Dear North Star Comrades –
Duane Campbell and Leo Casey have launched North Star on an excellent journey with their "What is to be done" statement. On October 14, I sent in an edited version of Leo’s paper and people found my comments a welcome addition. Since the best place to process this is the NS Blog, I am submitting my suggestions again in a stand-alone format. They are meant to answer Duane’s questions and supplement Leo’s original.
Addition to “What defines the current political moment in the U.S.?”
Confronting the rise of the neo-fascist, anti-democratic forces is a new mobilization of an increasingly self-aware progressive movement resisting the right. Key elements of this progressive force are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (advocating for voting rights, police accountability, educational and health equity) women (advancing both anti-harassment and reproductive rights agendas), youth (activated around climate and anti-gun issues), LGBTQI+ people, care workers, tech workers, immigrant rights organizers, and media activists to name only a few.
If the anti-democratic forces win, these progressive forces will be weakened and threatened past recognition. We cannot easily imagine the horror and devastation that could ensue. DSA itself could be lost and the openly socialist left would be certain to face repression and increased violence.
Addition to “Given this political moment, what are the tasks of the Left and DSA?
The immediate task of the Left is to mobilize all possible forces to prevent the Republican Party from retaking congress at the 2022 mid-term elections and to prepare to elect a Democratic candidate to the presidency in 2024. Such a mobilization must include state and local elections and engage new activists no matter what the outcome of voting rights legislation may be in congress. A key aspect of this effort will be to focus on "swing state" and winnable races while advocating for the issues and races that resonate most everywhere we are active.
While this is the immediate task, such a united front should be structured with an eye to the longer range as well. It should continue to focus advocacy for progressive issues if Democrats hold power, or if necessary unify resistance to withstand onslaught of repression we can expect in a Republican takeover.
DSA members must not be constrained by the dictum to only work to elect openly socialist candidates. If purists insist that DSA not formally “endorse” anyone who does not identify as a socialist, we should still work in coalition with viable progressive candidates who are opposing Republicans wherever possible. Community-based coalitions of folks committed to issues such as universal health care, immigrant rights, gun control, reproductive freedom, living wages, climate justice, and workers’ rights are where DSA members should be active.
Addition to “What political strategies and approaches are best aligned with meeting these tasks?”
As openly identified socialists, DSA members must enter a united front dedicated to saving democracy with an attitude of receptive humility. With our 90,000 plus dues-paying members and significant organizing staff, DSA could catalyze a "Mississippi Summer" style mobilization during 2022 while actively promoting and accepting co-leadership from BIPOC, labor, climate, immigration, and other proven leaders on the left.
Two approaches to organizing in the current crisis are key to success.
The youth, energy, technical and organizing capabilities of the insurgent DSA members are impressive. So are the confidence and optimism of the members who have joined in the past five years. A key internal organizing strategy for North Star is to facilitate dialog and cross fertilization between these two groups.
Addition to “What are the strengths and weaknesses of DSA in terms of its understanding of the political moment and the tasks it poses…?”
Among the issues that are holding DSA back from taking an appropriate role in organizing progressive forces in this country are:
Addition to “How should we act and intervene within DSA…?
North Star has a number of strengths we can bring to bear on the challenges DSA and the Left face right now. We should adopt both internal and external organizing strategies to promote and implement our programmatic priorities.
North Star counts with many veteran organizers spread across the country who in turn have contacts throughout the progressive, civil rights, labor, feminist, and environmental movements. These veteran organizers could serve as resources in a number of ways. It is an important organizing task to ask them to step up and participate in whatever way they can.:
For a more detailed discussion of my views on DSA and the need for a united front strategy, see the article I wrote in last winter's Socialist Forum:
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