January Dispatch: War is a Racket

The last week has been a roller coaster.

Many of us have breathed a slight sigh of relief as things deescalate a bit around Iran. But this doesn’t mean it’s over. Far from it. The need for a broad based, working-class anti-war movement, led by the communities most affected, has become yet more clear. The bipartisan drumbeat for war in Washington and in the capitalist media, the surveillance rhetoric coming from Democratic mayors, and the way Republicans labeled any debate as traitorous, were immediate and could be revived at any time. And the silent war against civilians, of sanctions, will continue and will disproportionately hurt the poor. We have seen that civilians always suffer in the war zone.

Besides the catastrophic results of even a proxy war in the Middle East for Iranians, Iraqis and others in the region, including undocumented, displaced Afghans in Iran, the domestic impact here can’t be overstated. Medicare for All would be off the table. Abolishing student debt would be off the table. Disaster response for Puerto Rico, rocked by their worst earthquakes in a century, would be off the table. A Green New Deal, our only hope for stopping the kind of climate change induced extreme weather that has led to massive fires in Australia and massive floods in Indonesia (mirroring our own fires and floods in 2019), would be off the table. A federal housing guarantee, which would directly benefit the tens of thousands of homeless veterans that the U.S. capitalist class has discarded after using their bodies for war, would be off the table.

Investment in public programs that benefit us all would be cut so that poor and working class people could be sent abroad to kill other poor and working class people.

And, those that would see us divided would continue to drive deeper wedges. Here in New York, there has been a string of violent antisemitic attacks. Many of us responded with solidarity. But the media and the politicians are using the opportunity to call for repeal of a hard-fought bail reform law which took effect January 1st. Internet trolls pit black people and Jews against each other, a project which would only be strengthened by war, along with Islamophobia and xenophobia.

Yet, as always, I have hope.

Prior to Trump’s assassination play, Iran was rocked by working class protests against the rising cost of fuel. 

India’s Hindu nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi faces widespread protests over draconian measures targeting India’s Muslim minority, the latest a mass strike of 250 million people just yesterday.

And here in the U.S., DSA and our allies in struggle are in the streets and building our power.

Within a day of the assassination, NYC DSA mobilized hundreds to picket at the home of Senator Chuck Schumer, and DSAers across the country are participating in or organizing our own protests, from Des Moines to Las Vegas. In the past week, chapters protested, then joined a DSA national organizing call to discuss how we, in all of the sectors and movements where we do work, can help build a more broad-based anti-war movement for the long haul. War, whether the spectacular kind with bombs, or the silent kind with economic sanctions, hurts the working class here and overseas. Our Democratic Socialist Labor Commission will discuss moving anti-war petitions in union locals, for example, because our political analysis is that these issues are all intertwined.

We’re collecting resources and ideas related to anti-war organizing war here, but read on for updates on all of our movement work and the upcoming National Political Committee meeting.


In This Dispatch


The Bernie & M4A Week of Action is almost here! In coordination with the DSA for Bernie campaign and support from National Nurses United, we’re encouraging chapters to canvass, host town halls and rally support in their communities for Bernie Sanders and Medicare for All from Jan. 13-20. With the Iowa caucuses right around the corner, now is the time to make one final push for the only candidate who promises to introduce Medicare for All their first week in office: Sen. Bernie Sanders. Let us know if your chapter plans to participate by filling out this form, and make sure to post pictures of your work using #DSAforBernie as we push towards our goal of 80 active chapters and 160 events around the country!


While many chapters expand their campaigns in January (the last month before voting starts), we are also asking you to SAVE THE DATE for our GOTV (Get Out The Vote) call Tuesday, February 4th at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/ 5pm PT the day after the Iowa Caucus. We’ll discuss Iowa’s impact, outline how to run a high level Get Out the Vote program that can elect Bernie and grow our chapters, and our plan for bringing Bernie’s working class base into DSA after the election.


Want to make sure your chapter’s endorsed candidate gets the full weight of our national organization behind it? Please apply here 10 weeks before your election date if possible to seek National endorsement and let the National Electoral Committee (NEC) know if you have a campaign or want to start an electoral working group so they can support you. You can reach the NEC at [email protected]. One more tip: create an email for your electoral working group and then let the NEC know what that email is. This will make staying in touch so much easier.


Please join the DSLC for an informational call on the 2020 Labor Notes Conference. The call will be held on Sunday, January 12 at 7pm ET/6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT. Please click here to RSVP for the call.

Please also read this article by DSA members Joe Allen and Andrew Sernatinger in response to the death of Frank Ordoñez: “They Killed Frank Ordoñez.” This article also appears in Spanish here. Este artículo también se encuentra en español aquí.


Don’t forget to join our Socialist Feminist Working Group’s Nationwide Reproductive Rights Strategy Session this Saturday, 1/11 at 2PM ET/1PM CT 12PM MT/11AM PT! This is a space to discuss reproductive rights nationally and locally, draw from international movements, and strategize about where to go from here.

The Right has spent decades attacking abortion access with increasing fervor — increasingly restrictive abortion regulations, firebombs at health clinics, the assassination of providers, the prosecution of individual women, and the setting of a legal framework to bestow “personhood” on fetuses. As socialists, we must see these attacks as what they are: class war on the most vulnerable. Feminist strikes have mobilized millions people around the world for abortion access, it’s time to bring that spirit to the U.S. Join DSA chapters across the country for the first national webinar hosted by the Mass Strike for Reproductive Freedom campaign, a committee of DSA’s Socialist Feminist Working Group.


In the past month, the NPC has approved the following statements:


DSA’s primary political leadership is the National Political Committee (NPC), a sixteen-person body plus a vote shared by the co-chairs of the Young Democratic Socialists of America. This body functions as the board of directors of DSA and is elected every two years by the delegates to DSA’s National Convention. The NPC guides and leads the implementation of DSA’s major political and organizational goals, which are broadly defined every two years by the delegates to the National Convention.

The NPC meets in person four times a year. The 2019-2021 NPC was elected last August, and had their first meeting in October 2019. Their next meeting will be February 1-2, 2020. NPC meeting minutes are posted on our website under Statements as soon as they are approved. You can find more information about the NPC here.


Democratic Left is DSA’s volunteer-led nationwide print-and-online publication. Democratic Left has great need of skilled illustrators, graphic designers, and photographers. To apply, fill out the Google form here. If you don’t have a Google account, you can follow the application instructions here.


Chapters without bank accounts may now apply to receive dues sharing from monthly dues payers, via funds loaded onto a PEX card for the chapter. Delegates to the national convention in August passed this via resolution and we’re excited to be launching it early! Make sure to ask your chapter treasurer if this is applicable for your chapter and connect them with headquarters if they haven’t yet applied.


Unite, Fight, Win: the 2020 Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) Winter Conference is quickly approaching! The deadline to apply for travel scholarships and solidarity housing is Wednesday, Jan. 15, and registration spots are filling up. Submit your applications and registration ASAP!

This year’s conference is focused on the urgency and opportunity to organize in this political moment. Young socialists face both incredible threats and incredible opportunities to fight and win. 2020 is not only an election year with a democratic socialist on the ballot – it’s the start of a new decade with rising social movements, working class militancy, and a growing socialist movement in response to the failures of neoliberal capitalism and the global threat of the far-right and climate disaster. It’s socialism or barbarism, and we have to be ready.

The 2020 Winter Conference will be hosted in Chicago the weekend of Feb. 14-16 and will include political education, organizing trainings, speakers, and strategy discussions focused on building DSA and the democratic socialist movement.

Learn more about the conference and how to register at You can email [email protected] if you have any questions.


Our DSA swag store is selling union-made No War in Iran posters, stickers, buttons and t-shirts at-cost. Bulk orders and overnight shipping are available for chapter rallies and local organizing. And if you were on our No War With Iran organizing call last night, check your email for more resources. Fill out this form to get more involved.