (NEC) has endorsed Mckayla Wilkes for US Congress, MD-05 in her June 2nd primary and Rebecca Parson for US Congress, WA-06 in her August 4th primary. Please reach out to elections@dsausa.org to connect with the NEC for training, advice, or to seek national endorsement for a campaign that your chapter has endorsed.

DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST LABOR COMMISSION UPDATE

Our Democratic Socialist Labor Commission (DSLC) has launched some new projects for chapters to get involved in.

First is the COVID Workplace Organizing Project. DSA Labor activists have been assisting workers across the country in fighting for their rights during the pandemic. If you have labor organizing experience and would like to help, please fill out this form. You can also share our outreach form if you or anyone you know needs help at work.

Second is the Restaurant Worker Organizing Project. This is a new project to help chapters organize laid off restaurant workers around immediate demands for relief, as well as a vision of how to change the industry post-crisis so it works for workers. Fill out our interest form here if you’d like an organizer to get in touch. We will be also hosting a call on April 18th at 3PM ET/2PM CT/1PM MT/12 PM PT. Please click here to RSVP and get call details.

Finally, the DSLC Steering Committee will be reaching out to chapters to identify and connect with existing labor formations. If your chapter or organizing committee is new or has a new labor formation, make sure your chapter reaches out to us at dslc@dsausa.org with a point of contact so we can get in touch with you, and if you want to start a Labor Working Group, get ahold of us and we can help! You can also join the DSLC as an individual by filling out this form.

ARE YOU A RELIGIOUS SOCIALIST? GET INVOLVED!

The Religion and Socialism Working Group is organizing DSA to participate in the Digital Poor People’s Assembly in June. This assembly is scheduled to take place right before the Democratic and Republican national conventions, should they go on, because both parties have failed to center systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and militarism, ecological devastation, and religious nationalism as the moral issues of our day.  As Religious Socialists, we want to build coalitions with this clergy-led and multi-faith movement whose demands overlap with much of DSA’s own platform.

We also want to organize working class religious people into campaigns in our chapters especially in this time of increased need for collective organizing. Will you join us? Fill out this form to get involved.

APPLY TO JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE LEADERSHIP: NEW DEADLINE 4/16

As per  Resolution 4: Building the International Committee, our International Committee (IC) has begun a structural overhaul. This includes opening up IC Subcommittees, creating a new Steering Committee to oversee our IC’s Subcommittees, and establishing an International Secretariat to provide advice and diplomatic support directly to the NPC.

The deadline to apply for these new International Committee positions has been extended to Thursday, 4/16 due to COVID-19. We’re looking for members with some background in internationalism — and a willingness to commit a minimum of 3-5 hours per week — to apply now to take on a leadership role in the IC, either as a member of the Steering Committee or International Secretariat, or as a co-chair of one of its world-regional and thematic Subcommittees. To ensure a diverse committee, we encourage women and non-binary members to apply. Apply here by Thursday, 4/16 to join the International Committee in a leadership role.

YOUNG DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA UPDATE

To all students or those who work with students: read the YDSA COVID-19 organizing memo!

Campus organizing has become much more difficult now that classes are online and dorms are closed, but it’s never been more urgent. The YDSA National Coordinating Committee has put together this COVID-19 organizing memo to help students continue organizing and building youth socialist power even during social distancing.

Preparations are underway for the 2020 YDSA Convention! You can access the draft convention rules here and pre-convention timeline here. Please encourage new and unofficial YDSA chapters in your chapter’s jurisdiction to apply for national recognition by April 24 –  this is the deadline to apply in order to attend the convention. The first step to applying is to attend a chapter application training – register here. 

SOCIALIST FORUM CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: SOCIAL RESPONSES TO CRISIS

DSA’s Socialist Forum is looking for submissions for its next issue, themed “Social Responses to Crisis.” You can submit your pitch here. The pitch submission deadline is Friday, 4/17. Editors will blind-review pitches and notify you about the status of your submission by Monday, 4/27. If your pitch is chosen, Socialist Forum will expect a full first draft by Monday, 5/11. 

For this issue of Socialist Forum, we are interested in pieces that explore the range of possible responses to social crisis, including specific demands and proposals for nationalization and/or socialization of production and services (finance, healthcare, infrastructure, income relief for workers, etc); how to balance the necessary strengthening of state capacity with new forms of popular participation and organization that empower the working class; analysis of approaches to the crisis made so far by both the Trump administration and the Republican and Democratic Parties; the extent to which mutual aid responses to a crisis on this scale are useful, desirable, and effective; and the role that the DSA can and should play in this critical moment.

If you would like to contribute an article on this theme to Socialist Forum, please use this form to submit a short pitch describing your article. If your pitch is accepted, the full article should be roughly 3500-4000 words in length.If you have any questions, please contact socialistforum@dsausa.org. Submissions are not officially accepted until after editors review the first draft of a full article.

ANNUAL REPORT FROM THE NATIONAL HARASSMENT AND GRIEVANCE OFFICER

In order to strengthen DSA and our ability to both hold members accountable for unacceptable behavior, and help us work through legitimate disagreements productively, we invest member dues in internal work around Harassment. Unlike many organizations, we don’t just have a token policy and consider our work done. Rather, we invest resources in a National Harassment and Grievance Officer (NHGO) who carries out the program and provides training and leadership development for HGOs within chapters based on professional best practices.

Resolution 33 at the 2017 DSA national convention required chapters to submit data annually about grievances processed. We originally planned to do the survey at the end of 2018 but were still building our HGO program. Therefore, this first Annual Report covers July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019 and will provide a baseline for comparison in future reports.

CHANGE THE NAME ON YOUR DSA MEMBERSHIP CARD

Does your DSA membership card show the wrong name? Please fill out this form with the email address associated with your DSA membership and update your DSA membership with your current name!