December 2020Campaigns

MDC DSA Internationalism Working Group Finds New Focus

As committed socialists, we understand that solidarity knows no borders. To win the world that we want, we can’t just fight for better conditions for the working class at home, but for the total liberation of the working class in all corners of the world.

But for those looking to live out these internationalist ideals—to combat US imperialism, to dismantle the US war machine, to stand in solidarity with comrades across borders—it’s often unclear where to start, especially in an organization like DSA, with its base in local chapters, and its sometimes-confusing organizational structure. For those in Metro DC DSA hoping to advance the project of socialist internationalism, especially those who are new to the chapter, we hope that this piece will provide some context and guidance.

The MDC DSA Internationalism Working Group was born out of the struggle against imperialism. In 2019, at the peak of the US-backed campaign to overthrow Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and illegitimately install Juan Guaidó in his place, members mobilized to support a coalition of peace and social justice organizations and activists protecting the Venezuelan embassy from takeover by Guaidó sympathizers.

Though active during that campaign and in the months immediately after, when the embassy protection ended, the Working Group lost its unifying organizing project and, with it, its energy.

Beginning at the end of last year, a number of us made a concerted effort to change that. After some months of organizing, we had begun to reinvigorate the Working Group, grow our membership and build plans for long-term campaigning—thanks to the energy and involvement of many new members. As a part of that process, we collectively came to notice both challenges and advantages in our organizing:

  1. Naturally, the local is not always the best level at which to conduct internationalist organizing; and
  2. With as broad a mandate as “internationalism,” it is difficult to focus a local working group on a specific campaign; but
  3. Given our location in the heart of empire, we in DC have a unique, strategic role to play in any wider internationalist organizing.

However, just as we were beginning to get our feet under us—to figure out these strengths and weaknesses and find a path forward—came the lockdown. Enthusiasm and participation once again waned—a trend that we, as leadership, recognize that we didn’t do enough to stop. More importantly, with the onset of quarantine, our strategic location immediately became useless.

However, at exactly that time also came an opportunity. Throughout this year, the national-level DSA International Committee has been undergoing a process of total reorganization. As a part of this, the International Committee's subcommittees—divided geographically (Americas, Asia and Oceania, Europe, Middle East and Africa) and by subject-area (Anti-war, Economics and Trade, Ecosocialism, Labor, Migration and Refugees)—are slowly being opened up to the full DSA membership.

And so, we decided to reassess. We could continue to try to force forward regular meetings and organize independently at the local level despite the lockdown, or we could find a new way. Ultimately, we realized that the best use of our limited resources would be to retain our local organizing structures and channels of communication as places for discussion and ad hoc organizing, but to encourage MDC DSA members interested in internationalist organizing to focus their energies on the International Committee’s subcommittees.

We recognized that this decision left something to be desired, and that, from one angle, it could just be seen as a failure to organize locally. But we also felt that it was the best use of everyone’s energies given the circumstances. In this way, we could most effectively direct our limited organizing resources as parts of nationally-coordinated campaigns of our choices (e.g., to fight against sanctions on Iran as a part of the Middle East and Africa subcommittee) while still retaining the advantages of our location (e.g., by meeting with, or demonstrating against, members of Congress), aligning with these campaigns when strategically useful.

When we posed this new plan to the group, we received uniformly positive feedback, including from many members who told us that they were involved in the newly reorganized International Committee, or had already planned to join its subcommittees. And so, while the discussion of this plan is open-ended, and we would always welcome anyone interested to take up the mantle and restart regular organizing at the local level, for now, this is the path forward we’ve chosen.

For MDC DSA members looking to get involved in internationalist organizing, we therefore encourage you to:

  1. Join the MDC DSA Internationalism Working Group listserv, which is still open for use for sharing information and events, as well as ad hoc organizing. Contact us at internationalism[@]mdcdsa.org .
  2. Use the #internationalism Slack channel for the same.
  3. Join a national-level International Committee subcommittee, or a few, of your choice, and invest your energy there. Contact them via https://international.dsausa.org/
  4. Use the MDC DSA Internationalism Working Group channels and structures to organize ad hoc actions, as needed, in line with that organizing.

All International Committee subcommittees have just completed their first round of application, acceptance and onboarding. The next round will begin next month, with an application deadline of December 31. These applications are short and easy to complete and are, in most cases, temporary measures to slowly build up capacities on the path to fully open membership. In the meantime, if you want to get connected to any of the specific subcommittees to meet their leadership and learn more about their work, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

As we continue to struggle to build a movement that fights for all workers of the world, we appreciate your understanding—and we hope you’ll join us.

The Metro DC DSA Internationalism Working Group
Eliot Bacon
Michael Galant
Cesar Garzon

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