Tactics are Political
There is a lot of chatter around Build: why do we insist on the term “organizing project”? How is that really different from a caucus (is it?) We think it depends on a couple of key definitions.
We believe a caucus is a group of people united around a common set of politics (like the Libertarian Socialist Caucus or, locally in Portland, the Red Caucus). People in a caucus probably approach political questions like “hierarchy: good or bad?” from the same angle. They might think that certain types of organizing trump others, like basebuilding versus Alinsky-style win-lose campaigns. They have a political vision for DSA, and they want to see it enacted. We think that can be good, and some Builders are members of caucuses, but that’s not Build itself.
Build is a tactical project to support the development of militant, grounded strategies across the country. The socialist left in America is weak, and we think that if people have an idea to strengthen it and the capacity to put that idea into practice, it’s probably worth a shot! (We also believe that national should be connected to all these experiments, especially in the critical debrief phase, whether it’s a success or not). This is why all of us are in DSA: because DSA provides a big tent under which people work together, address the concerns of the day and build for the future.
The problem is that DSA grew quickly, and there are certainly people in DSA who believe they DO know the one true way to make socialism happen. Sometimes those people are in charge, and they block resources and organizing power from getting to people who have a different idea of how things should go. Other times, sheer lack of capacity at national can have a deleterious effect. However these things happen, we all know that they do. Just about everybody in DSA has had a frustrating experience with the organization.
So at Build, we’ve decided to do what organizers do: get together and provide a solution. That’s why we publish the zine with your organizing stories, and it’s why we provide trainings. Are these political things? Yes! Everything is political, and whether and how you choose to help (or not) your comrades is a political choice. This is part of why we don’t consider Build a caucus, because our team’s members hold a diverse (and sometimes conflicting) set of political tendencies, which informs our perspectives on tactics.
If your vision is a staff-led organization, well, Build flies in the face of that vision. We aren’t exactly sly about believing in a member-led DSA. And we believe that national has an absolutely key role to play in gathering up the successes and failures of our work around the country so we can ALL learn from our common project; it should be a useful, vibrant part of our organizing that pushes our collective project forward.
That’s what we are organizing for at convention, and that’s why we print the zines and distribute the stories and record the trainings. Because DSA is yours to build, and we want to make sure you have the resources, support and space to build it.
Yours ‘til the forever victory,