The Democratic Socialists of America is not a political party in the traditional American sense. It has no local precinct caucus where people can join, participate in party elections, or form a true grassroots movement. It has local chapters in various cities and towns across the country which consist of one or more progressive organizers who work with various mobs and front groups for political action from which they hand-select or accept applications for membership based on conformity to Marxist-Leninist ideology. Once a member is accepted, then certain limited internal democratic voting rights are granted.
These internal voting rights generally extend only to organizational and personnel matter; voting on policy and platforms matters is only given to verified adherents of Marxist-Leninist theory. Democratic pluralism is not allowed.
The primary function and purpose in the 2010s is to infiltrate and control the Democratic party.
In 2018, the DSA publicly acknowledged its longtime program of infiltrating the public school system to indoctrinate students with socialist ideology.
In 2016, membership tripled. But the DSA is unlike other political parties. The DSA in 2019 struggles to manage its explosive growth at the local level while allowing for "internal democracy." In local Republican and Democratic party precinct caucuses it's not uncommon for a church or labor union to take over a delegation to county, district, and state conventions. These churches or labor unions may have a specific agenda contrary to the state or national party. That's how grassroots democracy in America works.
The DSA is quite different. No individual or organized outside group can take over a local chapter; decisions, directives, and objectives come from on high, and members must conform to pre-fabricated Marxist theory as interpreted by the national leadership. In essence, members at the local level must submit to party indoctrination, and leave their personal causes and motivations at the door. Without this conformity, there are no voting rights within the party.
Section F of the DSA's 2019 Spring Platform (the "platform" can change seasonally, but the changes come from on high - caucuses have no input) says as much:
CaucusesMembers are organized robots. DSA is not a debating society. The Caucus provision in the 2019 Spring Platform is tossing a bone to newcomers, essentially saying member input is something we'll think about, without a clue as to who is empowered to make decisions.
DSA prides itself on being a multi-tendency political organization, but for most of its history it has actively discouraged the development of distinct political tendencies within DSA. We understand concerns over the potential divisiveness they might produce, as well as the feeling that political and theoretical debates could distract from the business of organizing. In the absence of organized tendencies, key political questions are resolved largely based on staff and elected leaders interpreting what the “mainstream” political views of DSA are. The result is that strategic differences within the organization are rarely discussed openly and explicitly. This limits understanding among DSA’s membership about the key issues facing the organization, and limited coherence in DSA’s political decision-making. If elected, we will work to facilitate the development of organized political caucuses in the organization that will provide space for members to develop their political perspectives, and perform the valuable function of assembling the wide range of political views in the membership into a set of coherent tendencies. [ital added]
To the extent the DSA allows local input, it is limited to debate on strategy. The policy focus is set in concrete - Marxist class theory and the theory of class struggle: oppressors overthrown by the oppressed.
Left Inside/Outside Project
"The DSA National Electoral Committee has joined the Left Inside/Outside Project and will be participating in a call to discuss left political strategy. Here is the invitation for those interested in participating:
The Left Inside/Outside Project invites you to a cross-organizational discussion of left political strategy. This video conference will feature speakers from different organizations in the Left Inside/Outside Project providing their perspective on the key questions facing leftists that are trying to build electoral power alongside social movements, all while navigating the complicated terrain of Democratic party politics. We will also have small group discussions and describe opportunities for collaboration across organizational lines."
2020 DSA race riots
- See also: 2020 Antifa riots
The DSA, which works closely with Antifa-aligned groups, supported a resolution at their national convention in August 2019 to form a “National Working Group to help drive collaboration and resource sharing to support our antifascist organizing.” Echoing the idea behind the Left Inside/Outside Project the DSA put is bluntly: “One foot in the institutions, one foot in the streets.” Opponents believed it tied DSA too closely to the specific anti-fascist tendency known as Antifa, which could cause negative legal and safety consequences for DSA.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has 600 comrades in the Twin Cities who work closely with Antifa aligned groups. On May 27, 2020 the Twin Cities DSA issued a call on Twitter asking comrades for supplies at the same intersection where the Auto Zone was burned to the ground kicking off the nationwide riots. Later that evening the Marxists tweeted,
"Want to help out your comrades protesting at the 3rd precinct? Here's a good list of much needed supplies."
The folks on the ground attached a list and included medical supplies, plywood for shields, anything else useful for shielding from the cops. Private cars were later requested. The tweet read,
"Another big need: if you have a car, some folks may need a quick ride out of the area."
The Minneapolis Police 3rd precinct building was evacuated and burnt down that evening. The Twin Cities DSA Ecosocialists Working Group tweeted to comrades,
"Support the ongoing mass working-class uprising!"
On May 28, 2020 the DSA National Political Committee issued a statement in support of the rioters:
"We the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America condemn the public execution of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police. His murder falls into the deeply entrenched pattern of violence, anti-Blackness, and oppression upheld by policing in this country.... This is white supremacy... We stand with and share the rage of all of those who are making themselves heard on the streets after years of being suffocated by policing and poverty after years of being looted by corporations landlords and billionaires."
George Floyd Uprisings Nationwide
Metro Atlanta DSA was similarly involved in the Atlanta lawlessness. Seattle DSA is also involved. DSA branches in Memphis, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Louisville, Philadelphia, and Richmond are raising funds for “George Floyd Uprisings Nationwide.” The American Left has the power to start race riots in nearly every major U.S. city.
Democratic Left magazine
Democratic Left is the regular publication of the DSA that has run from the 1970s to the present. Issues from 2000 - 2010 are publicly available on the Democratic Left website. The Newsletter of the Democratic Left was the forerunner of the Democratic Left, and was published by the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC). DSOC later merged with the New American Movement and in 1982 formed the DSA.
1982–1992DSA helped form and continues to work closely with the Congressional Progressive Caucus:
"Since 1982, DSA has been working for progressive change. As a national organization, DSA joins with its allies in Congress' Progressive Caucus and in many other progressive organizations, fighting for the interests of the average citizen both in legislative struggles and in other campaigns to educate the public on progressive issues and to secure progressive access to the media."According to the DSA website:
"No, we are not a separate party. Like our friends and allies in the feminist, labor, civil rights, religious, and community organizing movements, many of us have been active in the Democratic Party. We work with those movements to strengthen the party’s left wing, represented by the Congressional Progressive Caucus...Maybe sometime in the future, in coalition with our allies, an alternative national party will be viable. For now, we will continue to support progressives who have a real chance at winning elections, which usually means left-wing Democrats.";DSA, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Institute for Policy Studies formed a triple alliance.
- Main article : Revolutionary Vanguard
The Committees of Correspondence (CoC), also known as the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) was formed in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Several prominent party Communist Party USA ruderless without the Soviet Union to offer funding and instructions, and disillusioned with the dictatorial rule of CPUSA General Secretary Gus Hall, split off and to form their own group.
The groups first organizational conference was held in Berkeley, California, July 17–19, 1992. Charlene Mitchell, who had been a leader of the California Communist Party, spoke at the conference. Mitchell said "the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe left the United States in a near unchallenged position of world leadership." She continued,
"What began as a moment to take stock and ponder where to go from there has now become a very different entity. People from the Communist Party, from CrossRoads, from the Democratic Socialists of America, from NCIPA [National Committee for Independent Political Action], from Solidarity, from the Socialist Organizing Network and many others, including independent leftists and independent socialists, have come together here in Berkeley."In 1995, DSA leader Joseph Schwartz wrote of the Democratic Party:
"DSA is by no means naive about the Democratic Party leadership's general drift to the right. As the Democratic Party in most areas is barely an institution, let alone one that facilitates democratic participation, most DSA locals treat it as simply a line on the ballot.In 1997 DSA goals by 2017 included:
Where progressives have the strength to battle corporate interests and use that line for democratic purposes, we support their efforts—witness Paul Wellstone and Carol Moseley Braun's Senate victories. But where that ballot line is captured by centrist and center right forces, DSA locals usually abstain from electoral work.
"A U.S. President from the Progressive Caucus, a 50 member socialist caucus in Congress, successful programs of the likes of universal health care, progressive taxation, social provision and campaign finance reform."The "Back to Basics Conference" was held Oct. 9–11, 1998, at Chicago's Congress Hotel. Several hundred people attended the conference, which In These Times magazine sponsored and managed. In practice, the conference urged the Left to abandon its dead-end, self-destructive course toward cultural politics and return to class politics.
"DSA leaders, Chris Riddiough and Joe Schwartz, organized a panel to discuss "Building a Better Left", a call to work for greater Left unity and organizational strength. DSA is working with the Progressive Caucus in Congress and the Institute for Policy Studies. Labor is essential for an effective Left, along with people of color and women. What is envisioned is not a uniting of organizations, but a broad coalition willing to speak with one voice on issues of common concern. No consensus emerged from discussion, but the proposal remains alive.".
Circa 2000, DSA was a national organization of about 7,000 members. There were about 15 local chapters. New locals had just formed in Oregon and Arizona and a long dormant local in San Francisco had a new organizing committee. In California locals existed in San Diego, Sacramento and East Bay, as well as San Francisco. The Los Angeles local had declined to non-functioning in the last 6 years.
Over 50% of total DSA members lived in areas without locals.
In addition the national and locals, there were several Commissions. These groups dealt with specific issues and are not geographically organized. For example, there is currently functioning Latino, Anti-Racism, Feminism, Labor, and Religion and Socialism Commissions. The eco-socialism and African American Commissions are currently not functioning. Sacramento DSA, hosted both the Anti-Racism and Latino Commissions.According to an article written in the Boston DSA magazine Yankee Radical, January, 2001, by Mike Pattberg;
"On the other hand, the Communist Party experienced the height of its numbers, power and influence when it abandoned its previous ultra-left course to become the Stalinist wing of the New Deal in the mid-1930s...
In any case, by the early 1960s some within the Socialist Party (including future DSA leaders), adopting a variant of the CP’s strategy 25 years earlier, had broken with prevailing labor party orthodoxy. (Or the belief that the SP should continue to run its own candidates without support from labor or anyone else, another version of the same idea.) They instead advanced the concept of “Realignment” in the Democratic Party; forging a coalition of labor, blacks and middle-class liberals and radicals to take over the Party by purging (democratically, of course) Southern racists, big-city bosses and other retrograde elements."
2016–2018In a statement released in November 2016, the DSA National Political Committee referred to the Rainbow Coalition as a model for today's anti-Trump resistance:
"Given Trump's and Pence's vilification of communities of color, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women and LGBTQ people, Democratic Socialists of America’s and the broader Left’s first priority must be to defend the civil and political rights — and very physical security — of those groups targeted by Trumpism. The appointment of the open bigot and anti-Semite Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News as senior White House counselor demonstrates that Trump's hateful rhetoric is not just talk. DSA and YDS [Young Democratic Socialists] chapters should be militant supporters of these groups in their immediate struggles to establish sanctuary cities for the undocumented, to defend Muslims and their mosques and to protect women seeking reproductive services. We must also proactively train ourselves to intervene effectively when we witness harassment of and violence against those targeted by the white nativist politics legitimated by the Trump victory. Finally, we should reach out to these communities immediately to express our solidarity and ask what work they would wish us to do.Tre Kwon wrote in Left Voice in June 2017:
Much of this work will involve DSA deepening our engagement with the Movement for Black Lives, the immigrant rights movement, Fight for 15, the reproductive justice movement and other movements on the frontlines against Trumpism. Under Reagan, similar acts of resistance eventually created a powerful rainbow coalition that advanced a multiracial politics of economic and racial justice. If we fully commit ourselves to these struggles over the next four years there is no reason why a new, even more powerful multiracial coalition for social and economic justice cannot emerge."
“Under Reagan, similar acts of resistance eventually created a powerful rainbow coalition that advanced a multiracial politics of economic and racial justice. If we fully commit ourselves to these struggles over the next four years there is no reason why a new, even more powerful multiracial coalition for social and economic justice cannot emerge.”Since Nov. 8, 2016, thousands have joined DSA. The organization has ballooned to over 14,000 members, more than doubling in size from 6,500 members in May 2016. DSA National Director Maria Svart says of new sign-ups, “You could literally see the moment when Trump was declared the winner.”
By July 2018, after explosive growth from the Bernie Sanders movement and opposition to president Trump Democratic Socialists of America hit 44,000 members
Since its formation in 1982, many prominent people have been active in Democratic Socialists of America, including;
- Neil Abercrombie, former Hawaii Governor, Obama friend
- Ed Asner, actor, activist
- Ron Bloom, former Obama "Car Czar"
- David Bonior, Former Democratic congressman
- Paul Buhle, labor historian, marxist
- Noam Chomsky, academic, linguist, activist
- John Conyers, US congressman from Michigan
- Ron Dellums, Former Democratic congressman, avowed "socialist"
- David Dinkins, former New York mayor
- Barbara Ehrenreich, academic, activist, marxist
- Michael Harrington, DSA founder
- Maurice Isserman, historian
- Mildred Jeffrey, feminist, unionist, Democratic Party leader
- Mike Lux, Democratic Party strategist
- Carrie Meek, former Florida conresswoman
- Jerry Nadler, Democrat congressman, New York
- Major Owens, Former Democratic Party, New York Congressman
- Christine Riddiough, Democratic Party and gay activist
- Richard Rorty, atheistic activist and literary philosophy professor
- Bob Ross, academic, activist
- Bernie Sanders, US Senator from Vermont
- Jan Schakowsky, Democrat congresswoman, Chicago
- Joseph Schwartz, academic, activist
- Kurt Stand, former communist, convicted East German and Soviet spy
- Gloria Steinem, feminist, activist, writer
- John J. Sweeney, former AFL-CIO president
- Cornel West, academic, activist, Obama friend and adviser, marxist
- Quentin Young, former communist, health activist, Obama mentor
- Newman, Alex (August 29, 2018). Socialists Urge Infiltration of Government Schools. The New American. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
- Note in context of this platform resolution, "if elected" refers to the platform, not any person or candidate. Who does the electing is not spelled out, and it certainly is not members of a local chapter, the equivalent of a precinct caucus in the two major parties.
- DSA Left Political Strategy discussion with the Left Inside/Outside Project, Posted by Lawrence Dreyfuss on 05.22.18
- Everything you need to know about the war on poverty. Washington Post (January 8, 2014).
- Kurtz, Stanley (2010). Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism. Simon and Schuster, 31.
- Horowitz, David (2006). The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party. Simon and Schuster, 85.
- Dem.Left, July/Aug. 1995 page 19
- New Ground 51, March - April, 1997
- Yankee Radical, January, 2001/
- We Fight for Socialism over Barbarism. Statement from DSA’s National Political Committee, November 13, 2016. Posted by David Duhalde on 11.14.16.
- The DSA in the Democratic Party Labyrinth, Left Voice, Tre Kwon JimenaVergaraO June 19, 2017.
- ITT JANUARY 23, 2017 With Donald Trump as President, Americans Are Flocking to Socialism Membership in the Democratic Socialists of America has surged since the election. BY KATE ARONOFF