posted at 3:01 pm on March 13, 2017 by John Sexton
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has been growing substantially over the past year according to a story in the LA Times:
The surge of activism sweeping the U.S. since Donald Trump’s election has energized the nation’s largest socialist organization, which has tripled in size over the last year to claim more than 19,000 dues-paying members. That’s a record for the DSA, which was founded in 1982.
“People really felt that they had to do something to combat the incoming Trump administration,” said David Duhalde, the deputy director of the Democratic Socialists of America’s national leadership, which helps coordinate chapters spread across 40 states. “We’re not only somebody you can resist Trump with, we’re somebody you can build a better world with.”
“If you’re gonna do it, have some fun,” said Josh Androsky, a 30-year-old stand-up comedian who co-chairs the Los Angeles chapter’s “agit-prop” committee and who joined after Trump’s election. “A large portion of our members were radicalized by the election and the Democrats failing over and over again.”
One obvious factor in the rise of the DSA is the success of Bernie Sanders, especially among young people. As I pointed out last year, a poll asking a head-to-head question found Democrats preferred socialism to capitalism. To give you an idea of where DSA stands, honorary chairs of the DSA include Frances Fox Piven, Gloria Steinem and Cornel West.
Despite their growth, DSA remains relatively small compared to other groups that have sprung up since Trump’s election. For instance, the LA Times notes Indivisible has 4,500 associated groups compared to just 121 chapters of the DSA.
While those goals aren’t mainstream, DSA’s approach is incremental. Their website says, “As we are unlikely to see an immediate end to capitalism tomorrow, DSA fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people.” DSA emphasizes that they believe in working through democracy to achieve these socialist goals. The site even has a “swag shop” selling $25 DSA t-shirts, so clearly they aren’t completely opposed to capitalism.
That places DSA to the right of some groups like the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA or RevCom, whose pre-printed signs you’ve probably seen at various rallies. As their name suggests, RevCom is advocating a revolution rather than incremental change.