After May 28th, when all of the votes have been submitted and the delegates announced, we have to start the work of creating a coherent platform for Chicago to work from at August’s national convention. The Mass Action Points of Unity, co-authored by comrades Margo Gislain, Sean Estelle and Will Bloom, can and should serve as the blueprint to judge resolutions on as we begin to move forward. Over half of the nominees for delegate have already signed on to this document, and collaborating on a vision that represents not just the elected delegates but our whole chapter is a tall order. This is how we start that conversation.
There is strength in coming into the national convention already unified. We are one of the biggest chapters in the country and have the unique position of already having an established socialist caucus in city hall. Chicago has the potential to really lead the conversation in August, but we must lead together.
There’s a lot that is really good in this document, but I want to highlight some of the pieces that really resonated for me.
Ecosocialism. Climate change and environmental racism is ever prevalent in Chicago. We can’t talk about just about any of the struggles we engage in without considering this. Chicago is getting hotter every year, but that’s not all. The lakeshore is eroding into the lake. Massive storms are regularly wiping out power for days on end with no guarantees from private utilities on when anything will be restored. A large portion of Black and Brown Chicagoans living in formerly redlined districts are in aging housing stock that still has rusting lead pipes and is insufficiently insulated against harsh Chicago weather, which exacerbates health outcomes.
In 2019, DSA voted to name working towards a Green New Deal as a key priority. This is just as important to reaffirm in 2021. Resolution #12, 2021 Ecosocialist Green New Deal Priority, calls to reauthorize and endorse the Green New Deal Campaign as one of DSA’s highest national priorities. This would be done by committing to resources like staff and a budget to continue this fight.
As socialists, we know that just because we have a Democrat in the highest office, there is no guarantee of any slow down of the climate disaster. Biden’s upcoming Climate Legislation has the potential to introduce and commit to green infrastructure and a just transition. We must keep the pressure on our legislators to stick to these promises- we can’t just greenwash Chevron and Shell and call it a day. Climate justice is the bedrock that we must build the rest of our work upon at a national level. Individual cities like Chicago and New York have the potential to make big wins around public utilities, but that would be nothing compared to the potential of a national public energy grid.
The matter is just as urgent now as it was two years ago. A Green New Deal is critical if we want to win socialism – if the planet is on fire, how can we do anything else?
Political education. We are all constantly learning and growing as socialist organizers. Nobody is ever going to reach the end of learning and become the most perfect socialist with the best opinions, and anybody who thinks they have needs to be avoided at all costs. We’re not just a bunch of people who want to screw with the system, we’re not a non-profit, we’re an organized body. It is vital to understand how we got here and also think forward about how to imagine and fight for better. Political education is critical for members regardless of how long they’ve been around – it’s key in how we grow and develop together as a cadre. It’s useful in regrounding ourselves in the uphill battle against capitalism and white supremacy. DSA is a big tent, multi-tendency space and shared political education can give us a shared language to start from as we build forward. That’s why these Mass Action Points of Unity are so important, they create an arena for political debate where the many tendencies within CDSA can and should debate – not based on interpersonal conflicts but rather ideological disagreements. The points represent the shared vision of a Marxist, mass-action oriented tendency and the organization of members toward shared political goals.
Site of struggle. We may differ in our orientation and backgrounds, but most of us are alienated from the products of our labor in the workforce. Resolution #5, Building Worker Power to Win Democratic Socialism: A Labor Strategy for DSA in 2021-2023, calls for the national convention and DSA to recommit to labor and committing specific resources to building worker power.
Bosses pocket a bigger and bigger profit while workers struggle to get by and afford to live. This is a uniting factor and an incredibly potent radicalization site. The owner class and the government both rely on the working class being disenfranchised, fearing that speaking out could cost them a job. When workers realize they are stronger and safer together against the boss, that’s where they start to take back power. If we can start with the belief that there is a better way, that you don’t have to make poverty wages while doing essential work, it’s a much easier step towards socialism. DSA should be deeply committed to labor organizing, especially as we teeter on the edge of passing the PRO Act, the most comprehensive piece of labor legislation in years. Meeting the worker where they are at allows for no shortcuts, however, and will be difficult. Nobody is born a socialist. I believe that within the commitment to mass action there is also a commitment to having the difficult conversations with the vast majority of the working class that aren’t yet committed socialists, many of which are also not unionized.
Socialism has to consider the collective – we are not in a time where we can afford to let individual vanities and ambitions win out over a unified whole. DSA is a big tent organization, but I believe that this document is vital in unifying us, not just as we go into August’s convention but as we move beyond and continue to fight for socialism in our city.
Through study groups and discussions, the authors of these points have committed to move political debate in our chapter forward at a time where it is sorely needed as convention approaches. To read the Mass Action Points of Unity in full, please visit bit.ly/ChiMassAction.