Four Theses On DSA

The working class must unite beyond political tendencies to build a powerful workers movement that can fight together for political and economic struggles in a united front from below. 

“The ship of Communism must not be wrecked on the rocks of revolutionary romanticism and putschism, and it must not be allowed to founder on the shoals of opportunism. Our ship must steer a straight course, full steam ahead over the stormy waves of revolutionary mass actions and mass struggles. To the masses! Win over the masses! Let us therefore, while not neglecting the struggles for the every-day needs of the masses, reveal to them the ideal of Communism.” – Clara Zetkin

  • The DSA historically developed as an organization of the labor bureaucracy attempting to push the Democratic Party to the left as the US moved into neo-liberalism and the post-war compromise collapsed. Founder Michael Harrington was committed to a strategy of Democratic Party entryism, believing that it was the only viable channel for the working class to make gains in the system through empowering their representatives in the professional class. This loyalty to the Democratic Party has made the historical DSA a reformist organization that has acted as a weak lobbying group for the Democrats. Harrington’s strategy that the DSA based itself on, that of Democratic Party entryism, has proven to be fruitless. The Democrats are committed to being as economically neoliberal as possible, and are structurally compelled to move more to the right. They are a cartel of finance capitalists and other factions of the bourgeoisie, not a mass membership party than can be influenced with internal opposition. For more info on the history of the early DSA and the failures of Democratic Party entryism, read Robert Brenner’s Paradox of Social-Democracy. 
  • The DSA of 2017 is however a different beast than what we reference above as the historical DSA. The rise of Sanders and Trump in the aftermath of social movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter created a need for a political alternative that was at least formally independent from the Democratic Party. Because of their organizing skills and infrastructure, the DSA is the org that most young socialists looking for change beyond reforming capitalism came to, despite the past history of the org. Because the DSA is a mass membership organization that is meant to be democratically run, this mass influx of young radicals shook up the traditional politics of the org. This fundamentally changed the character of the DSA, as evidenced by their exit from the traitorous Socialist International and endorsement of the Anti-Zionist boycott BDS in their last convention. The formation of caucuses such as the Refoundation Caucus and Libertarian Socialist Caucus, as well as the Praxis slate at last convention, also shows the development of what is essentially an internal struggle in the DSA to break from the pro-Democratic Party and pro-Imperialist politics of the old DSA, with old time bureaucrats already quitting because of the endorsement of BDS and driving out of cop union organizer Danny Fetonte.
  • The development of this internal struggle in the DSA gives an important opportunity for the US left to create a “pole of attraction” for all socialists that is independent from the Democratic Party. This will have to take the form of internal struggle using the democratic process to push against Democratic Party cooption in locals as well as engaging in the national politics of DSA to push for a break with the Democrats. While the DSA’s large size and infrastructure may be credited to their cooperation with the Democrats in the past, the time for a complete break is now. DSA now has the size and organizational capacity to steer an independent course. Committed Communists should not be afraid to join the influx of new members who are pushing the org away from the politics of Democratic party accommodation and towards an expression of independent working class politics. However this doesn’t mean Communists should abandon building independent organizations that are based on a distinctive Communist platform and put all of their organizational effort into the DSA.
  • The Communist League of Tampa has no interest in entryism, or covertly infiltrating the DSA to take over its leadership. We believe that the DSA exists best as a multi-tendency organization where different tendencies of the left can form a united front in labor and political campaigns. Our aim is to facilitate the DSA’s movement to the left, (pushed by the recent influx of young members), learn organizing skills, promote discussion on Socialism/Communism, and ultimately help build the DSA as a united front of the labor movement in Tampa. As democratic communists we feel that it is best to be open and transparent about our intentions in any group we work with.

Against Israel, for a Workers’ Republic in the Middle East

Donald Trump’s attack on the people of Palestine is an expression of the systematic imperialism at the core of US dominated global capitalism. Only a revolution beyond national and ethnic boundaries can liberate the people of Palestine. The views here express the general position of CLT’s membership. 

The Communist League of Tampa opposes the recent decision by Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. This is a clear attack on the Palestinian people’s struggle against the settler-colonial state of Israel and furthers the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. While the Communist League opposes nationalism as such in favor of international solidarity among the working classes of the world, we recognize that not all nations are created equal. In global systems of imperialism, there is a clear and inherent divide between nations – those which benefit on the degradation, occupation, and subjugation of others, and those which are degraded, occupied, and subjugated themselves. Through this subjugation, the capacity for development in the oppressed nation is deprived through the denial of basic democratic rights, and its people are left to rely upon the oppressing nations for the most basic dignity – a dignity that is so often kept from them. In the case of Palestine and Israel, this division is clear. For any socialist who believes in universal human dignity, support for Palestinian liberation is the only way. But how will the Palestinian’s achieve their liberation?

The members of the Communist League are neither nationalists nor chauvinist pseudo-“internationalists”, but principled internationalists who believe in need for unity among the working classes of all nations against their common foe – the bourgeoisie and the system of capitalism. However, we understand that building this unity requires the overthrow of such systems which privilege one nation over another and pit their working classes against each other. We reject the proposals of nationalists who believe the only path to liberation is the balkanization of all nations into their own self-governed plots of land. We reject this as a reactionary position, which turns away from the need to organize along the lines of class towards organization along the lines of “nations”. We also reject those proposals made by the chauvinist “internationalist” who call upon the people of oppressed nations to wait on the “global communist revolution” to fight against their subjugation. While they await the “global communist revolution,” are they to simply sit by and allow violence against them to continue? This proposal merely places reliance upon revolution in the oppressing nation to “trickle-down” to the oppressed nation. Palestinians have a right to defend themselves, and should break from the reactionary nationalist and theocratic leadership of Hamas and Hezbollah, which holds back the development of the class struggle in the Middle East, and therefore the struggle against settler-colonialism itself.  

How are these principles to be applied to the case of Palestine? Instead of a two state or one state solution we advocate for liberation through a workers republic in the Middle East that unites the region beyond all national, ethnic, religious and gender divides through class interest. This is not to be done as an end in itself, but rather a means to the end of international workers revolution.  We also condemn the equivocation of Israel and Palestine, which ignores the objective political oppression caused by Settler-Colonialism, advanced as radical internationalism, but actually a liberal centrist position of imperial colorblindness.

We understand that in a class society, there is a limit to our capacity to struggle against oppressive social relations. This limit is conditioned by the very nature of class society, and in the case of capitalism, the bifurcation of humanity into the proletarian and bourgeois classes. Moreover, it is this bifurcation which gives communists our greatest tool: our common struggle fought along the lines of class. The challenge in building this common struggle, though, is in the differential development of certain elements of the class over others. For the Palestinians, this difference is clear. While our ideal situation would be for a unification between the Palestinian people and Israeli workers, their unity is reliant on a rejection of Zionism from the Israeli working class. Zionism sets the interests of Israeli workers along national lines, pitting them against Palestinians who are frequently left to work among the massive informal sector in Gaza and the West Bank. The obstacle of divided interests along national boundaries requires that Israeli workers break from Zionism. Israeli workers cannot truly struggle as a class if they do not see the Palestinian people as their comrades. This requires a hard break with current paradigms of Israeli labor and the formation of new organs to wage the class struggle. To paraphrase Moshe Machover, the vanguard of the Israeli proletariat will most likely come from youth and arab workers.

The “two-state” solution which is frequently proposed by liberals must be rejected. The project would be a failure from the outset because of the uneven power relations between the two nations, and the US backed Israel would immediately hold hegemony over a Palestinian state. The overthrow of the state of Israel is necessary. Furthermore, this solution rejects the necessity for revolutionary integrationism and only reproduces the belief that nations are to be kept separate and independent from one another. Revolutionary integrationism argues for the radical integration of nations under a multinational worker’s republic with full rights and equality of outcome for all citizens regardless of ethnic background. Such a revolution could not be isolated within a single state, but rather requires the cooperation between the working class across the Middle East and the entire world. As a long term programmatic aim for the world proletariat, we advocate for a Middle Eastern Workers Republic.

For citizens of the United States, our contribution to fighting Settler-colonialism will not come from cheerleading for Hamas, but weakening the imperialist hegemon from within through political and economic struggle against the bourgeois state and its allies. Israel is essentially a base of operation of the USA’s Empire of free trade, an extension of US imperialist hegemony. The military industrial complex in the USA makes massive profits from trade with the Israeli military and the need for a “base of operations” in the Middle East makes Israel a pawn of the US empire, not the other way around as anti-semitic conspiracy theorists would have it. As communists it is our duty to fight anti-semitism in the Palestinian Solidarity movement when it manifests, which means challenging the notion that Zionism is a expression of Judaism.

Only through the complete destruction of class society can end the oppression of the Palestinians. This doesn’t mean instantaneous world revolution, but it does require the organization of workers across national and ethnic boundaries prior to revolution occurring. Nationalist tensions in the Middle East are not limited to Israel and Palestine, as Palestinians face discrimination from other Arabs. It only through the axis of class unity that the Middle East can unite to challenge the rule of imperialism and the ruling classes in their own countries. Therefore organizing a pan-middle eastern communist party that aims for a revolution in the entire region and beyond is a potential way forward for the global class war.