Update: We have since released a podcast episode discussing our decision and the DSA as a whole.
Class Unity is proud to announce that it is now independent from the Democratic Socialists of America.
We acknowledge the immense amount of work done by volunteer organizers of the DSA all across the United States. Many of us continue to contribute to projects within the DSA that we consider worthwhile. However, recent developments confirm that the DSA leadership has been thoroughly captured by middle-class careerists, opportunists, and Democratic Party-adjacent political operatives. As a result, the DSA as a national political organization, along with its largest and most influential local chapters, has become an appendage of the Democratic Party and an obstacle to the formation of a true workers’ party.
On November 30th, three DSA U.S. representatives – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, and Jamaal Bowman – voted to impose on the American railroad workers a labor contract they had democratically rejected and to prohibit them from going on strike. A number of DSA chapters, caucuses, and individuals have called for the expulsion of these members, but despite the DSA National Political Committee’s recent statement, it is unlikely that these representatives will face any form of discipline.
More recently, the NPC froze the activity of the DSA’s nascent National Tech Committee, whose purpose was to develop a DSA membership portal and build alternatives to Democratic Party electoral infrastructure such as VAN. The NPC has offered no plausible excuse for wrecking a project so important to the basic functioning of the DSA and the development of an independent workers’ party.
The DSA’s capture by a bureaucracy of Democratic Party apologists is a predictable consequence of the organization’s dominant political currents, which were never clearly distinguishable from Democratic Party left-progressivism in the first place. Having failed to capitalize on the political crisis of the ruling-class parties from 2015 onwards, the DSA has been content to attach itself like a parasite to every bourgeois moral panic, left-progressive social fad, and amateur college campus-style protest movement orchestrated by the left wing of capital in the absence of an organized working class. The DSA’s tendency to succumb to whatever is placed right in front of it eroded the potential of a long-term socialist perspective for building independent organs of class struggle. This irreconcilability of left-liberal activism with socialism created an ambivalence towards Marxism and class politics, which has since turned into outright hostility. What might have been forgiven as a tactical mistake in an earlier era has since congealed into the DSA’s de facto strategic orientation: a veritable Popular Front allied with the institutions of the Democratic Party and its satellites.
Just as the DSA ceded political ground outwardly, so it did internally, as evidenced by its continued unwillingness to discipline or even recognize conflicts of interest within its own organization. The DSA’s increasing reliance on HR-style management of internal political conflict, of which its ludicrous woke posturing is only a symptom, expresses the late-stage degeneration of its internal democratic structures and of its political life more broadly. Chapters have consistently failed to meet quorum since 2020, and are now resorting to administrative tricks to rubber-stamp their agendas outside of general meetings.
Under these conditions, professional-class careerists have moved in quickly to ascend the ranks of the DSA and set the agenda on all levels, while sanitizing the organization of anything deemed remotely threatening. The DSA’s professional-managerial bureaucracy is now taking brazen measures to destroy the remaining integrity of the organization, while assuming the role of loyal opposition in their reshaping of the global capitalist state apparatus that is currently underway.
Class Unity, along with many others, has tried in good faith to reform the DSA into a functional, democratic vehicle for working-class politics. We have failed on all counts. The DSA is utterly dysfunctional, it is thoroughly undemocratic, and it actively obstructs the development of working-class politics. At the national level, it cannot be governed and it cannot be reformed. It will continue to fail to advance socialist politics, its elected leaders will continue to make a mockery of it, and its rank-and-file members will continue to leave. At best, it will fade into political irrelevance; at worst, it will become an unabashed voter turnout and campaign finance machine for the Democratic Party.
In the coming weeks, we will release additional content reflecting on our experiences in the DSA, what promise it held for us, and our final analysis of its failure.
Members of the DSA who share our principles are still welcome to join Class Unity where they will find a network of Marxist organizers with whom to coordinate and caucus. But the Class Unity caucus of the DSA is now a working group of a larger organization whose mission goes beyond the DSA.
Class Unity will shift its focus on work outside of the DSA, to continue its mission of building a coalition unaffiliated with capitalist parties, capable of contesting for socialism and gaining support of working class people. Our aim is to be a productive member of the future coalition that will lay the foundation for an American workers’ party. We aim to achieve this in the following ways:
First, by building a network of active organizers across various labor unions, political organizations, and communities. As principled Marxists leave the DSA, we provide a space for them to support and learn from one another. When new political opportunities inevitably arise, we intend to be better coordinated to take advantage of them together.
Second, by fostering political development in an unrestrictive environment where anyone who seeks material change can seriously and freely discuss ideas. We offer a well-rounded political education program grounded in rigorous study of political economy. Our courses and reading groups are open to the public.
Third, by building our own political campaigns grounded in universalist socialist class politics.
It is important now more than ever that genuine socialists stop providing cover for their class enemies. The DSA as a whole is an enemy of the working class. We call on local DSA chapters to disaffiliate from the DSA and refound themselves as independent socialist organizations. We call on all rank-and-file members to cancel their dues, resign from DSA, and denounce the organization. Finally, we call on all Marxist socialists to join us in building a truly independent American workers’ party.
If you find yourself agreeing with some or all of the opinions expressed in this statement, please consider joining Class Unity.
This article was republished from Class Unity.