Today, the DSA, the largest organization on the U.S. left, starts the first day of its biennial national convention. In the lead up to this year’s convention, a number of questions have been posed about the strategic trajectory of the organization in the context of its continued rightward shift toward the Democratic Party and decline in membership.
The DSA was reinvigorated alongside the Sanders campaign as a new generation of workers and youth became attracted to socialist ideas and started to question the Democratic Party more deeply. Political experiences like the Black Lives Matter movement on the streets and the wave of unionizations and rank and file struggles in workplaces since the pandemic, further opened up the eyes of this generation.
While many joined the DSA looking for a political home and political alternatives in the midst of disillusionment with the Democratic Party and its betrayals, since the last convention and especially during the Biden years, the DSA leadership and many of its elected officials have consistently lined up behind the policies of the Biden administration and the agenda of the Democratic Party. We saw this most notably, during the crushing of the recent rail strike, which had important implications for the labor movement, and Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s open political support for the murderous Zionist regime in occupied Palestine.
It’s no surprise that a sector of rank and file activists making experiences within the DSA, have questioned and put up political struggles in relation to the DSA’s relationship with the Democratic Party and the “dirty break” strategy proposed by DSA leaders and Jacobin magazine. From DSA Boise/Red Labor to Rhode Island DSA, activists within the DSA have put forward resolutions and NPC candidacies calling for a “clean break” as an alternative to the idea that working within the Democratic Party serves the interests of the working class.
Working within the framework of the “possible” the DSA continues to foster illusions that the party controlling the most powerful capitalist state in the world can be a vehicle for socialism. That’s why now more than ever, the question of class independence and the DSA’s relationship with the Democratic Party is relevant for discussion.
At the same time, the UPS contract struggle, one of the biggest labor confrontations in recent history, continues to be on the horizon, with a sector of UPS workers arguing for a contract that goes beyond the proposed tentative agreement. Workers will be voting on the TA in the next few weeks and will either approve it or bring the union back to the bargaining table for a better contract. This raises again the possibility of a strike – the greatest weapon of the working class.
Many DSA comrades who have been relentlessly organizing this fight are planning to “Vote No.” This is in the face of the leadership of the DSA and elected officials celebrating a tentative agreement before the workers even had a chance to read the proposed contract. Thus, we want to comradely call on DSA members to openly present their positions on the contract. With more and more rank and file workers raising their voices against the proposed contract, how should the DSA orient toward the UPS struggle and the labor movement more broadly at this conjuncture?
Outside our borders, the war in Ukraine continues to define the international situation and the growing confrontation between the U.S. and China behind it. As U.S. imperialism, particularly under the Biden administration, uses the cover of the war to fund, rearm, and expand its military operations and Putin’s aggression continues, pacifist illusions in a peaceful end to the war are finding more and more limits. Thus, the conflict in Ukraine has opened up debate within sectors of the DSA on the role of NATO, U.S. imperialism and Zelenskyy’s regime, the nature of Putin’s reactionary regime, and what a socialist response to the war should be.
In the spirit of these questions and more, we invite comrades interested to debate and reflect on our pages, during and after the convention, through articles, videos, comments, interviews, testimonials, and other collaborations as part of an ongoing discussion about the future of the DSA and an independent, working class and socialist way forward for the Left. If you’d like to submit a contribution please email: [email protected].