We are revolutionary Marxists.
We understand Marxism as a living, breathing theoretical framework, which is not and never can be a static set of dogmas. We see Marxism as the foundational and most informative lens through which to understand the workings of capitalism, a task which is paramount in our efforts to dismantle it.
We believe in the creative, historical power of revolution.
A capitalist society will not be reformed into a socialist one, just as capitalism itself was not born through welcomed reforms to the former feudal order. Popular legislature and politicians with benevolent intentions can help create more favorable conditions for change, but these things alone cannot bring the revolutionary overhaul we seek: a complete upheaval of the present economic system that extracts value from the many for the private profit of the few.
Socialism means a workers’ state.
We believe in the necessity of building towards a state that is comprised of and exists exclusively for the benefit of the working class. Such an institution is the most authentic expression of workers’ power, and is the only body that can ensure the well-being of all people. A democratically planned economy is a primary component of this expression of the will of the working class, and is necessary for projects ranging from reparations to preventing the impending ecological catastrophe of climate change. Decentralization of the functions of the state essentially precludes the possibility of such coordinated planning, and weakens the ability of the working class to respond in periods of reaction.
Our analysis is intersectional.
Our goal of building socialism and our goal of the destruction of all forms of oppression are intrinsically linked. We understand that any analysis of class is inherently also an analysis of gender, race, sexuality, and all other vectors through which oppression operates, and that the reverse is also true. We reject attempts at analysis that discard or flatten these factors rather than treating them as real, material conditions of life under capitalism. We recognize, among others, the struggles against homophobia, sexism, transphobia, racism and ableism as requiring additional and unique analysis and tactics when building power and shaping the new society we wish to see in the world. Civil society’s prejudices are uniquely shaped by capitalism, but capitalism is not the only social order to feature them, and we must remain vigilant in assessing and combatting reactionary habits even as we gain power.
We are anti-imperialists and internationalists.
Wars launched by the ruling class do nothing but pit workers against each other, all while making the world more dangerous, dictatorial, and chaotic. As socialists in the US, we have not only a unique responsibility but also a unique position from which to oppose all US imperial interventions abroad and the broader agenda of imperial statecraft. We see no benefit in levying public criticism of states or movements that are opposed to US empire, as such critique in effect serves no purpose except to create consent for empire. In our struggle against the US empire and border regime, we stand for the free movement of all people, an open door for all refugees and immigrants, and the closing of all detention centers. Migration and the unfettered, free movement of people around the world must be unconditionally available to everyone. We oppose all forms of occupation, whether those of an imperialist military abroad or those of a repressive police-state at home. We believe that the phrase “workers of the world unite” is as relevant now as it was when it was written 150 years ago, and that this sentiment outlines the only path towards a worthwhile future.
We can’t get to socialism with the capitalist parties.
Our analysis of capitalism and its relationship to the state extends to its two state-sanctioned political parties as well; we recognize that the Democratic Party is loyal first-and-foremost to its donors, consultants, and relationships with capitalists. Working with bourgeois parties on their own terms misleads the working class by positioning such parties as potential vessels for working-class power, whereas in actuality their nature as organs of the capitalist class firmly stymies any revolutionary potential. Therefore, we generally oppose efforts to take over or work within any capitalist political party, and advocate using their ballot lines in elections only as a matter of strategy, not principle.
We need a workers’ party.
A Workers’ Party is a democratic organization of, by, and for the entire working class that formulates strategy and tactics, and contests power across multiple arenas of struggle. An urgent task of the socialist movement in the United States should be to build such a party. The working class of the US presently has no single body through which our power can be expressed, and it is imperative that we develop one. Workers’ parties have always been the vessels by which the working class has successfully taken power. We view that not as an accident of history, but as a testament to the strength of a unified working class. We also understand that, while DSA may or may not have the potential to become this workers’ party, it should help to lay the groundwork for it.
A party is not a ballot line.
The idea that the creation of a “leftist” ballot line, sooner or later, represents the creation of independent class power is fundamentally idealist. We will not build class power by simply creating a “red” option for voters to select. Furthermore, debates about if, when, and how to form a new ballot line put the cart before the horse. Only a powerful, independent, and disciplined working-class organization will be able to successfully launch a third ballot line that would not become immediately irrelevant.
We believe in the centrality of working-class organizing.
Struggle and class consciousness condition us for political and economic power. No other class in society, with its unique position at the point of production, has the power and ability to strike, stopping services and production and restarting these services under its own initiative. We believe in the necessity of organizing the working class and in its ability to revolutionize the world not because of any paternalistic or fetishistic impulse, but because of this material condition that necessarily positions it as the revolutionary class. We also understand that organized working-class struggle is inextricably linked to all efforts toward struggles for liberation of oppressed peoples.
We are scientific socialists.
We utilize the frameworks of dialectical and historical materialism and are methodical in our practice. Our work is necessarily experimental and sensitive to current conditions, so we must make decisions about where and how we fight based on what we think is the most effective way to achieve our goals. It is also important that we be willing to change when a strategy fails or ceases to be effective. For this reason, and because we aspire to learn from our own history, we view self-criticism as an essential practice, and a critical component of our approach to organizing.
We must always operate both democratically and collectively.
Collective deliberation and action is at the heart of the working-class democracy we wish to build and is essential to our organizing. Leadership and delegation must be mechanisms for the execution of the will of the rank-and-file, be they in a trade union or in a socialist organization. The working class as a whole must be empowered to develop and implement its own authentic vision of the world. We seek to empower the working class through the development of its own democratic and participatory institutions and inspire class consciousness through these collective acts. We reject action for action’s sake: we are organizers first and foremost, and the actions we take and the tactics we employ must always be strategic in revealing the class struggle in our daily lives and build our capacities to fight.