“We believe that by first gathering people nationally under a banner of presupposed ideological unity, we have reproduced a number of the problems of the US left from the era immediately preceding the explosive growth of DSA, namely: sectarian isolation and an increasing difficulty in assessing the political terrain. Simply put, we have found ourselves in the opposite position we had intended. Our caucus has begun to feel like its own organization and in some cases it has behaved as such.”
I think this is a very important statement, and I hope the other “ideological” or “programmatic” caucuses follow the example of these comrades.
The formality of DSA is that we are an organization that traces its roots to the socialist movement that emerged at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, and whose most prominent figure was Eugene V. Debs, and the young rebels of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war era, the former grouped in DSOC (Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee), the latter in NAM (New America Movement, which grew out of the wreckage of SDS) and joined together to become DSA in the early 1980s. A very mature, seasoned, experienced group.
The reality of DSA today is that we are not even really an organization but a movement. Its roots lie in the re-emergence of working class consciousness after the Great Recession (remember Occupy and “We are the 99%!”) and it was inspired by the example of the Bernie campaign and others (especially Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez’s primary victory), on one side, and repelled by Trump and his efforts to become America’s Putin, on the other.
Yet only a small minority of those people who have signed up and paid money are actually actively participating in the DSA organization. And it is our job to fix that.
We’ve got to pull together these hundreds of people in Metro Atlanta (and tens of thousands nationwide) into active participation. Caucuses based on program or ideology are no good for that, quite the contrary. If they should turn out to be needed, that would be only after common experience has presented questions in an immediate practical form. For that to happen, first we need to get the common experience.
The most striking part of the statement from the refoundation caucus comrades is that under our real conditions, dissolving the caucus is the best way to apply its program. Awesome.