Organization Is Our Principal Task! On Socialist Electoral Work

By Sam H-L

DSA caucuses have spent endless time squabbling at the national level about “the break” from the Democrats: when this break should happen, and how clean it should be. Regardless of where you stand, the question remains the same: what should our relationship to the Democratic Party be?

This question is emblematic of the kinds of arguments that DSA is having at this stage in our development: one could imagine this political question having real stakes behind it, but only if DSA were the type of organization whose decisions at the national stage mean much of anything at all. Without a clear and sober analysis of the actual conditions facing our electoral work — both the nature of the Democratic Party and the practical implications of DSA’s organizational structure — the question of our relationship to the Democratic Party will remain untethered from our practical activity. The political questions that we struggle through matter! But they mean nothing without a strong institutional coherence and scientific outlook. Our principal task is organization: building a robustly democratic working-class system to contest power and exercise it. We must not stray from this goal.

As students of history, we know that revolutionary activity

The Future of Work looks a lot like the Past and Present of Work

By Joseph H.

The creation of the proletariat, the wage-laboring working class, is the definitive characteristic of Capitalism.  As capital is accumulated, the working class grows, a mutually reinforcing process that powers the dynamo of Capitalism.  The number of people exploited in this manner, and the extent of the exploitation, grows in proportion with the growth of the wealth of the capitalist class.  This is the definition of Capitalism, and the ways in which this dynamic manifests are numerous.

One particular expression of this relationship of exploitation has been in the rise of Gig Work.  Particularly associated with “App-Based” work, and coming into prominence with the rise of Uber and its cadre of  “on-demand” companies, this work is characterized by its unpredictable nature, lack of company benefits, and piece-work pay.  In addition, it has characteristics that make it particularly corrosive to the worker solidarity that is supposed to accompany collective exploitation.  Gig Workers don’t ever see each other in the ordinary course of their work, and they are subject to “Algorithmic Management”; hired, fired and disciplined by a computer that reaches them through their phones.  The pitch for workers is flexibility and independence, but that’s really only true

Failed Techno-Utopias

By Cara H.

Living in the Bay Area means constantly being promised a better world by tech CEOs and venture capitalists, while simultaneously being constantly confronted by the failings of capitalism via astronomical rents, massive homelessness, and the failure of public institutions. If this better world is coming, heralded by historic advancements in technology, then why has it failed to materialize? If work-focused technologies like Zoom and Slack have increased productivity, then why are we still working 40 hours a week - or more - for essentially the same wages - or less?

Where did the money go?

Venture capitalists and tech boosters like to claim that, under capitalism, the global standard of living has increased dramatically. The lion’s share of that growth in the last 20 years has, however, been driven by China under the banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics — hardly an endorsement of a capitalist world order. And in the rest of the world, this growth has come at a tremendous cost and left a trail of destruction in its wake, with institutions broken by colonialism, conflict exacerbated by nationalism, environmental collapse, and all of society reoriented to the whims of the Market. But technology, and

The Coming Rupture and Our Tasks

I am told that there is no danger because there are no riots; I am told that, because there is no visible disorder on the surface of society, there is no revolution at hand… This, gentlemen, is my profound conviction: I believe that we are at this moment sleeping on a volcano.
Alexis De Tocqueville, January 1848

The left in the United States is faced with a stark situation - every day we witness the contradictions of capitalism increasing and sharpening, the signs of which can be seen everywhere. There is an unprecedented pandemic the ruling class not only tolerates, but makes record profits off of. The “economic growth” represented in the stock market is increasingly detached from real economic activity, and relies more and more on speculation. The climate crisis continues unabated, with only limp gestures offered to combat it. The last vestiges of American representational democracy are being shed. Despite the largest protests in American history against police violence, the structures of policing remain unchanged. The American empire is in retreat. The political center grows weaker, while a militant spirit in the labor movement and a mystical reactionary populist movement grow in strength simultaneously. All of these contradictions

Burning Questions in a Burning World

Making the Most of the Revolutionary Situation That Isn’t

By Eugene Violet

We must not turn away from the truth: we do not yet possess the capacity for revolution, otherwise we would have seen a unified mass movement come out of the remarkable revolutionary energy of the past decade. And yet, we have very little time to get there. This is the contradiction and the duty of our generation: decolonization or extinction.
The Red Deal (39).

I once worked closely with a communist who criticized me for using Climate Change in organizing conversations. They felt that the path to socialism is blazed through right ideas leading to right action, and that invoking the specter of Climate Change was “cheating.” They later became a COVID-denialist and anti-vax fanatic, and just like that, one of the most principled, committed organizers I ever worked alongside banished themselves to abject crankery. Revolution is not the product of correct ideas or even right actions: revolution occurs when those with good ideas and the courage to leap into the unknown recognize revolutionary conditions and make the most of them, using any and all tools at their disposal to help radicalize and redirect the masses towards

Announcing Zenith, a Journal from Red Star

Red Star is excited to announce that a project we've been working on for several months is nearing completion. Late last year, Red Star decided to solicit pieces from our membership to compile into a journal. Today, we are excited to announce Zenith, an occasional journal from Red Star. While there are still some finishing touches we have to put on it, we feel the writing we have put together provides crucial analysis and ideas for DSA members who share our revolutionary political horizon. To that end, we are releasing the first batch of pieces from the first issue of Zenith today.

This journal is the product of a number of discussions Red Star had over the course of 2021, where we took stock of our political project and refined our understanding of its objectives. These discussions resulted in new analyses and ideas that we worked to refine and eventually incorporated into our caucus points of unity. These theories are pertinent to the political challenges that we believe are widely felt in some form or another across DSA, and thus we felt it would be useful to share them. We decided to try to explain and apply our theories, and

Fight the War Machine at Home!

In the past weeks, a lengthy escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine devolved into armed conflict as Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The crisis in Ukraine is not a singular act of aggression, but the boiling-over of a conflict that has simmered not just for months or years but for decades. This conflict has been repeatedly stoked by the US imperialist order for its own benefit since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This has taken many forms: repeatedly pushing NATO expansion despite promises that this would not happen, interfering in elections, influencing political and civilian life — including stepping into the Euromaidan protests — and providing weapons and material support to right-wing extremists. The possibility of this conflict becoming entrenched, expanding outward, or evolving into a multipolar power struggle should alarm us all. As such, Red Star joins calls for a swift end to these hostilities, and urges in the strongest possible terms against any US or NATO-backed escalation.

The great promise of the end of history — liberal capitalism’s triumph over the threat of global communism — was that once and for all, the threat of a cataclysmic global war had finally been mitigated. However, liberal capitalism and

Jamaal Bowman and DSA’s Crisis of Leadership

This past December 2, DSA’s National Political Committee released a statement in response to growing calls from membership to discipline Rep. Jamaal Bowman for a recent string of votes to provide over $4B in military aid to Israel. In the statement, the NPC stated that they “have seen considerable movement from Representative Bowman and his office” and that “expelling Bowman would mean handing the perfect tool to the establishment to stoke divisions within the Palestine solidarity movement.”

While chapters (including DSA SF) and the National Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions & Palestine Solidarity working group voted to dissent from the decision, it’s unlikely the NPC will take up the question before Bowman’s 2022 re-election campaign begins.

Writing in response to the NPC statement on DSA’s forum, one member, a part of the Tempest Collective that led the initial charge for Bowman’s expulsion, said “the statement shows that DSA, too, will roll over when it comes to the needs of Democratic politicians.”

But the DSA I know is not the one that will roll over when it comes to the needs of Democratic politicians. The DSA I know is already solving the questions facing us and showing

Red Star San Francisco: 2021 DSA SF Convention Guide

On June 12th and 13th, DSA SF will hold a chapter convention where we will vote on our first-ever chapter priorities, consider bylaw changes, and elect National Convention delegates and new chapter leadership. We believe DSA SF needs a political program that improves its organization and commits to specific courses of action to organize the working class in San Francisco. Our priorities process is a welcome step in that direction, and there are a number of proposals up for debate that we think could set the organization on strong footing for the year ahead. We hope to expand on our labor organizing work locally, help the organization make concrete commitments to racial justice and Black liberation, and set a course in electoral organizing that puts DSA SF and the socialist project at the fore, while enshrining democratic norms and elected political leadership within the organization.

Additionally, National convention delegate elections will be taking place at the chapter convention, and we hope to send Red Star delegates along with chapter members who share our analysis and vision on key business items to the convention. Our recommendations for both chapter convention business and national convention delegate are below.

Priority Resolutions

Worker Organizing

Statement on the National Rage Against the Killing of George Floyd:

March from the Port of Oakland with the ILWU Longshore Union for Juneteenth, in Oakland CA. June 19th, 2020. Photo by Mícheál Madden.

The murder of George Floyd on May 25th by Minneapolis PD was an intolerable act that is still having repercussions across the nation, and is setting the stage for renewed confrontation by Black people and workers against the authoritarian capitalist state.

The reformist leadership coming from the Democratic Party and nonprofits have criticized the riots and outbursts as hurtful to the movement and unconstructive when it comes to achieving its goals. In a recent press conference on the events, Rep. Ilhan Omar said, “I realize our frustrations are warranted, our despair is justified, but today our priority needs to be to minimize harm. We can’t let the violence committed against one Black man give way to more destruction. You can’t say you care about Black lives, and engage in fires that endanger Black lives.”

But in truth the criticism of the rioting which took place is an ahistorical criticism that does not take recent history into understanding. Anyone can see there have already been peaceful demonstrations year after year, killing after killing—and yet the