In the lead-up to the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) 2023 convention, many competing political platforms and resolutions will be discussed and voted on. One such resolution, “The Clean Break” — which is backed by Boise DSA and the Red Labor Caucus — is putting forward the call for DSA to “immediately pursue a clean, irrefutable, and permanent break from the capitalist Democratic Party…” A minimum of 300 signatures are required by April 28 for the resolution to make it to the DSA convention floor.
Below we reproduce an internationalist statement from the youth of the Party of Socialist Workers (PTS) in Argentina in solidarity with the resolution. If you are a DSA member, you can sign on in support of the resolution here.
On behalf of the youth of the Partido de Trabajadores Socialistas (Party of Socialist Workers) from Argentina, we want to express our support for “The Clean Break” resolution presented by Boise DSA and the Red Labor Caucus in this upcoming DSA convention. The progress of a working class left independent of imperialist and capitalist parties in the U.S. is of utmost interest to us.
It’s difficult to drive home how progressive the emergence of an independent working class left in the U.S. would be for socialists all over the world. We have been following closely how a generation of young people have been turning toward the ideas of socialism in the U.S. Even further, how many new working class organizers have been leading a wave of rank-and-file unionizations all across the U.S. It is important, however, for this turn to the left to not be co-opted by the apparatus of the Democratic Party, which serves ruling class interests.
In its 2021 convention, the DSA’s leadership consolidated a right-wing turn for the organization. The leadership further pushed to establish the party as the left-wing of the Democratic Party’s electoral machine. It is no secret that in the upcoming convention they will seek to deepen this right-wing policy. It is in the hands of the organization’s rank-and-file to put forward an alternative and instead turn the organization toward independent working class and socialist politics.
The leadership of the DSA (and other so-called “progressive” figures) will justify its association with the Democratic Party with a myriad of “possibilist” arguments: they will talk about how it is impossible for a third party to emerge in the U.S., and how, therefore, it is necessary to work within the Democrat Party (the “lesser evil” of the U.S. political establishment), at least for now. They will shy away from focusing on labor organizing and even other social movements like the struggle against racism and reproductive rights, as they can only conceive change to only come from the apparatus of the capitalist state. In short, the leadership of the DSA seems to always be skeptical of the American working class’ strength, and optimistic about the American political regime.
They will always, in one way or another, point out the weaknesses of the working class, and do nothing to radicalize its struggles. We saw this during BLM, an international movement and the largest movement in U.S. history, where many DSA members were on the streets, but the organization’s leadership refused to put the largest socialist organization in the U.S. at the service of this historic struggle. Instead the DSA politically echoed the calls of the Democratic Party to vote for Democrats instead of mobilizing.
One of the biggest strategic limitations of the American working class is its lack of independent organization and conscience, in workplaces and political organizations. Isn’t this what a so-called socialist party like the DSA should be promoting, in every action it takes, in every decision they make? It is the mentality of a bureaucrat to blame the masses for the woes of its leadership. As the American working class shows more and more of its power and its need for an independent organization in the face of economic and social crisis, the DSA’s leadership has only paved the way for the dissolution of all this potential, smiling as the Democrats drain every social movement of its strength. Will the DSA become a beacon of independent, working class organization? Or will it be just another tool in the arsenal of the American elite?
To us Latin American socialists, the answer is clear. To us, there is no lesser-evil argument for supporting the Democrats. In our country, Argentina, it has made little difference whether Gerard Ford, Jimmy Carter, or Ronald Reagan were president while our most bloody dictatorship kidnapped, tortured, and murdered over 30,000 people, most of them political militants, labor organizers, and LGBTQ+ activists. Even less so did it matter to Pinochet, as he made Chile a guinea pig for brutal neoliberal reforms. The leadership of the DSA will be okay with coexisting with these atrocities and many others, as they concede to the lesser-evilist notion that the Democrats are better than the Republicans and that therefore it is okay to vote for them and even run candidates under their platform.
Here in Argentina, we’ve also heard similar “lesser evil” arguments that we need to vote for more “progressive” ruling class candidates and abandon our principles and goals to fight against the Right. Does this not hurt us further? Do these notions not prevent most working class people from ever conceiving an alternative to capitalism? Workers, POC, and LGBTQ+ folks are expected to give up more and more, as the Right continues its attacks, and the Democrats constantly concede to them. It is no wonder that the far-right is growing if there is no alternative to capitalism in sight. If the Left in the U.S. is to become a real political force, and for you to truly fight against the Right, you must break away from the Democratic Party once and for all and form an independent political alternative, based on socialist, working class organization and action.
This is why the political independence of socialists in the U.S. is not only possible, but also necessary. If we concede to the pressures of the Democrats, we will lose sight of our goals, and surrender to the dystopian, neoliberal present in which we are submerged in right now. There is a reason why the Democratic Party is nicknamed “the graveyard of social movements.” Elections should not be seen as an end in and of themselves, where we surrender our principles and objectives to win them, but instead as a tool for us socialists to get our message and politics to working people. If we win elected positions, we must use them as working people’s tribunes, and expose the halls of congress as nothing but a staged play by capitalists.
This is anything but impossible – these perspectives are part of the tradition of the revolutionary left. In Argentina, our party is a founding member of the Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (Workers’ Left Front), a coalition which has been able to get over a million votes in several elections and become the third-largest electoral force. Our representatives rotate their seats between the parties in the coalition, and donate their salaries to labor struggles, effectively only earning as much as a public teacher. They are present in every picket line and in demonstrations, fighting to bring visibility, expand, and unify all working class struggles. To us, elections are a means to get our ideas to as many people as possible. Our main focus is on the organization of the working class itself, to organize independently from all capitalist and bureaucratic influences in our workplaces and movements. We believe that if significant change is to be achieved, it can only be achieved and defended by working people, with their own methods of struggle and self-organization. It will not be the parties of the ruling class, and it will not be their state.
There are those who may think that something like this would be impossible in the U.S. Well, once again, we are no strangers to these notions ourselves. It took us years and years to achieve what we have achieved. We started our project during the height of neoliberal supremacy and fatalism, and put forward a political struggle after the emergence of “progressive” bourgeois governments which never really challenged the neoliberal status-quo of the years prior.
Now neoliberalism and the parties that represent its political project are in crisis – particularly in the U.S. As we saw during the Great Recession, in times of crisis, ruling parties like the Democrats bailout capitalists and make workers pay through brutal measures like austerity. If there is a time for socialists in the U.S. to step up and fight back, it is now. If not, the DSA will only help in aiding the Democratic establishment and the bureaucracies aligned with it in diverting the struggles that will emerge in response to this crisis of capitalism. An independent, united, revolutionary left in the U.S. would be a beacon of hope for working people around the world. That is the best way in which American socialists can show solidarity with the struggles of workers in other countries. Solidarity doesn’t come from supporting Democrats or having guest talks with former Latin American presidents, like Dilma Rousseff, as the DSA leadership did during its last convention. Politicians like Dilma may pander to the Left like the Democrats do in the U.S., but in reality, they haven’t questioned the rule of American imperialism, and have ultimately – in spite of some friction — served its interests. Instead, solidarity comes from fighting our common enemies, from within the belly of the imperialist beast. Solidarity comes from turning the American working class into an enemy of the imperialist capitalist class, and an ally of the working people of the world. This is why we urge you to sign onto Red Labor Caucus’ and Boise DSA’s resolution.