Building a Sustainable Socialist Movement in 2023




Last year our chapter overwhelmingly voted to approve the True North Resolution and voted for a new steering committee slate that pledged to implement that resolution. It’s been an intense eight months since October, 2022. Our level of activity has stretched us to the limit of our leadership and structure.

Guiding all of our activity has been an understanding that the ruling class of Minnesota and the U.S. is seeking to squeeze every last drop of blood out of an already beleaguered working class, from educators, to Amazon workers, to rail workers, to health care workers. This means we have taken a deadly serious attitude toward the question of power for the multi-racial working class. We are out to pick a fight with the developers, the Downtown Council, the Minnesota Business Roundtable and Corporate Democrats.

We said we wanted to become part of the fight for an urban farm (EPNI) in the East Phillips and we have done just that. We have become an important contributor to a working-class environmental justice fight that stands on the cusp of victory. New leaders of TCDSA have developed in the process. We have effectively helped to intertwine socialists in elected office at the state and city levels with direct action, mass movement, union work and mutual aid.

The fight for rent control in Minneapolis and St. Paul has been far more fraught with problems, with efforts in both cities being stymied by ferocious resistance from developers and the landlord class and a renters’ movement too weak and divided to forge a path forward. However TCDSA is still well positioned to push this struggle forward with the possibility of victory in 2024.

Our Socialists in Office project has begun to yield real results with socialist office-holders closely cooperating with the chapter around issues from EPNI to union organizing struggles. We stand poised to elect five socialists to the Minneapolis City Council and two more in St. Paul. TCDSA is rapidly becoming the second most powerful political force in the Twin Cities, after the DFL.

Our social media presence is growing. This is due to careful attention, daily posting and analysis of what works and what doesn’t. We have a totally revamped website that is far more functional and attractive thanks to hundreds of hours of work.

Probably most importantly, TCDSA members are deeply involved with and helping to lead the Minnesota workers’ movement. Our members are on the front lines of the fight to organize Starbucks workers, Amazon workers, Delta workers, and brewery/distillery workers. We aim to build solidarity with UPS workers as the contract battle intensifies. In Spring of 2024, thousands of union workers may walk off their jobs as their contracts expire, with TCDSA members helping to build that effort. We are beginning to see some of the workers involved in these fights join TCDSA. Without these kinds of connections — without turning TCDSA into a truly multinational, multi-racial, working class organization — everything else we are doing is meaningless. We must be steeped in the working class and be made up of working-class fighters. And we are making progress in that direction.

People are joining TCDSA and many more will be in the coming few years. If we are to recruit, train and retain the majority of these people it will take real work and attention. The internal organizing committee has done a phenomenal  job of regularly reaching out to new members. We need to take that to the next level with intentional follow up, possibly with a well thought-out buddy system. We also need to make our structures far more accessible and less opaque so that all members know how to participate and become integrated in our chapter.

With success, however, comes challenges. We are stretched. Our leadership layer is too thin. Of our 1,200-plus members, only a fraction are actively involved. Our ability to push forward on a number of different fronts has reached its limits. The steering committee is discussing how to meet the challenge we face.

One step we want to take soon is launching a solidarity school to ground our members in class struggle and anti-colonial, internationalist principles. We plan to hold a series of classes this summer based on books like Class Struggle Unionism, Red Deal, Elite Capture, and Secrets of a Successful Organizer. We are enlisting leaders like Nick Estes, Peter Rachleff, Lenny Cane and Robin Wonsley to lead those classes. This will be part of the process of broadening out and strengthening chapter leadership.

We want to begin a discussion about how we build out our structure to meet the demands of becoming an important player in Twin Cities politics. The steering committee believes that the best way to quickly build our ability to function is to hire a part-time administrative assistant. This person could help with posting events on the calendar, creating zoom links, sending out emails and other administrative tasks.

The chapter’s leadership in the steering committee and beyond is at capacity with all that I laid out above. As workers with fire in their hearts increasingly come our way, we want to have time to help train them and arm them to be more effective leaders of the class struggle. We want them to take leadership positions in TCDSA. Some may want to take on administrative tasks, but most will not. In the Delta Air Lines ramp organizing drive, the Machinist Union staff plays an extremely important role by keeping lists up to date, sending out leaflets and making sure worker organizers have plenty of union cards. This frees worker leaders up to talk to their coworkers, plan out messaging and build momentum in a million different ways. There is a lesson for us to learn here. In the future, a serious approach to power will demand/require that we have some paid staff.

We want to take the next two months to discuss this fully in the chapter on Slack, so that we can work out details, make adjustments and look for flaws. At the July chapter meeting, we can make a decision on whether an administrative position is a good idea or there is another direction we can take.

The future of our movement is bright, but not without challenges as we build our working class, multi-racial movement for socialism.

By Kip H