A History of Democratic Socialists of America 1971-2017: Bringing Socialism from the Margins to the Mainstream

By Joseph M. Schwartz, DSA National Political Committee. Originally posted to DSA’s website July 2017.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)—and its two predecessor organizations, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) and the New American Movement (NAM)—had their origins in the early 1970s, at the beginning of a long-term rightward shift of U.S. and global politics. This shift to the right—symbolized by the triumph in the 1980s of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher—somewhat overshadowed the central role these organizations played in the movements of resistance to corporate domination, as well as in today’s ongoing project: organizing an ideological and organizational socialist presence among trade union, community, feminist and people of color and other activists. Continue reading

Burlington’s Political Revolution and Bernie Sanders’ Forgotten Run for Governor

Thesis by Catherine Alison Hill

ABSTRACT

This thesis is the story of Bernie Sanders, the socialist mayor of Burlington and his campaign for governor of Vermont in 1986. The campaign is used as a prism to explore his version of socialist politics and policies within a capitalist state. The policies which Sanders developed in this campaign for lowering property taxes for middle and lower income people, increasing social spending, increasing citizen participation, and raising the taxes for wealthy people and corporations are examined in detail. Sanders claims that city governments can work for poor and working class people; however, this thesis demonstrates the difficulties leftists have in getting elected and in implementing policies whenever they do win. In conclusion, I examine the questions about left participation in the electoral process, the autonomy of the state, and what socialist municipal and state policies should be.

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Radicals in the Democratic Party from Upton Sinclair to Bernie Sanders

By James N. Gregory. First published by The Conversation.

As we watch Bernie Sanders’ supporters struggling to come to terms with the nomination of Hillary Clinton, it makes sense to ask why leftists are involved in the Democratic Party in the first place.

It started in 1934 when Upton Sinclair, author of “The Jungle” and a socialist for most of his life, announced that he would run for governor of California as a Democrat. This began a unique relationship that has been important to American politics ever since.

Why unique?

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If Sanders Loses to Clinton, What Happens to the Political Revolution? 3 Scenarios

Part 1 of this piece dealt with whether or not pro-Sanders and Sanders-skeptics could work towards common ends despite our differences.

What happens to the Sanders campaign after the nomination fight is over has yet to be determined; its future is to a large extent what campaigners make of it since the official campaign’s three offices (one in Burlington, Iowa, and New Hampshire) can hardly control 100,000 volunteers in 3,500 groups in all but 12 of the country’s 435 Congressional districts.

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If Sanders loses to Clinton, his campaign faces three basic evolutionary possibilities: Continue reading

Labels

By Terry Bouricius

This is Chapter 5 of Building Progressive Politics: The Vermont Story, a 1993 pamphlet by Marxist Terry Bouricius, that chronicles how the only successful left third party in the U.S. today was built over the course of three decades. The remaining chapters will be published on this blog in the coming days.

Ideological labels rarely have pinpoint accuracy. Political people with the same beliefs may describe themselves with the labels “socialist,” “liberal,” “progressive,” “anticapitalist,” “populist” or countless others. A consensus seems to have formed in Vermont and nationally that the word “progressive” best describes our movement. It is important to know what, if anything, this word means to most Americans. Is it simply a safe code word for those in the know (as with the professor who teaches “political economy” instead of “economics”)? My guess is that the word is still subject to definition in the public mind. Continue reading

Breaking Out of Burlington

By Terry Bouricius

This is Chapter 3 of Building Progressive Politics: The Vermont Story, a 1993 pamphlet by Marxist Terry Bouricius, that chronicles how the only successful left third party in the U.S. today was built over the course of three decades. The remaining chapters will be published on this blog in the coming days.

In the same manner that Sanders’ election was assumed to be a fluke, Progressive continuing success was assumed to be possibly only in Burlington. Maybe something in the water? The Progressive Coalition has always hoped to extend progressive politics statewide and nationally. We recognized that it was first necessary to consolidate our position in Burlington and avoid overextending ourselves.

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