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

Hieronymous
Sep 16 2017 13:10
syndicalist wrote:
Here ya go, chuck the Trots into this mishmash of social democracy: https://oaklandsocialist.com/2017/09/16/dsa-eugene-debs-caucus-formed/

Sounds like DSA is quickly devolving into being 25,000 chunks of juicy reformist-liberal carrion being torn to bits by competing bloodthirsty Trotskyite and Leninist vultures.

Chilli Sauce
Sep 16 2017 07:55

I have to say, for a long time I thought what the f*ck are anarchists/communists doing within thy DSA. But it does seem to be a pole of attraction for the newly radicalized in The US and I think there's value in putting forward a clear class struggle line with that grouping. I have no idea if this is the group/statement to do that, but I do see the value in making those arguments and engaging with the wider organisation.

Pennoid
Sep 16 2017 10:57

Chilli, politics is either hopelessly reformist; or cynically manipulative. You can't talk to people with different opinions!

Juan Conatz
Sep 16 2017 15:59

I dunno. I'm still sticking with the SDS comparision for DSA. Very similar demographics. Very similar places where they are large, but also almost as spread out, too. In fact, for some places that now have DSA chapters with several dozen members, SDS may have been the last radical left organization that existed that had that many members.

The somewhat decentralized structure is similar, too. As I understand it, the national committee or whatever it is called, doesn't have much power over the local level groups and whatever staff they have that service the locals, is somewhat disorganized and not done great.

The big difference between SDS and DSA though is that SDS actually did things and developed before the proliferation of factions and caucuses. DSA hasn't really had that oppurtunity. Where people joined SDS for what it was, people are joining DSA for what it might be.

Hieronymous
Sep 16 2017 16:32

How is DSA relevant all of a sudden, when historically it has endorsed Walter Mondale, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders for the U.S. presidency? Why not the 50 year old Peace and Freedom Party with its origins connected to the Panthers? Or the Greens, who's fundis in the mid-1980s supported an "anti-party party" anti-electoral position? Or the legacy of the Labor Party Tony Mazzocchi helped found in mid-1990s?

In my opinion all of those were destined for failure since they fetishize the Left-Leninist orthodoxy of building the organization first, emphasizing form over content. I remained unconvinced the DSA, which politically is to the right of all of the above groupings, is any different. Yet I remain agnostic and am open to being convinced otherwise. Despite the rhetoric, how can DSA contribute to class struggle? And how can anti-authoritarians coexist in organizations manipulated by parliamentary maneuverings, which inevitably happens when opportunistic Leninists and Trots -- especially the worst of the bunch, the ISO -- jockey to take over?