Let's Get Democratized: Statement on the 2019 DSA Convention
Last fall we, the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Democratic Socialists of America, drafted and committed to a platform for the DSA National Convention of 2019 that would, in our words, “Democratize Everything.”
Various times over the course of our Caucus’s short history we’d identified and confronted serious problems in the organization caused by overcentralization of decision-making, authoritarian factionalism, and abuses of power by those unaccountably invested with it. Our platform, collectively drafted by our whole membership and benefitting from the shared wisdom of leading organizers from across the country, proposed a series of structural reforms and new initiatives that would place power in DSA directly in the hands of its membership. We did this because, in our own words:
DSA is nothing without its membership, and we cannot imagine shared ownership of society without a shared sense of ownership in our own organization. Our vision of democracy encompasses more than periodic election of representatives. Members need detailed information about the activities and upcoming decisions of the organization and should have access to mechanisms for affecting those decisions.
Though we all share the goal of socialism, we may not all share the same path to that goal. We believe in building a culture and network of trust and accountability in order to empower our members to embark on ambitious and sometimes untested paths. When we learn from one another and support one another as we develop independent projects, we strengthen our political education, we strengthen our creativity, and we strengthen our unity and solidarity.
Our platform was the first serious attempt to lay out a reform programme for the 2019 Convention. Its proposals ranged from structural changes to the NPC, National Working Groups, and other dysfunctional bodies to the creation of new and useful initiatives such as conflict resolution programs, organizing training materials, and new staff positions. Above all, it sought to create an organization capable of executing upon our dual power strategy for achieving socialism in our time.
It’s been our pleasure and honor to see that the Democratize Everything platform has in many ways set the tone for subsequent critiques and proposals laid out by comrades in locals, working groups, and caucuses across the country. From the beginning, our intention was not only to spark the imagination of rank-and-file organizers across the country, but to work with them in refining and building up our proposals:
If this platform or any part of it resonates with you, we want your help refining these proposals and passing them at convention. This platform is a living document, subject to revision by LSC’s internal democratic process. Each of the planks of this platform needs careful drafting and revision of a formal proposal. We will need to work in close collaboration with others outside the caucus to build consensus, and to ensure the proposals we bring to convention reflect that consensus.
As proud as we are of our work, we knew even at the time that the better part of our labor lay ahead of us. In the end the proposed platform was just that: a series of suggestions. To turn them into fully fleshed-out policies and put them forward as items taken up by the Convention would take months.
And so, with the pragmatic and hopeful spirit of comrades, we set to work.
We established a Convention Working Group to coordinate our preparatory activities and remobilized our Publicity, Propaganda, and Publishing (PPP) Working Group to produce new pamphlets that would explain our collective and individual positions to the rank and file.
We drafted complete, actionable proposals for as many of our platform planks as was practicable, prioritizing the ones that were most urgent to the organization. Some of these got merged with proposals from other groups who we supported throughout the writing and application process (or vice versa); sometimes other groups came up with ideas we hadn’t thought of, which we endorsed wholesale. In either case, our platform was enhanced by the genius of DSA’s many perspectives, and has come out stronger for it.
We passed each and every individual constitutional amendment, resolution, and NPC candidate endorsement we wished to put the Caucus’s weight behind through two separate processes. First, we approved them through our internal consensus process. Then, in the case of the amendments and resolutions, we whipped 50 signatures for each endorsed item to comply with National DSA’s requirements for eligibility to be taken up by the Convention. Today we can announce that nearly every LSC-endorsed resolution or amendment secured its required signatures and qualified for the Convention.
We’ve held four different phone calls reaching out to other caucuses in DSA. We advocated for our platform, tried to find points of unity, and coordinated Convention preparations where possible.
We actively publicized the platform at each stage of its development, seeking and in many cases receiving endorsements and support for our ideas from rank-and-file organizers, chapter leaders, locals, working groups, and caucuses nationwide.
We mobilized throughout the process of electing delegates, encouraging the candidacy of organizers who supported our platform, soliciting support from existing candidates, advocating for our positions in our locals, and tracking delegate elections and subsequent delegate support for democratic reforms across the country.
We created beautiful, informative, and inspiring materials to distribute online and at the Convention itself, in the hopes that these could make our vision of DSA as a radically democratic socialist organization real for its members. We wrote, designed, printed, and prepared to distribute hundreds of new pamphlets, several of them freshly assembled for the Convention. And we made lots of buttons -- so many fucking buttons, you won’t believe how many until you see them.
We investigated, interviewed, and endorsed four candidates for the NPC, in the hopes that libertarian socialist voices might be able to affect change in its activities short of reforming it structurally or abolishing it.
We prepared for the Caucus’s presence at the Convention, setting up the infrastructure for transporting and distributing our materials and reimbursing our members for the costs of producing them.
And today, it’s our pleasure to announce that at long last our vision has come to fruition. What follows is the complete and finalized platform of the Libertarian Socialist Caucus for the 2019 Convention.
We are infinitely grateful to the efforts of democratic socialists from all corners of the DSA -- inside and outside our own Caucus -- without which this incredible display of the power of direct democracy would not have been possible.
The following is a list of all the constitutional amendments, resolutions, NPC candidates, and other relevant positions officially endorsed by the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Democratic Socialists of America in advance of the latter’s 2019 Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.
The DSA-LSC has no bosses, rulers, or executive positions. Instead, all its endorsements require approval through the Caucus’s consensus process, where all our members draft, deliberate, and decide for themselves the collective actions of the Caucus. For a full description of this process, see **Article VI, Section 4 **of our bylaws (which can be found at https://dsa-lsc.org/lsc-bylaws/).
A complete listing of all items up for debate at the Convention, with their full descriptions, can be found here for amendments and here for resolutions.
(Bold means drafted at the request of the Caucus’s Convention WG to satisfy the Democratize Everything platform, including proposals merged with others. Underlined means a proposal developed outside of the platform and endorsed by the Caucus. All quotes are from the official amendments document.)
CB, 1: A Binding National Referendum
Creates a process by which the membership can make decisions through direct voting.
Between conventions, the membership may direct the organization by Referendum. The mechanism for petitioning for and voting in Referenda shall be established in the Bylaws. Only a Referendum may override a resolution of the Convention. A Referendum may establish policy, and may override decisions of the National Political Committee or bind the NPC to any action permitted by the Constitution, Bylaws, and applicable laws. Any office elected at the Convention may be vacated by Referendum.
CB, 2: National Stipends to Chapters, aka “Pass the Hat” (PTH)
Gives a stipend of $100 a month to every chapter that can process the money.
CB, 3 - Abolish the Steering Committee
Replace the NPC Steering Committee with an Administrative & Agenda Committee
The NPC Steering Committee is a relic of an organization much less engaged and active than DSA is today. It was intended as a practical body to get things done, but in the most recent interval has been used to consolidate factional power and make decisions without oversight from membership...The three key roles of the Steering Committee are to develop agendas for the NPC meetings, to coordinate efforts of staff and committees, and to make decisions between quarterly NPC meetings. This amendment splits these responsibilities. It creates a new Agenda Committee, to handle planning regular NPC meetings, it creates a new Administrative Committee to handle coordinating committees and staff, and, because it does not grant the power to make policy decisions to any other body, it requires that these major decisions be either explicitly delegated to a committee, or handled by the NPC itself.
CB, 4: NPC Special Election
Fill NPC vacancies by special election, replacing the current method of appointment.
...[F]illing replacements by special election is more democratic, and can provide membership with an opportunity to influence the direction of the national organization between conventions.
CB, 5: Greater Chapter Democracy Requirements
Requires chapters to amend bylaws to ensure democratic processes and notification of members of decisions.
The provisions of this amendment have been informed by experience, where in certain locals, groups that gained their office uncontested when the local was still small have taken advantage of local structures to maintain their incumbency. While no amendment or resolution can be a panacea, these provisions will provide members with greater assurances that when they join DSA, they will be able to participate in a truly democratic organization, even if they disagree with the leadership of their local.
CB, 7: Increase NPC Transparency
Requires NPC to set detailed agendas and release minutes in a timely manner, include roll calls for votes in minutes.
Transparency is a fundamental principle of democratic process, and socialism requires a democratic process in order to truly bring power to the people...While members are permitted to attend NPC meetings, there is often little indication what will be discussed. Members should be notified in advance of planned decisions, so that we can provide feedback to the NPC before binding decisions are made.
CB, 8: NPC Transparency and Fairness
Selects NPC Steering Committee based on NPC election results, defines valid purposes for and raises thresholds for Executive Sessions, requires STV for NPC elections, among other items.
Transparency is a fundamental principle of democratic process, and socialism requires a democratic process—which for DSA at the present moment involves vouchsafing the integrity of the Executive Session, ensuring that NPC elections represent the will of the convention, and clarifying the intended definition of “meeting”, and ensuring that NPC Steering Committee is transparent and accountable to NPC.
CB, 9: NPC Steering Committee Reforms
Requires all NPC members to take a turn on Steering Committee, assigns them by sortition and rotates every six months.
...[Make] all members of the NPC responsible for carrying the burden of being on the Steering Committee. This is achieved by making the SC one quarter of membership of the NPC and rotating the SC membership every six months with randomly assigned terms determined at the Convention through a lottery.
CB, 10: Requiring Low Income Representation on the NPC
Exactly as it sounds, requires a certain number of NPC members be low-income.
- Socialist politics stand to benefit those in our society experiencing the most difficult material conditions
- Democracy and solidarity demand that those most affected by a decision should be involved in decision-making
- Our own material conditions impact our decision-making, and members should understand the material conditions of those they are electing to lead them
...the NPC should include low-income members!
CB, 13: Promote Regional Representation on the NPC
Requires, where possible, that membership from all parts of the US are represented on NPC, and that an overly large segment of NPC is not from one region only.
There are currently no guarantees that a reasonable representation of regions will be elected by Conventions (e.g. the election at 2017 convention selected only one NPC member living west of Austin, Texas, an area which contains four time zones and over 70 million residents).
CB, 15: Increase the Size of the NPC
Increases NPC size from 16 to 28.
Whereas a larger NPC will allow the body to better represent the membership in decision making between national conventions and enhance internal democracy in the organization...
CB, 17: Procedures for NPC Recall
Ensures that NPC members can be recalled by the general membership.
We cannot successfully advocate for democratic socialism in this country without practicing democracy within our organization. The ability to recall elected leaders is a fundamental principle of a just and participatory democracy.
CB, 21: Forming State & Regional Organizing Committees
Creates a process to form OCs for State or Regional Organizations.
CB, 22: YDSA Governance Changes
Transparency requirements for YDSA, provisions for allowing dechartered YDSA units to remain in DSA.
CB, 23: Nobody Is Too Poor for DSA - Redefining Member in Good Standing
Changes language from "dues-paying member" to "member in good standing".
CB, 28: Reform National Commissions, Committees, and Working Groups
Creates an official process by which national Commissions (including Working Groups) are formed, makes membership open by default.
CB, 33: Assembly of Locals
Replaces national leadership with an assembly body made of representatives from locals.
[T]he weakness of the NPC structure isn’t simply that there’s too much work for 16 people, but that decision-making power does not belong to the people most affected by those decisions. As socialists we should be ambitious. We must develop radical democracy by practicing it. This amendment restructures National to redistribute power to the locals. A new body, the Assembly of Locals, becomes the center for political decision-making, with representatives elected by each chapter, leaving the NPC (now simply called the Board) to focus on key fiduciary and administrative duties.
CB, 36: Proportional Representation
Requires proportional representation voting methods for Convention delegate and NPC elections.
CB, 37: Local Jurisdiction
Creates guidelines for when new chapters seek to form from existing ones.
CB, 38: Improving At-Large Representation
Creates a process by which at-large delegates are apportioned for conventions.
(Bold means drafted by the Caucus’s Convention WG to satisfy the Democratize Everything platform. Underlined means a proposal developed outside the Caucus and endorsed by it. All quotes are from the official resolutions document.)
R, 1: Police Exclusion for Chapter Bylaws
Forbids the withholding of a chapter charter based on the chapter excluding law enforcement officers from membership.
Whereas, law enforcement agencies operate to promote the interests of capitalist institutions and to suppress organized dissent against their control of American society; and
Whereas, oppressed groups with whom DSA seeks to organize such as people of color, the homeless and sex workers have immediate reasons to be afraid of the police and uncomfortable in their presence...
R, 5: Defense of Immigrants and Refugees
Supports radical action around immigration and freedom of movement as well as harm-reduction.
R, 6: Orienting to Latinx Communities
Supports DSA building better relationships with Latinx communities, Spanish-language support on website.
R, 7: Create a Conflict Resolution Training Program for DSA
Creates such a program to support organizers' continued work, especially for conflicts that do not rise to the level of a grievance.
R, 9: Establishing a National Anti-Fascist Working Group
Institutionalizes the fight against fascism as an official DSA initiative
R, 11: DSA Law Enforcement Exclusion
Excludes law enforcement officers from membership in DSA.
...[E]mployment as a Law Enforcement Officer is in opposition to the principles of the organization as outlined in the DSA Constitution Article II. Persons employed as Law Enforcement Officers are therefore excluded from membership in DSA.
R, 12: YDSA Stipends
Provides funds to DSA chapters for the purpose of building their associated YDSA chapters.
R, 14: Disallow Usage Of Membership Information For Marketing Purposes
Makes sure marketing for paid products such as magazine subscriptions is strictly forbidden in internal official communications
R, 16: No Title or Privilege for Donors
Prevents special treatment of members based on donation amount.
Whereas, the world we are working to build is one where wealth is distributed and privilege is extended to all; and
Whereas, DSA has, in the past, created titles or special group designations for donors, such as “Movement Builder” or “Debs Club”; and
Whereas, socialist principles require that we work to unite and refrain from dividing the working class; and
Whereas, we can encourage members of the ownership class to defect from their class without setting them above poor and working class people
R, 17: Record and Transcribe NPC Meetings
Ensures NPC meetings will be recorded and transcribed to keep a record and to make them accessible.
[T]he NPC and the NPC Steering Committee shall create transcriptions of all their meetings and other decisions, and additionally, audio or audio-visual recordings of in-person or teleconference meetings. Such recordings and transcriptions shall be made available to DSA membership within 7 days of the meeting, along with any documents used during the meeting.
R, 18: Regular Membership Reports
Requires the national office to release regular updates on membership numbers.
DSA staff shall, beginning in September 2019, make available to members a monthly membership report that contains:
- The number of members in total and for each local,
- The number of members in good standing, in total and for each local,
- The number of new member sign ups in total in the previous month.
R, 19: National Organizing Manual
Creates a program by which the national office will prepare and release a manual to help chapters and OCs learn how to organize.
...[O]ur membership possesses enormous quantities of organizing knowledge, only some of which is written down, and which is not currently collected in one place…
R, 20: Protection for Caucuses
Ensures that caucuses are not prohibited from organizing or using communications channels, creates a commission to investigate a future Constitution/Bylaws amendment to this end.
DSA is committed to multi-tendency organizing and embracing a spectrum of leftist thought and organizing spaces for people of every identity, but there are no guarantees that the National Office or chapter leaderships will allow individual caucuses to organize. To fully realize that commitment to ideological diversity on the left, caucuses’ right to organize must be protected.
R, 21: Implement Electronic NPC Town Halls
Requires open teleconference calls with membership preceding each NPC meeting.
Currently, there is little opportunity for NPC members to get a clear and full picture of the will of the membership on issues discussed at said meetings,
Getting a better picture of the will of the membership will better align the NPC with the views and opinions of its constituent members.
R, 22: Local Dues Autonomy
Allows members to join DSA or pay dues through their chapter, indicating the proportion of dues to go to national and local.
When paying dues through the national website, members shall have the option to allocate money to their local, if such local is able to accept the funds. Members joining through the local may specify the allocation between the Local and National DSA, but not less than 20% to National DSA, or if they do not specify an allocation, half shall go to the Local and half to National DSA.
R, 25: Childcare
Fight for parental leave, implement childwatch in chapters and strengthen childwatch where already implemented.
R, 29: Prioritizing Financial Solidarity
Make Convention affordable for all members by minimizing out-of-pocket expenses.
National DSA shall not charge a registration fee for the 2021 National Convention, and shall offer to pay, with no upfront cost to delegates, for travel and lodging for every delegate to the 2021 National Convention.
R, 34: Ecosocialist Green New Deal Priority
Fight for a radical GND.
R, 35: Establish a National BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group
Institutionalize the fight for Palestinian liberation as an official DSA initiative
R, 37: 70/30 Dues Split
Give 30% of all dues to locals, a quarterly stipend, and support in setting up bank accounts.
R, 38: Fight for Abortion Access
Make repeal of the Hyde Amendment a litmus test for endorsees, fight for abortion access in general and in M4A efforts, among other items.
R, 44: YDSA Staff Review
Review and increase staff support for YDSA.
R, 53: Support for Decriminalization of Sex Work
Require chapters to ask endorsement candidates about decriminalization of sex work, ask Bernie to rescind support of SESTA/FOSTA, among other items.
R, 54: Criminal Justice and Decarceration
Create a Police and Prison Abolition Working Group, and support abolition efforts, among other items.
R, 56: Ecosocialism as a Guiding Principle
Prioritize ecosocialist goals as intersections with open borders, community control of energy, food justice, and environmental racism.
R, 63: Convention Reforms
Requires elections to Convention Committee and subcommittees, provides a partial schedule for 2021 Convention.
R, 65b: Affirming and Accommodating Struggles of Oppressed, Exploited and Erased Comrades
Supports the identities of trans and pseudonymous members.
R, 67: Organizing the Unorganized
Encourages the rank-and-file strategy and DSA members' organizing within their labor unions.
R, 68: A New Operation Dixie
Emphasizes labor organizing in the South.
R, 76: Local Anti-Racist Action
Supports Anti-racist work at the chapter level.
R, 77: Supporting Workers Organizing in Electoral Campaigns
Organize political campaign workers, litmus test of having a unionized campaign for any endorsees.
R, 83: Support Locals and Make DSA Accessible
Centers the work of making events, locals, and national accessible.
R, 85: Standardize Accountability
Implements new Standard New Local Constitution for forming Chapters, requires that charter decisions not depend on requirements outside of the National Constitution and Bylaws.
NPC Candidate Endorsements
We, the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of DSA, officially endorse the following candidates for the National Political Committee (NPC):
Sauce (she/her) - North Bay DSA, California
I’ve been a DSA member since 2016, and I’ve served in leadership of my local and as a Harassment Grievance Officer (HGO) for my local and the Libertarian Socialist Caucus, as well as working with DSA Medics, RSSC, and Build. Please say hi if you see me on the convention floor!
- be kind, be ready: creating in DSA a model for the better world we know is possible; recognizing that we’re all innately good but profoundly damaged creatures, and that means we’re going to mess up sometimes so we must be prepared for when that happens
- radical transparency: in order to rebuild our trust in the organization, each other, and ourselves. The NPC must be open and available to members, solicit and accept feedback, and share information frequently and promptly. We must acknowledge our mistakes, and commit to avoid making them again
- all power to the locals: chapters are where praxis happens and power is built. The NPC must empower them to do this work, to experiment with different approaches and techniques, to learn what works and fix what doesn't. All locals need equal access to resources and support, and an NPC that recognizes that socialism cannot be attained through a one-size-fits-all approach.
Jen M (she/her) - Eugene DSA, Oregon
I joined DSA during the Trump Bump. I was on the OC for DSA Eugene and elected chair, followed by re-election last year. We’ve worked in coalition with lots of local groups; we are helpers in our community.
I’ve participated in lots of things, but one I’m most proud of is DSA Accountability, which started as an ad-hoc group of members committed to bringing transparency and democracy to our organization. In just over two weeks in late 2017 we grew to 300+ members, working together to push for greater accountability and transparency from our national leadership. We continued our work together and formed the DSAA Sample Bylaws, which have been in use and endorsed by several chapters and groups in the year or so since we completed them. We have remained steadfast in our dedication to transparency, democracy, and accountability.
I’m part of the DSA Poor People’s Caucus, because I’m a member who’s poor and want to connect with other poor people and help them connect with members, too.
Last year, I helped on the west coast tour of DSA Medics, providing de-escalation training for members in California and Oregon.
I am running for NPC for four main reasons:
- Radical Transparency: I believe that a healthy and functioning democratic organization starts with transparency. In order for our highest governing body - our fellow members - to make decisions in the best interest of our organization, we must ensure that we are operating in a fully transparent manner at every level of the organization.
- Radical Accountability: I believe that without sound accountability measures in place, our organization cannot function in the best interest of our members.
- Radical Attentiveness: I believe that we cannot rely solely on our own experiences and knowledge to guide ourselves and our organization. I want to ensure that we as an organization together are actively listening and attending to the needs of members who are marginalized, oppressed, and suffering. I want to ensure that as an ecosocialist organization, we are attentive to the needs of our planet and those who will surely suffer and are suffering due to climate change.
- Radical Connections: I believe that members must have a space to communicate and connect with other members, whether digitally or physically. I strongly advocate for leaders within our organization to constantly interact with all of our rank-and-file members, and to interact earnestly, openly, and honestly.
Michelle B (she/her) - Orlando DSA, Florida
I am a Puerto Rican Floridian. I really like birds, whales and DSA.
I was on the 2018 Steering Committee of Orlando DSA as the chapter’s organizing director, and organized the first Florida DSA Statewide Conference in March 2019. I am currently on the bylaws committee for an official statewide DSA in Florida, which will be the first of its kind. I am active in the chapter’s Ecosocialism Working Group and have also done work with the Healthcare Working Group.
My non-DSA work includes working on the successful campaign to mandate injury reporting for greyhound racing in Seminole County, Fla (an instrumental step in the eventual banning of greyhound racing statewide), as well as development and public relations for multiple non-profits and an online publication.
Adjust to the new geographic and demographic shift in membership since 2016.
Making radical and necessary changes to our organizing culture to include and appeal to marginalized groups.
Focus on developing new chapters, as well as providing more support for organizing committees, and at-large members.
Decentralize national staff.
Expanding disaster relief networks and providing greater support for communities defending themselves from a more hostile climate and the hightened exploitation from disaster capitalists.
A focus on families and children’s education.
A greater focus on inclusivity and accomodations for families of all types.
Ecosocialism as a foundationial ideology of the DSA.
Nationalization of energy infrastructure.
Dan Q (they/them) - Asheville DSA, North Carolina
I, like many others have joined in 2016, and was in chapter leadership in Providence from 2017-2019 handling everything from membership lists to one on ones to communication, social media, finances because I understood that in order to have a working and functional organization, we need to have basic needs met.
I’ve been organizing for almost 20 years now, from anti-war in the early 2000’s to electoral organizing in multiple states, to pretty much solely organizing in DSA in all of my spare time. I live for trying to make others lives easier. I do it in my day job as an education software programmer where I try to improve the way learners communicate with each other and learn from each other. I do it by looking at the system and the processes in which people communicate, gather feedback, and act upon the knowledge gained. It’s the same thing that I want to apply to DSA. Find our strengths, find our weaknesses, be honest about them, and work together as a mass organization to find out how to be our best selves.
To do that I want to:
Listen: So much of organizing is listening. When we work in our communities, in our chapters, the first thing we do is listen, not speak our truth. I want to take that to the top. I want to start asking more questions, more regular communication from the NPC, better polling of the organization so we can build trends about the intent and feelings of the organization instead of guessing.
Training and Resources: The reason why we have a national organization is to share the load, to coordinate and work together to build an organization. I want to help build training for chapters on so many levels that are accessible & meaningful to organizers in chapters on what their needs are. This can include technical programs, accounting programs, organizing programs, data and member management, whatever. We just need the tools to make it happen, and I have the skills to oversee & project manage on behalf of the membership.
Critical Analysis of Decisions: I believe in order to understand our effectiveness, we need to be clear about what our goals are as an organization, as chapters, and as an NPC. If we’re not sharing what our goals are before starting work, we’re not going to be able to critically analyze if the actions we’ve taken were corollary to the result or causation to the result. By creating a culture that allows us to step back and look at our actions and talk about improving them constantly, we can both reach further & understand how we can grow from failure if we have the support that we need.
Other LSC Members Running for NPC
Other Convention Positions
We wrote a petition letter to NPC, requesting that Convention Committee move the Fundraiser to a different place on the Convention Schedule. It is slotted for directly before the NPC Elections, which is likely to make members feel obligated to attend. The 2017 Fundraiser was very uncomfortable for a number of members, especially those who didn’t have spare funds to contribute. (An update to the schedule indicates that there is now a half-hour break scheduled for between these two events.)
NPC Transparency Pledge
Caucus members running for NPC drew up a pledge to act with accountability and transparency if elected, and sent the pledge around for other candidates to sign. A majority of NPC candidates have signed on, and the authors have even published rebuttals to their pledge in a public location (the DSA discussion forums). We have decided to endorse this pledge as a Caucus in this statement.
We wrote another petition letter to NPC, requesting that instead of the Modified Borda Count decided upon by the Steering Committee against expert recommendations, that Single Transferable Vote be used instead. Borda is not a proportional representation system and is easy to game.
Many of the battles that are going to be fought at this Convention have been years in the making. It’s a critical moment for the future of the DSA as an organization. So we wish to conclude with our sense of just how important we feel the upcoming events in Atlanta will be.
Let’s be blunt. The issues in dispute are sometimes matters of interpersonal friction, sometimes the result of one or the other kind of abuse, sometimes the waste left behind by years of power-politics and backroom scheming. In this respect, mistakes have been made on all sides, no one’s hands are clean -- though we have tried to do our best to uphold the principles of freedom, solidarity, and democracy upon which we founded our Caucus, and are confident that on the whole the membership understands this to be true of us.
But there are also many items to be debated in Atlanta that represent real, principled differences of opinion within DSA: about its goals, about its structure, about its future. We believe, with the Zapatistas, that the world we want to build is a world where many worlds fit; and we are part of a libertarian socialist tradition, dating back at least to the rank-and-file of the First International (if not to far more ancient struggles, in many times and many places), which believes a socialist organization must be “the embryo of the human society of the future” and “shun any principle leaning towards authority and dictatorship.”
Therefore, we assert and proclaim, with the utmost sincerity, to all factions and individuals who will listen, that our primary goal at this Convention is to maintain the democratic and pluralistic integrity of the DSA as an organization. We do not want a split; we do not want to destroy what others have built; we do not want to prevent others from doing the kinds of work they want to pursue. We’ve said we want to democratize everything. And what that means, above all, is that we strive to create a DSA where no one is the master of everyone else, where those affected by decisions are the ones who make them, where new experiments in revolutionary activity and the construction of democratic worlds are possible which bit by bit can begin to assemble the socialism we’ve all dreamed of. **All of us joined DSA because we believe in the mission and methods of the organization, which for all its ups and downs have always been rooted in a theory and practice of radical democracy. **
For us, as we’ve said from the start, the tradition of assembly democracy at the heart of libertarian socialism is the highest and truest expression of democratic socialism. But even if you don’t share our deepest convictions, we hope you can at least agree that any socialism which has lost its connection to democracy is itself doomed to lose one way or the other. What is really to be decided in Atlanta is whether the DSA will remain a truly democratic organization and become the emancipatory force we all know it can be.
Up to now, all of us have had a hand in building this beautiful org. Now we will see whether we can keep it.