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Envisioning a United Socialist Future, with DSA’s National Political Committee Co-Chairs Ashik Siddique and Megan Romer

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Hegemonicon - An Investigation Into the Workings of Power
Hegemonicon - An Investigation Into the Workings of Power
Envisioning a United Socialist Future, with DSA's National Political Committee Co-Chairs Ashik Siddique and Megan Romer

This episode continues the podcast’s exploration of what we are building on today’s Left by taking a look at the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

Most of our audience is likely to be familiar with DSA, at least by name. It’s an organization that has moved from one intra-organizational controversy to the next, with the dramas often playing out in the algorithm-driven public square of Twitter (now also known as Most recently it was targeted for the stance some members took on Gaza in the early days after October 7.

However, while it’s easy to focus on the internal churn, DSA is one of the most robust membership organizations on the US Left. It has thousands of smart and capable people actively invested in its success who fight tooth-and-nail over the direction of DSA. That is why there’s drama. Unlike a lot of staff-led movement NGOs, DSA has a governance structure that channels internal political struggle and makes it constructive for the organization as a whole. That’s why DSA has survived the challenging period of 2020-2023 — Bernie’s defeat, the pandemic, a new terrain under Biden and ensuing re-evaluation on the Left — with only a 20-30% membership melt, much lower than that of many progressive movement groups that peaked in the Trump era.

Hegemonicon host William Lawrence credits this resilience for his recent increased involvement as a rank-and-file member of Greater Lansing DSA. Last August he attended the DSA Convention as an alternate delegate from the chapter. Joining him this episode to discuss the process, struggles, and potential of DSA in this moment and beyond are National Political Committee Co-Chairs Ashik Siddique and Megan Romer.

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[00:00:00] Megan Romer: It does make a difference to be able to recognize each other. I’m a big proponent of, like, we need to do serious theory, and we need to do serious hiking clubs and baseball games. Like, you have to do both. Um, because otherwise you’ll drive each other and yourself nuts.

[00:00:16] Like, you have to feel good about your comrades. Um, and I, I think we do need to find that balance of political work, political education, and doing fun and cool things together to, to humanize each other.[00:00:30] 

[00:00:34] William Lawrence: Hello and welcome to The Hegemonicon, a podcast from Convergence Magazine. This is a show about social movements and politics, strategy and ideology, the immediate present, and the rapidly onrushing future. I’m your host, William Lawrence. I spent my 20s as a member of grassroots social movements, most prominently as a co founder and national leader of Sunrise Movement.

[00:00:56] The youth organization that put the Green New Deal on the [00:01:00] political map. Now I’m in my early 30s, trying to make sense of what we’ve collectively learned in this last decade plus of social movements and heightening social crises. I talk with activists and researchers on the left, exploring the guiding theme of power.

[00:01:14] What it is, how it’s exercised, and how it’s distributed.

[00:01:23] Hello folks, and welcome back to the Hedromonicon. I am your host, William Lawrence. Today we return [00:01:30] to our loose series on what we’re building, which explores the most interesting and relevant initiatives on the U. S. left. One of the things that many people are building is DSA. The democratic socialists of America.

[00:01:42] I am very glad to be joined by Ashik Siddique and Megan Romer, the recently elected national co chairs of DSA. Ashik and Megan, thank you so much for being here. Let’s begin by having each of you introduce yourselves to our listeners, some of the roles you’ve held in DSA and your role now as co chair.

[00:01:59] Why don’t we start with [00:02:00] Megan? 

[00:02:00] Megan Romer: Yeah, thanks. Uh, we’re very excited to be here. My name is Megan Romer. Um, I use she her pronouns, uh, and I am a, uh, mom and a writer, um, and a long term communications consultant type professional. And I currently live in rural central New York, uh, but I have lived in both southwest Louisiana and New York City in the past.

[00:02:26] Uh, five years, and so I have been in both of [00:02:30] those chapters. Uh, I was co chair of Southwest Louisiana DSA, um, and I was rank and file in, uh, Bronx, Upper Manhattan for a little while. And I was also, uh, for a long time, the co chair of the National Mutual Aid Working Group. And I have done work on the Growth and Development Committee and the International Committee, especially around, uh, Cuban solidarity.

[00:02:50] Ashik Siddique: Hi everyone. Thanks so much for having us. My name is Ashik Siddique, he, him. I’m the other co chair of DSA currently. I’m [00:03:00] based in Wilmington, North Carolina. I’m from Brooklyn, New York originally. And I started organizing in DSA through the Metro DC chapter in Washington, DC. And before that I was doing various kinds of climate organizing, which, which drew me to DSA.

[00:03:14] So in various roles in DSA, among them have been organizing with the Green New Deal campaign. And I was on the national political committee last term as well. I served as secretary treasurer and on a bunch of different committees. 

[00:03:26] William Lawrence: Awesome. So I thought I’d start this out with, um, just, [00:03:30] uh, you know, my listeners know that I I’ve been active in the, um, climate justice space as, as well as more recently doing a lot of organizing around housing.

[00:03:38] Um, but I’m also a DSA member and I, I thought I would share a little context about kind of how I’ve come to feel more invested in DSA more bullish on DSA as a, a national organization as a result of, um, you know, what I’ve seen in my organizing over the last five or six years. So I want to be honest, I might [00:04:00] not be the only one to me.

[00:04:01] DSA, uh, used to kind of look like a dumpster fire. You know, I became a member in 2018, uh, shortly after AOC won her primary. And two of my friends began a chapter here in Lansing, but I, I was kind of trying to keep it at arm’s length. I didn’t really want to be involved. My commitment was with sunrise movement, where we really prided ourselves on having this like super clearly defined strategy, national identity, a get shit done kind of mentality.

[00:04:27] And it seemed to me at that time [00:04:30] that DSA was like ever consumed with internal controversy and maybe lacking for that kind of unified strategy, which I really, uh, thought, you know, I prided myself on as being a member of Sunrise. But then as I’ve talked about on the show, some, and in some of my writing, when I departed Sunrise’s staff in 2021, We were on the early edge of a, uh, what became a difficult leadership transition, I’d say from our founding generation to a younger cohort of sunrise members, along with a search for a new strategy after the culmination of our [00:05:00] sort of first generation.

[00:05:01] Um, and I think in a familiar story that was repeated at many other. Um, kind of staff driven nonprofit movement organizations in those pandemic years, our staff really lost their legitimacy among our volunteers and our senior team also lost its legitimacy among other staff. And the result was sort of a generalized crisis of legitimacy.

[00:05:25] That, um, wasn’t resolved until it had taken a serious toll on [00:05:30] membership levels, and I think Sunrise is on much sounder footing now, but there was a toll that was taken in those transitional years. But meanwhile, I had remained a DSA paper member and a DSA drama follower, which is easier than it probably ought to be to be a DSA drama follower because so much of it happens on Twitter, and the algorithm is just feeding me All day, every day.

[00:05:53] As we all know, there is a lot of DSA drama, which is why I had considered it to be a dumpster fire. You know, in, in [00:06:00] 2021 moved from one intra organizational controversy to the next, including the so called Bowman affair, a fraught and internally debated. Position on Ukraine, um, and various, you know, I would say bad positions and bad behavior, um, taken by, by local groups around the country.

[00:06:18] Um, you know, most recently, of course, was the, uh, targeting what I would call politicized targeting and attack on DSA for its positioning on Gaza in the early days after October 7th, which [00:06:30] prompted the latest in a long list of self important, why I left the DSA essays. Um, but I did not leave the DSA because I couldn’t help but notice along the way from one of these dramas to the next DSA is one of the most robust membership organizations on the U.

[00:06:47] S. Left that it actually has thousands of very smart and very capable people actively invested in its success. And these people are fighting tooth and nail over the direction of DSA with a lot of investment and passion and [00:07:00] with lots of really good ideas. And that’s why there’s drama. You know, people are actually talking it out.

[00:07:06] Uh, unlike a lot of staff led movement, NGOs, DSA has a governance structure that channels its internal political struggle. And I think at least has the possibility at its best of making that struggle constructive for the organization as a whole. And I think you can see this in the fact that DSA really survived the challenging period of.

[00:07:28] 2020 [00:07:30] through 2023, which was Bernie’s defeat, the pandemic, a new terrain under Biden, and a lot of ensuing reevaluation on the left. With, uh, I believe only a 20 to 30 percent membership melt, which is a lot lower than that of many progressive movement groups that peaked in the Trump era, which have, have melted, you know, well over 50 percent in many cases.

[00:07:52] So instead of a dumpster fire, I started to think of DSA as like a shield volcano, always [00:08:00] oozing with lava, billowing with smoke of each new conflict, but all the while the conflict. In its own way is actually helping the volcano to grow, develop, become taller and sturdier over time. And in this metaphor, um, sunrise in our first generation and similar distributed movement groups of the 2010s.

[00:08:22] Turned out to be something like cone volcanoes. You know, they’re proud, they’re tall, they’re impressive, uh, against the, [00:08:30] you know, beautiful blue sky. But then when the conflict arrives, they blow their top like Mount St. Helens and the organization is diminished as a result of the conflict. Political conflict is suppressed.

[00:08:42] And when it finally arrives, it becomes destructive to the organization. So I started to see this democratic governance structure of DSA as one of its, its, its biggest assets and, uh, one of the most promising things actually for its future as well. So I’ve, I’ve recently been increasing my involvement as a rank and [00:09:00] file member of greater Lansing DSA last August.

[00:09:04] I was also fortunate to attend, um, the DSA convention as an alternate delegate, um, from our chapter. And, you know, the convention, I got to say, it was really inspiring. I mean, if, if, if you’ve never been in a DSA space and you’re listening to this, I just got a report. It was my first convention. It was inspiring.

[00:09:21] It was like nearly a thousand seated delegates debating political and organized organizational strategy. It was mature. It was [00:09:30] comradely people were bringing forth their experience from campaigns, successful, unsuccessful campaigns around the country. Um, and you know, people were whipping votes on the floor to try to win support for one proposal or another.

[00:09:43] And it just was looked like a mature. Democratic member led organization with lots of pitch debates, lots of people who really don’t like each other, I think, but, uh, they’re, you know, for the same reason, uh, and you know, there to get things done. And this [00:10:00] practice of member democracy really makes DSA.

[00:10:02] Unique on the U. S. Left outside of perhaps a few labor unions. They could claim to have a similarly legitimate and robust practice of member democracy. Um, and it was obvious to me at the convention that the process is resulting in people getting smarter, smarter organizers, sharper strategies, more interesting strategic questions being raised.

[00:10:25] And, you know, there were some questions that had been debated and Yeah. Uh, 2021 or [00:10:30] 2019 at the prior conventions that now are are long past because basically one side has has one and now people are together debating more interesting questions, more advanced questions. So this dynamic and ongoing internal political development within DSA, I think is a big achievement.

[00:10:48] And I think for me, this is the number one thing that makes it worth investing in. Further. So that’s a little bit about my interest and why I’m, I’m curious about DSA and, and invested in seeing [00:11:00] DSA become the best version of itself. But, you know, I, I still can’t actually claim to be like super involved.

[00:11:05] Our local chapter is not very active or very strong. We can talk a bit more about that later. I’m curious to turn it to each of you, um, maybe starting again with Megan, just to hear a little bit of your version of how you came to join DSA and why you chose to invest your energy there rather than one of the many other organizations out there, uh, around the country.[00:11:30] 

[00:11:31] Megan Romer: Yeah, so, um, My story is, I think, not totally atypical. I was a pretty standard kind of rad lib, um, I would have described my politics as like the Daily Show, right? Like that was my sort of left, but not really, but funny about it. It was where I landed for a long time. And then like, you know, a lot of I’m in a weird DSA age.

[00:11:59] [00:12:00] I’m 40, which makes me older than, like, the big block of, of Bernie additions, but younger than the sort of pre Bernie DSA, so I’m in this, like, weird middle zone. Um, but like a lot of women who are in their mid thirties, I was totally into Hillary. I’d been a Bernie fan for a long time, which is funny. I went and looked through like old Facebook posts and I was like rambled about Bernie, but I was into Hillary because I thought we needed a woman, right?

[00:12:26] Like I was very bought into like representation matters, like [00:12:30] that’s the core of it, that kind of politics. So I, like so many, uh, especially women of my generation, um, was completely shocked that Hillary didn’t win. Just absolutely gobsmacked, had no idea it was coming. And, yeah, it, it, you know, I, I was of the Trump bump, right?

[00:12:53] Um, and I first tried to organize with, I tried to, um, found a local Indivisible. It ended up getting founded, I, I [00:13:00] just backed off. I tried to join the Democratic party. It turns out that’s not a real thing you can do. There is no democratic party, you can just go join and like do stuff in. Certainly not in South Louisiana, but in most places.

[00:13:15] And then finally, a friend invited me to come to DSA. And I was like, Look, I’m a socialist. I’ve always been a socialist. But I don’t think we should say socialist because it turns people off. And so I, I resisted for a while [00:13:30] and then finally there was like this funny incident where I was asked to leave the local women’s democratic club because the leader who was a very wealthy white woman told a black woman at a, at an event that she thought that the, The boycotting didn’t work and the black woman was like, well, what about like, you know, the, the bus boycotts across the center?

[00:13:54] Like the, you know, the Greensboro sit ins, what about that? And she was like, I don’t know what they are. And I don’t know what, and I was [00:14:00] like, hold on. That is so disrespectful. Whatever. And so I, I went on like a, that is a disrespectful rant. It was like, Megan, you’re being disruptive. Please leave. Um, so I was like, literally asked to leave the, the lady Democrats.

[00:14:12] Cause I was not a lady. And so I went to DSA, like, as, like, rebellion. I was like, fine, I’ll just go with the socialists. And I, um, went, and I went to one meeting, and I was totally hooked. They were doing stuff. It was really exciting. I was like, yes, this is what I wanted, to do stuff. And I was like, well, I [00:14:30] still think it’s silly to say socialist.

[00:14:31] And I didn’t really get it. I didn’t really get what we were doing there, but I was all in because I was happy to do stuff. Um, and I became, like, the snack bringer for the meetings. Um, and yeah, and then just a couple years of struggle in that way alongside comrades, like doing actual stuff, clarified my politics a lot.

[00:14:50] And it was a process and a journey and I went through a long kind of, well, I’m still just here to do the work. I’m not going to learn [00:15:00] anything. That’s weird. And now I’m like a big nerd theory head. So, uh, life comes for us all 

[00:15:06] Ashik Siddique: folks. Thanks Megan. Yeah, I, I think. I went through sort of different waves of politicization before joining DSA.

[00:15:17] Uh, I also joined in early 2017 with, with the Trump bump, uh, before that. Um, so I, I grew up in New York city. Um, my, my family are immigrants from Bangladesh. Uh, so that, that’s kind of something that shaped me [00:15:30] pretty early on, I think just having lots of stories about like the national liberation war. In 1971, um, there was a lot of pride in that, but also, like, in, in school, um, outside of Bangladeshi diaspora circles, like, nobody knew what Bangladeshi was.

[00:15:43] So, there, there was a lot of sort of cognitive dissonance with, um, you know, having, like, family and, like, people in my, in my parents circles just being, like, very intensely, you know, constantly reliving stories about that. And then in school, it’s like, okay, uh, is that, is that India? What is that? Or, or just like not [00:16:00] really having any context for it.

[00:16:01] Um, and I think, um, the sort of, if, if Americans knew anything about Bangladesh, it’s that one, it’s a poor country and two, it’s, it’s, uh, at the forefront of, of rising sea levels or, you know, it’s going to be screwed by climate change. So those are, those are sort of two like facts that were sort of known by people I talked to in school or, or elsewhere.

[00:16:22] And it was kind of hard to square that, I guess. And as I grew older, um, You know, after 9 11, like, my family was [00:16:30] Muslim, so that was also another wave of politicization when I was a teenager. I went to high school near ground zero, so that was, um, just, just 9 11 stuff was very much on my friends and I’s mind.

[00:16:41] Like, we were kind of Blackpilled early, I think, politically, so we had a lot of, uh, you know, like 9 11 gals humor as we were becoming very online teenagers. But I wasn’t really politically active, uh, through, through high school and college, like the, those were the years that the Iraq war protests were happening, but it wasn’t really on my radar.

[00:16:58] I didn’t really know anything about [00:17:00] organizing or, or left organizing, like even, you know, having this, um, somewhat politicized discourse that I grew up with, uh, about what happened in Bangladesh. It still wasn’t, um You know, like I wasn’t conscious of what political organizing is. Like I didn’t learn until much later in life, for example, that like I had relatives who, who were very politically engaged in, in the revolution, but that was something that they just didn’t talk about that was discussed in very broad terms.

[00:17:23] It wasn’t until I became a socialist later and started to probe more, um, and then seek out stories that I learned more about. [00:17:30] You know, like more, uh, much more detailed things. So, so I guess, um, after I graduated college, my first job, um, af after graduating, I, I was living and working in New York at a veteran’s hospital, um, where I, I really didn’t like my bosses.

[00:17:47] I, I was having a bad time for a lot of reasons at, at work, uh, without really knowing much about workplace organizing or any context for that. And that was the year that Occupy Wall Street started. So I was caught up in, in all that. [00:18:00] And that was really exciting and politicizing and all the ways that, you know, now, now over a decade later, there’s been a lot of debriefing about what that represented.

[00:18:09] Um, but through 

[00:18:11] William Lawrence: college that year, I mean, it was amazing. It was, it was intoxicating. Yeah, 

[00:18:15] Ashik Siddique: absolutely. So, so I was going there after work and then, um, met a lot of people through it who I stayed in touch with, who started over the course of the next two years after occupied. Fizzled or was suppressed or whatever you wanna say happened to it.[00:18:30] 

[00:18:30] Um, we got involved in climate politics and, or, or, or just the confluence of things that, uh, occupy was, was politically engaged with. I, I think just sort of filtered us more toward climate concern and, and, um, some of my friends started an organization called the Climate Mobilization that I was an early like founder of also.

[00:18:51] So that just became something that I started volunteering my time doing while working a series of different jobs and sort of entered the orbit of, of [00:19:00] organizations that you, you discussed, um, I, I think I met some of the early sunrise movement organizers in different spaces in those years between 

[00:19:07] William Lawrence: 2013 and 2016.

[00:19:10] I think you and I met at the people’s forum and I guess, uh, maybe 2016 or 27. 

[00:19:14] Ashik Siddique: Wow. Okay. I think that’s right. Yeah. Well, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, so yeah, there were just all these different things happening at once where everybody, I feel like was trying to find out, like, what do we do in this time? Um, I got really involved in the Bernie 2016 campaign, um, because that seemed like a [00:19:30] very clear outlet for climate and everything else.

[00:19:33] Um, against everything that wasn’t happening in the Obama years. Through that, I also, I think, started to become frustrated with, um, what I started to see as sort of the limits of, like, non profit based organizing. Like, in a lot of the ways that you talked about. And I learned a lot more about organizational structure.

[00:19:50] Like, we were trying to figure out, how do we not just be activists? Like, what does it mean to actually organize a base? Around an issue or just a broader set of issues and, um, [00:20:00] through looking at different organizational models in those years, um, and just also reading more, uh, left like socialist takes on the climate crisis.

[00:20:08] I just started to realize like, Oh, okay. It’s not just that, uh, for some mysterious reason, people aren’t telling the truth about the scale of the climate crisis and what would actually be needed against it. Like the scale of societal mobilization we would need, which was the main point of the group I was involved with.

[00:20:21] Okay. Um, and just really emphasizing the speed of the transition, um, that’s, that’s something that I became more and [00:20:30] more aware of and convinced by the, you know, anti capitalist analysis and like socialist analysis of the climate crisis and what would really. be necessary to transform society in the ways that we would need.

[00:20:41] So, so in those years, I went through, you know, various stages of sort of climate doomer ism. Um, but talking with a lot of organizers who are starting to think in similar ways, like more and more consciously socialists like that really helped get me out of it. And through, uh, through the climate organizing itself through the Bernie campaign, just more and more of us, [00:21:00] um, started to Realize we needed to recognize something different.

[00:21:03] So then when Bernie lost in 2016, Trump got elected, um, that, that briefly sort of intensified the Doomer mode, just like, oh, wow, nothing can happen. That’s good. But then, um, I was in Washington DC in the second half of 2016 and early 2017. And just looking around, I was like, okay, I guess I’m a socialist now.

[00:21:22] What do I do? And Metro DC DSA was, was on the ground, uh, just with a new wave of energy that a lot of DSA chapters saw at the time, just going to [00:21:30] marches and rallies and, um, having meetings to actually talk about what we do together. So that experience of collective democracy and then action, uh, was, was really exciting and I was just hooked very quickly and, um.

[00:21:44] Yeah, just just meeting groups of people who are like, okay, we have to build something better And that’s the only alternative because otherwise we’re really screwed So that that doomerism that a bunch of us went through was just really channeled into action in very concrete ways So I think that’s really oriented my politics since then.[00:22:00] 

[00:22:00] William Lawrence: Thanks, Ashik Now, I think for some of our listeners, you know, like, uh, would say DSA is the, is the main show. It’s the main game in town. It’s, it’s, it’s maybe the brightest light on the U. S. left. I think there are lots of others who, including some very serious, uh, socialists and left wing organizers, um, still haven’t had as much exposure to DSA or, Um, they don’t see it as the main show.

[00:22:27] So, I’m curious to hear from [00:22:30] you two, the national co chairs, about some of DSA’s accomplishments. What has it done? What has it won? What is it now, at this moment, and why is it worth taking very seriously? 

[00:22:42] Ashik Siddique: To start, I think a lot of people may have become aware of DSA through our engagement with electoral politics.

[00:22:47] We endorsed Bernie Sanders in both presidential campaigns. Uh, we endorsed a bunch of congressional candidates, like some of the most high profile ones, like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush. Uh, but we have been really focusing for [00:23:00] the past, uh, few years, for the past few convention cycles on electorally building the bench, like much more, uh, state, local, municipal campaigns, and just really, uh, realizing that through the Bernie presidential campaigns, like that was sort of, uh, you know, a really worthwhile effort to intervene in politics, but it was skipping ahead on a lot of steps that I think Those of us who have been here for a number of years realize we need to build across many terrains of power, electoral is one of them, um, so, uh, our electoral work has [00:23:30] been very successful, I think we have over 200 elected officials across DSA, across the country who are DSA members and meaningfully engaging with their chapters, uh, but that’s really just one aspect, like there’s a lot we can say about what those, those candidates in office have achieved, uh, in collaboration with, with chapters, um, but that, that, that is just, uh, a major, Thing that we want to emphasize in our electoral work that more it’s not just about getting people elected on good platforms but it’s about really building strong mutual relationships with [00:24:00] DSA and Being able to trust that they’re going to be advancing our goals in an office and working with a sort of inside outside strategy that that DSA is helping organize.

[00:24:10] So that’s just one thing. Um, our labor work is has been the top national priority for the past year, and that’s extremely exciting. Uh, this is a huge uptick of labor action that we’ve been experiencing workers from all sorts of different industries have been striking for their rights from actors and writers in Hollywood to UAW auto workers at plants across the [00:24:30] country.

[00:24:30] Um, and DSA has been there joining in on picket lines, uh, bringing snacks to feed striking workers, chipping in for strike funds and working to build a rank and file democracy within their own unions. So last year we, we went all in on a strike ready campaign to support the UPS teamsters and then UAW auto workers.

[00:24:47] Um, and we’re looking to keep building on that. Um, and there are many other examples like, uh, tenant organizing is, is strong across the country and increasingly, uh, winning big legislative wins for renters like rent [00:25:00] control, winning, uh, just, you know, basic rights against landlords. Um, we are. Winning major legislation across the country, like an example, uh, recently is the historic build public renewables act in New York state, which was a huge step toward a green new deal that was really organized by DSA members and would not have happened without them.

[00:25:19] So that’s a big, uh, gain for, for public power and for, uh, possible. New winds on a climate across the country, so that’s just a bit. [00:25:30] Yeah, 

[00:25:30] Megan Romer: I mean, I think, I think, uh, one of the things about DSA and one of the things just about socialist analysis in general is that everything’s connected, right? You can’t have any one issue without the other issues.

[00:25:40] You know, labor is connected to climate and, um, climate is connected to just general imperialism, which is connected, you know, it just goes it’s a big web, it’s not a chain. Yeah. So some of the things, um, that we’re also seeing is, uh, obviously our anti war work, uh, is huge [00:26:00] right now. Um, Palestinian liberation, but also it looks like we’re going to be doing more wars.

[00:26:05] So, uh, it’s good that we’ve started to lay some of that, that, uh, that framing out, um, and make some of those connections with other anti war organizations and, and just, um, sort of, uh, you know, constituency social movements, um, because. You know, it’s an election year, so we have to wag the dog, right? It’s very important.

[00:26:26] Can’t possibly go into one without, uh, war on multiple fronts, [00:26:30] apparently. Um, we’re also 

[00:26:32] William Lawrence: I had Jorge on recently to talk about some of the work that the IC is doing, which is, you know, very robust. 

[00:26:37] Megan Romer: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, I think there, um, for a long time there was pushback on the idea that, um, internationalism was something that Um, like the American working class was never gonna tap into and in my mind, I think we, I think we’ve sort of answered definitively.

[00:26:57] First of all, the American working class is [00:27:00] diverse, right? Is like largely people with connections to or literally from other places, which are often war torn, and that’s why they’re here, but also. Even the, you know, multi generation American white working class is, you know, engaged in a lot of this, like, they get that, you know, this is where their, um, their government is investing instead of investing in, in their communities.

[00:27:29] Um, it is [00:27:30] not lost on people. And so I think, I think we, we have not come to a full agreed upon. Orientation, but I think we have come to realize collectively that, yeah, actually this isn’t an issue that we can or should ignore just because we’re scared of, um, turning people off. Also I would add, uh, trans liberation, uh, bodily autonomy, that’s One of our co chairs of the Queer Socialist Working Group, which is one of our many working groups, her name is [00:28:00] Allie, and she says frequently, DSA is the largest trans organization in the country.

[00:28:05] Um, we just have the most organized number of, uh, trans folks in this org. Um, And so is well positioned to kind of fight some of this work because the trans liberation space, I think, is largely dominated by, um, a few voices that are, uh, friendly with kind of establishment libs, [00:28:30] um, and Uh, we are able to kind of connect there.

[00:28:34] You know, there’s a lot of local movement. There’s a lot of and we’re able to kind of be that tissue that really pulls together a lot of that stuff. Um, uh, for a big campaign. So I, I’m, I’m excited for us to be, I don’t want to say stepping into that space because, because we’ve had trans organizers in DSA for a long time, but I, I’m excited to see that, uh, become prioritized and, and really get connected, uh, into one fighting campaign for sure.

[00:28:58] William Lawrence: Mm hmm. [00:29:00] Yeah, I want to say, you know, drawing on some of these examples you named that, um, you know, even even DSA’s critics at this point on the left, I think would have to admit that when when the organizing and campaigning is good and DSA, it can be very, very good. And it can be good. And it has been good on on not just one, but But, uh, a number of like flagship issues for the left at large over the last several years, you mentioned build public renewables, which is [00:29:30] as big a win in the climate space, uh, you know, as there has been over the last two to three years.

[00:29:37] I mean, um, DSA Maine. Um, one rent control and defeated the landlord lobby three times consecutively at the ballot box to the point where now the, the, the landlord lobby are saying we, we give up like we give up on politics because we were defeated by the D. S. A. R. S. Um, and you know, the, the, the emergency workers organizing committee, which [00:30:00] did a lot.

[00:30:01] I mean, I don’t know the numbers, but has connected. I mean, I think yeah. You know, hundreds of people in a serious manner with support to be able to, um, organize, um, their workplaces in the midst of the new the new upsurge and in labor organizing. And, you know, and then there’s the electoral victories and we could go on.

[00:30:19] So I mean, the real capacity that exists in the organization, you know, if there isn’t a one unified national strategy, which I mentioned earlier, there is really [00:30:30] strong strategic organizing happening, um, on Um, multiple of these issues. And, you know, it is because, um, people are able to, uh, step into leadership and really take initiative within the structures of the organization to be able to lead, um, you know, in a socialist manner on the on these issues that that matter to them.

[00:30:52] And at its best, I think the DSA structure creates Create space, but also support for people to be able to take that initiative. [00:31:00] So I think that the, the, the biggest victories over the last several years are, are, are really big and significant. You know, I want to keep talking some about the, the structure, uh, some, uh, in the guts of, of DSA.

[00:31:12] Well, one of the really distinctive characteristics is, um, this practice of internal political. DSA has, uh, around, uh, six or so, you know, major political caucuses and a handful of smaller ones, and these are organized [00:31:30] groups within the organization that have differing ideologies and really different plans for the future of DSA.

[00:31:37] And then they, uh, through the democratic process debate and. Um, uh, basically fight over the direction that DSA should, should go. I’ve come to believe that although it can have drawbacks and there’s ways of doing it badly, this is overall a strength of a DSA because it supports this process of open [00:32:00] strategic debate and ideological.

[00:32:02] Development, and if our political education doesn’t involve open strategic debate about open ended questions, if it only is about like kind of top down, let’s tell us, let’s tell you all the things we’ve already figured out, then I don’t think it’s really political education. I mean, I really do believe that two way dialogue is about unanswered questions that we have opinions about, but nobody has a definitive answer to.

[00:32:27] I mean, that really is how political development happens. That’s how. [00:32:30] Education happens. So before getting into the caucuses themselves and the debates among them. Um, could you, what else would you add to my little framing there, um, for our listeners about, um, about the caucus system and how it works? Yeah, 

[00:32:46] Megan Romer: I can start here.

[00:32:47] And, and just to backtrack before I go too far, um, I very much agree with you about political education. I’m a big Freirian, um, you know, popular education proponent and excited [00:33:00] to sort of do a little of that as the, as the co chairs. Um, 

[00:33:03] William Lawrence: you know, kind of, you know, I went back to pedagogy of the oppressed. I read it like 10 years ago and not really understood it.

[00:33:08] And then I went back to it like two years ago after some of my intervening experiences and it, it, it hit totally different. I mean, it hit totally different. What he says about Uh, the limits of monologues and communiques and sloganeering as a mode of trying to educate people the limitations and how far you can take people’s agency that way.

[00:33:27] I mean, it just it really hit and it [00:33:30] echoed with a lot of What I’ve seen, experienced, practiced, um, in organizations that I’ve been a part of and been adjacent to. So, anyway, carry on. Yeah, 

[00:33:38] Megan Romer: sorry. I could go down this, this path all day. But I’m going to reel myself in and not say the things that I want to say right now.

[00:33:45] But, um, there’s no, like, short answer about caucuses because they’re not formally recognized by DSA. Um, and each caucus operates. Differently, some of them are more of like a programmatic agreement kind of a [00:34:00] coalition where there might be a broad ideological spectrum within them, but they’re trying to pass a certain program.

[00:34:06] Smaller, tighter, have maybe, uh, strong ideological agreements, some are, you know, they, they have a line and they all vote the same, some are just sort of a place for debate, a debate. But yeah, basically there are formations within DSA, uh, where you can really kind of lean into developing a strong line on some [00:34:30] political questions that just in general, within a big tent, those conversations are not going to necessarily be able to be monetized.

[00:34:38] Always shared everywhere because, because, you know, sometimes talking with people who more or less agree with you lets you go a little harder on various subjects. So it can be useful. I think, um, I think you see similar, uh, sort of Arrangements of caucus like [00:35:00] structures or parties within a party in a lot of the, uh, big Latin American left parties.

[00:35:05] Um, and I actually think it’s a sign of, of real organizational development that we have, um, a bunch of good caucuses that are, that are debating and, and able to Present a, a sort of higher level of ideas about, uh, big organizational direction. It is really important to me , that people listening to this who are not in a caucus do not feel like they have to have a caucus.

[00:35:26] It is a very specific type of work in DSA to do [00:35:30] caucus work. It’s fine to not do that. Um, and there is absolutely, I, I I think that, you know, people who just want to work on a, a topic or on a campaign or something should not feel like they have to be in a caucus. Um. 

[00:35:46] Ashik Siddique: Sheik, would you add anything there?

[00:35:47] Yeah, and I would add like for most of my time in DSA since since joining in 2017, I was not part of an organized caucus and I think most DSA members are not. So I think the development of [00:36:00] caucuses has, I think, been largely positive and helping cohere. Positions and especially around conventions where there are all these resolutions up for debate.

[00:36:09] It makes sense for people to come together and align around what they want to see carrying forward. So I think the, you know, there are a lot of questions about the ongoing structure and, you know, to what extent we try to standardize them the way that, like in other parties, like in Latin America, there are different kinds of systems of standardizing them.

[00:36:26] Um, so I think that. So [00:36:30] far, just because DSA structure has grown so quickly since 2017 and national structures just across the board have not really kept up with that. We have 200 chapters across the country that are very uneven in, in their development or how they structure themselves. So I think that’s just a general question that we’re trying to figure out.

[00:36:46] And in that sort of like void that a lot of people experience between chapters in the national organization, um, caucuses have sort of filled the void. Uh, but I think there’s a lot that we Want to do and and [00:37:00] definitely can do to build those structures between chapters in the national and all these intermediate things Like, you know having stronger publications, uh that I think we have consensus about since our last convention to have Um space for positions to be presented and debated Uh from caucuses or not just for members so I think just building out more of those structures is going to help a lot and sort of just help create more structures for uh, you know caucuses not to sort of be these like Almost privatized entities [00:37:30] that are filling the void and members otherwise, if they’re not part of them or just feeling out of the loop, like we’re, I think, on our way to improving a lot of those things so that caucuses can, you know, have particular roles, but then they’re robust structures being built across the org anyway.

[00:37:47] William Lawrence: Right. That’s interesting. So the, just to drill a little deeper on this, the two of you are here as the national co chairs of DSA, and you have been elected to [00:38:00] represent the whole of the organization. Uh, not part of it, not one specific caucus. However, I believe You each do belong to a caucus or a caucus like formation.

[00:38:13] And you were elected through the internal DSA politicking with the backing of your own caucus or caucus like formation and its allies. Um, and a lot of un caucus people. Um, so, um, I [00:38:30] I’d love to hear from each of you. Maybe we’ll start with Ashik this time. Um, um, what caucus you do belong to? Um, uh, what. Is its program or ideas for the direction of DSA and, um, why does that connect with, with you personally?

[00:38:47] Ashik Siddique: Uh, sure. So I, I ran for the National Political Committee, uh, this past convention with, uh, groundwork slate, uh, groundwork toward a socialist, uh, toward a socialist future. And we, we are on a [00:39:00] slate of six members. At that point, we didn’t have a formal caucus. It was really just a platform that we laid out together.

[00:39:05] So we’re moving toward formalizing more and bring people in, um, largely, I think we are focused on building proto party like infrastructure across the whole organization so that we can have more cohesive structures. We Want to emphasize working class formation like we’re not just activists based on issues We’re trying to really cohere our program to like agitate and organize the working class [00:39:30] and two core parts of that are our electoral work And our labor work of those are sort of the engines of our power as workers and our aim is to develop campaigns that more deeply coordinate Our labor and electoral work across any sort of issue based campaigns we do, whether it’s climate organizing or trans rights or abolition or abortion access or any other transformation that socialists will need to fight for, um, the transition to a new world.

[00:39:53] We want to make sure that it’s. Really integrated with with those structures of power and electoral and labor organizing [00:40:00] um, and We really see the climate crisis as an underlying condition of 21st century capitalism the way that mass industrialization was in the 20th century, so we really want to emphasize transformative reforms or structural reforms Uh, or, which I can say more about later, that, that help us tackle the climate crisis in a way that politicizes working class people as agents of change, and that has a timeline also, [00:40:30] so I think that gives us a sense of urgency about doing all this to build the organization we need.

[00:40:36] Thanks. 

[00:40:40] Megan Romer: Yeah. So I’m gonna do that classic thing, right? Like, people complain a lot like the caucuses. Well, I read all their things and they all sound the same. And it’s like, yeah, , they kind of do like the, there’s a reason we’re all in DSA, I think as part of it. Um, but, but it does get kind of subtle where our differences are.

[00:40:58] Um, so I’m a member of Red [00:41:00] Star. Uh, we’re a fairly small caucus. Um, it Red Star was originally. Well, it was a very different formation, um, it was a San Francisco local caucus that was, um, really focused on specific programmatic stuff for that area, um, it changed a bit, uh, especially I think around the 20 21 convention, some points of unity were worked out, um, so the caucus, just sort of the character of the caucus changed, some folks left, uh, for other caucuses, some folks, um, new folks joined, [00:41:30] somewhere around there they decided they were gonna go national, and I was one of the, uh, First two expansion, uh, expansion, uh, teams, um, team of one.

[00:41:42] Uh, so, so I was the, yeah, one of two people from outside of San Francisco who joined. Um, we are, uh, we were, came into convention. I think we had 30 people in the caucus. So not a big caucus, tends toward, uh, recruiting. Um, [00:42:00] leaders who are people who are already just in those roles, um, to kind of interface with other leaders in a sort of, um, you know, iron sharpens iron kind of situation.

[00:42:12] We, uh, have grown a bit since convention, um, I think. I think we might be up to 50 people, um, which feels like so many. I’m like, Oh, is that, is that too many to eat? But, um, but that’s where we are. We think of ourselves as scientific socialists. So that’s a really fundamental piece of, of [00:42:30] what we’re doing. So that, that old Engels essay, uh, Socialism, Scientific or Utopian, is one of our core reading texts.

[00:42:38] Um, I famously hate Engels. I think he was, um, like Marx was this like funny goth and Engels wanted to be a funny goth like Marx, but ended up just sounding like a dork. Um, but anyway, but I do appreciate his ideas. I just don’t like his writing. Um, we don’t think that we have all the answers. Um, that’s not where we’re coming from, but we think that we [00:43:00] have a strong method for finding them.

[00:43:02] Looking at, you know, Um, heavy debriefs, what went wrong, what went right, what you’re winning, constantly sort of changing, iterating, you know, figuring out the best pathway forward based on information we have, so we’re, you’ll often see us coming with resolutions that are like, we’re going to do an investigation into something, like that’s what we want to do, we want to know stuff and then make good decisions based on that.

[00:43:23] Um, we are also like, Sometimes obnoxiously committed to maintaining the big tent, [00:43:30] which is seems kind of funny because we have a very specific political line ourselves. Um, but we believe that it is more powerful to be together than to be right. And so sometimes we’re like, okay, we, I still think I’m right, but I’m going to do the thing.

[00:43:47] That we voted for, even though I lost, because that is, that is how we, uh, maintain a powerful organization. Um, but yeah, in general, Proto Party, we are a pretty aggressive, uh, [00:44:00] anti imperialists and internationalists. I think probably of all the major caucuses, we’re the ones, um, most likely to critically, but, uh, openly engage with what we’d call actual existing socialism.

[00:44:14] Um, so other socialist projects around, around the world, we’re not going to come at them with, uh, you know, Cuba’s wrong. Everything they do is wrong. They’re not real socialists, which is a thing that some, [00:44:30] uh, some people say, and that’s fine. They’re certainly allowed to do that. Um, we would debate that and say, you know, Cuba’s.

[00:44:36] Mostly good. We should see what we can learn from them. Um, Nobody’s perfectly good. We would never frame anything like that. Um, Heavy on dialectical thinking, um, and analysis. So, yeah, uh, we are, um, Yeah, proto party formation, uh, definitely don’t think that we’re going to be able to reform the Democratic Party, but [00:45:00] I, um, we also know that a ballot line is not a party, and, um, we tend to think that the, I think we actually agree with Groundwork on this somewhat, we tend to think that like the, um, the ballot line versus It’s party takeover versus all, it’s all like cart before the horse stuff.

[00:45:17] Like we need to build our thing and that’s what we should be doing. And that’s where we get our strength and not like arguing over which line to run on is just 

[00:45:25] Ashik Siddique: sort 

[00:45:26] William Lawrence: of. I tend to agree and I thought that’s part of what was encouraging [00:45:30] actually in the results on the floor at convention. Was that the, the, the result of the vote, there were lots of votes about these questions, like, should we make the, you know, the hard break or the clean break where we’re not going to work at all anymore with anybody who has a deed X, their name or never run on the ballot line.

[00:45:44] And those questions were up, they failed. Uh, and it, it, it, basically the status quo prevailed, which is in the sense that people are free as DSA members and DSA endorses to run on whatever ballot line they can [00:46:00] to, to win. But then there was a very clear statement like we do want to be building the infrastructure party like infrastructure to be able to actually achieve political independence, um, in a, in a holistic sense, and give us more options for more kinds of, you know, being able to distinguish ourselves from, from the Democrats, um, as we continue to build power and move down the road.

[00:46:25] I thought that I thought, you know, some of these debates were very hot. Some of them were were were [00:46:30] quite a majority opinion on one side, but the results I thought were were correct, uh, and correct in the direction that I think both of you agree with based on your remarks there.

[00:46:45] Ashik Siddique: Hi, this is Kayden, the publisher of Convergence magazine. There are a lot of places that you can put your hard earned money in support of our movements, but if you’re enjoying this show, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to Convergence on Patreon. We’re a small independent operation and rely heavily on our [00:47:00] readers and listeners like you to support our work.

[00:47:02] You can join us at patreon. com slash convergence mag Subscriptions are pay what you can but at 10 bucks a month You’ll get goodies as well as knowing you’re helping to build a better media system One that supports people’s movements and fights fascism and if you can’t afford it right now, don’t worry All our shows will be free for you to enjoy You can also help by leaving us a positive 

[00:47:22] Megan Romer: review or sharing this episode with a comrade Thank you so much for listening.[00:47:30] 

[00:47:31] William Lawrence: Let me go on with this and, um, say a few things that I think is gonna make everybody unhappy. If you’re on Twitter following DSA, you know that, uh, characterizing these, uh, these caucuses and their relative positions is a big subject of, of politicking and it’s hotly debated. Um, so, uh, just to make some broad statements here, I think Red Star is generally viewed as a more.

[00:47:52] radical and perhaps at times expressly revolutionary minded caucus. Correct me on all this if I’m wrong. [00:48:00] Groundwork is viewed as a more reformist formation inclined towards engaging in social democratic politics. There are other caucuses positioned at various points along this spectrum. Um, and there’s been a lot of debates about how to characterize it.

[00:48:15] Is it the left, uh, from left to right? Is it about those who. believe in, uh, sectarianism versus mass politics. Of course, the sectarians would yelp at that characterization. The so called rightists would [00:48:30] yelp at the left versus right characterization. I actually kind of like revolutionary and reformists because it seems to capture the things I actually hear and read from these various camps.

[00:48:41] Like I hear the reformists Mostly tout their acumen at organizing reform campaigns like the build public renewables act and argue that these are, you know, structural reforms that lead to still greater reforms in the future. And then I hear the more quote unquote revolutionary caucuses, [00:49:00] mostly theorize about revolution and then, uh, reading a bunch of old texts and thinking about how to work backwards from some revolutionary situation to our present actions.

[00:49:10] So. How do you think about these debates characterizing the various camps? And I should also say that it’s not like there’s two big camps who disagree on everything, like depending on the debate and the question, um, people align in different ways, which I think is a sign that this is still relatively healthy.

[00:49:28] If it was two big [00:49:30] camps, I mean, I think that would be, that would be a problem, but nevertheless, around certain questions, it does, you know, tend to polarize in a certain direction. So, um. What does your side how do you how do you characterize this? What’s your side? What’s the other side? What do you believe that the other side doesn’t and why is your side correct and the other side incorrect?

[00:49:50] Let’s start with Megan 

[00:49:53] Ashik Siddique: Yeah, I 

[00:49:54] Megan Romer: actually love this question. Like I like debating Sort of how we see each other in relation to each other I [00:50:00] think it’s really interesting and I think if we come at it with like a Cheerful comradely bent, we can, we can get a lot of interesting, uh, interesting things teased out of it.

[00:50:08] Um, so one thing that I, uh, would maybe push back on, I don’t know, it, um, the idea of, like, starting from a revolution and working back from there. I think it’s really important To note that, and it may depend on different people who consider themselves revolutionary socialists. We’re not like talking about barricades.

[00:50:29] [00:50:30] I mean, I’m a fat 40 year old woman. I’m not, I’m not like fighting anything but my baseboards. Like, this is not my, uh, I’m not looking toward a, toward a malicious situation. Um, when we talk about revolution, we’re just saying that we do not believe that the system as it is can be reformed. into socialism, um, we believe that it has to be, you know, knocked down and rebuilt in some kind of way.

[00:50:59] [00:51:00] So, when we look at, um, things like, you know, BPRA would be an example, I suppose, um, we look at that and say, okay, great, we used this to organize a bunch of people into our big movement. Um, and we learned a bunch of skills, and we gained a bunch of things. Uh, of course, like, immediately, Kathy Hochul is slow rolling it.

[00:51:25] Um, I think she’s, like, trying to appoint a Republican to be the leader. Like, it’s, it’s, it’s, [00:51:30] I don’t think that BPRA is going to, like, win us the climate change we need. Or necessarily lead to a, a domino effect of, of better legislation. But, I think it organizes a lot of working class people into what we’re trying to do.

[00:51:47] And so we can take on bigger fights. So, that’s, it’s more of a horizon argument than a practical work in front of us argument. Um, because, You know, I think it’s fine to do, to [00:52:00] do campaigns like that. It’s, I’m not arguing against necessarily doing them. I just want to make sure that when we’re doing them, we’re organizing people into our work.

[00:52:07] Because, you know, mass movement theory means we need to have a lot of people. We, you know, we need millions because we need to be able to, like, stop production. You know, if we really want to do a revolution, a bloodless revolution, we have to be able to stop. production. Um, we have to be able to shut down every highway.

[00:52:24] We have to be able to shut down the railways and the air, airports. Um, and that’s, that’s [00:52:30] big and it requires a lot of people and it requires those people to be organized and in motion together. Um, so that’s, yeah, it’s more of a horizon thing. It’s not, as opposed to a, um, Yeah, but yes, if, if, if people 

[00:52:44] William Lawrence: here, so if not, so I just want to push on this, if, if, if not militias at the barricades and if not a virtuous domino effect of reform campaigns that then results in a qualitatively different system, what kind, uh, you did say the system has to be [00:53:00] knocked over and, and reconstructed what kind of revolutionary system.

[00:53:04] Horizon change. Do you concretely envision? I mean, I hear you maybe alluding to some sort of, um, prolonged general strike that then would, uh, but just to hear a little bit more about what that horizon actually is. What would be the situation under which we’re actually affecting the qualitative revolutionary break?

[00:53:26] I would love to hear your 

[00:53:27] Ashik Siddique: view on that. Yeah, and I think 

[00:53:28] Megan Romer: that’s part of why we’re so [00:53:30] focused on the labor movement in particular, because Our position as workers is our power in a capitalist system. And if we withhold our labor, um, on mass, um, we are able to affect pretty serious change, you know, withholding your labor in strategic places.

[00:53:47] You know, if we got. Every flight attendant to refuse to get on an airplane the country shuts down right if we got every person who works as a bank teller to refuse to like do bank transactions the country shuts down if we got [00:54:00] everybody who was a UPS worker to refuse to deliver packages the country shuts down so so looking at those ways that you can really not just you know.

[00:54:08] Um, poke the system in the side, but really throw wrenches and, and into those gears and, um, grind them to a halt is, uh, yeah, the sort of primary thing. Um, and we think we can’t do that without huge numbers of people and those people need to be organized. Um, and once we have huge numbers of people and those people are organized, you know, [00:54:30] options open up a lot.

[00:54:31] Um, and we can figure out what that looks like, what needs to get shut down, what needs to get stopped. Um, 

[00:54:39] Ashik Siddique: thanks, man. Yeah, so I, I agree with a lot of that, which I think, um, is, is a way to maybe reframe the questions that you asked, because I think just the fact that, you know, Megan and I from different tendencies in the organization are agreeing on things about, you know, an immediate orientation to electoral politics, for example, like shows that there’s a lot of A lot more [00:55:00] alignment across the organization than not and sometimes the you know, hot button things that emerge at conventions become flash points Um that like to me at least take focus away from other more immediate to near term things that maybe we do Substantively disagree about but are sort of the you know like like an order of operations thing like like I try to think a lot about structure and and The process of how we get toward where we want to get, which like to Megan’s point, the horizon question, like what is our longer term horizon, like how aligned are we on that, and then what are we doing [00:55:30] leading up to that, so I think, um, you know, as socialists, we’re very opinionated, we’re very willing to debate very hard about things, um, but, you know, again, most DSA members are not in caucuses, like sometimes I think some of these framings, like, uh, you know, reformist versus revolutionary, Are not super accurate to the things that are more immediately at hand Um, like, uh, you know, as far as I know, nobody’s planning a military revolution in dsa at at this stage Although if you are, please, uh, keep it under wraps [00:56:00] um Uh, but but yeah, I think we broadly have alignment on you know, just um, Like socialists should be leading different kinds of work.

[00:56:08] Like I think we had a lot of um Disagreement a couple of years ago about, you know, to what extent DSA should maybe defer to other organizations or just, you know, join coalitions or something, but I think which, you know, are live issues in a bunch of ways, but broadly, I think people in DSA agree about electing socialists fighting for unions and labor solidarity.

[00:56:29] Uh, passing [00:56:30] laws that make working class lives better and also empower working class people to, you know, not just, um, you know, be, be passive. So, a lot of these questions to me are more about what to emphasize and how, not whether or not to do it. Um, so that’s where I think, you know, the question about reforms, for example.

[00:56:46] I would say, like, I, I would push back on, uh, you know, as you suggested, everyone’s going to push back on how they’re being labeled by plenty of people on Twitter. But I think that our, our goal is not to reform our way to socialism or social democracy, but [00:57:00] really to push for demands that mobilize and organize the working class.

[00:57:03] And then when enacted, like, can open much more space for organizing and heightened class struggle. So, so really different ways of building a base for the working class. Um, and, uh, you know, there are ways that I, I could say the BPRA organizing, um, like more than just the outcome itself, like did politicize different types of people in ways that hadn’t happened before.

[00:57:22] But I think really good other examples are things like tenant rights, uh, where, um, organizing tenant unions, organizing [00:57:30] tenants in their own interests also builds a base to then make demands of the state. Um, and I saw this really well in Metro DC DSA, for example, where there’s a longstanding campaign called Stomp Out Slum Wards.

[00:57:40] Um, who are tenant organizers who are, uh, focused on organizing tenants in, in their buildings for particular demands against their terrible landlords. But then the more organized they got, uh, especially through the pandemic, the more it was just like, Oh, well, we need rent control or just like other demands right now.

[00:57:55] Like the rent cancellation that was happening at the time. We want that extended. [00:58:00] And then it was really good to have a DSA member of city council who had been elected in the past cycle, who was willing to champion those demands. So I think through that process, like a lot of the, you know, tenant based builders and electoral organizers who had kind of been at odds internally and internal politics in DSA before, uh, suddenly we’re like, Oh, this is actually.

[00:58:18] room to really coordinate and like de silo our work, but actually it all makes each other stronger. So I think, um, I really want to emphasize the ways that we can bring the work together across different sort of terrains [00:58:30] of struggle and how they can make each other stronger and not just, you know, be arguing in very abstract ways, but there are very practical ways that I think many DSA chapters, or sometimes at the national level of the org, we’ve been able to demonstrate that.

[00:58:42] So, um, like just going back to PPRA, um, as an example, the organizing for that over the course of several years, it included not just, you know, lobbying members of government or, um, just having DSA elected officials, like, lobbying for it, uh, it also included a lot of outside tactics, [00:59:00] like, uh, there were lots of direct actions that were organized over many months that shut down streets, uh, you know, People organized, uh, people from, uh, you know, black and brown neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens to flood town halls and show that this is not just, you know, a bunch of activists.

[00:59:14] It’s like people in neighborhoods who are being affected by this terrible. So a lot of organizers came through different kinds of, um, you know, non electoral organizing before, but use those different social movement, uh, tactic and democratic [00:59:30] tactics to engage people in ways that made it much more than just, uh, you know, uh, sort of single issue advocacy campaign.

[00:59:37] So, um, so yeah, I think, um, with, with the idea of reforms, you know, like I was initially affected by, um, the writer Andre Gores, who talks about non reformist reforms, or like transformative reforms, or structural reforms, revolutionary reforms, whatever. The point is that whatever you’re making demands of in government, it has to be about organizing working class people as agents of [01:00:00] change and then creating more room for, um, for demanding more and more and building the power to wield it.

[01:00:06] So I think that that shapes our orientation. Generally within DSA, but also I think that’s something that probably most DSA members agree with and in practice these ideological differences are Less pronounced than than it can sound sometimes. So I think uh, broadly DSA has coalesced around like what we call the party surrogate approach Um, like we were sort of building a surrogate party We’re still operating, you know [01:00:30] with the democratic ballot line because it makes sense in a lot of places But really focusing on building the independent structure And, um, yeah, building a democratic member led organization that has its own program and independent structure.

[01:00:41] So if you look at the candidates we run across many chapters that have different sort of internal DSA politics, they tend to run on roughly the same platform. Um, and, um, when, when they are Like representing DSA. Well, like they’re, they’re working very well with, with the DSA chapters. [01:01:00] So 

[01:01:01] William Lawrence: it’s very interesting.

[01:01:01] There’s, there’s a lot of love to follow up on there. I mean, I’ll, I’ll just maybe bookmark for later. I, I think this issue of reform and revolution is, is, is very fascinating and I’m kind of planning to do some writing on it, I think, because. I’ve, I’ve kind of come to believe that this idea of non reformist reform is kind of a nice story.

[01:01:20] We tell ourselves, um, frankly, like, uh, a non reformist reformist is somebody who is a reformist, but also is a [01:01:30] revolutionary in their heart, um, and doesn’t want to give credence to the, you know, doesn’t want to make excuses. For capitalism or the state as it is, doesn’t want to pretend like this whole thing isn’t like built on a mountain of bones and rivers of blood, but nevertheless is trying to figure out how to fight thing, you know, wage fights that are, are relevant in the here and now and matter to the people around us in the here and now, because I think at the end of the day, like none of us can actually imagine or [01:02:00] through our agency organized to bring about a revolutionary situation.

[01:02:05] It’s a whole historic confluence. Of events, you know? And so even when we talk about, um, organizing the working class to be 10 or 100 times more powerful than it is now and getting to the scenario where you could have a general strike. I mean, historically, uh, the record shows that, um, you know, three times out of four, what’s likely to emerge on the other side of that scenario is [01:02:30] a new class compromise.

[01:02:32] Through which the class that went on strike, uh, you know, potentially, uh, it gets a better deal, gets a share of the profits, but then, um, capitalism and the capitalist state. Will endure and reconfigure itself for, uh, you know, another, another hundred years, or unless the compromise deal actually isn’t there to, to, to, to be, to be offered maybe because of the macroeconomic conditions or the something happening in the [01:03:00] structure of world capital, in which case, perhaps then there’s, uh, a total breakdown.

[01:03:06] Um, there’s a class conflict. There’s no compromise to be offered. Now you have what we might call a revolutionary situation. Again, that’s not necessarily up to us. It, it, it should be a subject of our study, um, to try to discern how that might play out and envision what the scenario is, and this is why we need to study like finance and capital theory and political economy and stuff.

[01:03:27] Uh, but, uh, [01:03:30] it, it, it, well, you know, what does that mean if you, if you wage the general strike and then, and then, and then, and then, you know, you get the class compromise and it doesn’t actually lead to an out and out revolution. Does that make you a reformist? I don’t know. So I kind of feel like a lot of us are both, you know, you can be a reformist in the character of your work, but then to be a revolutionary is something about, I don’t know, holding that aspiration into one’s heart, or at least not making excuses for the system.

[01:03:55] Because that’s when I start to see like, okay, yeah, this is some reformist bullshit when you’re like just saying, [01:04:00] Oh, well it’s not. And that’s when actually social democracy is the best of all possible worlds. That does seem to me like a reformist stance, which. I wouldn’t agree with at this point, but it raises a lot of questions.

[01:04:11] And I think there’s, there’s a direction for DSA to go, which is. I think this is a is as good a place as anywhere to be reaching higher level answers to these kinds of questions, because there are so many people who are just like very deeply committed to doing work, which is relevant and delivering the goods for working class people in the here and now.

[01:04:29] And there [01:04:30] are also so many people that are not going to make excuses for one second, um, uh, about the. The fundamentally violent and exploitative character of the system itself. And so to be able to square those two things, I think is, um, is a big, uh, possibility, which would be, uh, you know, I think would be a historic accomplishment to be able to actually develop some better theory about those kinds of things.

[01:04:53] And DSA is, you know, I think the, the place where, where, uh, that might be possible. I’m curious if either of you [01:05:00] want to respond to that, if not, um, You know, I’ll move on to some other big questions. 

[01:05:05] Megan Romer: Yeah, I mean, as long as we can be nice to each other through the process, I’m happy. Mom just wants everybody to keep their hands to themselves.

[01:05:16] I will turn this minivan around, I swear to God. 

[01:05:20] Ashik Siddique: Yeah, I mean, there are a lot of threads I think we could keep responding to there. I think, um, you know, as socialists, we should be all about planning at different [01:05:30] stages. I think, um You know, I at least probably started on my trajectory of organizing sort of in the, you know, sort of Pseudo anarchist orbit of like Occupy, you know, like horizontalism, like anyone can do anything and that’s great And I think, uh, broadly in DSA, we’re going more and more toward, you know, more coordination, more, um, you know, figuring out the, like, we’re, we’re disagreeing about how, like, you know, to what extent we standardize which things or like how [01:06:00] much we centralize things or, or not, but I think there is more and more desire to just like have a strong organization and like how we get there, like we’re differing about those particulars, which is, I think, a much more productive place.

[01:06:13] And, um, you know, just the reform versus revolution question, like, like Megan and I have been talking a lot, unlike many DSA members are talking about this new book by Vincent Bevins, if we burn like the mass protest decade that failed, uh, which, you know, touches on a lot of themes that like I and others have been thinking about that I mentioned, like, you know, since occupy [01:06:30] wall street, since like these big sort of popular movement moments where people are on the streets.

[01:06:35] And then, you know, often there’s like major reversals that happen. It’s like, okay, black lives matter had major uprisings in 2020. And then a few years later. There are black cops who are mayors of like multiple Major cities. So like, what does that mean? And they have popular support from like racialized communities.

[01:06:51] So, uh, you know, there are lots of things that we really need to think about tactics and strategy and how fast we’re trying to [01:07:00] move for what goals. Um, and I think, uh, you know, uh, when, like if and when we ever win a socialist government, then you get to like newer and much more interesting and complicated problems, right?

[01:07:13] Um, so, so that’s when the long term planning begins, like five year plans, 10 year plans, whatever. And there’s a reason for that, like, after you have a revolutionary period that, that transforms existing relations, then you have to move very quickly to avoid reactions that might exist in parts of society, [01:07:30] and then bring about the changes that activated people to join the revolution.

[01:07:33] You have to very quickly redistribute material gains and rebuild the infrastructure of society that probably, uh, suffered some major blows based on Um, so, so it’s a huge building project. So I think, um, You know like looking at different revolutionary periods like like I think about What my family went through in bangladesh or just in other places where there were sort of like global south revolutions Because we don’t have many examples in uh industrialized societies [01:08:00] yet.

[01:08:00] Um, there’s a lot of uh, You know, a lot to, a lot to consider. I mean, I’m, I’m, I’m rambling at this point, but I, but I think, uh, you know, it, it should just really evoke the seriousness of like how we organize in this moment under capitalism, but then we’re going to have to figure a lot else and be flexible.

[01:08:19] I mean, you know, if you look at the history of the Bolsheviks, like they were very fluid and flexible and, you know, how to respond in any given moment, and then they were the ones ready to. See his power when I came to that point, [01:08:30] um, but yeah, I, I, I think, uh, we can’t be too prescriptive even as we try to be very ideological, ideologically rigorous about what we’re doing.

[01:08:38] Megan Romer: Yeah, and just to follow that, um, just really quickly, I, I think that, I think she’s right, like the, the point of creating this sort of party like formation is because When, when you’re talking about revolutionary moments, like, to me, that means that a vacuum has opened up and in a revolutionary moment, something is going to fill that vacuum and it [01:09:00] will be capitalism if there is not something else to, to fill it in and it’s going to be the worst capitalism, it’s going to be fascism, right?

[01:09:07] It’s going to be, um, there’s a, there’s a great 1936 or something, um, by this guy Rajani Palm Dutt, uh, who was, I think he was like the secretary general of the, Communist Party of Britain or something. Um, but he basically predicted what was going to happen, like To a tee in every single European country as, as [01:09:30] the social democracies fell and, um, and fascism slipped into the, the space, uh, that was left.

[01:09:38] And, um, and his argument is that like social democracy is just not strong enough to hold, hold back fascism. Um, so we need a strong. True socialist, uh, party like formation, whether we want to call it a party, whether we want to call it a political instrument, whatever, um, that’s ready to fill in when that vacuum opens, and we don’t know when that’s going to be, and they do happen, I mean, I do think 2020, the [01:10:00] summer of 2020 was a moment where there could have been, um, some movement, we weren’t ready yet, and that’s not, you know, that’s just because that’s where we are and were, um, but, We can be ready, and we have to keep building toward being ready to be the thing that slips in that vacuum.

[01:10:19] William Lawrence: Okay, so, but Megan, you said you want everyone to get along, but people mostly don’t get along, or a lot of people don’t get along a lot of the time. And there is some bad behavior, and I think that, like, when you have these ideological debates, and [01:10:30] then people especially are competing in convention season for seats and to pass resolutions, there can be the incentive for people to characterize each other in a bad faith kind of way.

[01:10:40] Or to, uh, you know, polarize the debate for the sake of political advantage. You want to pose a debate on your favorite terms. That’s just sort of an ordinary part of the politicking, but it can interfere with this process of actually the iron sharpening iron and people getting smarter because instead they’re out there telling lies about each other and calling [01:11:00] names, there’s a lot of name calling that happens online.

[01:11:02] And, you know, I think some people see that and, um, you know, get turned off. I certainly don’t want to. Participate in it, you know, on those terms when, um, that’s the direction it goes. So, um, what are your thoughts about how to, um, raise the level of dialogue, um, recognizing that people, um, have incentives to, people disagree and then they have incentives to disagree forcefully.

[01:11:26] That’s inherent to the politicking and the internal democracy. [01:11:30] But how can we shave some of the negative edges off of that and, um, uh, really support people to do better together? 

[01:11:38] Megan Romer: Yeah, I mean, this is something I think about a lot because I don’t think there are easy answers. It’s not surprising to me that people get really mean about it.

[01:11:47] I mean, I’ve fallen into it myself. Like, I don’t think anybody’s coming out as a perfect angel here, and I certainly wouldn’t paint myself as such. But, you know, part of [01:12:00] what we’re doing is trying to be better all the time, right? Like, we’re trying to develop ourselves as As better organizers and part of that means means functioning better together.

[01:12:08] Um, I think it makes sense that people get really hot about this stuff because life’s tough under capitalism like it’s hard and we’re giving what little extra time and resources we have to this organization and that is a big emotional ask of ourselves and it becomes Very hard to, like, de [01:12:30] emotionalize it sometimes.

[01:12:31] And I don’t think we should de emotionalize it. I think we should be passionate about the work we’re doing. But yeah, it’s like easy for it to spin out into that. A lot of times, uh, the bad faith interpretation is the one I think people lean to because the good faith one is harder to get to, um, and so I actually do think that, like, more just political development and development in, uh, ways to approach, you know, various questions like this helps.

[01:12:58] That’s not to say that, like, [01:13:00] our biggest theory nerds aren’t also mean online, because they also can be, um, but political development isn’t just theory, right? So it’s about doing work, and it’s about struggling through actual organizing. I do think that the pandemic poisoned a lot of our brains. I think things have actually horrifyingly gotten better a bit since we have returned a little bit to, to real life.

[01:13:22] Um, the vibes I thought were really good after convention. Um, it was really nice to see people. It was nice to like shake hands with people [01:13:30] who I’ve, you know, argued with online. Um, but. You know, it does make a difference to be able to recognize each other. I’m a big proponent of like, we need to do serious theory and we need to do serious hiking clubs and baseball games.

[01:13:45] Like you have to do both. Um, because otherwise you’ll drive each other and yourself nuts. Like you have to feel good about your comrades. Um, and I, I think we do need to, uh, find that balance of political work, [01:14:00] political education, and doing fun and cool things together to, to humanize each other. 

[01:14:07] Ashik Siddique: Yeah, I think on the last point, uh, I’ve seen sort of extremes on both ends where sometimes DSA chapters, um, end up becoming, you know, really emphasizing the social aspects and doing happy hours and get togethers and like, you know, reading groups maybe.

[01:14:23] Um, and it just becomes sort of, like, like, without external facing work, it just becomes about, like, [01:14:30] reinforcing the group of people already there and their social interactions. And often, you know, because we live in a very alienating, atomized society, uh, it’s hard to make friends as an adult, right? So, like, DSA is a social space that is very meaningful.

[01:14:41] Like, I’ve made really good friends through DSA over almost a decade. Um, but I think, um, if it’s kind of just, you know, filling that social void for people and that sort of becomes the whole thing that that can lead to, you know, not great dynamics like it can feed sort of cliquishness or, um, like I definitely felt alienated in my first year or two [01:15:00] from like what I saw is like sort of cliquish things until I meaningfully plugged into different kinds of work and like, um, you know, got to know people through that work.

[01:15:08] But then on the other end from like the, you know, over, um, yeah. Fixation on on social stuff. Um, there can be totally like a, you know, campaign brain that develops, uh, that can be very good during campaigns where, like, people are really highly motivated by the collective work, but and, uh, you know, getting really into that, but that can feed burnout as well.

[01:15:26] Like I know in some of our. Like largest [01:15:30] or like most successful chapters that have won major campaigns. There’s a lot of reflection that’s been happening I’m like, okay, we’ve been through several cycles of these like very good campaigns that have won things But there has been kind of like, you know this burnout that develops because we’re not attending enough to the social aspects or like the Um, you know, social reproduction or, or just like the, the feeling good, you know, just like building social ties or like community that’s not just like focused, like hyper focused on the work.

[01:15:55] So I think like Megan said, like, there’s really a lot of, uh, reflection happening across DSA [01:16:00] of like, how do we, how do we do both? Like, how does, um, how do we emphasize that the work we’re doing is the point, but like building strong, um, you know. social ties and community that feels good. And also just as attending to things like, uh, like the generational shift that’s happening within DSA where like a lot of people like myself, like joined in our twenties and now more, more of us are, you know, getting into longterm relationships and having kids and like that, that takes attention away from the, you know, single mindedness that a lot of people [01:16:30] had in DSA and doing the work.

[01:16:31] But now we have to think more about like, okay, how do we not just. Lose a whole layer of people who are parents, but like have the organization reflect that. So, yeah, it 

[01:16:40] William Lawrence: offers more perspective on how to build a multigenerational organization and, um, you know, interdifferent strata of, of society. Okay. So we’re moving towards the end of our conversation here.

[01:16:51] Um, I want to offer, I guess, uh, one critique I have of, of DSA as a member. This is maybe the most significant critique I have of the way [01:17:00] I see, um, some of the most committed DSA ers showing up online, but also in real life. Um, and I’ve seen it among multiple tendencies from the so called left to the so called right of the organization.

[01:17:12] And this is what I call DSA main character syndrome. This is the belief that DSA is the main character in the story of the U. S. left. And everybody else is just a bunch of chumps, hapless NGOs for the most part. And in this view, DSA, like, [01:17:30] already is unequivocally the independent working class party in formation.

[01:17:35] And everybody else just needs to get on board, get with the program, build the party, or get out of the way. I think this is just wrong, honestly. I think it’s counterproductive. At first Although I would love to see DSA grow into an independent party that can truly claim to represent the U. S. working class as a whole, that position has to be earned, not claimed.

[01:17:57] And you don’t earn it by telling everyone else [01:18:00] that they’re backwards. And as I said, there, there are lots of serious leftists. There are lots of socialists, self identified socialists, many of them, people of color and Marxists, uh, many of them, you know, Gen Xers, uh, and, you know, boomers, uh, who are uh, who People of color, Marxists, third worldists, who I know who work for, you know, uh, like independent power building organizations who people in DSA write off as hapless [01:18:30] NGOs.

[01:18:30] And that’s just like disrespectful. And it reflects a lack of familiarity with people’s work. Like people are aware of the contradictions in some of these, um, C3 and C4, uh, power building organizations that they are involved in. But, like, talking shit and writing people off without understanding it doesn’t get you very far when it comes to building something better.

[01:18:50] Secondly, I think there are other organizations who are staking a claim to represent the future of a unified U. S. left. You know, the Working Families [01:19:00] Party, which is many things that DSA proudly is not. So there are lots of differences here, but nevertheless, you’d have to admit that Working Families Party is making a serious effort to build a party like infrastructure by cobbling together C4 organizations and unions in many states around the country, which should be taken very seriously.

[01:19:18] Left Roots is an organization which is forming two cadre organizations populated by hundreds of very serious Marxist organizers who work in various sectors to advance greater unity on the U. S. left [01:19:30] through more of like a cadre building model. So I look at all three of these formations, DSA, Working Families Party, and Left Roots, and I see different, flawed, interesting attempts to build a more unified and strategic U.

[01:19:43] S. left, including a lot of thinking about what a party would look like. But within DSA, at its worst, I don’t see a lot of awareness of these experiments. There’s DSA and there’s everybody else. Uh, so I’m wondering what you would say to this critique. Would you agree that, um, DSA organizers could [01:20:00] benefit from a more expanded and generous view of the broader U.

[01:20:05] S. left in which they are operating? 

[01:20:10] Ashik Siddique: Uh, I can start. This is a question that I’ve thought a lot about that on the last National Political Committee that I was on, we tried to have some discussions about other organizational models, like you actually wrote a really good critique and analysis of Sunrise Movement that sparked a lot of discussion internally in DSA.

[01:20:27] Um, I’ve seen similar reflections from [01:20:30] working families, party organizers, for example, and I think in DSA, we should be talking much more about that. And sometimes it can help us get even more concrete than the more sort of abstract, like, ideological, intrasocialist discussions, which are also important.

[01:20:43] But just, like, organizational structure is, is really important for us to figure out at this moment. And that’s where, practically, sometimes we might have more to learn from, um, or not more, but, like, it’s, it’s as interesting and useful to consider. Organizational models within the U. S. that are not just socialist [01:21:00] organizations, but sort of, um, different kinds of membership organizations, like, uh, like the ones you mentioned.

[01:21:05] So, um, something that I try to think a lot about, and I think more people in DSA are thinking about, is like, what is the DSA difference? Like, what, what is the specific purpose of DSA engaging in any given type of work? Like, what are we bringing to the table? Um, whether it’s some work that we are leading in DSA or joining coalitions, like what is the specific thing that we’re doing that is building our membership and like projecting us outward where, [01:21:30] uh, you know, we, we don’t always have to be part of everything.

[01:21:32] Like, we don’t have to be the organization, different organizations do different things and fill different roles. And that’s good. But I think for, for DSA, what’s really important is that we’re entirely member funded and directed. We don’t have grants or big donors. Everything comes from our actual members.

[01:21:46] We’re also not just, you know, sort of, uh, self selecting activists. Like we do have collective resources and collective decision making. So, you know, things shouldn’t just be driven by like small groups of people who are, you know, uh, doing things [01:22:00] without, uh, you know, sort of accountability, but we’re, we have like collective resources and collective democracy.

[01:22:05] So for us, we believe that offers the opportunity to grow into a mass party for the working class. Uh, we’re not there yet, and we recognize the importance of working across the left. Um, and, and nearly all of our successful campaigns come from coalition. Um, but, uh, have, have a lot of initiative that we’re showing from DSA as DSA members.

[01:22:24] So I, I think the way that people in DSA often talk about this is more about our [01:22:30] goal of functioning, like, as a real party of and for the entire working class, like, has existed in many countries around the world. Um, but, you know, a lot of organizations on the left are necessary in the meantime and fill an important role, so, you know, we obviously have.

[01:22:43] Some membership overlap with some of the others you mentioned, like Left Roots or WFP, and uh, we need to work together, but I think it’s important for DSA to self direct as much as possible. 

[01:22:54] Megan Romer: Yeah, and just to follow that, you know, I’m, I’m a DSA partisan. Guilty as charged. I am, [01:23:00] you know, DSA is Uh, what I believe, uh, to be the organization most capable of being the political instrument that, uh, can and should help really sort of tie together the electoral left and the labor left and the social left and all those sort of sub movements.

[01:23:17] That doesn’t mean that those movements need to be subsumed by us, but I think we can, we can really, we’re in the best position to be, uh, the connective tissue, um, And, you know, I, I mean, yeah, I think we should respect autonomy of partner [01:23:30] organizations, and I don’t know that we’re there yet, um, but I see a lot of hope, specifically in the way we’ve handled coalition work over the last, uh, few months, um, since October 7th, I think, I think we’re seeing really, really good models, uh, come out of chapters, and also of national work, um, but yeah, I mean, Okay.

[01:23:47] I think part of it is just a theory of change, right? So I, I’m coming at it with a mass movement theory of change. I think we need a lot of people and I think we need them to be organized. Um, I, it’s not exclusively at an electoral theory of change. Um, [01:24:00] so, so when, when I say, you know, party, I’m not just talking about, you know, US style party.

[01:24:04] I’m talking about, you know, socialist party in the, the way that like PT, for example, would be, um, I am not looking exclusively at a sort of vanguardist model where you see sort of some of the, the older, um, smaller, very cool, like the Black Panther Party, cool as hell, but, you know, it was a vanguardist party that was, um, very tight cadre organization, um, [01:24:30] I, that’s, that’s not necessarily my theory of change, I, I think there can be like vanguards within a mass party, I think there can be centers within a mass party, if you want to be Leninist about it, whatever, um, but, you The model is moving thousands of people into action in unity in order to win massive change.

[01:24:47] And so, when I’m saying that I’m a DSA partisan, it’s because that’s the kind of, that’s how I believe change will actually happen. Um, that doesn’t mean that I don’t think it’s awesome that there are organizations, like, some of my favorite theory from [01:25:00] the last, 10 years came out of Left Roots, they sunsetted their website, and I was heartbroken.

[01:25:04] Um, and I’m hoping all those things come back. There’s this one article that I love so much about protagonism that I’m like, please bring it back. Um, so fingers crossed. Um, I’ve got a, got a internet archive version now, but. 

[01:25:19] William Lawrence: Very good. Thank you. Um, okay. So as a final question here, why don’t we just hear an optimistic view about how DSA will develop over the rest of this decade?[01:25:30] 

[01:25:30] What’s your vision for the DSA of 2030 and how will the organization Get there. 

[01:25:37] Megan Romer: I’m calling the shot million members by 2030. That’s like pointing over the, the, uh, left field line. That’s yeah, I think, uh, I think we get there by digging in by doing what we’re great at, uh, which is really strong, like the grunt work of organizing.

[01:25:57] Um, we’re going to pick big fights. We’re going to win [01:26:00] them. That’s going to attract new people to the org. We’re going to take those people. We’re going to onboard them. We’re going to make them organizers. Um, And, uh, then we’re gonna pick even bigger fights and bigger and bigger and bigger until we have, uh, won the world.

[01:26:11] I’m not sure we’ll win the world by 2030, but I want socialism in my lifetime and I’m 40, so we gotta get moving. 

[01:26:20] Ashik Siddique: Yeah, I, I agree with all of that. I think we can, we, you know, we’re under 100, 000 members now, but I think we can make a lot of decisions in the next few years about our structure that [01:26:30] poises us to grow pretty explosively again, uh, really driven by our, by our own initiative.

[01:26:35] I think. There are a lot of chapters that are showing the way forward, uh, you know, building their own sort of socialist political machines and really taking on. The existing electoral power structure, like other organizations that have been suppressing any kind of progress and just being brutally attacked, viciously attacked by the media constantly, but weathering it like New York City DSA is a great example of, I mean, they’re at the epicenter of the national media as well.

[01:26:58] But I think, uh, that just the [01:27:00] constant attacks they’re getting of like, Oh, you’re a white organization or whatever, or, um, you know, you’re, you’re anti Semitic because you support Palestine or whatever, uh, these are all attacks that we’ve been weathering like pretty effectively by standing on principle and just demonstrating the power that, that, that we’ve been building together based on our politics.

[01:27:18] So I think, um, you know, by 2030, we want to really be the ruling class’s worst nightmare. We want to keep growing. We want to get more organized. We want to get more militant as a mass movement that is building the socialist horizon in America’s reality. [01:27:30] That includes passing transformative legislation that beats back the right, makes the center right look like the joke that it is and each hard fought campaign grows our movement and sets the stage for the next thing.

[01:27:41] So that means seizing state power, kicking capitalists out of office, uh, multiplying our strength in lots of ways. Keep participating in and driving a revitalized socialist labor movement and redefine what’s possible in the U. S. So just one example, like, uh, you A. W. After all the major wins of the past year, um, Sean [01:28:00] Fain just said something recently about organizing toward an actual general strike in 2028, like the next presidential cycle.

[01:28:07] So I think that’s the kind of horizon that’s possible to imagine based on all the ways they have been organizing over the past year, and that’s the kind of intervention and, you know, in the political landscape. That we should be sort of planning ahead more and it becomes more and more possible to imagine if we are meaningfully organizing and unions and electoral politics, um, using social movement tactics and just really running multifaceted campaigns that unite all [01:28:30] three of those.

[01:28:31] So, so, yeah, this is, this isn’t going to happen with sort of a, like, passive. Recruitment or fundraising or whatever, it means centralizing more functions, but doing it in as collective a way as possible. And yeah, we can do it. 

[01:28:47] William Lawrence: Thank you, Ashik. Thank you, Megan. This has been great folks. I think you can hear why these two have been entrusted by DSA’s membership to be the first ever, uh, elected co chairs of the organization.

[01:28:59] This [01:29:00] was a fascinating conversation and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can all build together in DSA.

[01:29:09] This podcast is written and hosted by me, William Lawrence. Our producer is Josh Elstro, and it is published by Convergence, a magazine for radical insights. You can help support this show and others like it by becoming a Patreon subscriber of Convergence for as low as 2 per month at patreon. com slash convergence mag.

[01:29:28] You can find a direct link in the show [01:29:30] notes. This has been the Hegemonicon. Let’s talk again soon.

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