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

The Labor Theory of Value and Surplus Value

Part I: The Basics of the Labor Theory of Value

The key to understanding the nature of the capitalist economy, according to Marx, lies in understanding the nature of the commodity. A commodity is something that is useful and that is produced in order to be exchanged for a different kind of commodity. Parents who make bread to feed their family are not producing commodities. Bakers who produce bread to sell on the market are producing commodities.

As Marx pointed out in Capital, commodities have not existed in all human societies. They were virtually absent in very early communal societies where members would share their wealth with one another or redistribute it by giving gifts to one another. They would not produce things in order to exchange them with other members of their community. An elder of a tribe might teach a youth how to fish but expect nothing in return. As societies became more complex, commodities became more prevalent. Capitalism is unique in that commodities entirely dominate the economy. Everything seems to have its price. People who are professional teachers expect to be paid and will refuse to teach without compensation.

Once the economy is overtaken by commodities, things

Statement on Bernie Sanders' Endorsement of Joe Biden

Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Joe Biden is a disappointing but predictable outcome of an insurgent left-wing campaign conducted within the auspices of the Democratic Party. Bernie’s candidacy was a once-in-a-lifetime, near-perfect alignment of factors that turned the unthinkable into the immediately possible.

However, even with so many aspects of the campaign working in our favor—Bernie’s relatively consistent record and skeleton-free closet, a weak pool of other candidates, the increasingly broad popularity of left-wing policies—the Democratic Party machinery not only outmatched us, but is now attempting to co-opt our movement.

The fact that Bernie managed to get so far within a party apparatus so transparently and fiercely opposed to his candidacy speaks to the potential of a re-energized working class movement. At the same time, the fact that this energy was nonetheless defeated proves that social-democratic change, much less socialist transformation, will never happen from within the “nicer” party of capital.

Feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde once said, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” The US left has tested this thesis in the most favorable conditions we will ever see and found it to be correct. We must refuse to

Toward the Red Horizon: Charting a Course for the Year Ahead

Reintroduction

This document marks the beginning of a new chapter for Red Star.

When Red Star formed from the remains of the San Francisco local of the Refoundation caucus, we were a group with ostensibly shared political views, but without a shared political strategy. While the points of unity we started with were a useful tool with which to assess the situation of DSA, both locally and nationally, they did not produce a clear course of action for us to take. We attempted to undertake many different projects and operated mostly by trial and error.

In January of this year, the caucus held a strategy meeting to discuss our past and future. Over the course of an afternoon, we discussed our strengths and weaknesses, assessed our structures and practices, and debated the principles that will guide our work going forward. The process was rich with analysis and self-criticism, and we ultimately arrived at a set of conclusions that we believe will guide us well in the coming year.

We hope that this document and the process that produced it represent a clarification of our path towards the revolutionary horizon. We have sought to understand our successes and failures, and to

Statement of Solidarity with the People of Bolivia

Photo: Flickr

Red Star San Francisco stands unequivocally in support of reinstating Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was ousted by a right-wing coup on November 10, 2019, and we stand in support of the Indigenous and working-class Bolivian people who now face reprisals in its wake. Under the Morales administration, Bolivia has made massive strides towards building a more just and democratic society for all its people. We condemn this seizure of power by reactionary forces, the latest in a long and bloody history of US imperialism in Latin America.

Since Morales’ election in 2005, poverty and illiteracy in Bolivia have fallen precipitously, particularly among Indigenous communities, while access to clean water has skyrocketed. The Bolivian economy has grown at a rate nearly double that of other Latin American countries, and the administration has succeeded in nationalizing key industries such as oil, natural gas, telecommunications, and electrical production and distribution. These economic and material resources have been put to work for the benefit of the Bolivian people in the form of billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure and social programs, allowing the country to free itself from the yoke of neoliberal financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Statement of Solidarity With DSA AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus

Red Star San Francisco stands in solidarity with the DSA AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus and endorses its demands of DSA leadership and staff:

  1. No white person in formal leadership or staff ever post white nationalist, white supremacist or fascist symbols or advocate that the path to building a multiracial working class is through organizing with white supremacists, white nationalists, fascists or their apologists.
  2. All formal leadership and staff attend an anti-oppression training chosen and approved by the Afro-Soc Caucus of DSA.

Racism is not simply a product of conscious intentions. Because racism is deeply embedded in the structures of capitalist society, and because pervasive individualism tends to mask these structures, those of us in DSA and on the US left are just as capable of perpetuating them through our words and actions as anyone else.

That our National Director shared an image which downplayed the Confederate Flag’s status as a white supremacist symbol, and defended that action, is evidence enough that our leadership and staff must reckon with the ways in which they perpetuate white supremacy, consciously or otherwise.

Points of Unity

We are revolutionary Marxists.

We understand Marxism as a living, breathing theoretical framework, which is not and never can be a static set of dogmas. We see Marxism as the foundational and most informative lens through which to understand the workings of capitalism, a task which is paramount in our efforts to dismantle it.

We believe in the creative, historical power of revolution.

A capitalist society will not be reformed into a socialist one, just as capitalism itself was not born through welcomed reforms to the former feudal order. Popular legislature and politicians with benevolent intentions can help create more favorable conditions for change, but these things alone cannot bring the revolutionary overhaul we seek: a complete upheaval of the present economic system that extracts value from the many for the private profit of the few.

Socialism means a workers’ state.

We believe in the necessity of building towards a state that is comprised of and exists exclusively for the benefit of the working class. Such an institution is the most authentic expression of workers’ power, and is the only body that can ensure the well-being of all people. A democratically planned economy is a primary component of this expression