At the initiation of Left Voice, Philly Socialists, and Tempest, an invitation went out to 15 organizations, groups, and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) caucuses. Noting the end of an election cycle and the return of neoliberal Democrats to the White House, this was an effort to bring some informal conversations among socialists into the pages of our respective publications.
The actual prompt was a request for short contributions—not to exceed seven hundred words—answering the question: “What are the main tasks, and challenges, for socialists after the election?” In the end we received eight submissions (a ninth submission came in too late for publication with the others), which we present unedited, below. From the Tempest perspective, we hope this is part of a larger discussion among socialists about the strategies and perspectives that are fit for this moment.
We launched the Tempest Collective and website in August 2020 to help fill what we saw “as a yawning political vacuum…for the politics of revolutionary socialism from below.”
This was at the tail end of a historic rebellion, a multiracial uprising of 23 million people, in two thousand cities and towns across the United States. And since our launch, the ineffectual to malign response of the government has meant a near doubling of the COVID-19 dead, now approaching 300,000. Meanwhile, we witnessed months of an election campaign whose result has placed the Left in challenging terrain, facing a restorationist, neo-liberal Biden administration; an election which—aside from Trump’s theatrics—has not significantly weakened the forces of the right.
Despite these challenges, our priorities remain the same. There exists an opportunity for the Left to break an impasse that has bedeviled the U.S. working class for generations, that is the creation of class-independent organizations, including a socialist party, that embody that class in all its diversity. This requires advancing this perspective in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and beyond. It equally requires a commitment to fighting the right on all fronts, with no illusions that its defeat will come through the Democrats or a purely electoral strategy.
We hope to strengthen a labor movement that has begun to show signs of life, within and outside of the unions. Our focus is on rank and file activity; activity directed not just on the fights “on the shop floor” but with an eye to social justice and the broader political opening. This is necessary both to reverse the long, slow decline of organized labor over the last decades and to ensure that these defensive structures are not all that exists when we speak of the organized working class.
There has been an international upsurge of feminist organizing—struggles for bodily autonomy and dignity, struggles arising out of the burdens of social reproduction—which have placed women, trans people, and these fights generally, at the vanguard of class struggle internationally. We seek to learn the lessons and to help build comparable movements in the U.S. We should never again be confronted with two candidates—both more than credibly accused of sexual assault and rape—as representing a choice in our “democracy.” We look to a future where the movement has a growing revolutionary socialist wing that would never capitulate in the face of such a choice.
A similar dynamic exists in the existential fight against deepening environmental catastrophe. The weak presence of organized socialists in the climate movement is telling, just when there is such a resurgence of energy from a generation unwilling to accept the dissembling and deferment of meaningful action. The socialist Left not only has a contribution to make. Any meaningful advances require a head-long confrontation with capitalism.
In recognizing the U.S. as the premier imperialist power, and our obligation as internationalists, we are committed to supporting the revival of anti-imperialist organizing, built on opposition to U.S. empire, and to imperialism in itself. This requires transnational solidarity between movements and people across the world in similar fights.
Finally, despite the fact the summer rebellion largely receded during the election period, the millions who mobilized have not gone anywhere. The lessons have only deepened—as the leading forces of the Democratic Party attack the movement, and as the murder of Black and Brown people by the forces of the state continues unabated. We know from the history of this country that the anti-racist and abolitionist struggles are inseparable from any meaningful fight for socialism in the U.S. With all due modesty, we are committed to strengthening the organized forces of these movements in any way we can.
We believe that this period of converging crises means growing polarization and radicalization, and not stabilization and restoration. With this will comes opportunities for our side. We look forward to joining in a common struggle with other organizations and comrades in this process, which we hope will see a recomposition of the socialist movement and the forces of revolutionary socialism.
The main tasks for the Left today are three-fold: advance and unite ongoing struggles (for workers’ demands, against racism, against climate change), articulate an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist vision, and build an independent socialist party.
The current health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic takes place against the backdrop of the crisis of neoliberalism, which has brought about a partial delegitimization of traditional parties, and the decline of U.S. global hegemony, which makes it impossible for the U.S. economy to secure the material conditions that historically fed the illusion of the American dream. Meanwhile, capitalism keeps generating obscene economic inequalities.
Biden’s project is a “restoration” project: to restore the legitimacy of U.S. institutions and the profitability of U.S. corporations. After Trump’s blend of rule for the rich and blatant racism and populist rhetoric that undermined the legitimacy of the regime, and amidst the multiple crises and political polarization, this may prove impossible. The working class is desperate for aid, and many voted for Biden in the hope of something better than Trump. The movement against racism and police brutality shook the country this year and unveiled the rot in the regime. And there is polarization: an emboldened Right versus a growing sector of the working class and the youth that is ready to fight neoliberalism, if not capitalism altogether.
In this scenario, the left must try to accelerate the experience of the masses with the Biden administration and show that the only solution can come from the workers organized as a class. We do this by organizing to fight from day one against bailouts for corporations, pushing instead for universal health care, the expansion of unemployment insurance, rent cancellation for the duration of the pandemic, and more. Building off of the summer’s Black Lives Matter insurgency, we need to put anti-racist struggles at the center and use the fire power of the working class to fight. We must also try to unite labor and anti-racist movements if we want to avoid cooptation and strengthen the fight for socialism as we combat racial oppression.
And the working class has begun to show its strength, from the teachers’ strikes in 2018-2019 to the hundreds of labor actions of frontline workers at the start of the pandemic. But as leftists we have to be more than cheerleaders for labor struggle. The U.S. Left has often failed to combat union leaders who discourage and dismantle rank and file militancy, who boycott the push for universal health care, turn their backs on the movement against racism and police brutality, and continue to rally support for Democrats. The fight against the union bureaucracy is at the center of any effective effort to strengthen workers, unionize new places, and turn unions into fighting organizations. We need a fusion between the most advanced workers in struggle and the socialist movement.
To accomplish this, the socialist Left must articulate an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist program. This means charting a path of internationalist working class solidarity, rejecting both the blindspot on imperialism that characterizes the social democratic Left and the support for bourgeois governments outside the U.S. typical of the campist Left. A Left that works within the Democratic Party or supports its candidates is nothing but a left cover for American imperialism.
Biden enjoyed the support of sectors of the Left in these elections. It is hard to imagine how these organizations could now justify their support while Biden is filling his cabinet with neoliberal technocrats. Socialists need to break with the Democratic Party, and build an independent working class party that fights for socialism. This means recognizing and fighting the Biden administration as our class enemy, and not trying to be left-wing advisors for his policies.
We in Left Voice are revolutionary socialists—we understand that the fight against capitalism can only be successful with a clear strategy to overthrow the existing regime. But we understand that many people on the Left do not necessarily agree with our strategy, and we are ready to join forces with other socialists to build an independent socialist movement. The Left is doomed to fail unless we take this necessary step.
By Philly Socialists Co-Chair Janaya Lewinski
As socialists it is time for us to stop putting so much weight in an office that was not built, and will never support us the way we need it to. American presidents exist to dominate, and sacrifice powerless people for the whims of the powerful. Post this election, my hope is that we will focus on the mass work of building our movement.
Building movements is often tiring, relentless work. In order to successfully build a mass movement we need to force people to recognize our struggle and give no one the choice to look away. We need to start making tangible demands, and taking them.
I am going to organize my main tasks in this list, (as an organizer this tends to be how I think—sorry for putting it on you):
- Take stock in the movement building of the last four years, and prioritize it: Here in Philly Socialists we have multiple projects. We have a labor project, a community garden, an independent online journal, a tenants union, a mutual aid project, caucuses, and an abolition collective. We need to focus on further developing institutions like this—and greatly expand them. True solidarity among working class people is paramount, and it must be centered for us to succeed.
- We have to be ready to fight, and “lay it all on the line”: The deeply sanitized history taught in American schools conditions a lot of people, leftists sometimes included, to believe that the change we want can come just from an election, or a single peaceful protest. As an entity, the Left needs to accept that change will not be comfortable or easy. We will have to fight. We could be hurt. We could lose comrades. Having the attitude that the collective liberation of all people will come at a high cost to all of us is going to be key.
- Study traditions, skills, and strategy: Earlier on this list I mentioned that it is important to stock in the work that has already been done. This builds on that idea, the Left as a whole need to find accessible ways to teach each other about where our ideas come from. It is important to build on lessons and strategies from the past. Combining shared knowledge with learned organizing skills creates leaders. It is not always necessary to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes we just have to build on it.
- Organize, organize, ORGANIZE: It is important that our future focuses on fundamentals. Are we showing new cadre how to plan events, phone bank, table? These basic skills are the foundation of a major movement building. Doing these things together can develop trust among members and confidence to take on larger things.
- No more morality plays: We are not going to “win” by telling people that their opinions are incorrect, or that their ideas are not going to make the change they are craving. We need to build something for them to believe in, a movement with credibility that performs for working class people in the way that political offices do not.
With these tasks in mind, here are a few large challenges as well (In another list, of course):
- We need to accept criticism better, and talk about failing sometimes: Our movement and ideas are not perfect. In fact—they are from it. We need to be ready to accept criticism from inside and outside our groups, and the Left. I paired these ideas together because I think the outcomes are similar. We need to recognize cracks in the foundation and repair them with lessons and careful analysis. This is something that we can all be constantly improving on.
- Connecting our struggles to build one cohesive movement: Taking on traditional institutions with a fragmented Left is going to see us defeated. The Left would benefit from a move to connect our work together. Housing, labor, abolition—I find these ideas to always tend to be interconnected. Ultimately, strategizing to connect to one another’s work would improve our building as a movement. Right now, sometimes people have tunnel vision, and it will be challenging to pull people away from their focus.
At the crossroads of a new revolutionary movement.
By Puntorojo editorial collective
The 2020 election concluded with the indecisive victory of Clinton-Obama neoliberal imperialism over right-wing, authoritarian Trumpism. Instead of marking a clear break out of the morass, the election results register deep social divisions in the country.
Sanders’s defeat and obedient acquiescence—twice in a row and in the same manner—cannot be underestimated. Millions of his fervent supporters have been demoralized after having been hammered for daring to move beyond the realm of Democratic Party possibility. This is especially the case after having converged and crystalized a confident and coherent demand for socialist reform—only to be slapped with the harsh reality of defeatism with the dutiful about-face of Sanders. Sandernistas were then prodded and lulled back to passivity by Bernie himself who instructed them to vote for his very antithesis, the anti-socialist Biden. For Latinx people who supported Sanders in large numbers, it amounted to the call to back a chief architect of migrant repression.
Nevertheless, there has been a significant growth of the social democratic and radical Left, of which Sanders is only one part: a decade-long crisis of capitalism, profound social inequality, four-decades of top-down class war, and episodes of mass protest and resistance. People have responded to these crises in different capacities, with large sections of the working class directing their anger at the rich, the bosses, landlords, and the police. From Occupy to immigrant, and indigenous rights movements, to Black Lives Matter, and other manifestations of class struggle are teaching and training thousands to become socialists and fight back.
In 2020, the world witnessed the most potent and explosive manifestation of this radicalization when 15-26 million people poured out into the streets and engaged in militant actions in support of the Black Lives Matter rebellion. As a result, public opinion shifted significantly against the police, leading to efforts to “defund” and “abolish” one of the most hated instruments of bourgeois rule. Abolition, a term used to describe to the most radical and militant wing of the anti-slavery movement, is the rallying cry of a new generation that seeks to dismantle the police, the Border Patrol, ICE, prisons, and detention centers.
For Latinx populations, the period has revealed challenges and points of organizing: the need for principled anti-imperialism that fights against U.S. empire, the need to expose bipartisan complicity in border militarization and migrant repression. We also need to combat anti-blackness and strengthen the Black and Brown solidarity built during the Black Lives Matter movement. We have to build new organizational capacity and channel it into concrete demands and hold accountable those who exploit Latinx communities during elections but ignore and oppress them once in power.
At this crossroads for the Left, we conclude the following: 1) The last decade has shown that class struggle and organizing in the streets and communities has raised class consciousness and the confidence of new generations more than electoral campaigns. The Left must remain independent of the Democratic Party and unequivocally reject lesser-evilism if we are to grow and become more relevant in the years ahead. 2) The defeat of Trump does not represent a rupture with the trajectory of U.S. capitalism and empire, the far right will continue to grow under the feeble and accommodationist Biden administration, thus we must build anti-fascist united fronts. 3) There is an urgent need to consolidate the revolutionary Left and create an exuberant, flamboyant, revolutionary Marxist culture in the socialist movement to meet these challenges and offer concrete alternatives. Lastly, 4) the revolutionary Left will need to explicitly build organizational capacity, internal structures and vehicles to facilitate collaboration and joint action.
This will require renewed efforts across the revolutionary Left to debate and develop new analyses grounded in class struggle theory and politics. This includes recognition of the changing structure and character of the working class and the centrality of feminism and social reproduction, anti-racism, decolonization, and internationalism. It also involves a deeper engagement with revolutionary praxis, racial capitalism, the history and continuity of settler-colonialism, and unfolding inter-imperial conflicts. Most urgent of all, we must deepen our roots in working class struggles that will intensify in the years to come.
During a period of social and economic crises, the official liberal “resistance” has utterly failed to pay more than lip service to improving workers’ lives, dismantling the systems of policing and mass incarceration, or preventing further attacks from the Right. Trump’s right-wing movement and agenda were products of many years of corporate liberal attacks on the working class, of which Biden was a crucial architect. The circumstances of the election that brought Biden into office have essentially kicked the can down the road, and a real political reckoning with the bipartisan attack on working people has yet to occur. Indeed, it is likely that the Biden administration will only heighten the contradictions that gave rise to all sorts of germinal struggles from below under Trump.
On the Left, it is critical that we understand how our side is progressing—or not—and adjust our strategies accordingly. The lessons of the two Sanders campaigns and the Corbyn run for prime minister in the U.K. are multiple. Most important is the need to restore credibility to socialist and left-wing organizations and institutions. This credibility is not earned by leasing our credibility to Democratic Party politicians, but rather by means of a long-term commitment to fighting with and for working-class people where it counts. Workers will trust socialists and see themselves as socialists when “socialism” becomes a fighting force in their daily lives.
In order to rise to this challenge, socialists need to take workplace, tenant, and mutual aid organizing very seriously. The kind of practical knowledge and mutual trust that any strike requires in order to be carried out successfully cannot be summoned from thin air when the moment demands, but can only be built up over longer periods of common organizing. Such organizing assembles the tools, relationships, and infrastructure for the moment of political crises—crises which capitalism generates on a recurring basis.
But this kind of organizing, indispensable as it is, is not an end in itself. If we do not see our workplace organizing as preparation for these social explosions when wide-scale transformation becomes possible, we are not really building a socialist movement, we are limiting our horizons to the rebuilding of a labor movement within a more humane capitalism.
We believe that the most important element of this struggle in the U.S. is the abolitionist struggle against racism. Racism is the linchpin of American capitalism, and the central political link in the chain of ruling class power. Any socialist strategy with a hope of defeating the capitalist class will have to grapple with systematic carceral racism as a core political project of the capitalist state in this country. That systemic feature is the reason why struggles against racism, if they are successful, have historically had to confront questions of state violence, capitalist class power, and imperialism. Anti-racism, particularly when driven by an abolitionist mission, is thus what political class warfare looks like, and should be prioritized by socialists in the coming years.
The struggle against racism is a key political struggle to which we have to bring the organized forces of our class. It was through supporting and participating in wider social movements that unions like the Chicago Teachers Union and the United Teachers of Los Angeles took on larger social questions of resource distribution.
The Movement for Black Lives has become the focal point of a vast array of all-pervasive, inarticulable outrages, which amount to a budding rejection of the capitalist order itself. The outpouring onto the streets this summer, the militancy of the demonstrations, and the sheer number of these protests can only be understood as a mass rejection of late-capitalist ways of life. This movement is not interested in tweaking, tinkering, or slightly improving blemishes on an otherwise tolerable state of affairs. In this uprising and its successors lie the seeds of a truly revolutionary movement.
For too long, the Left has been content with powerlessness, delegating responsibility and authority to trade union staffers and hoping desperately for a savior in electoral campaigns large and small. A Left contending for power and mass influence should look to those times in U.S. history when anti-racist Black liberation politics rocked mainstream public discourse, disrupted business as usual, and effectively coerced reforms from the capitalist state.
Putting the Break in DSA’s “Dirty Break”
By Brandon Madsen and Stephan Kimmerle
Revolutionary socialists have hitherto only interpreted DSA and its relation to the Democrats under the coming Biden administration in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.
There are huge opportunities arising out of the Movement for Black Lives, and from raised expectations for universal healthcare amid a pandemic, no doubt influenced by Bernie Sanders prominently campaigning on Medicare for All.
We have seen the renewal of a broader socialist movement, embodied primarily in DSA: a democratic force driven by activists and local chapters; loose and lacking coherence, but nonetheless promising. Activists face the challenge of how to bring the forces of Black Lives Matter and this socialist movement together.
Meanwhile, Marxists are confronted with the difficult task of pushing back against the impulse to simply bask in the progress the Left seems to be making today using the Democratic Party ballot line. How do we avoid the bulk of the socialist movement winding up with an endlessly short-sighted approach toward what has historically been a graveyard for social movements? Various theories are circulating: a clean break, a dirty break, a party surrogate.
DSA formally stands for what amounts to a dirty break strategy. Unfortunately, all too often the “break” part is relegated to some indefinite point in the future, rather than being used to politically inform DSA campaigns today. How can we help DSA truly put the break into its dirty break strategy?
We in the Reform & Revolution caucus of DSA would like to propose the following to all revolutionary socialists striving toward an independent working-class party:
Let us all come together, starting now, to discuss how we can prepare for DSA’s 2021 convention season. Let us unify around a set of bold, concrete steps that we can all advocate for DSA to take up, submitting a resolution that commits DSA to actively building and campaigning for an alternative to the Democrats and a meaningful break.
Revolutionary socialists and others who are already convinced of the need for working-class political independence do not have the weight in society to break masses from the Democrats on our own. DSA, too, remains small compared to the whole U.S. population, but it is weighty enough to at least take some meaningful steps toward that goal if a significant number of DSA members are convinced to do so. Convincing them is our task.
We greatly appreciate Left Voice, Philly Socialists, and Tempest organizing this written exchange. Can we use this as a jumping-off point for further discussions about how to move forward together, trying to find common ground? That would also help build the forces of Marxism within the socialist movement and help comrades move beyond a reformist understanding of socialism, towards revolutionary politics.
We suggest that our groups (and any other interested forces) campaign together for a resolution to the 2021 DSA National Convention along these general lines:
DSA will launch a campaign to continue its growth with the aim of reaching 150,000 members under a bold slogan like: “Join the socialists—toward a democratic socialist party.” DSA will hire two full-time staff members to nationally coordinate this campaign for one year and reserve another $100,000 to fund the campaign. In addition, DSA will set up a fund, “Toward a democratic socialist party” and ask people to donate to it to increase the resources available for this campaign.
DSA National Electoral Committee is tasked with identifying the ten most promising 2022 races in which to run DSA candidates without using the Democratic Party ballot line (DSA may still choose to run candidates on the Democratic ballot line in other races, but these will not count toward the ten). These electoral campaigns will be nationally promoted, and all DSA members currently elected to public office are asked to publicly endorse and actively support them.
If others want to continue discussing, we would happily do our part to help make that happen. The proposal above is a rough, initial sketch to stimulate conversation, and we would be more than happy to be one-upped by better proposals! What is key is that we seek to act together to push toward addressing the main needs of the socialist movement in this crucial moment.
The postelection period continues the severe crises of U.S. and world capitalism: COVID-19, economic depression, ecological destruction, racism, and police brutality. This has resulted in a crisis of political legitimacy. The ruling class through its state will try to continue its neoliberal nonsolutions. There is great potential for popular resistance. Increasing political polarization has produced a rise of the far right but even more the growth of left-wing ideas and even reformist socialist organization. 40 percent of the whole U.S. population supports “socialism.”
Biden will be the new president despite Trump’s ludicrous attempts at sabotage. The majority of the ruling class supports Biden. It wants more competent leadership for U.S. imperialism. Biden will make many rhetorical gestures and even reverse some of Trump’s executive orders. He will use the congressional stalemate as an excuse not to do more. His administration will likely echo Obama who bailed out the banks and reneged on promises to the basic constituencies that vote Democratic. On some issues of imperialism, he will likely be more aggressive than Trump. Locally, Democratic administrations will continue to repress struggles against racism and austerity.
Popular discontent around the crises of capitalism lays the basis for mass struggle, as shown this year by the George Floyd protests. The pending eviction crisis, unemployment, hunger, and loss of health care will likely spur large numbers into action. Initial government responses will be completely inadequate to the needs of people.
A key danger these movements will face is the pull of the Democratic Party. The vast majority of the broad Left supported Biden’s election, and many will urge a honeymoon for Biden. They will argue that attacks on the new administration will play into the hands of the Republicans.
Acceptance of this attitude will undermine the growth and strength of resistance to ruling class attacks. The more activists understand the true nature of the Democratic Party, the stronger and more effective the struggle will be. The truth is this: the Democratic Party is one political expression of our class enemy. It is run and funded by big business. As Nancy Pelosi said, “We are capitalists!”
Revolutionary socialists need to argue that in fighting for reforms under capitalism we must fight against the Democratic Party and against the capitalist state they manage. The role of the Left is not to advise the Democrats on how to win votes but to confront it as the class enemy. Workers need to organize rank and file led unions and strikes against the representatives of capital, not lobby for nicer managers. Likewise, we must politically organize independently and in opposition to both parties of capital, not support the “lesser evil.”
Strategies of using the Democratic Party as a road to socialism are misplaced. Support of Democratic candidates reinforces the power of that party to derail and weaken class and social struggle.
This argument highlights the need for revolutionary socialist organization. An organization of revolutionaries will be much more effective in moving the struggle forward than individuals will. We need revolutionary organization now to influence struggles today and to prepare the ground for a party of and for the working class to lead in future revolutionary crises.
The goal of socialists today should be two-fold: 1) Bring more people into Marxist organization through recruitment and regroupment and 2) Build the struggles against all the depredations of capitalism. We need to learn from those struggles and use Marxist analysis, strategies, and tactics to make them as effective as possible. These two goals are essential to each other. If the revolutionary Left does not grow in numbers, organization, and political understanding, it will be less able to influence struggles in a positive direction.
The revolutionary Left in the U.S. is organizationally and programmatically weak, but has a large potential for growth. We need to grasp this opportunity with both hands while we participate in building all the struggles that will be necessary for the needs and even survival of the working class and the planet.
As part of this struggle, we in the Revolutionary Socialist Network are a collective of independent local organizations and at-large activists working together to build a revolutionary socialist Left current.
Biden’s administration will oversee a deep capitalist crisis, and the ruling class has no way out. Biden’s honeymoon, though potentially boosted by a COVID-19 vaccine, will likely be shallow and brief. Deep social, economic, and political polarization will continue and gather steam. The international situation will strengthen these contradictions with revolution, counter-revolution, environmental destruction, and inter-imperialist rivalries, especially between the U.S. and Chinese ruling classes.
In the midst of the pandemic and economic devastation, the biggest protest movement in U.S. history emerged this summer after the racist police murder of George Floyd. Explosive struggles could develop in the next four years around racism, sexism, housing, workplace, healthcare, budget cuts, or a whole host of other issues. These movements will often come into direct confrontation with the Democratic Party, and socialists can work together to popularize a class struggle approach and working class political independence.
As the authority of the Democratic Party leadership decays, a vacuum will grow on both the Left and the Right. It is extremely likely that the far right will grow under Biden’s presidency. This could even lead to the emergence of a far right party. This needs to be met with a working class united front, and the Left needs to urgently build a mass independent pole of attraction to cut across potential support for the far right.
Trump attacked socialist ideas relentlessly, and now the Democratic Party leadership is doing the same. This polarization within the Democrats will continue as their majority in the House of Representatives shrank and “the Squad,” with their five to seven votes, now effectively hold the balance of power. Marxists should put demands on them to use their authority to mobilize the considerable class anger in society, confront the Democratic Party leadership, and help lay the basis for a new working class party. We placed similar demands on Bernie Sanders during his two presidential campaigns. While we have no illusions that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, or others plan to take this route, we need to point towards the struggle necessary to build the foundations of independent working class political power.
DSA has grown dramatically, and they will continue to evolve and be tested in the coming years. Revolutionaries need to engage in debate with DSA and deepen our collaboration and united front work. New activists coming into struggle under a Biden administration will be much more critical of the dead-end “realignment” and “dirty break” strategies that are dominant in DSA currently. A mass independent working-class party will not emerge from the existing revolutionary Left or even from DSA as it currently stands. It will be a product of intensifying struggles, exemplary action from the Left, and deepened debates in social movements, the labor movement, and the socialist movement. This does not mean however that Marxists can take a “wait and see” approach to working class political independence.
In fact, the socialist Left can play a critical role in pushing forward towards a new workers party. Revolutionary socialists should argue clearly against the Left “using” the Democratic ballot line, even as part of a “dirty break.” Alongside a skillful and engaged approach to those with illusions in this strategy, Marxists can also lead from the front with viable electoral action rooted in a class struggle approach.
Our work in Seattle is one example that should be amplified and defended. Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative have won three elections as an open socialist despite the richest man in the world, right-wing populists, and virtually the entire city establishment uniting against us. We helped build and lead movements that won the first $15 an hour minimum wage in a major city and the “Amazon Tax” this year. The ruling class fears that these examples will spread, and this seat for working people, independent politics, and the revolutionary Left is under attack again with a right-wing, racist recall campaign. Defending this seat should be a priority for all socialists.
Internationalism should be at the core of our analysis, actions, and organization. Worldwide perspectives, struggle, and debates will be instructive for a generation of developing Marxists in the U.S. That is why Socialist Alternative is proud to be part of International Socialist Alternative with sections on every continent.
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