These points of unity, adopted in March 2019, are intended to provide a very basic compass by which DSA rank-and-file can assess their own projects and goals. We want to make a clear statement about what we think DSA stands for, to outline broad agreement about what socialism means to us, and to allow people to democratically engage with our basic principles, This is a living, non-exhaustive document that can and should be amended and added to by the membership. Agreement with these points are not and will not be a requirement for membership or participation in the chapter.
Diversity of tactics
Our priority at all times is to oppose capitalism, and to work towards replacing it with a socialist society based on meeting human needs and allowing for human flourishing. Because of this, we must not allow ourselves to be boxed in by narrow dogmatism. We do not reject out of hand any tactics other than those which strengthen the power of capitalism or its coercive apparatus. We build socialism through a diversity of tactics including direct action, electoral campaigns, organizing workers, opposing fascism, building coalitions, and serving the people through mutual aid programs.
Class struggle and worker democracy
Under capitalism, workers are forced to sell their labor power to capitalists to survive, who in turn keep the surplus value produced by that labor. These capitalists maintain dictatorial control over production through their ownership of private property. The process of taking that control back from them is the process of establishing socialism.
As socialists, we believe that working people should have democratic control over the means of production. We believe that the world should be owned in common by those who inhabit it, including those whose labor and worth is historically devalued (e.g. women doing domestic labor, the differently abled) under capitalism. When this happens, we can build a society that values human need, well-being, and flourishing over the inhuman pursuit of profit at any cost.
We demand health justice: the right to live and maintain a healthy life. Health care must be offered freely to all who need it. We demand a standard of comprehensive care available to all, provided socially and not on a for-profit basis. We demand a complete decommodification of the systems that determine our health and well-being.
Climate change & environmental justice
As socialists, we believe that the degradation of the environment and the exploitation of the planet is inherently linked to a degrading and exploitative social and economic structure. Capitalism cannot solve ecological injustice as it relies on constantly growing consumption that devours our planet in ways that outpace its ability to repair and replenish itself. Ecological disaster affects everyone, but it falls most harshly on those that are already marginalized, as we can see in our own backyard with the use of communities of color as literal dumping grounds for the toxic byproducts of capitalist industry. Only collective action to fundamentally restructure the global economy will be sufficient to avert genocide and global extinction.
Sexual abuse, coercion and violence are tools used by individuals or groups with dominant culture power within society (IE: white, cis/het, male, wealthy, able-bodied, English-speaking, etc.) to maintain their status within the hierarchical structure of our society over people who have less power. Rape culture is used to propagate myths about how these tools are used (and have been historically used) in order to reinforce and maintain the status quo. By working to dismantle and abolish sexual abuse, sexual violence, and rape culture, we are attacking the dominant capitalist, white supremacist and patriarchal order that exists within our society and creating a more equitable future.
Socialist feminism, trans rights
Capitalism can never provide the liberation that we strive for because under it, everything is valued through its ability to be commodified. The emancipation of women and trans/non-binary people is integral to the world we want to build, free of misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, and other forms of gender-based oppression. Socialist feminism recognizes that such oppressions are not just a byproduct of class warfare. Capitalism and patriarchy see non-male bodies as tools to be used through sexualizing appearance, gatekeeping access to reproductive care and devaluing the reproductive labor non-males are routinely forced to perform. Socialists want a world where reproductive care is free and available to all, and reproductive labor is shared by all.
Trans people are especially marginalized and “othered” in our society. Trans women face unique hostility for being assigned male at birth and are treated as “biologically male” and “intruders” in women’s spaces, among other things. Outside of this, trans people face shockingly high rates of suicide and homicide, as well as discrimination, ridicule, and violence in every facet of public life. We reject trans-exclusionary feminism. We believe trans women are women and that they are subject to many of the material conditions that define womanhood.
Under capitalism, schooling is reduced to a means of producing wage-workers who uphold dominant ideology, not human beings prepared to challenge it. Capitalist education forecloses human potential and creativity by minimizing the space for self-directed learning, expression, and growth. As socialists, we strive to make education a freely, equitably provided public good that everyone can freely pursue for their own enlightenment and empowerment.
The history of working-class struggle has been distorted by decades of ruling-class suppression, including during the Red Scare, the Cold War, and contemporary neoliberalism. It is crucial that we educate ourselves and others about the rich history of class struggle in the U.S. and around the world.
As socialists, we believe in a world free from imprisonment and policing. Prisons and police have, since their inception, been used to violently enforce white supremacy and imperialism, defend private property, and suppress the struggles of workers and oppressed people against the ruling class. The prison industrial complex has also enriched corporations that routinely violate human rights, building a racialized caste system pervaded by systemic bias with immense and intergenerational harms. It has revived slavery under the color of law.
We support disarming police and reducing their size and power. Our eventual goal is the abolition of police and prisons and the destruction of the oppressive structures that support and depend on their existence. We seek to replace these with structures that address people’s needs, free people from being labelled as “criminals,” and bring about systems of healing and transformative justice based in community accountability.
Immigration, borders, and international socialism
Modern capitalism is a global system. In much the same way that the wealth of capitalists depends on the alienation and exploitation of the working class, the wealth of nations is built on imperialism, resource extraction, and the subjugation of dispossessed workforces worldwide. Imperialism is the result of capitalist expansion outgrowing one country, pushing imperialist states to extract foreign resources. It is not enough to better conditions in one country while ignoring the injustices capitalism inflicts abroad, or the injustices perpetrated against non-citizens within its borders.
As socialists, we reject the idea that one’s rights or one’s dignity are contingent on being born on the right side of an imaginary line on a map. We therefore support the free migration of people and the sovereignty of indigenous peoples, reject the stigmatization and systemic persecution of migrants, oppose war and imperialism, systems born in racism and greed, and stand in solidarity with the struggles of all oppressed peoples worldwide.
Right to the city
The commodification and privatization of land, housing, and public space by capital is antithetical to the universal right to safe, decent housing for all, and contrary to the fight for racial, economic, and environmental justice. Capitalism mutates our cities, drawing an arbitrary line between housed and unhoused to divide the working class, thus creating an oppressed and criminalized underclass whom capital can scapegoat to its benefit.
As socialists, we believe in the collective public right to the city and the democratic control of land, housing, and public space. We demand that cities be remade by and for all the people who will live in them – not built according to the oppressive and exclusionary logic of capital.