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DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) Convention : raised fists in the largest socialist meeting since World War II

 By Mariana Riscali and Pedro Fuentes (MES/PSOL)

 DSA is the fastest growing anticapitalist and socialist party in the last six months. It went from 8,000 to 25,000 members. We had a responsibility to participate as PSOL delegation in DSA convention, which took four days. We went along with Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum, Bloco de Esquerda de Portugal (Left Bloc of Portugal) , Mélenchon’s France Insoumise and Podemos from Spain, the other internationalist organizations invited.

Our participation was not casual. PSOL is an acknowledged organization known by the new socialist organizers emerging in the US. The presence of some militants as well as Luciana Genro and Mariana Riscali’s at the “Peoples Summit”, which gathered about 4,000 participants who voted Sanders’s candidacy for 2020 last June; the presence of eight guests from the US in the international youth camp organized by Juntos; All of this contributed to open relations with DSA.

In order to acknowledge the importance of this Convention, more important than show our own impressions is to demonstrate the impact on the country’s media from which we reproduced some paragraphs from some important means.


“The Nation”

“America Has a Long and Storied Socialist Tradition. DSA Is Reviving It.


The organization’s membership has tripled, and new polling suggests that 37 percent of American adults now prefer socialism to capitalism.

When a thousand socialists from across the United States gathered in Chicago over the weekend for the biennial convention of Democratic Socialists of America, DSA National Director Maria Svart declared, “What we’re seeing today is historic: the largest gathering of democratic socialists in an era.”

Since the 2016 election, Svart is delighted to report, “tens of thousands of democratic socialists have come together to build a future for this country in which everyone has the right to a decent job, a good home, a free college education for their children, and health care for their family. For years, we’ve been sold hope and promised change by Wall Street politicians—now we’re taking matters into our own hands.”


Will Trump backlash make American socialists great again?

“Relegated for decades to the back benches of American political life, a resurgent socialism, championed by figures like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is emboldening a new generation of mostly young, tech-savvy progressive activists and organizers.

Over eight months, beginning with President Donald Trump’s election victory and throughout the chaotic beginning of his administration, the Democratic Socialists of America have seen a massive

spike in their ranks, from 8,000 in November to more than 25,000 as this week’s biannual national convention begins in Chicago.

DSA members were on the front lines of the fight against Republican plans to overhaul Obamacare, often marching alongside more moderate protesters in defense of the law. And they are a vocal part of the emerging coalition in support of a single-payer health care system, or “Medicare for all.” But their ambitions are broader, with plans now to redraw the boundaries of socialism’s influence in a country that has been traditionally hostile to similar movements.”

“The Washington Post”

The socialist movement is getting younger, thanks to one 75-year-old

 Delegates at the Democratic Socialists of America national convention in Chicago vote on a resolution Friday.

 CHICAGO — After Democratic Socialists of America became the largest socialist organization since World War II, its members broke into song. As Marcus Barnett, an organizer for Britain’s left-wing Momentum campaign, stood up to address the DSA’s biggest-ever convention Saturday, many of the nearly 700 delegates stood up and belted out the name of the Labour

Party’s unapologetic leftist leader.

“Oh, Jeremy Corbyn! Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!” they sang, to the melody of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Bennett raised his fist in the air and sang along, dazzled that a British soccer chant had traveled all the way to Chicago.

“We got our Bernie,” he said, referring to Corbyn and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “Don’t give up hope. Your time is coming now.”

DSA, founded in 1982 to create a political foothold for Marxists, has transformed into an ambitious left-wing force. Membership grew during Sanders’s presidential campaign, and then started surging the day after Donald Trump was elected president in what some DSA members jokingly call the “socialist baby boom.”

“The Daily Beast”

“The Democratic Socialists of America Have Actual Political Power. What Will They Do With It?

 Older members of the socialist organization were amazed to see the massive attendance at the convention this year. Now, they need to figure out how to harness it all.

In 1973, Jack Clark met with about 20 or so like-minded socialists in a hotel on the Upper West Side of New York to decide what they wanted to do about the existing framework of socialist parties in American politics.

Forty-four years later, he was sitting in the rafters of the University of Illinois in Chicago forum looking down on a packed convention floor of closer to a thousand Democratic Socialists of America.

The organization has undergone a massive growth spurt since the 2016 presidential election, ballooning to 25,000 national members including an influx of young people devoting themselves to organizing and politics, in some cases, for the first time in their lives.

With that growth has come a challenge many DSA members have never faced before: what to do with actual political prominence and relevance.

“There’s an awful lot of positive energy here, people just feel good about being in a room with so many other people,” 68-year-old Jack Clark, the first national press secretary for the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, told The Daily Beast. “None of us have been in a room with 700 active Democratic Socialists who represent people back home. This is just a new experience, I think, for everybody.”

DSA has rich political roots in America, going all the way back to the rise of the labor movement. But in the post-Trump-election word, it finds itself more involved and influential than at any other point in its recent history. The group is organizing from the ground up, applying pressure on national and local politicians, making policy inroads in states, all while providing an outlet separate and apart from the traditional two-party system.

It’s come a long way since its founding in the 1970s when Michael Harrington, a socialist activist and professor of political science in New York, served as chairman.”

“The Intercept”


“Translating the burgeoning anti-capitalist sentiment into power means, at least partly, running for and winning elected office. Along with DSA’s growth, many local chapters have made electing members to local seats a priority.

In South Fulton, Georgia, DSA member Khalid Kamau was elected to city council in April, becoming one of the first Black Lives Matter activists to be elected to office nationwide. In Seattle, DSA-backed Jon Grant will be advancing to a runoff in November; he built his people-powered campaign by organizing Seattle’s homeless to unlock tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funding from the city’s public financing program. DSA’s 2,000 New York City members are organizing a ground war to elect two diverse candidates for city council. In Minneapolis, DSA is backing Ginger Jentzen, an organizer who was pivotal in raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, for city council.”


“In These Times”

“The First Priority for the Resurgent U.S. Socialist Movement? Single-Payer Healthcare

At DSA’s overflowing national convention, socialized medicine was front and center.

As universal healthcare continues to grow in popularity nationwide, many in DSA see the potential of using the issue to recruit droves of new members to the socialist organization.


“Are y’all ready to crush the private health insurance industry? Are you ready to make healthcare a human right in America?”

These questions from Ari Marcantonio, a single-payer organizer for the East Bay chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), were met with raucous cheers at the organization’s national convention in Chicago this weekend.

DSA members affirmed their commitment to making single-payer organizing a national priority with a majority vote by the convention’s more than 700 delegates. Billed as the largest gathering of U.S. socialists since World War II, the convention took place on the heels of DSA reaching more than

The organization’s growth has been dramatic: In May 2016, DSA had just 6,500 members, meaning the group has nearly quadrupled in size in just over a year.

Delegates to the convention also voted for resolutions backing the ‘Fight for $15,’ supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel and endorsing Black Youth Project 100’s Agenda to Build Black Futures, among many others.

Where recent years’ DSA conventions have been much smaller affairs, at times attended by fewer than 200 members, this year saw more than 1,000 democratic socialists assemble, practicing the sometimes messy process of self-governance—and grabbing national media attention along the way.

Many of the attendees were young and new to the organization, inspired in large part by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 run for president as an open democratic socialist.

Research shows that more and more Americans are turning to the idea of the unified health system, with 53% now support a health insurance one government plan. Prominent Democrats are beginning to speak in favor of such a program (…). This new call for a unified health system created an opportunity the members of the DSA will certainly do. Throughout the convention, the energy around the organization ‘Medicare for all’ was palpable. ”


 The convention showed a socialist, anticapitalist and internationalist party


These US media clipping is enough to explain the importance of DSA and also the situation lived in that country, conditions that favor the growth of socialism. We also have to think about the importance this has for our international slate , in particular, and to the internationalists in general. In a nutshell, it means that an organization that can help to form a new internationalist pole in the world is getting built in the core of capitalism.

Moreno said that everything would change in the world when the heavyweights of the labor movement (especially the US) and this is beginning to happen!

For all organizations that claim themselves internationalist what is happening in the US is a very important step, particularly the construction of the DSA. In this country there are objective and subjective conditions that explain the geometric growth of the DSA.

Latin American struggled isolated against imperialism for many decades.

Now we have allies in the heart of imperialism and that is no small thing. We have many points in common with the poor and the workers from US who have ceased to believe “that Wall Street would solve their problems” and decided to take in their hands the solution thereof. DSA, Black Lives Matter and other companions, are the many organizations that are fighting for the “Medicare for all.” US workers, as well as Latino immigrants, are the majority of workers, and these organizations together with those that will emerge will make it possible to stop the wall that Trump intends to build on the southern border, which is also ours

The US is now also a center of world class struggle

In short, we can say that the great country of the North became the political center of the world, of fundamental importance for the class struggle. As León Trotsky foretold, there is where all the contradictions of capitalism would  concentrate and that is what is happening: the economic crisis, social inequality, the strong elements of political crisis, processes that are sharpening with Trump

government. This seems to be the new feature of this world period we live in which settled the breakdown of stability within the country and the decline of American hegemony in the world.

Trump and Sanders represented and represent the two faces of this new political situation

Trump is a right-wing government, which further polarized the country with his policy, leading the world to greater uncertainty, with its hasty ‘tweetians’ reactions . He is carrying forward the policies of the Republican right, taking steps to consolidate the support of a reactionary sector of society of a right-wing middleclass and a backward sector of the working class. The policy towards immigration, the Mexico wall, actions with uncertain outcome in North Korea, the breakdown of Obama´s agreement to Cuba are steps in this direction. (In the case of Cuba is essentially to meet the middle class sector of right and ‘Gusano’ immigration -term used for decades by Castro to designate those who left the island to the US).

As shown by the clipping we reproduced, the most important of the current situation is the failure to enforce Obamacare Reform in the Senate. The defeat suffered by their project, took place amid a widespread resistance in the mass movement with important local mobilizations in which the DSA had an outstanding intervention. The project failure was a triumph of the mass movement that has now taken the banner of “Medicare for all” (the public health plan for retirees). That is, the movement went from Obamacare defense resistance to an offensive policy, now raising the “Medicare for all”, thus overcoming the Obamacare, and becoming the main watchword of the movement. It is the most suffered need by the American people who aim a national health plan as the one they have in England or the Scandinavian countries. A slogan that means the socialization of medicine facing insurers and large health corporations. It is indeed a transitional slogan for the US. This fight for Medicare for all is the example that shows the level of  awareness and mobilization in the country.

The DSA convention shows that the movement that was created around Sanders has not stopped

The fact that the “Peoples Summit” has relaunched the candidacy for president of the independent socialist senator is a symptom that the movement is still alive. And as an important part of this is the DSA geometric growth from a few thousand to 25,000 members in one year. The new vanguard emerged with Sanders is gathering, and surpasses him in ideology and militancy, as Sanders does not have an organization.

The DSA had the great merit of being the only consequent socialist organization in supporting Sanders unconditionally, unlike the trotskyist tendencies (Socialist Alternative ended up supporting the Green Party disconnecting itself from the process and the ISO that since the beginning refused to support him because he would ‘capitulate to Clinton’). DSA has not supported Clinton more than in some states and had the ability not to make this a key political issue so they wouldn’t counter the sectors that supported Hillary against Trump: the women’s movement, blacks including much of Black Lives Matter and the most radical Democrat sectors.

Undoubtedly, the DSA convention impacted this militant sector which is very important as is the case of ISO (Internationalist Socialist Organization), the largest Trotskyist party and the Marxist left before DSA´s leap.

The DSA Convention (Congress) was an expression of this new open process in the DSA

It can´t be explained only by the political situation, but also by the characteristics that the party has. In it converge old socialist leaders, Satchman´s heirs who, in turn, had their continuity in the 70s with Harrington. The former has taken over the US socialist tradition and expressed in his writings a socialism vindication policy, keeping this flag contrary to what did all the social democracy, claiming the process of the Russian revolution, for example.

Their substantial difference with socialdemocracy and Brazilian PT is that the old leadership never bureaucratized. The bourgeoisie and the political situation gave them no room for it. That’s how it was a generation in defense of a socialism which played a role of ideological resistance. The convention showed the (progressive) gap that is in the party between this generous old socialist leadership willing to palm with the new process and on the other hand the upsurge in the party of thousands won over in the Sanders process and that go beyond his policy.

This is a juvenile process, full of enthusiasm, which has a genuine approach to Marxist and anticapitalist ideas. It had been a long time since we’ve seen such an active militancy, enthusiast who embraces the idea of socialism. By comparison, it looked like the sixties avant-garde for their enthusiasm, though more virgin. It had been a long time since we’ve seen such an open, enthusiast vanguard who has no reference in old directions (neither Stalinist nor Maoist) with an open consciousness to listen and learn.

Maybe two processes have helped to make this avant-garde very open to Marxist political education. On one hand, on the Yankee universities there is a certain freedom and Marxism is installed as a current of thought. On the other hand, the Jacobin magazine, a publication that has 15,000 subscribers, played a role in the formation through their group reading and discussion spanning thousands in several states. The team of militants who produce this magazine has become the most important of Marxist thought in the United States. A large majority of its members are from the DSA.

DSA is an example of internal democracy

In the Congress, were represented three trends as well as many independents. Momentum, Praxis, Unity. Our most direct contact was with Momentum and the leaders of the former National Directory. It seemed to us that Momentum was the most prominent trend in Congress. It postulated eight members to the national board of 16, electing six chairs and a sympathizer; its proposal to leave the Second International was approved almost unanimously. The convention voted by an overwhelming majority to boycott Israel and for a political text submitted by the previous direction very concrete and correct, coinciding a lot with Momentum’s political text. A motion by Momentum in which the Democratic Party was boldly characterized as a “parasite that is necessary to kill” obtained around 270 votes against 330.

We also noticed how the old generation was an example of open democracy for the new members, working with a great patience to sort the debates in a militancy still immature to distinguish the essential from the secondary, the political from the tactical. As part of the DSA growth it is also necessary to point out the participation in DSA of Solidarity activists, who are supporters of the current Executive Committee of the Fourth International.

The direction formed by the most prominent old leaders, Momentum and the other trend, Praxis, showed this party development with a large youth presence, as Praxis also has this feature.

Internationalism advances

PSOL was known by a large share of delegates, which shows the level of information of this new avant-garde, very interested in learning from international processes and the international weight that our party is getting. We are proud to say it was MES, a slate from PSOL,  that has made the greatest effort to establish this contact so that we are proud of our country being recognized by the DSA at the same level as the Momentum from England, Mélenchon’s Party, Podemos and Bloco de Esquerda. One should also point out that Marea Socialista is known and, it seems, there is a DSA sector coinciding with its policy.

But it is not a triumph of MES, but of PSOL as a whole. Surely, this privileged relationship with DSA will allow PSOL to look from a more internationalist point of view the international situation and the emergence of new political processes independent from the old social democracy or false Latin American progressivism as PT. DSA is the best expression of the “new cycle”. Their militancy´s most direct connection is surely with Corbyn’s Momentum, which is one of the most important intermediates processes of this new period in the world by the size it has achieved. It does not exist because of a revival of socialdemocracy, but because of the English working class’ weight and the new youth vanguard in whom he rests. Not by chance the most applauded interventions were the ones by Corbyn’s representative and the one by PSOL that was perhaps the most listened.

We have to think about what this leap in the US means for the entire Marxist and internationalist militancy. In the US, imperialism’s heart, is where the new cycle is best expressing itself. Supporting and sharing this process is fundamental. Latin Americans and, in particular, Brazilians are united with “Down with Trump and his wall,” ” Temer Out”, “For the free movement of people”, “Down with Trump’s military threats”, “Hands off  Latin America, no interference in Venezuela “; these watchwords have assumed a more concrete content to all of us who claim ourselves internationalists.


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Writing office

  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder