For a Mass Socialist Movement in the United States

We live in a time of uncertainty and turmoil, at home and around the world. A period of rising class consciousness and dangerous xenophobic populism. Of downward mobility for young workers and hostile labor markets for all. These conditions have prompted a search for alternatives, bringing us to the end of that long, frustrating cycle in which socialism was “the ideology that dare not speak its name.” We are finally entering a time in which fighting openly as socialists is not only exciting, but a sound political strategy. In this situation, the Left must fortify our claim to being the only genuine alternative. If we don’t, we'll allow the far right to falsely present itself as the only source of opposition to the status quo.

DSA’s rapid growth can be attributed to two main sources, one born of hope - the Bernie Sanders campaign - and the other of fear - the election of Donald Trump. This growth, however, has created number of challenges. Today, DSA boasts some 23,000 socialists and 150-plus chapters. All of us have worked hard to harness this wave of new members, and we are very proud of what DSA has become.

At the same time, our organization often feels uncoordinated and fragmented. We aim to transform DSA into a united organization with a vision and a game plan, something more than the sum of its parts. We believe the best way to do this is through a political strategy that involves nationally coordinated strategic campaigns organized in tandem with local affiliates and the National Political Committee (NPC).

Socialists can never achieve our goals exclusively through legislative and electoral efforts. Our ability to win working-class demands ultimately derives from our social and labor power. With it, we can win reforms that materially improve people’s lives and point toward a larger vision of life beyond capitalism. Without it, whatever gains we make can be overturned by forces whose control of fundamental economic resources grants them the ability to undermine popular democracy.

Our organization must be rooted in a strong social base. That base, however, cannot simply be called into being. First, we need to define it. Second, we need to build strategic campaigns that speak to broadly-felt needs, unites us around concrete tasks, and develops our ability to act collectively.

The answer to the first question is clear: we must become the political home for the 13 million people who voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary elections.

Imagine if even a fraction of those people were organizing in their workplaces and neighborhoods, or uniting behind a mass movement for Medicare For All! DSA can be the vehicle for organizing that force into the kind of mass socialist movement that has been sorely missing from American politics for decades — one that has the potential to transform American society.

DSA Momentum offers six programmatic planks aimed at making that aspiration a reality. A national campaign for Medicare For All is at the heart of this project. That campaign ties into our slate’s five other programmatic planks:

  • A rank-and-file labor strategy that encourages DSAers to enter the labor movement as rank-and-file workers; win leadership in unions where possible; and organize the unorganized where necessary.
  • An electoral strategy that encourages the development of independent socialist political formations, provides us leverage in our extra-electoral fights, and gives us a platform for speaking to the working class.
  • Forging a new internationalism, which is central to fighting economic nationalism at home and learning from socialist movements abroad.
  • Deepening the internal democracy of DSA to empower new members and invest them in DSA’s political future.
  • A political education program that arms every member with a strong sense of what we’re fighting for and why.

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