Solidarity Culture




There’s been a lot of discussion in the steering committee and the chapter as a whole about solidarity culture. That’s because there is a great desire on the part of many chapter members to have useful, comradely debate and discussion about the very serious issues facing the working class and TCDSA. We want to be able to build power for the working class. 

Solidarity is a key concept in unions and the working class movement. In a union workers with many different points of view and ideas about the world face a common enemy – the boss. They also have a common interest in building a democratic, bottom up organization that will be effective in taking on the boss. A robust democratic solidarity culture was something that made many unions in the 1930s capable of winning big gains. In unions solidarity culture means not crossing a picket line, not turning your coworkers into the boss, having sometimes heated debates, but all from the point of view of having a united front against the boss. 

In the U.S. left cancel culture, call out culture and canceling has become popular and somewhat commonplace. This is the opposite of solidarity culture. It is essentially a “power over” method of functioning that narrows the possibility of debate and therefore arriving at the best course forward. It is meant to isolate and undermine. The ruling class of the U.S. has captured “identity politics” and turned what was originally meant to foster solidarity and collaboration into its opposite. When Bernie Sanders was running for President, the ruling class regularly used “identity politics” to take shots at him and try to destroy a movement they feared. They’re currently using identity politics to attack all those who oppose President Biden. We have all seen the argument that if you oppose Biden you must hate queer and trans people, immigrants, workers and women.

In TCDSA I believe the fight for solidarity culture means that we must constantly be striving to create democratic venues for discussion of our ideas and then implementation of our decisions. Our framework for all our discussions, debates and implementation of decisions must be that we have a common enemy – a vicious ruling class – and common vision for the future – socialism. This means EVERY comrade is a vital piece of our organization and needs to be treated as such.

In our discussions and debates we must carefully listen to the views of others. In debates we need to respond to what is actually being said and not set up “straw men”. Our debates need to be free from personal attacks, negative characterizations and broad generalizations.

In our capitalist society racism, misogyny and anti-working class bias are real things that are also present in DSA. It would be impossible under capitalism for this not to be true. But that doesn’t mean we sweep them under the rug or ignore them when they arise inside our organization. That would be deadly to the effort to build an organization that is capable of bringing capitalism to an end. It would be deadly to the effort to build a multi-racial, all gender friendly, multi-nationality organization. But it also does not mean that comrades who exhibit these kinds of behaviors are evil trolls who must be smashed or canceled. It means comradely discussion and correction. In extreme situations we have a grievance committee that can help this process.

In September we will be holding our annual  chapter convention. We will be debating some highly charged issues. What is our stance in the November national election? How do we deepen our Palestine work? What place does mutual aid work hold in our chapter? What does an anti-fascist united front look like? There are many different opinions on all of these issues in our chapter. Being civil, even comradely while discussing these high stakes issues will not always be easy, but it will be a necessity. Solidarity culture will have to be woven into all of it.  

By Kip H

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