A Critique of the Socialist Majority Caucus statement, 'Against the Right and the Center: A Democratic Socialist Strategy for Working Class Power'
By Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher Nov. 2022.
On the eve of the 2022 election, DSA's Socialist Majority Caucus has declared itself as a force actively engaged in building a broad united front against the far Right, with the particular aim of defeating GOP candidates across the board. It matters even more so because that task is not over with this electoral round, but will continue to 2024 and beyond.
…This formulation merges an anti-far Right/antifascist fight with a fight against centrist Democrats, leading to a moment where the working class wins state power. We would agree that there are conflicts and struggles on all these fronts, but formulating it this way causes more problems and confusion than it solves or clarifies. There are three sets of struggles that need to be conducted, but the question is, at this moment, what is the principal struggle and who is the principal enemy…
Assessing the Terrain
Here is where the issue of assessing the terrain becomes critical. We don't put the fight against the right on a par with the fight with the center. In fact, we advocate a more nuanced approach: First, unite and develop the progressive forces (Everyone from the Congressional Progressive caucus, Progressive Democrats of America, and the Working Families Party, on one hand, and the socialists, including Bernie, AOC, and those to their left on the other hand). Second, the progressive and Left forces must win over as many of the middle forces as we can (The Biden Dems, their close allies, Blue dogs, independent voters and even a few never-Trump Republicans). Third, isolate and divide the right (Overt fascists, Trump's rightwing populists and the Christian nationalists) and crush them batch by batch. Basically, we want to and need to avoid fighting all our adversaries at once.
Our approach to the center is one of critical support. We are certainly in a tactical alliance with them to defeat Republicans. But there is more to it. We are joining them in a wider fight for defending democracy and the Constitution. We also can join them in their programs, however limited, around climate change, a Green New Deal, and an expansion of high tech manufacturing. They will fight for these in their way and we will do it in ours, and there will be unity and overlap, as well as contention. We both are aware of other sectors of capital that oppose these reforms in their entirety. Where we need to struggle against them, we will do so, including where the centrist Democrats hold office and move anti-people programs.
Our base(s) must be clear that it is not the centrist Democrats who are engaged in voter suppression; the destruction of abortion; global warming denial, etc. The centrist Democrats are not the main threat to political democracy. Thus, to the extent to which we place them on the same level, even rhetorically, as the far Right, we are confusing ourselves and our base, and we are wasting valuable resources and time.
This raises the question of neoliberalism. We think the SMC would do well to examine the matter more. We think neoliberalism, at least on the domestic front, has reached a point of exhaustion. It's had a good 40-year run, but it has no solutions to any pressing programs. Once elected, Biden had to bracket it and search for the voice of his inner FDR New Deal to come up with his Build Back Better, Infrastructure and other programs. The hard liners of the neoliberals, the Kochs, are embedded within the GOP's efforts to gut Medicare and Social Security. To be sure the neoliberals are still around, even under the Dem tent. But they operate more as Zombies, wielding some power and danger, but no life.
Socialism and Dividing Our Tasks into Two.
We don't want to submerge the question of socialism, nor does the SMC. What we do is divide our tasks into two, our mass democratic tasks and our socialist tasks. Mass democratic task we all know well, everything from organizing the unorganized to winning elections and beating back fascists. When it comes to socialist tasks, what we criticize is what we'll call 'last sentence socialism,' wherein we make a speech or write an article about a rent strike or a union battle, and at the end, we tack on a sentence or two asserting 'that's why we need socialism!' We have all seen this too many times.
But we are quite serious about our socialist tasks, and they are not to be put off to another day. We need clarity on what they are. We think they are largely theoretical and educational. We need serious study and debate around 21st century socialism, market economies, and many other matters. We need an array of thousands of socialist study groups among the most active and advanced workers and students on the matter, along with book stores and publishing houses. We need think tanks that can develop the policies of the deep structural reforms we want to get on the agendas in Congress and state legislatures. This is not being done all that well by any of us. But if we fail, when the time comes when socialism is being a large matter in elections and insurrectionary risings, we will be poorly armed for the moment.
We submit our feedback, for your consideration, in the interest of strengthening clarity and unity within the socialist Left. We want to open a discussion, not assert any final conclusion. With the onslaught coming from the far Right the socialist Left must play a key role in constructing a broad front opposing the Right. The ability or inability of the socialist Left to lead in the construction of such a front and, thereby, blunting the offensive of the Right, will ultimately determine our own viability as a political current. The stakes could never be higher.
The above essay, along with other material is on the post of Left Links.
North Star caucus members
antiracismdsa (blog of Duane Campbell)
Hatuey's Ashes (blog of José G. Pérez)
Authory and Substack of Max Sawicky
Online University of the Left
In These Times
The American Prospect
Black Agenda Report
Dollars and Sense
Working Families Party
Poor People's Campaign
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Progressive Democrats of America
Democracy for America
Black Lives Matter
Movement for Black Lives
The Women's March
Jewish Voice for Peace
National Abortion Rights Action League
National Organization for Women
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights