Why We Pay to go to Convention

Democratic Socialists of America National Convention August 4-6 2023 Chicago. A collage of six people of varying ages and genders wearing ROC DSA shirts and holding signs, microphones, and clipboards. The background is a gradient from orange to yellow to blue, with roses in a collage on the left and right.

Comrades, as you know our organization’s National Convention is coming up in August, and we have five elected delegates and an elected alternate delegate to send to Chicago! We are anti-capitalists, but we still live (and our organizations exist) within capitalism–we have not yet established systems or cultural practices sufficient to sustain ourselves and our projects without the interference of capital, and a regular income. In a local whose active membership reflects increasingly-revolutionary politics, that makes it very hard to find a way to make an ask for more money!

It is true that we won’t destroy systems of capitalist domination by throwing money into it–but how are we to go about destroying systems of capitalist domination? Not alone, to be sure. And even if we thought we could do it alone, the fact is we are one chapter of a national organization. I have said in the past few years that our chapter’s own structures and culture materially impact our thinking and our decisions in moving forward, and this is no less true of National DSA’s structures and culture–the organization has grown ten times its original size in the last decade, and now is the time to stake out a position and work to move National DSA in a direction which is amenable to our chapter’s politics.

Tonight and over the next many weeks, we should all work to acquaint ourselves with the resolutions at stake. Even when we feel we don’t fully understand, we should talk to each other about them, for that is the way to learn. And we should think about what we want for the future of DSA, and how our chapter relates to other chapters and the national bodies, and how our local members relate to each other and wider DSA.

We are sending delegates not into a black box, but into a brightly-lit arena, where they are to debate and learn and discuss with other chapters’ delegates, and come to conclusions and make decisions–and their decisions can and should be critiqued locally, and considered when thinking about (for instance) local chapter elections. This is politics, comrades! And lest anyone deceive themself, or allow others to denigrate our work or our organization, it must be taken seriously. The decisions made at Convention will shape our organization’s tomorrow, and it has always been our intention that our organization will consolidate worker power to shape our futures – in other words, besides directly (yet in abstract) impacting our work and our nature as a political organization, the politics in which we are engaged daily is every bit as or more important to our personal lives than the next US President.

So with that in mind, I’m asking you now: can you give fifteen bucks? We all pay dues into the org, with the knowledge that our money is necessary to be used to advance socialism and build worker power–we each make sure we’re paying monthly, and maybe income-based dues, so that our chapter can benefit directly without establishing its own dues structure. But now we need just a little bit more.
There are national scholarships that some delegates are applying for, and other delegates are covering all or most of their costs; however, we are trying to raise as much of the total cost of participation as we can! We’re trying to raise $4800 in total, to help pay collectively for their travel so that they don’t have to shoulder the burden of representing us as an individual. For our organization, and for the future, give now if you can, comrades!

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