May Day 2019 Letter to DSA Comrades
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
Comments are closed.
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