Here are a few critical comments about the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to remedy any remaining confusion.
For starters DSA Austin was responsible for harboring Danny Fetonte, who carried out years of work protecting racist cops in Austin through his involvement with the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT). For anyone who is not aware: while Fetonte was in charge of Austin DSA, his other organization, CLEAT, was instrumental in defending and protecting Austin Police Department detective Charles Kleinert, who was absolved of the racist murder of Larry Jackson Jr. The struggle for justice for Larry Jackson was a focal point for the Austin left, including our organization, and an energetic campaign was led in his name, which included marches of over a thousand people and the shutdown of many streets. Austin DSA was well aware of Fetonte and his anti-people organizing—it simply did not contradict with their values at the time, because they are opportunists. Only following their more recent rapid expansion have many voices of dissent arisen, creating a public relations nightmare that forced DSA leadership to quietly distance themselves from Fetonte. Make no mistake: this is a maneuver to save face and recruit and retain dues-paying members, so they can keep shilling for the Democrats. Fetonte still has plenty of support from the top rungs of the local DSA chapter; in fact, they are the same individuals who helped get him elected to the countrywide body, bringing the scandal into public view.
While Fetonte is the most public case of Austin DSA lacking scruples and having sketchy political candidates, it does not stop there. One of their city council candidates, Lewis Conway Jr., is a known domestic abuser with at least one restraining order out against him, a fact Austin DSA are aware of but have consciously chosen to do nothing about. They instead parade around his current girlfriend, who helps to sanitize his recent past of abuse allegations and restraining orders. When directly questioned about it, Conway himself only squirms around the charges and never addresses the situation head on. DSA are happy to be his foot soldiers, tirelessly canvassing for him and putting in untold hours to get another abusive man elected into another position of power. This is business as usual for capitalists. Our organization stands firmly against domestic abuse and other forms of anti-people violence. While DSA promote pacifism toward class enemies and oppose self-defense against fascists and reactionaries, they wholesale endorse the anti-people violence of people like Fetonte and Conway and by extension the anti-people violence of this inhuman system. They tolerate the violence of the State, while calling those who fight back with self-defense “extremists.”
We can take up another practical example of their corrupt, opportunist, and anti-people nature by looking outside of Austin. After the white-supremacist and fascist attack that claimed the life of the martyr Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, which seriously injured 19 other people, DSA, true only to their opportunism, took it upon themselves to raise almost $200,000 that they claimed would be for the victims. They used this fundraising to try to prove themselves a committed organization—only problem is, when the actual victims tried to collect, they were systematically shut down by a DSA wall of red tape. No one but DSA benefited from the money raised. Knowing full well the negative relationship between antifascist protestors and the police, DSA used this contradiction to their advantage (and to the advantage of the police) by insisting to survivors that they provide a police report to prove they were injured. Any genuine people’s organization that has a presence among the masses could confirm which comrades were injured that day; in fact, much of the bourgeois media was able to confirm this independently of forcing activists to go to the police! DSA in their greed knew that this would block the survivors from receiving the money raised for them, and the con worked. The masses were swindled out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the survivors were left at the mercy of poverty or the police, the forms of violence the DSA are fine with supporting.
The police in Charlottesville were always on the side of the right and the fascists; the police encouraged the right-wing violence and allowed it to escalate. No antifascist protestor that day should be expected to turn to a fascist-sympathetic police department in order to qualify to receive funds. So DSA made hundreds of thousands, and the comrades were left in debt and at the mercy of unaffordable healthcare.
These instances are not flukes or deviations from the principles of DSA; they are the only logical expression of DSA opportunism, electioneering, profiteering, and careerism. DSA, like every other bourgeois organization, does not care about the people, and consequently stands opposed to revolution. What makes them particularly dangerous, and why we especially revile them, is that they carry out this anti-people activity in the name of “socialism,” albeit a mutated conception of it, which they signify by adding the caveat “democratic” to the front of. As the masses become more and more fed up with capitalist exploitation and white-supremacist oppression, they begin to look for new ideas to get out of it. DSA capitalizes on this too by branding themselves as socialists, so they can trick the masses back into the capitalist rat maze, back into the institutions that oppress us, back into the hopeless dead end of electoral politics.
So what attracts new people to the DSA? On one hand, a genuine desire for change and an awareness of the moral bankruptcy of both major political parties. This is a positive impulse among many who could become genuine revolutionaries. On the other hand, there is the negative aspect, which we must struggle against, expose, and overcome: deep down, many who join the DSA, while wanting progressive change, are truly cynical about revolution and act in total lack of faith in the revolutionary masses. They simply do not believe that the masses make history, that the masses are the real heroes, and instead they believe that history is made through ballot boxes and inside of bourgeois institutions. They believe that the masses support change only when bribed, and that there is no way to mobilize them in armed struggle to achieve it. Maoists, contrary to this cynical, pessimistic, and negative worldview, know well that the masses clamor for revolution, that this must be organized into a tempest led by the Communist Party. That we must reconstitute this Party through direct confrontation with class enemies. This includes confronting the DSA and preventing them from sapping the energy of the masses and diverting their revolutionary potential in the interest of counterinsurgency.
So what of “left unity”? If left unity means uniting with capitalists and class traitors and collaborating with them, we are against it. If it means forging unity through struggle with anyone who can be united with in the interests of our class, we are for it. The latter must be expressed through class struggle and not class collaboration. Principled unity is earned by standing shoulder to shoulder with the masses against distorters of socialism, profiteers, and scam artists. In short it means opposing and eventually defeating the DSA and all other bourgeois parties. This is both a practical struggle and an ideological one. A lack of understanding of Marxist theory is what the DSA are banking on to find and exploit more victims.
The DSA outright condemns theoretical study. They shun theory and pretend it is too complex, not only because they view the masses as ignorant, but also because deep down they fear what will happen to people like them when the masses grasp and apply revolutionary theory, which today means grasping, upholding, and applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism. We know full well that the masses are not so averse to theoretical study and ideological struggle. While the DSA squirms, we will continue bringing real Marxism to the masses. Militants placing pigs heads outside of DSA events is but an act of protest, exposing them for the pigs they are and treating them as such. To play victim after their track record of anti-people activity is just in their nature. The contradiction between revolutionaries and the DSA is the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It is an antagonistic contradiction, and we will not mistake it for anything less. Pigs’ heads are expressed politics. We exist to undertake politics by other means against the bourgeoisie of this country.
Democratic Socialists of America are capitalist pigs in collusion with US imperialism!
Boycott the electoral farce!
Elections, no! Revolution, yes!!
—Red Guards Austin, 2018