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.