DSA Rootin' for Putin
That is the only interpretation of the most recent statement from the Democratic Socialists of America/International Committee (IC) that makes any sense. Here are three links to the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This all comes from the IC steering committee. IC members were not consulted. I know because I’m one of them. Steering committee members are appointed by the DSA National Political Committee (NPC), so at the very least they are responsible for the treacle that comes out under the auspices of the IC.
The statement is persuasive in the sense that the Ukraine war has no end in sight. Russia’s size and NATO’s deep pockets indicate it could go on indefinitely. But a cut-off of U.S./NATO support, as the IC calls for, would permit a rapid Russian conquest of Ukraine. Whatever its flaws, Ukraine does have the right of self-determination, as Lenin himself advocated. If and how to settle should be up to the victims of the invasion. Cutting off support takes that choice away. I’ve written about this at more length here and here and here.
This stance will be a deal-breaker for some members, which will please those in the “fewer, but better” caucuses that have come to dominate the organization. The extent of their support among the membership is open to question. If you joined DSA because you liked Bernie, the gap between him and the current leadership is stark. No wonder Bernie himself declines to have anything to do with DSA, even though both travel under the label, unique in the U.S.A., of democratic socialism.
I sympathize with the argument that the NATO sanctions are not working, only causing suffering to innocent third parties. They appear to be part of a longer-term, U.S./NATO geopolitical strategy to cripple Russia, notwithstanding the lack of impact on Russia’s Ukraine aggression. From this standpoint, the sanctions regime should be opposed. It is still possible in the same breath to oppose the Russian invasion and occupation.
As a side note, there was an interesting idea from our friend Dan LaBotz to tax Russia’s oil and gas exports. The money could conceivably be used to rebuild Ukraine and to relieve victims of the disruption of grain and oil exports to the global south. Putting on my economist hat for a second, the problem here is that such a tax would mostly fall on the purchasers of grain and oil, not on the Russian sellers. Nobody who goes to a grocery store is under the illusion that they are not paying the sales tax on food, even though it is the store that sends the proceeds to the government.
Substance, aside, there is also a process issue. One way DSA’s sectarian leaders distract from issues is to take people down the rabbit hole of DSA process. The fact remains that the IC issued this without consulting its own members. One has to wonder what membership in the IC means.
It could be argued that the latest bit is consistent with previous NPC statements on Ukraine. This is true, broadly speaking, but the latest call for a cutoff of U.S. military aid in the current context – with Ukraine holding on for dear life – means calling for a Russian victory.
Finally, it should be noted that moderation of the DSA Discussion Board is grossly biased. I have had posts flagged or threads shut down for being “condescending” or otherwise unkosher, notwithstanding their utterly wholesome character. For criticizing board moderation without naming anyone, I was accused of “insulting” moderators. Without naming anyone here, I would like to say my shitlist of DSA sectarians is growing. At the same time, nasty remarks about me, such as being called a “class enemy,” are ignored. The thread that a version of this post began has been similarly muted by the weaselly device of burying it in a much longer, older thread with the punchy headline removed.
These are not the actions of democratic socialists.