Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What is the Democratic Socialist Party (DSA)?

A socialist litmus test.

Many socialist leaders have stepped forward claiming that Barack Obama is not tied to their parties or ideology—and that those non-existing ties were never strong anyway. Here's a brief post from the Democratic Socialist Party (DSA) website.

From the DSA's, Where We Stand: "The Political Perspective of the Democratic Socialists of America"

Section 4: A Strategy for the Next Left [...]
Many socialists have seen the Democratic Party, since at least the New Deal, as the key political arena in which to consolidate this coalition, because the Democratic Party held the allegiance of our natural allies. Through control of the government by the Democratic Party coalition, led by anti-corporate forces, a progressive program regulating the corporations, redistributing income, fostering economic growth and expanding social programs could be realized.
If socialism cannot be achieved primarily from above, through a democratic government that owns,control and regulates the major corporations, then it must emerge from below, through a democratic transformation of the institutions of civil society, particularly those in the economic sphere -- in other words, a program for economic democracy ...

Economic Democracy. Economic democracy can empower wage and income earners through building cooperative and public institutions that own and control local economic resources. Economic democracy means, in the most general terms, the direct ownership and/or control of much of the economic resources of society by the great majority of wage and income earners. Such a transformation of worklife directly embodies and presages the practices and principles of a socialist society.

Alternative economic institutions, such as cooperatives and consumer, community, and worker-owned facilities are central to economic democracy. Equally important is the assertion of democratic control over private resources such as insurance and credit, making them available for socially responsible investment as well as over land, raw materials, and manufacturing infrastructure. Such democratic control must also encompass existing financial institutions, whose funds can be used to invest in places abandoned or bypassed by transnational capital, such as urban and rural areas, and in sectors of the population that have been historically denied control and ownership of significant economic resources. Such a program will recognize the economic value of childrearing and home care by family members as unpaid labor, and account for this work in all considerations of benefits. [emphasis added]

Key to economic democracy is a democratic labor movement that plays a central role in the struggle for a democratic workplace, whether worker or privately owned. In workplaces that the employees do not own - traditional corporations, family businesses, government, and private nonprofits - only independent, democratically run unions can protect workers.[emphasis added]

More unions? Paid to bear children and take care of them at home? (Maybe in the form of tax credits?)

Section 6: The Role of Democratic Socialists
[...] DSA's new document points in another direction, toward the founding of a new progressive movement...a next Left. That is because the political momentum of mass liberalism is depleted. If we once positioned ourselves as the left wing of the possible, there is now no "possible" to be the left wing of.
The belief is widespread that we stand at the beginning of a new political era -- that the Left must create a new vision and a new mission rooted in a new sense of purpose.

Yes, that does sound much different than Obama's progressive plan for "change we can believe in" and "spreading the wealth around." Oh wait, no it doesn't.

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