Big Tent Political Education

Amendment #25 to Resolution #33

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Why Is Build endorsing Big Tent Political Education?

Build endorses Amendment #25 Big Tent Political Education to Resolution 33. Build opposes Resolution 33 if not amended.

Resolution 33 Invest in Political Education sets forth an overly prescriptive approach to political education. It suggests that a Socialist Night School model and associated podcasts would be the main political education model for chapters. Structurally, it creates a path toward a political education program dominated by a single tendency.

Amendment 25 Big Tent Political Education builds on Resolution 33 to create a political education program that meets the needs of a growing big-tent socialist organization.

  • What is political education in a big-tent organization?

    • Include all voices. Amendment #25 would ensure that a range of views is represented on the Political Education Committee by having the NPC elect it using a proportional method, rather than appointment-by-majority.

    • Teach everyone. We must take active steps to dismantle systems of oppression that we might otherwise replicate in our educational work, and work for inclusiveness of different experiences and learning styles.

    • Teach the big tent. National should not seek to develop the one true way to run a Socialist Night School, or create a single reading list. We fear that the unamended resolution 33 could be used to instead showcase a single tendency. To develop our ideas, we must challenge those ideas. Let’s expose members to the diversity of the big tent. 

  • How should national political education relate to chapters?

    • Highlight local work. While political education is an important task for the national organization to support, we feel that national’s main role in political education should be to learn from and support local chapters, and to collect materials and best practices as developed at the local level.

    • Local experimentation. Resolution 33 promotes a top-down, one-size fits all approach to chapter political education that would foreclose on local experimentation and adaptation. The amended version

Frequently Asked Questions

Concern: What’s wrong with Socialist Night School—why shouldn’t we specifically mention it?

Answer: Socialist Night School is a great program to be used where appropriate - but a “one size fits all” approach to political education isn’t going to work for every chapter. We need a variety of programs and tools for our local chapters to use in their political education work.

Concern: A podcast is a great idea! Why get rid of that?

Answer: The idea that DSA must start a podcast is overly specific—it should be left up to the Political Education Committee, who could start a podcast if they feel it is a good way to educate members in an inclusive way. If not—locals and other groups in the DSA orbit have already started their own podcasts that are worth checking out!

Concern: Why omit the staff time? Won’t having a dedicated part-time staff ensure we get something done on this front?

Answer: A part-time dedicated staff person can only do so much. We are not a staff-driven organization; we are a volunteer-driven organization. As such, it would be better to leverage our strengths by relying on our volunteer network to collaborate on various different political education tools, instead of the top-down narrow approach that the original resolution presents.

Another Answer: Amendment 25 does not preclude hiring of staff if needed.

Amendment text: