As socialists in a capitalist world, we are well equipped to take on the challenge of changing our society. However, living in a system that we know is built on exploitation, oppression and greed, and knowing how our world could be better, takes additional tolls on us. Capitalism has infested every part of our lives, making it hard to escape the structure that we struggle against. This exposure reminds us of the work that we have to do, driving passion and diligence into our movement; but we need to be careful not to burn through our reserves and fizzle out for the sake of this movement. Socialism will be built by us, and if we don’t pace ourselves we may not see things to the end.
Doing the work we do can have serious adverse effects on our mental and emotional health. Continuous exposure to the magnitude of change needed and the casualties left in capitalism’s wake can lead to compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is marked by experiences similar to depression – difficulty or excessive sleeping, loss of interest in things we once enjoyed, feelings of hopelessness, and an overall sense of feeling down. It occurs when we use empathy to the point of exhaustion. We can think of our empathetic capacity like a muscle. Though it gets stronger the more we use it, we can overuse it to the point it needs time to recover.
Being active in social change doesn’t have to result in self destructing effects. Caring for others and being involved in causes we’re passionate about has been linked to a deeper sense of meaning and purpose, a reduction in stress and a boost to our immune system. The difference comes from our connection to others in the cause – finding support from each other and taking time to celebrate success. Keeping perspective is also critical when working on the large structural changes view as necessary. If the rubric we use to measure success is the end result of a just world, we’ll never maintain momentum in the face of capitalism. Maintaining a sense of community and remembering to congratulate each other on any progress – no matter how small – will provide the motivation that is so critical to the activist experience.
It is important to make time outside of activism to keep our lives together. Families, friendships and material needs have to be maintained to keep up with the movement we are growing. Capitalism will always be at an advantage where our diligence is concerned, as our efforts will strain our lives, and if we are not careful, drive us to irrelevance. So don’t sacrifice the relationships you have for our cause, nourish them and bring them into our effort. Where living is concerned leave yourself outs, throwing your livelihood into martyrdom for the cause will only ensure that we won’t have you there the next time you are needed. The change we seek will take time, we need to stay united and whole to see it through.
If you find the deluge of information about how our society overwhelming, avoid the stream that only serves to heighten your anxiety. News, tweets, and posts can bring important information to us, but if they only heighten sense of doom, there is no point in engaging with them. Get what information you need, and focus your energy on the tasks and achievements in front of you.
It is incumbent on all of us to take care of each other during our struggle, after all this support is the cornerstone of the society that we are trying to create. So take care of yourself and our comrades and lets keep our movement and strong and growing.
Laura & Lucas H
‘It is not difficult to be a revolutionary when revolution has already broken out and is in spate, when all people are joining the revolution just because they are carried away, because it is the vogue, and sometimes even from careerist motives. It is far more difficult—and far more precious—to be a revolutionary when the conditions for direct, open, really mass and really revolutionary struggle do not yet exist.’
The past midterm elections were described by many as ‘the most important election of our lifetimes’- at least, since the very last election. It was a mixed night for progressives: the ballyhooed Blue Wave was less of a force than politicos and pundits had predicted. Part of this, surely, is due to the Democratic Party lacking cohesion around a political program that benefits the working class; for every Congressman supporting Medicare-for-All, there is another former CEO introducing means-tested tax-credits to place a band-aid on a crumbling welfare system.
The other factor every socialist must confront in the analysis of elections is that voter suppression is still the reality for millions of Americans. During Election Day, stories trickled in of three-hour-plus waits for people to vote, polling places with only two or three booths, and machines that mysteriously rejected ballots. North Dakotans living on reservations had an especially cruel experience in trying to exercise their democratic rights due to a brutal voter ID law.
The ‘democracy’ part of democratic socialism knows that what we have in America is not a democracy. We are not a democracy when working people have to go through week-long ordeals to voice their choice in government; we are not a democracy when a person’s ability to decide the course of their life depends on the whims of their boss; we are not a democracy when white supremacy, patriarchy, and imperialism keep people from exercising their power and changing their communities.
But we’re winning. Regardless of the bad news, there are many reasons for socialists to celebrate:
Two DSA members are headed to the House of Representatives- Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Thank you to those of you who labored in our local elections, especially Brad McGarr and those who worked on his campaign for putting a Twin Cities DSA member on the ballot and spreading our message.
Change comes from people, not politicians- join DSA and build the movement that’s going to keep the movement going.
co-chair, Twin Cities DSA
For Further Review
With so many great podcasts, articles, books and videos coming out, it’s easy to miss something great. Here’s a few things we’ve found and loved recently:null
Fascism is Not an Idea to Be Debated, It’s a Set of Actions to Fight
Aleksandar Hemon on the problem with civility
Progress for the Left, Hardening Nationalism on the Right
Michael Brooks and Bill Fletcher Jr. break down the election and discuss how we should be viewing our political moment.
The Midterms’ Winners, Losers, and Double-Losers
By running to the right, Democrats insist on losing twice: at the polls and in constructing an inspiring agenda. Bold left-wing politics are our only hope for long-term, substantive victory. Megan Day
Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism
Its time to buckle up for some spicy hot fiery takes from the one and only Kristen Ghosdsee.
The color of Economic Anxiety
Is the collapse of Democratic fortunes due to economic anxiety? Of course. Just ask black Milwaukeeans