– AOC on her friends in the liberal imperialist party

After the conclusion of the “largest socialist organization in the US” comic con we have to say it’s much ado about nothing. Anyone new to leftist politics could easily fall in the trap of DSA propaganda with its personality cults centered around AOC, the Squad and Sanders (even though Bernie isn’t even a DSA member), believing that finally after all these decades of weakness and insignificance socialism is back in the mainstream and building momentum. Who could fault someone for thinking there was actual substance to an organization claiming over 100,000 members with prominent politicians leading the charge? 

But just as is the case with all US politics the substance behind the propaganda is practically nil. Marketing has always been a strong suit of America, learning to sell cheap products for maximum profit which we consume and find nowhere close to the level of satisfaction we were sold on. The DSA is no different. In fact this was acknowledged by veteran member Maria Svart when she opened the convention admitting membership growth has stagnated well below the “100,000 membership” claim. 

We must also ask what is the quality of the DSA membership? How many members are actually organizing workers on the basis of a revolutionary socialist politics in their communities and how many are just paper members who joined because they thought the squad was cool? Based on the national impact DSA has had for the working class we can conclude there’s nothing to show. No national reforms such as a $15 minimum wage have been won (despite prior promises by Biden to do so), the heavily promoted PRO Act and it’s supposed mass mobilization by DSA members has also flopped. The Medicare for All campaign has stalled with DSA politicians dropping it for opportunistic peace with imperialist liberals inside their capitalist party. Even the call for “defunding the police” was de facto abandoned with DSA politicians actually enabling the funding of cops under the banner of “national security” against the supposed “fascist coup” on January 6th.

There has only ever been one hope for the DSA to redeem itself to live up to the title of a socialist organization and it would require purging the organization of all right-wing opportunists who refuse to break from their allegiance to the imperialist Democratic Party. As we spelled out in our prior article “What Socialism is and What it Aint” nowhere have revolutionary socialists ever advocated abandoning political independence for workers. And the fabled “dirty break” argument that has come to dominate the DSA was rebuked at the comic con not in favor of a clean break to establish necessary class independence, but just acknowledged the reality that the DSA has only ever had any relevance because of its strong ties to the imperialist Democratic Party and to break from it would mean political irrelevance. 

In our time among the Left over the last decade or two we’ve come to terms with the fact the working class is historically weak, both within the US and across the world. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the destruction of labor unions worldwide the working class has not been in a position of power to assert its class interests on a national stage, let alone a global stage. We still have not recovered from decades of defeat. The infrastructure the class once had to wage militant mass campaigns no longer exists and much of that blame can be attributed not just to the capitalist class but to the dominance of liberals and opportunists within the remaining worker organizations who’ve kept them tied to the imperialist Democratic Party. Rather than challenge this status quo the DSA has embraced it, after all there’s a material benefit for those who choose to side with the enemy – paid staff jobs in the Party, in the unions, in other NGOs. Why sacrifice your shortsighted interests in a career for the cause of revolutionary socialism? Bourgeois society tells us this is insane, that instead we can find our own little niche under capitalism so long as we play nice. The DSA has never refuted it, in fact its founder Michael Harrington established the DSA on such premises. 

Despite the fearmongering from capitalists and their institutions in the schools, churches, and corporate media, the “socialism” of groups like the DSA have never posed an existential threat to the capitalist class, nor does the majority of its membership have a desire to. They are happy to remain opportunists who betray not just the US working class, but the global working class as well. They will call us “sectarian”, “dogmatic”, or even “ultra left” for not overlooking their opportunism, but we actually want a worker democracy and the working class to have state power by smashing the capitalist state and its institutions used to exploit and oppress us. We are not here to reform these institutions, it’s impossible to reform them or integrate into them for the purposes of socialism, this is a basic truism of socialist theory and history, it’s only the revisionists who attempt to erase these facts for their own material gain. 

The reality is if we want socialism we have to build independent worker organization from scratch and through class struggle starting on the local level, proving to local workers we can offer them an alternative to the stinking corpse of liberal politics, this has always been our objective as New River Workers Power and unlike other so called socialists we have a track record of demonstrating this across the NRV. 

To those well-meaning folks still stuck in the DSA it’s your obligation to wage a merciless fight against the opportunism of the DSA and it’s politicians. It’s beyond reasonable doubt that the organization and its leadership have proven their commitment to bourgeois democracy against worker democracy. Nothing will fundamentally change until we relearn the lessons of past generations of militant socialists who sacrificed their lives for socialist revolution. We must understand the differences between principled socialism and these welfare capitalist-minded people, only then can any meaningful unity happen. In the meantime we’ll continue our work across the NRV in organizing workers into worker-controlled organizations such as the New River Tenants Union and the NRV Industrial Workers of the World to fight local bosses and landlords. We don’t need the superficial brand recognition of an opportunist organization like the DSA to effect material change, it clearly hasn’t helped them.

6 thoughts on “The DSA ComicCon

  1. Despite the lofty rhetoric y’all are just a local org engaged in trade and tenant unionism. DSA does all these things plus is engaged in international solidarity. From this perspective y’all are just a bunch of Western chauvinists engaged in petty bad faith attacks. Do better comrades.


    1. Strawman, we have international contacts and we have struggled on the basis of an anti-imperialist stance against local institutions that aid US imperialism.

      We don’t just do symbolic protests calling for the end of US wars and warmongering, we are actively organizing to disrupt imperialist supply chains and challenge the default nationalism among US workers here. This should be evident just on a cursory glance of our website.

      These are not “bad faith” critiques, but marxist critiques against the default opportunism of DSA. Nor are we the ones aiding a US imperialist party, we practice class independence, we materially practice internationalism and anti imperialism by working to make an impact against the local manifestations of such things in our area.

      What differentiates ourselves from the DSA (besides the above listed things) is that we operate under no delusions that our capacity is above where we live and operate. A group like DSA pretends to be a national, cohesive organization and movement, yet has had no practical impact on the class struggle to work in favor of workers and pretends that what they are doing is something other than aiding and abetting liberal imperialists.


      1. Y’all act like the Democratic party defines all the work we do, which is patronizing and condescending. The Squad doesn’t dictate what we do in our mutual aid, tenant organizing, labor organizing, and political education projects. The points above aren’t strawmen. I see nothing y’all are doing that DSA isn’t also already doing on a much larger and more meaningful scale. All I see is sophistry masquerading as radicalism. Frankly it’s a little pathetic. You’re actively organizing to disrupt imperialist supply chains, you say? Cool, be comrades and teach us your tactics instead of writing petty hit pieces.


      2. If you think debate and line struggle over what’s a principled socialist practice is a “petty hit piece” then you’re not being a marxist. This is the sort of argument social democrats would make towards communists as they split over their support of the bourgeoisie in WW1.

        The DSA politicians are what brought DSA members in, are who are driving its direction, and these conventions only reflect that. You and others act as if it’s a nonissue that you’re operating within the Democratic Party while somehow making the critique we are the social chauvinists here. You don’t just get to wave your hand at these problems and pretend they aren’t issues. That’s what opportunists do. The DSA has the capacity to change course, to make a clean break from liberals and their dominance in mass organizations such as the unions and NGOs, but your membership voted against that, that speaks to your organization’s political character and it is fair game. Despite our small size we garner national attention on our efforts and we don’t need to base our relevancy on the Democrats as DSA does. It’s not a matter of you just doing organizing, it’s what you’re organizing for and to whose benefit. Everything else becomes window dressing for the fact the DSA is just an extension of the Democrats who also control the unions. You’re doing nothing to change the dominance of liberalism among the left and the working class and are only re-enforcing it. Having Dilma at the convention and joining the Sao Paulo Forum is not a testament to your internationalism, it’s further testament of social democracy as a junior partner to capitalism. You should try making a marxist argument – assuming you identify as such.


  2. I’d rather be in an org that has direct and meaningful dialogue with anti-imperialist parties like MAS, PSUV, and the Cuban Communist Party than one that borders on irrelevancy. I do identify as Marxist, as do many of my comrades in DSA. And I’m sympathetic to revolutionary vanguardism, but in our current conditions I just don’t find these counter arguments compelling, nor do I find any “successes” of any ML parties or formations in the US worth emulating. I respect your principled adherence to Marxism, but I’m not convinced that when we organize with striking Nabisco workers or do anti-eviction work, that it’s fundamentally any different, whatever our incidental affiliations with bourgeois parties may be. The point you raise about the quality of new DSA members, who may have joined after Bernie 2020 or because of AOC is a good one, and is one that my comrades and I discuss often. Which is why political ed is such a big part of what we do. Thanks for this discussion. It’s provided a lot to chew on. I just know myself and some other comrades felt the tone of this piece was a bit hacky and seemed in bad faith. But I take your word that it was not.


  3. Thanks for this article – we also recently wrote a piece about why revolutionaries should not try to join groups like DSA (specifically students who join YDSA) to change them from within. We take up some of the same arguments made in the comments above. Check it out and let us know what you think! https://maydaystudentorganization.com/2021/10/04/3-reasons-revolutionary-students-should-not-join-ydsa/

    Even though it may be appealing to join a large organization with the capacity to do immediate and practical work, we reject the notion of “organizing for organizing’s sake.” No amount of apolitical reform struggles will ever present a real challenge to the ruling class. If our goal really is socialism— the revolutionary transformation of society toward the abolition of capitalism and class distinctions— then the positions we uphold and the demands we articulate must be revolutionary.

    100% agree with this point you made: “Despite the fearmongering from capitalists and their institutions in the schools, churches, and corporate media, the “socialism” of groups like the DSA have never posed an existential threat to the capitalist class, nor does the majority of its membership have a desire to.”

    The class-dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is one of the fundamental realities of capitalist society. Socialism requires the victory of the working class over the bourgeois state, necessitating socialist revolution. If the interests of these two competing classes are diametrically opposed, then so must be their politics. Reformist organs like DSA attempt to wash over this contradiction, wielding the political tools of the bourgeoisie to win incremental changes that do nothing to build up a revolutionary movement.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s