Beyond Capitalism: Activism and Ideas for the Next Left

Join us at our annual winter conference Friday, February 14th through Sunday, February 16th in NYC for a weekend filled with hanging out with other young socialists, workshops on politics and major social issues, and training on how to succeed as a student activist.

The conference is open to all students and young activists, regardless of whether you are a member of YDS or not.

Click here to register for the YDS Winter Conference today!

Scroll down for an introduction to the conference, the conference program, and Frequently Asked Questions.



2013 was a big year for social movements. We watched and joined low-wage workers striking for a living wage, thousands marching for justice for Trayvon Martin, DREAMers fighting for education justice, and LGBTQ people and allies making major advances for marriage equality. 

YDS activists were there. For example, YDS activists organized campaigns at UC Davis and Vassar College in solidarity with campus workers struggling for their rights. At Sewanee University, YDSers joined campuses across the country as they mobilized to fight against anti-immigrant hate speech. Our activists at William Paterson University trailed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and demanded he sign a bill guaranteeing in-state tuition to undocumented students. And Lindsey Wilson College activists organized a very successful discussion about the cuts to food stamps and collected food for their local food pantry.

All of these important achievements – and yet we’re still faced with all of the same big problems: the move to privatize public universities, like the University of California system, continues in full force, neoliberal economics have pushed whole cities like Detroit into bankruptcy, and more than 400,000 homes were foreclosed on last year. So what are the root causes of these problems? And what’s the solution?

It’s time to go beyond capitalism, to put forward an economic alternative and to fight back against racism, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. At YDS’s Winter Conference we’ll be talking about our structural analysis of oppression and an economic system that protects and enriches the powerful.

But having a stronger analysis of the problems we face is only half the struggle. We need strategies and solutions too. That’s why we’re also focusing our attention on these important questions: How do we build a stronger student movement? What’s the role of the left in politics today? What does our vision of democratic socialism – a society free of oppression and exploitation – look like?

We’re meeting in New York City this February to ask tough questions and to start making a plan.

Will you join us? Register here!


Conference Program

Please note that the Friday night location is different from the conference location on Saturday and Sunday.


Friday February 14th 

At Henry Winston Unity Hall, 235 W. 23rd Street 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011

6:00 pm     Registration at Henry Winston Unity Hall
7:00 pm     Plenary

  • New Directions in Feminism, with Mikki Kendall, Peg Strobel, and Amber Frost

8:30 pm     End of Day 1


Saturday February 15th

At Julia Richman Educational Complex, 317 E 67th St, New York, NY 10065

9:00 am     Registration
10:00 am   Plenary

  • Introduction to Democratic Socialism and Strategy, with Frances Fox Piven and Joe Schwartz

11:30 am   Activism training block 1 

  • Introduction to Transformative Organizing

12:30 pm   Self-identified women’s caucus & allies group
1:15 pm     Lunch (provided by DSA)
2:15 pm     Political education block 1 (choose one workshop)

  • Racism and American Politics
  • Trans* Inclusivity
  • Introduction to Democratic Socialism
  • Neoliberalism and the University

3:15 pm     Self-identified LGBTQ caucus & allies group
4:00 pm     Break
4:30 pm     Self-identified people of color caucus & allies group
5:15 pm     Plenary

  • YDS and DSA Chapter Reports, with Steve Max

7:00 pm     Break for dinner (a list of local restaurants will be provided)
8:00 pm     Socialist Party! (address provided at the conference)


Sunday February 16th

At Julia Richman Educational Complex, 317 E 67th St, New York, NY 10065

9:00 am     Registration
10:00 am   Plenary

  • Socialist Self-Education, with Bhaskar Sunkara, Emahunn Campbell, Nichole Shippen, and Sarah Leonard

11:30 am   Working class caucus & allies group
12:15 pm   Activism training block 2 (choose one workshop)

  • Campaigning and Strategy
  • Chapter Building
  • Community Organizing
  • Leadership Development

1:15 pm     Political education block 2 (choose one workshop)

  • Transitions to Democratic Socialism at Home and Abroad
  • Precarious Worker Organizing
  • Immigration Politics and Action

2:30 pm     Adjourn / Lunch


Frequently Asked Questions

When and where is the conference?

The conference starts at 6 PM on Friday February 14th and ends at 3:30 PM on Sunday February 16th (Presidents’ Day Weekend).

On Friday night the conference is at the Henry Winston Unity Hall, 235 W. 23rd Street 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10011. On Saturday and Sunday it is at the Julia Richman Education Complex, 317 E 67th St, New York, NY 10065.

Click here for directions from area airports and tips on navigating the NYC subway system.

How do I register?

You can register here. You will then receive an email after with a link to get the rest of your registration information. Your registration is not complete until you have finished both steps of the process. If you do not receive a follow up email for some reason please email YDS National Organizer Neal Meyer at nmeyer (a)

Your registration fee covers the cost of lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday, coffee, conference materials, the cost of renting space, etc. 

What are the deadlines?

The deadline for early registration is Thursday, February 6. After that registration prices go up by $10. 

The deadline for submitting a travel scholarship request if you are travelling by plane is January 24thDeadline passed.

The deadline for submitting a travel scholarship request if you are travelling by bus or car is January 31stDeadline passed.

How do I request a travel scholarship?

The deadline for travel scholarship applications has passed.

How can I get free housing? Where will I be staying?

We encourage everyone to stay with any friends or family they may have in the New York City area. If you do not have someone you can stay with, we will find YDS and DSA members and supporters in the New York City area for the weekend who can host you. We have a limited number of spaces and priority will be given to those who register early. Last year however we were able to find housing for everyone, and if that space runs out we can recommend youth hostels in the NYC area.

Is food provided?

Coffee, tea and bagels will be provided on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Lunch will also be provided on Saturday.

What topics will this conference cover and what skills will I learn?

Check out the conference schedule (will be posted soon) for a full list of plenaries & workshops.

We will cover a large variety of issues at the conference, including: the basics of democratic socialism, workers’ rights, student debt, socialist feminism, access to higher education, LGBTQ movements, challenges of the Left, racial justice, and the economy.

We will also have skills-based workshops for campaign planning, starting chapters, running meetings, leadership development, transitioning leadership, training others, and making strong asks.

What about caucuses and ally groups?

Caucuses are an important part of the YDS conference. Caucuses and ally group meetings are safe, open spaces to facilitate discussion and activism and to ensure that the dynamics of the conference are open and welcoming. Caucuses are based on self-identity and include a Self-identified Women’s Caucus, People of Color Caucus, LGBTQ Caucus, and Working-class Caucus. Ally groups meet simultaneously to their respective caucuses and involve trainings and discussion about how to be strong allies in the fight against oppression.

Still have questions?

Email Neal Meyer, YDS National Organizer, at nmeyer (a) for more information.

Click here to register for the conference!

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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)