I've followed the progress of the DSA in recent years with great interest. I was a founding member of the organization (though I no longer belong) and can't help but be impressed by its sudden and spectacular growth. In its first years and really for decades afterwards DSA went nowhere. It seemed doomed to permanent irrelevance.
No longer. The DSA now has a real and tangible influence on US politics in general and the left in particular. That's a good thing because the space for radical reform and thought needed expansion and DSA has been critical for this. Not that I agree with what I take to be their positions on many things, but that's fine. Let a hundred flowers bloom, etc.
Of course, when I say "their positions" what does that really mean? Given the level of pluralism and decentralization in the organization it's frequently pretty hard to tell. Again, that s probably a good thing but can be frustrating.
And it makes it hard for outsiders to figure out what is at stake at their convention in Atlanta this weekend. What is there to be decided--or even can be decided? Who are the various tendencies and caucuses and what do they stand for? Is the organization likely to become more or less centralized? And so on.
So it was a real service for Andrew Senatinger to put together this guide on New Politics for the curious, convention goers or not. He covers a lot, including the key caucuses (and their political differences), the many resolutions that are being debated and provides a lot of very useful information about the organization's current finances and structure, which I found very enlightening.
I don't have much information at this point about how things are actually unfolding at the convention but this will filter out soon I'm sure. I did hear from a source that a "Bernie or Bust" resolution had passed, which commits DSA to supporting Bernie's quest for the nomination (already policy I think) but also commits DSA to not supporting anyone else, should he fall short. That strikes me as a big mistake since last election I believe DSA generally supported Hillary against Trump. I can't think of a remotely plausible reason for sitting this one out, given the election's stakes.
Perhaps this is an early harbinger of sectarianism that may cripple the organization's growth. Or maybe not. We shall see.