The National Political Committee (NPC) has announcedthat it will not submit an organizational priorities resolution to the 2019 DSA National Convention. If the National Convention were to acquiesce in the NPC’s failure to present proposed organizational priorities to it for its consideration, the result would not be that DSA does not have organizational priorities, but that they will be determined in less democratic and less transparent ways, by subordinate bodies such as the next NPC or by the national staff. This is NOT how a healthy democratic socialist organization should function.In the absence of an organizational priorities resolution from the NPC, the DSA North Star Caucus is submitting such a resolution, so the National Convention can debate and democratically decide the direction of the organization over the next year. Our resolution reflects what we believe should be DSA’s priorities, but we would urge other caucuses and individuals who have different priorities to prepare amendments reflecting their views of DSA's priorities, so the National Convention can consider the full range of perspectives in our ranks, and make a democratic decision.
Proposed National Priorities for DSA for 2019-2020
WHEREAS for a membership organization to be truly democratic, it is essential that the important decisions about its political positions and its political work be made as close as possible to the membership, with the widest possible discussion and participation;
WHEREAS as a democratic socialist organization, DSA has among its first principles the importance of collective action, informed by a strategic assessment of the historical moment in which we find ourselves and what it demands of us, and the necessity of deciding how we act collectively through the most democratic processes;
WHEREAS in DSA, the National Convention is established “highest decision making body” in our Constitutions and By-Laws, and has the widest participation of rank-and-file members from across the country;
WHEREAS the democratic venue for establishing DSA’s organizational priorities must therefore be the National Convention; if the National Convention does not act, the important decisions over organizational priorities will necessarily devolve to subordinate decision making bodies with less participation, such as the National Political Committee (NPC), or to the national staff, and be less democratic;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED:
THAT this 2019 National Convention of Democratic Socialists of America do hereby establish the top three priorities for our organizational work for the period until to our next annual Convention:
"Only direct action—or the threat of it—will move the boss." Sara Nelson, the flight attendants union president whose strike threat ended Trump's government shutdown, on building a fighting labor movement.
On May 10, 2019, Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson gave a speech to the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America’s annual Eugene Debs–Lucy Gonzalez Parsons–A. Philip Randolph Dinner. Jacobin reproduced the speech here in full, lightly edited for online publication.
That spirit is what led flight attendants to declare we wouldn’t work flights that facilitated the Trump Administration’s evil policy of immigrant family separations. And it’s that spirit that led us to take a firm stand during the government shutdown, when millions of people were out of work, others were forced to work without pay, all of us were increasingly unsafe, and our entire economy was on the line. With access to 360 million voters in our workplace, we intend to continue to use the spirit of our union for good.
And let me tell you I’m proud to be with you, the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America. You have won some great victories here in this city this year. You have helped elect some incredible leaders.
Still, some ignorant political hack or media purveyor of hate is likely talking trash right now about democratic socialists. And here’s what I have to say. Helen Keller was a democratic socialist. And so was Albert Einstein. And so was George Orwell. And Bayard Rustin. And the Reuther family.
When Nazi troops came to the Warsaw Ghetto to kill the last Jews left, the men and women on the rooftops who met them with gasoline bombs were democratic socialists, and democratic socialists stood up against dictatorship throughout the twentieth century, they filled Stalin’s camps and Siberian graves.
The minimum wage, national health care, worker safety rules, Social Security — before the Great Society and before the New Deal, this was the democratic-socialist agenda.
And of course our democratic-socialist working heroes, Eugene Victor Debs, A. Philip Randolph, and Lucy Gonzalez Parsons. The police called Lucy Parsons “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” because of her skills as an orator, organizer, and rabble-rouser.
Her cry that only direct action — or the threat of it — will move the boss is a lesson we can all do well to remember. Read more.
Defeating Trump, Trumpism, and Electing Democratic Socialists and Progressives
Submission to the national convention. We need your endorsements. Use this form. Include your e mail and telephone number.
Whereas, our first priority is the electoral and political defeat of Donald Trump, the Trump-dominated Republican Party and the authoritarian forces aligned with them. The white nationalist, patriarchal,authoritarianism of Trumpism poses a ‘clear and present danger’ to working people and their unions, to people of color, to women, to LGBTQIA people, to immigrants, to members of minority religious faiths and to democracy itself.
And whereas, a Trump victory in the 2020 elections would consolidate an authoritarian state with the most reactionary politics, expand imperial aggression abroad and shrinkthe political space for democratic and left forces at home.
And whereas, failure to prioritize the defeat of Trumpism would be nothing less than the abandonment of the struggles against the racism, sexism, white nationalism and bigotry against immigrants, Muslims and Jews that are central to Trumpism:
Be it therefore resolved that the defeat of Trumpism is a strategic imperative, the most important political task of our time.
Be it further resolved that to defeat the Trump regime, the Democratic Party and candidates for office running as Democrats must adopt a progressive platform that breaks decisively with neoliberal politics and economics, rejecting the policies of austerity, privatization, economic deregulation and ‘race to the bottom’ free trade under corporate hegemony.
Be it further resolved that DSA should promote the development of such a progressive platform, which places the interests of working people and their unions over corporations and the 1%, that takes on the economic impact of institutional racism and sexism in employment and social services, that addresses increasingly catastrophic climate change, protects abortion rights and reproductive justice and promotes the well-being of the great mass of U.S. working people, especially in the provision of fully-funded, universally accessible public goods in health care, education, housing and mass transportation.
Be it further resolved that DSA will vigorously support publicly avowed democratic socialists such as Senator Bernie Sanders and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib (both DSA members), as well as other progressive elected officials. Bernie Sanders’ campaign for President deserves our support precisely because it can advance this progressive platform, even if he does not win the Democratic Party nomination.
And, be it further resolved that DSA’s electoral work is most effective and has the greatest impact when we work cooperatively with other progressive organizations on the left – both mass organizations such as unions, civil rights organizations and community groups, and political organizations, such as Our Revolution, the Working Families Party, and Justice Democrats.
And, be it finally resolved that the DSA Electoral Committee shall report to the membership their proposed strategy for achieving the above objectives.
DSA members may endorse the resolution here.
Submitted by Duane Campbell for the North Star Caucus
Proposal to national DSA Convention; 2019.
WHEREAS one of the first principles of democratic socialism is the importance of collective action;
WHEREAS our political work should be informed by a strategic analysis of the political economy of U.S. capitalism and the cutting edge issues of the day, with an eye to identifying the critical points of system leverage where we can collectively intervene to maximum political effect; and
Whereas DSA individuals, chapters, and the Immigrants’ Rights Working Group have been actively engaged for over six years, and continue to engage in the defense of immigrants and refugees from racists attacks, and promoting
and the promotion of comprehensive immigration reform that would secure their place in the U.S., putting an end to corporate induced competition between native born and immigrant workers, and between U.S. workers and workers abroad. ( See resolution #41 from the 2017 convention).
And, whereas, In the last half century, there has been a major restructuring of the global economy, conducted largely on the terms of transnational corporations seeking ever greater profits. Neo-liberal ‘free trade’ agreements, such as NAFTA I and II and CAFTA, have produced a global ‘race to the bottom,’ with capital flight sending good paying union jobs away from workers in the U.S. to countries with low wage employment, many of which are ruled by authoritarian states that ban independent unions. In the Americas, this global ‘free trade’ economy has devastated entire sectors of the economies of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, leading millions of people attempting to migrate to the U.S. in search of food, jobs, and security. Many also flee the ruthless violence of criminal groups in nations with ‘failed’ states, as well as the effects of climate catastrophes, from drought to increasingly vicious and destructive storms.
And, whereas, the racist nationalism of Trump and his cohort seeks to exploit the anger of U.S. workers by scapegoating immigrants and refugees, projecting racist fears and resentments on them.
And, whereas, only a politics which breaks with the neo-liberal paradigm can successfully counter the racism of Trump and the nationalist right wing, bringing a measure of justice both to immigrants and refugees and to workers in the U.S.
Be it therefore resolved that:
We invite you to join us as members of the North Star caucus of DSA.
You can find our complete Statement of Principles here.
We are committed to democracy as both a means and an end. We believe that socialism cannot be achieved except through democratic struggle.
Our current political priorities include:
We find this an exciting time to belong to DSA. We’re growing both from some of our electoral victories in 2018 and from the momentum of the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, where Senator Sanders forced his opponents and the media to deal with his self-identification as a democratic socialist. We anticipate that DSA’s participation in the 2020 Sanders campaign will continue our growth and the development of democratic socialist politics.
DSA has grown to more than 50,000 national members, with organized groups in nearly every state in the union. In many locations, DSA chapters have developed great programs of activity, ranging from Medicare for All advocacy, to electoral engagement, to defense of immigrant communities, to tenant organizing and more.
So why organize a caucus within DSA at all and why now?
Unfortunately, we saw unhealthy developments in the organization. Nearly 40 percent of the delegates to the 2017 National Convention voted to reject any joint work with Our Revolution, the group explicitly organized by Senator Sanders’ supporters to carry on the work begun in the 2016 campaign. What was the objection to Our Revolution? It’s not pure enough. It doesn’t exclusively support explicitly socialist candidates. That stance of political purism isolates DSA from the very people we need to reach. There remains a tendency to deny political participation to the broader, less active DSA membership. DSA is currently not doing enough to engage with our natural allies in coalition work or movement building. Electoral engagement is still criticized by some members as a waste of time. Political purism continues to distract from socialist organizing, even as some members openly reject the principles and tradition of democratic socialism.
Even more disturbing, we saw a trend of people, often operating anonymously through social media but sometimes identifying themselves openly, behaving in a manner that can be only described as toxic. They demonstrated a willingness to scrap any hint of due process or democratic deliberation and to organize digital mobs to enforce some sort of orthodoxy. The toxicity in DSA has not dissipated. If we continue down this path, the least damaging outcomes would be driving good people away from DSA and a descent into irrelevance; a much worse outcome would be that an organization with a toxic internal culture infects the broader progressive left.
North Star exists to challenge these tendencies and make DSA a better organization. We also dismiss the notion that DSA should exist without caucuses.
In an organization of 50,000 members, many if not most new to democratic socialism, the old DSA without caucuses is no longer viable. The organization needs organized factions – caucuses – that put DSAers who think alike and do similar work in touch with each other, allowing members to develop and present their political views and strategies to the organization as a whole. Interaction among such caucuses is the essence of democracy in any large organization. Without public caucuses, cliques will still form underground to deliberate, organize and push their politics. However, the vast majority of the membership will be left with no access to this decision-making. Insiders ‘in the know’ should not be allowed to make all the important decisions without real accountability in the form of organized dissent.
What does need to be addressed is how caucuses conduct themselves: do they operate in a factional way, putting the interest of the caucus above the interest of DSA as a whole, and even more importantly, above the interest of the movement as a whole? We have organized a caucus to pursue our vision of democratic socialism and we welcome other caucuses that have formed in a democratic manner.
We’d appreciate your response to this invitation, to our Statement of Principles and to content on our blog. If you support our Statement of Principles, please sign on as a member of our caucus. If you disagree, we welcome participation and dialogue.
DSA North Star: The Caucus for Socialism and Democracy
See who we are: www.dsanorthstar.org
The opinions expressed here are those of members and allies of DSA North Star Caucus meant to educate, inspire discussion and encourage comradely debate.