Message from John, Megan, and Sam, the Red Star NPC Members
A lot’s happened since the last newsletter. The violence in Gaza has escalated, as Palestinian resistance fighters launched a major attack against Israel. This latest event in the long and ongoing struggle against the brutal apartheid imposed by the Zionist government of Israel has brought out the most strident attacks against socialists and anti-imperialists in…about a year and a half, since DSA announced its opposition to US weapons shipments to Ukraine.
Just like last time, and the time before that, imperialists across the spectrum of mainstream US politics are baying for blood. Because DSA stood behind its support for Palestinian liberation, we’ve been attacked, threatened, and denounced by onetime liberal supporters. Demands that we focus our statements on condemning terrorism are familiar to socialists who have lived through the Forever Wars in the Middle East. The turmoil within our organization is palpable, as our efforts to build widespread support and continue to elect socialists to office comes into conflict with proudly defending the socialist principles that we are ultimately trying to advance.
While this struggle is difficult, it is also what strengthens us, requiring us to confront the deficiencies and weaknesses of our tactics and positions, and harden our resolve to press on and ultimately overthrow the capitalist system that breeds oppression and violence around the world. Red Star is proud of our comrades in DSA, and extends our solidarity to all of those who are feeling the grueling weight of Empire weighing down on them. A better world is possible. Free Palestine!
October NPC Meeting Retrospective
The NPC met again on October 8, just a day after the previously mentioned uprising in Palestine. For our view on subsequent Palestine NPC deliberations, please read our joint statement with Marxist Unity Group. Since then, the NPC has moved forward with a No Money for Massacres campaign to call our electeds to support them in opposing military aid to Israel. While we believe a campaign could have been more effective with some of the educational components in our original resolution, along with a broader scope around mass action and connecting with Palestinian organizing efforts here in the US, we appreciate the leadership of the NPC majority around this issue in formulating a clear direction for the organization. Our NPC members are on a team starting to meet with DSA elected officials, and hope to get started on those and the rest of the campaign as you are reading this!
Other business at the meeting included a long discussion by NPC members on electoral endorsements. We are in favor of NPC taking the time to openly discuss important political issues, but NPC and SC meetings have a lot of business to get through. We support creating alternative spaces on the forums or on organizationally hosted panels for this kind of discussion to make time for organizational leadership to get through the important business before us.
At this meeting, the NPC also finally passed a resolution to give all NPC members access to the previous NPC’s Google Drive. We were glad to support this and will continue advocating for good leadership practices at all levels of the organization.
We were also happy to support and pass a resolution for a more open budget process, allowing for greater member feedback and proposals on DSA’s budget.
In another budget-related conversation, NPC deliberated on implementing the paid full-time leadership proposals from convention. We support moving more towards paying organization leaders to dedicate their time to their role, but also support moving cautiously due to the organization’s budget difficulties. We believe that with significant fundraising effort these roles may be able to actually assist with funds, but would like to see this theory bear out before proceeding at full speed. With this in mind, we supported moving immediately forward with paid national co-chairs, but voted to delay 3 months to re-evaluate paid National Labor Commission chairs. We think the experiment with paid chairs can help us see how the paid roles are working out, and will look for strong data there before moving forward in NLC.
In a related vote, we also opposed an amendment to continue electing NLC chairs through internal NLC elections. Especially as these roles get elevated importance as we consider them for some of our first paid leadership positions, we think it’s important that the whole membership of DSA is given a stake in the leadership of our national work. We believe convention delegate election is a step forward to opening up interest and discussion of our labor strategy and leadership to all our members through democratic input.
The national chair proposal deliberations included recusal for NPC members considering running. Our NPC member Megan Romer recused and will be standing for election! Lots of you got to know Megan during our convention campaign, and if you want a full bio that gets into her organizing background, you can read the one we wrote back then, but we thought we’d tell you a few things that we know about Megan that we think you should know, too.
1) The Cottagecore Thing Is Real (and Real Weird)
Watch closely next time you’re on a meeting with Megan – odds are good that she’s got knitting needles flying in her hands, or she’s in the middle of jam-making, or she’s quietly grinding herbs from the garden into some sort of salve or poultice or spell for summoning the dead. But sometimes she sends us care packages and that’s nice (but there’s no way we’re rubbing this “achy joint tincture” on ourselves; probably turn us into a newt or something). It’s especially cool, though, because we don’t need to follow all the weird cottagecore accounts on TikTok, we can just jump on a zoom with Megan, and we want this for all of you, too.
2) The Woman Can Chair A Meeting
We take parliamentary procedure pretty seriously here in Red Star, and despite coming to the caucus as a novice, through various drills and trainings, Megan has earned our confidence as a parliamentary leader. But though we all love by-the-books RONR-heads, we know that chairing is largely about vibes, and Megan can command a room (even a virtual one) in a way that is both empowering and fun. We think she’d bring a lot of life (and clean procedure) to historically-boring NPC and NPC Steering Committee meetings in the chair seat, and while this may not seem crucial, we think it’s really important that people feel enthusiastic about attending these meetings and observing the democracy of our organization in that way.
3) She Loves A Round Of Self-Crit
Megan is not ashamed of what she doesn’t know and asks for clarification when she needs it explained. She’s open about when she fucked up and apologizes when she’s caused harm. She’s not shy about her long and winding path toward socialism and gets annoyed when other people write off folks who don’t yet have perfect politics, reminding people around her that “I’d still be a resistance lib if I hadn’t joined DSA and worked through the contradictions of liberalism alongside and through struggle with comrades,” and also laughs about what the look on her face would be if she was able to say that sentence to a 2016 version of herself.
4) Need A Good Speech? How About a Sermon?
If you haven’t found yourself on a picket line or at a rally (or even at a mass call) with Megan, you might not know that she’s great on the mic, either extemporaneously or in a planned speech. She is also something called an “Ordained Ruling Elder” in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and we are told by those who know things that she gives a good sermon, too. These national co-chair roles could and should involve a lot of this kind of crowd-work, and we can vouch that Megan’s good for it. (Rumor has it that she can also sing, but we have yet to see it in person and the recordings could be faked.)
5) Revolutionary Optimism Doesn’t Grow On Trees
Megan’s hope for a socialist world is as genuine as we’ve ever seen. She is earnest and fervent in her belief that a strong, organized, disciplined socialist movement in the belly of the beast is critical, and she is a DSA optimist in a way that many of us often struggle with. This deep belief that this organization matters, that socialism matters, and that we will win a better world is a crucial one to have at the heart of our communications and at the head of our organization, and there’s no one who will be better able to weave this into both our words and our praxis than Megan.
The Solidarity Dues Chapter Speaking Tour is going on! Megan and other NPCers have been dropping in to chapter meetings to advocate for Solidarity Dues. If you want them to stop by your meeting, sign up!
What We’re Reading
Megan: Letters to Palestine (edited by Vijay Prashad) and Rouge by Mona Awad
Sam: Nazi Literature In The Americas by Roberto Bolaño and The Third Reich in Power by Richard J Evans
John: Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class by Blair LM Kelley
We’re not fully ready to give in to pumpkin spice mania here at Red Star, and what better way to cling on to the warmth and sunshine of summer than sipping on a classic Tiki cocktail. The Jungle Bird eschews the long ingredient lists common in the Tiki canon in favor of one (red) star ingredient - Campari! The bracing bitterness of the amaro is tempered by the caramel notes of aged rum and sweetness of pineapple, sure to please Tiki skeptics and amaro skeptics alike!
1 ½ oz aged rum
1 ½ oz pineapple juice
¾ oz Campari (or red amaro of your choice!)
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
Shake vigorously with ice until the drink is chilled and frothy. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with a lime wheel.
Advanced version: Durham, NC izakaya Dashi used to serve a version of this drink with brown-butter washed rum and our local Durham Distillery Damn Fine Coffee Liqueur (¾ oz subbed for simple syrup), topped with fresh-grated nutmeg. If you’re into fat-washing your spirits, this Jungle Bird riff is for you!
If you're interested in discussing this piece with other DSA members, head on over to the DSA Discussion forums at https://discussion.dsausa.org/t/red-star-npc-october-newsletter/27976.
The forums are open to all DSA members in good standing. If you haven't made an account, you can do so at optin.dsausa.org, and if you're not a DSA member in good standing, sign up or renew your dues at https://act.dsausa.org/donate/membership/