DSA Communist Caucus: Our Statement

DSA Communist Caucus banner

We’re a newly formed DSA caucus. We’ve written this public statement to clarify what we are all about, and what we would like to do. We are currently based out of the East Bay DSA, but we hope to begin organizing with comrades everywhere!

1. We are of the working class. We recognize ourselves as part of the working class because we have no meaningful ownership of the institutions that produce everyday essentials. Nor have we inherited massive sums of compounding wealth. We have nothing but our bodies and minds, and we are forced to put them to work. We are compelled to carry out unfulfilling jobs, work long hours, piece together dangerous hustles, or else delude ourselves into believing that education is not merely workplace training. All of this means that our lives are dominated by the capitalist economy. Only wealthy elites benefit from this arrangement. Our freedom will only come from collective ownership, access, and control over the means of life. The DSA’s objective should be to end capitalist exploitation and domination for good.

2. Despite our shared condition as part of the class, our individual experience is often radically different. This is a main feature of working class life. We experience class society through racialized and gendered identities; according to work types, like blue collar, white collar, and unwaged labor; and through our full-time, part-time, or unemployed status. Internal separations and inequalities of power between us is a fundamental trait of life under capitalism. Racialized and gendered oppressions are ruthlessly intensified by our class subordination. The need for class power requires that we move against these internal divisions, even if they cannot be fully transcended before capitalism ends. Real freedom, true equality, and liberty that is not defined as consumption choices: these desires spur us to act together. Once capitalist society is buried, even the most privileged of our class will find fulfillment beyond what is possible in today’s society. We have everything to gain from our collective liberation.

3. Making demands of capital and the state are only useful if doing so organizes us as a class. Organizing as a class teaches us how to collectively fight and win. We learn how to sustain protracted strikes, occupations, blockades, and take-overs. We improve our ability to rout white supremacists, pressure bosses, force politicians to act, or reverse urban displacement. As we get organized, we build our capacity and endurance to fight together. Our ability to become a collective force allows us to reclaim the dignity and autonomy that is forcibly taken from us daily. We want full control over our collective situation. We are done with our fractured and alienated social lives. We will seize control of the world which was built through our collective exploitation and domination. All of this we want, and yet none can be had through the ballot box. Concessions from the capitalist classes come only as a response to our collective power.

4. We oppose all institutions that block working class power. Engaging in struggle teaches us who these enemies are. Some enemies have already become clear. This includes police departments, the Democratic and Republican Parties, union bureaucrats who betray us to serve the interests of capital, and nonprofit organizations that co-opt and nullify social movements. There are those who, like the Republican Party, obviously oppose us. Others, such as the Democratic Party, hide their opposition behind false acts of goodwill. They publically advocate policies that are said to reduce harm. But their real goal is expressed in their relationship with Goldman Sachs and other capitalist institutions: to manage capitalism more efficiently as an alternative to replacing it. Their paternalistic harm-reduction schemes can never replace, and will often decay, working class power.

5. We live in an age of intense capitalist crises that appear everywhere. Environmental destruction; rapid urban displacement; violent police management of black and brown people; brutal objectification of feminized workers; excessive working hours for those on salary; high levels of debt; the explosion of mental health problems among us; everyday social isolation; and, of course, Donald Trump — all of these are symptoms of today’s capitalist disaster. Some time ago, our class maintained solidarities based in the factory, in the neighborhood, and in common ways of life. These solidarities gave us access to at least some collectively shared life essentials. Collective access to essentials protected us from unpredictable changes in the market, like housing insecurity or rising expenses. Decades of counter-revolution have destroyed most of these. We have been turned into isolated individuals. We are left with few organic connections to community. As a consequence, we are forced to rely on the capitalist market for almost everything. More market-dependent than ever, the ongoing crisis of capitalism now makes itself appear in every facet of life. We feel caught in a paradox: our era seems apocalyptic, while at the same time capitalism seems indestructible. But the opposite is true. The world has yet to end, and capitalism can be overthrown.

6. We need a working-class organization that can support and build our collective power. The DSA should aim to grow and connect, not to instruct, the revolutionary desires of all parts of the working class. Our organizational actions should be measured by the project of expanding our collective power and fighting spirit, with the goal of overthrowing capitalism. From those of us lucky enough to find employment in the affluent field of tech, to those of us who have been denied reasonable employment altogether — we must build real, which is to say practical, solidarities between us. Building practical solidarities is done through action, not through words. Real solidarity will be made if we remain open to supporting different parts of our class as they become politically active. Since the future political activity of different parts of our class is unpredictable, we must always be prepared to change course, act on new situations, and remain ready to take necessary tactical risks. In other words, we must be strategic without becoming dogmatic. Doing so will ensure that we become powerful together, and it is only together that we may endeavour to create a new world.

7. Building working class power requires us to understand our collective worries, desires, and needs. In the immediate term, this means studying, identifying, and organizing around our collective experiences. As the second largest socialist organization in US history, we have a unique opportunity to organize DSA members. Inquiries regarding work, rent, consumption, and sociality should be immediately conducted for DSA members. In addition, we must conduct inquiries for those external to our organization, so that we can find ways of empowering others in our class. We can begin with those close to DSA members, like co-workers, neighbors, friends, and associates. We have to retain an outward-looking stance if we want to grow and develop solidarities throughout the working class. As our class gains a shared sense of trust and organizational strength, we will build a path to victory.

8. Working class power is international or it is nothing! The system of capital that confronts us is thoroughly global; it reaches well beyond the boundaries of the United States. Capitalist exploitation means extraction in Africa, exploitation in Asia, and the propagation of urban slums throughout the Global South. This system of global capitalism is not natural. It is reinforced by the military might of the United States government. Our development of class power through international solidarities stems from our collective opposition to the US government’s capacity to build empire and inflict imperialist violence. The history of the US state is riddled with the counter-revolutionary acts of imperialism, slavery, genocide and colonialism. We must always remember this history, for it shows the development of the American state as a terroristic capitalist formation. Just as global capitalism, today’s working class crosses all national borders. Capitalism is a global threat, and only a globally-organized working class is sufficient for fighting it.

9. The DSA has a great potential for promoting and unifying working class struggles. We can do this by acting to support self-organized power in all parts of our class. We hope comrades far and wide will join us in this effort. Together, we can win the world, and forever cast off our chains.

Originally posted on Medium.

Comments

schalken
Sep 13 2017 14:42

The DSA is not a radical organization. Look at how the East Bay DSA describes the DSA:

"we support reforms that...

* Decrease the influence of money in politics
* Empower ordinary people in workplaces and the economy
* Redistribute wealth and decommodify basic needs
* Restructure gender and cultural relationships to be more equitable"

So, sanding the rough edges off of the capitalist state and the capitalist workplace.

My question is, did this so-called "Communist Caucus" enter the DSA in some Trotskyist maneuver (and are they Trots?), or did they somehow radicalize while in the DSA? In any event they are trying to give life to a dead, rotting body.

Craftwork
Sep 13 2017 17:38

Given that the DSA is part of the electoral left; it's a multi-tendency, leftist org, akin to SYRIZA or ANTARSYA.

And given that it has previously endorsed voting Democrat.

I don't think libcom should host DSA platforms/propaganda.

Steven.
Sep 13 2017 21:47

Just to say admins are going to discuss this and will respond shortly

Pennoid
Sep 13 2017 21:56

What makes something revolutionary?

Hieronymous
Sep 14 2017 04:21
Pennoid wrote:
What makes something revolutionary?

A hammer and sickle logo? (if you literally were referring to a "thing," as in an object)

Pennoid
Sep 14 2017 05:33

@Hieronymous: Oh boy, I hope not! tongue Then again it'd make our work a lot easier!

Considering we're talking about dumping swaths of the library or prohibiting the sharing of content based on the metric of whats revolutionary it seems an apt question.

I don't think it's much of metric to be honest. I don't think Libcomers agree on whether or not the DSA can be a place where libertarian communists can be effective. I don't think we should nip that debate in the bud by deleting this. That's puerile and sectarian.

It's strange because with all the fear of a creeping leninism on here, I don't think I nor any "bolshevik apologists" have really called for banning of texts. Simply argue your case. It's what the comments are for. DSA are far from Maoists and this faction is far from Maoist or Stalinist. The broad contours offered here mesh completely with those of Libcom. But at the merest difference of tactics or strategy some want to shut down discussion.

Ridiculous.

Hieronymous
Sep 14 2017 05:58
Pennoid wrote:
DSA are far from Maoists and this faction is far from Maoist or Stalinist . . . But at the merest difference of tactics or strategy some want to shut down discussion.

Ridiculous.

Agreed.

I can't confirm it, but I've heard new recruits to DSA on the West Coast are communisateurs. Anyone else know further?

The greatest crime of DSA is they're boring and irrelevant reformist left-liberals; hardly a reason to launch a censorious sectarian witch hunt.

Jim
Sep 14 2017 10:16
Craftwork wrote:
I don't think libcom should host DSA platforms/propaganda.

Rather than calling for this to be taken down, solely because it was written by a caucus within the DSA, perhaps you could say what you disagree with in the statement?

Spikymike
Sep 14 2017 11:39

This DSA 'Communist' Caucus short statement has on the face of it some strengths. Whilst it overlaps with much of the sentiment running through the DSA basic strategy they say in straight contradiction of the mainstream DSA ''...and yet none of this can be had through the ballot box.'' though without any clarification of what that may mean in terms of their own practice in capitalist elections. The DSA's politics seem to be just reformist Social Democracy on the European model of a 'mixed economy' with an eclectic mix of other more trendy popular democratic notions. It is clearly neither anti-capitalist in principle nor libertarian communist in it's long term objective. It's internationalism is heavily 'anti American' rather than more broadly anti-Imperialist but that is perhaps understandable. The DSA seems to have a national structure based on local 'chapters' with a measure of local autonomy but I couldn't see what that left for open organising of any 'caucus' or 'faction' in open opposition to much else of what the DSA represents? It is understandable if the suspicion of 'Trotskyist' style entryism is raised about this Caucus with it's over-optimistic expectations of what ''we'' in the DSA can achieve in terms of empowering ''others'' in our class. I couldn't find any other texts explaining and justifying their involvement in the DSA from any genuine libertarian communist perspective.
So how is that an apparently 'anonymous' poster without traceable registration can post this up and not require the Caucus themselves to explain their apparent contradictory position within the DSA?
Don't expect it to be removed but some more explanation from the poster and/or the Caucus itself is necessary to allow it to be challenged.

Mike Harman
Sep 14 2017 11:53
Craftwork wrote:
And given that it has previously endorsed voting Democrat.

I don't think libcom should host DSA platforms/propaganda.

That's an interesting position to take, given we host a number of articles by Adolph Reed, including one added by you.

Reed not only endorsed the Democrats but worked on the Sanders campaign as part of Labor for Bernie, then wrote an article telling people to vote for Hillary Clinton reminiscent of the 'vote for the crook not the fascist' slogan in the 2002 French presidential election.

Rather than suggest we take down Reed's articles, which despite his appeals to class politics always end up with an appeal to liberal reformism and mainstream trade unionism while writing off revolutionary class struggle as fantasism. I wrote this because Reed's work gets cited by various different people for different reasons, so it seemed better to engage with it than try to ignore it.

On the other hand this statement, while it leaves some open questions, takes a fairly uncompromising position on working class self organisation and communist politics, if anything it reminds me of the politics of the Johnson-Forest tendency (literally in the sense of a minority faction arguing for workers inquiry).

No intention of the site becoming a clearing house for various DSA position statements, but this is interesting and like Jim says you haven't said what you disagree with in it.

Mike Harman
Sep 14 2017 12:03
SpikeyMike wrote:
Caucus with it's over-optimistic expectations of what ''we'' in the DSA can achieve in terms of empowering ''others'' in our class. I couldn't find any other texts explaining and justifying their involvement in the DSA from any genuine libertarian communist perspective.

Their twitter account says registered September 2017, s the medium post went up September 6th so I think this is there first and so far only statement. The question of their relationship to the DSA as a whole is one that's left open by this document (as are a few other things) as you point out.

Pennoid
Sep 14 2017 17:15

I agree the document is more vague than I would like to see, and I have my own problems with communization theory, but it's worth discussing as the ideas therein represent some on the left communist spectrum which is broadly under the umbrella of libertarian communism comprising forms of communism opposed to marxism-leninism, utopian socialism, etc. and emphasizing class struggle as its basis.

If any group was to hope to have relevance in the DSA it should at least outline achievable, actionable demands or reforms that it is after, explain why they would transform the organization, and then argue for their adoption.

At least then we could bring the discussion toward the concrete and relate theory to practice.

Pennoid
Sep 14 2017 17:17

I would add that while I disagree with Mike's essay against Reed, I'm glad that it exists because there can be discussion; simply purging the Reed would have made the discussion more difficult because some of those essays are otherwise behind paywalls as well.

jef costello
Sep 14 2017 18:12
Quote:
We oppose all institutions that block working class power. Engaging in struggle teaches us who these enemies are. Some enemies have already become clear. This includes police departments, the Democratic and Republican Parties, union bureaucrats who betray us to serve the interests of capital, and nonprofit organizations that co-opt and nullify social movements. There are those who, like the Republican Party, obviously oppose us. Others, such as the Democratic Party, hide their opposition behind false acts of goodwill. They publically advocate policies that are said to reduce harm. But their real goal is expressed in their relationship with Goldman Sachs and other capitalist institutions: to manage capitalism more efficiently as an alternative to replacing it. Their paternalistic harm-reduction schemes can never replace, and will often decay, working class power.

It's not too bad.

Juan Conatz
Sep 14 2017 18:18

I've seen someone describe DSA as more similar to SDS in the 1960s then DSA pre-2016. I think it's not accurate to criticize a multitendency non-electoral organization like they are the Democrats. I don't think its clear what DSA is right now or what it will become. As such, developments that are close to the purpose of this site seem like they should be hosted.

Craftwork
Sep 14 2017 18:21
Mike Harman wrote:
That's an interesting position to take, given we host a number of articles by Adolph Reed, including one added by you.

Reed not only endorsed the Democrats but worked on the Sanders campaign as part of Labor for Bernie, then wrote an article telling people to vote for Hillary Clinton reminiscent of the 'vote for the crook not the fascist' slogan in the 2002 French presidential election.

The Reed article that I uploaded here is an article on anti-racism, as opposed to a call for a Bernie vote, or a demand for an American labour party.

Pennoid wrote:
Considering we're talking about dumping swaths of the library or prohibiting the sharing of content based on the metric of whats revolutionary it seems an apt question.

No one's talking about "dumping swaths of the library". My objection is to the fact that this is a programmatic text, a platform, coming out of the DSA. I wouldn't object if a DSA person contributes journalistic, historical, ..., content, because the merit of a person's work and how good their politics are not necessarily the same issue.

Hieronymous wrote:
I can't confirm it, but I've heard new recruits to DSA on the West Coast are communisateurs. Anyone else know further?

Communisation theory is a lot like cheese - the French do it much better than the Americans.

Hieronymous wrote:
The greatest crime of DSA is they're boring and irrelevant reformist left-liberals; hardly a reason to launch a censorious sectarian witch hunt.

If you take a look at the bottom of the article, you will clearly see that this has been reposted from Medium. So removing it from here isn't gonna deprive people of their ability to read this faction's views.

Pennoid
Sep 14 2017 19:23

It's a statement of a caucus. A caucus does not represent the whole organization but a subset of its membership united around a particular purpose or purposes.

Unfortunately, DSA doesn't have a program; but if it did it would be useful to share it here for interrogation critique and discussion.

Mike Harman
Sep 14 2017 21:26
Craftwork wrote:
The Reed article that I uploaded here is an article on anti-racism, as opposed to a call for a Bernie vote, or a demand for an American labour party.

Written in 2008 it would have been hard to fit a call for a Bernie vote in there, but he does lament the decline of social democratic politics 'Thus what the political scientist Preston Smith calls “racial democracy” came gradually to replace social democracy as a political goal'. This piece talks about neither of those things though, and you've still not engaged with any of the content that's in there as opposed to what you're projecting on it.

Juan Conatz wrote:
I've seen someone describe DSA as more similar to SDS in the 1960s then DSA pre-2016. I think it's not accurate to criticize a multitendency non-electoral organization like they are the Democrats.

From what I've seen at a couple thousand mile distance, this is about a close a comparison as I can find. I'd previously assumed it was like a US equivalent of Momentum, but Momentum is literally part of the Labour Party whereas the DSA has no formal ties with the Democrats, so don't think that holds up and SDS seems a bit closer. Also the Democrats have spent the past year or two doing a very good job of completely alienating/vilifying anyone to the left of Clinton - there's no sign that they can competently recuperate a paper bag in their current state.

zugzwang
Sep 14 2017 22:24

I don't find a lot to disagree with in their aims, but I don't see why they don't break with the DSA if they want to be communists and not social democrats or market socialists which the DSA apparently is. This from the DSA's "about page" seems at odds with the positions stated above:

Quote:
Vision of a Socialist Economy

The operation of a democratic socialist economy is the subject of continuing debate within DSA. First it must mirror democratic socialism's commitment to institutional and social pluralism. Democratic, representative control over fiscal, monetary, and trade policy would enable citizens to have a voice in setting the basic framework of economic policy--what social investment is needed, who should own or control basic industries, and how they might be governed.

While broad investment decisions and fiscal and monetary policies are best made by democratic processes, many argue that the market best coordinates supply with demand for goods, services,and labor. Regulated markets can guarantee efficiency, consumer choice and labor mobility. However, democratic socialists recognize that market mechanisms do generate inequalities of wealth and income. But, the social ownership characteristic of a socialist society will greatly limit inequality. In fact, widespread worker and public ownership will greatly lessen the corrosive effect of capitalists markets on people's lives. Social need will outrank narrow profitability as the measure of success for our economic life.

syndicalist
Sep 14 2017 22:28

Pass. I have serious doubts about all of the causes and the survivability of DSA as a multi-tendency organization. Everyone wants "burrow" in today. Well, grooviness don't last forever in these sorts of set ups.

boozemonarchy
Sep 15 2017 12:28

Being total shite does not disqualify one from exposure on libcom, period.

Pennoid
Sep 15 2017 13:35

@Boozemonarchy; well anyone can see that from a quick look at the forums!

Craftwork
Sep 15 2017 23:03

Pennoid
Sep 16 2017 00:36

Bruno Astarian: Stalinsim without Stalin.

Hieronymous
Sep 16 2017 01:04
Pennoid wrote:
Bruno Astarian: Stalinsim without Stalin.

That's about the most fucking moronic, uninformed thing you've ever said (and with great hubris you've splayed your ignorance here many a time).

To put it in context, your Bolshevik cadre-based racket is Leninism with Lenin.

bastarx
Sep 16 2017 01:43
Pennoid wrote:
I agree the document is more vague than I would like to see, and I have my own problems with communization theory, but it's worth discussing as the ideas therein represent some on the left communist spectrum which is broadly under the umbrella of libertarian communism comprising forms of communism opposed to marxism-leninism, utopian socialism, etc. and emphasizing class struggle as its basis.

This is a bit hard to take seriously given that the most prominent member of your organisation is constantly sneering at left-commies on his Facebook page, "edgelords", "pamphletbrain" etc, etc.

Craftwork
Sep 16 2017 01:58

Anyway, CLT members are already inside the DSA, this is one of the groups they're involved in - https://dsaspark.org

petey
Sep 16 2017 03:07

please tell me that is the CLT's mark

Hieronymous
Sep 16 2017 05:33

So CLT are practicing classical Leninist opportunism with their entryism into DSA. Which begs the question of what they're doing lurking around here on libcom.

And I must confess my that my above post was attributing guilt-by-association. It was another CLT cadre who made this stupid allegation:

Donald Parkinson wrote:
While communization theory does make the occasional interesting insight and serve as a useful theoretical foil it largely is the case that what it offers is not a fresh new perspective for marxist politics but a repeat of Kropotkinist and Sorelian critiques of Marxism with more theoretical sophistication.

As a teacher, I would give him a D-, but mostly for not having read the texts -- or if he feebly claims to have done so, for having comprehended nothing.

Lastly, returning to the topic of the original post: in San Francisco the ISO has taken over the local group, doing entryism from the right of DSA's social-democratic parliamentarian orthodoxy!

syndicalist
Sep 16 2017 05:07

Here ya go, chuck the Trots into this mishmash of social democracy: https://oaklandsocialist.com/2017/09/16/dsa-eugene-debs-caucus-formed/