Red Blizzard in the Big Apple

matt_and_alex.JPGYDS Cochairs Alex and Matt with Javi and Zac, representatives from our sister socialist party in Mexico

Throughout history, young people have kindled the flames of social movements. In the US, students initiated successful fights against Jim Crow and the Vietnam War, and the more recent struggles against neoliberal austerity in Greece, Quebec, and on Wall Street have had an undeniably youthful energy. In 2014, the leftward trajectory of youth in the United States is visible in the increasing membership and participation of students in the Young Democratic Socialists.

This President’s Day weekend, over 100 young activists from across the country braved a blizzard and bitter cold to converge on New York City for the annual YDS winter conference, “Beyond Capitalism: Activism and Ideas for the Next Left”. The conference included plenaries, presentations, and workshops to strengthen both the analytical and strategic acumen of YDS members, while also providing a welcoming environment to build a national community for young socialist activists.

[To check out a copy of the full program click here]

The kick-off plenary, ”New Directions in Feminism,” drew over 140 conference attendees and New York City community members to a discussion on the challenges and prospects of contemporary feminist thought. Writer Mikki Kendall was the featured speaker, and she emphasized the importance of the intersection of race and class with gender. Kendall was followed by Dangerous Minds writer and DSA National Political Committee member Amber Frost, who discussed the role of social media in modern feminism. Peg Strobel, a professor emerita of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a DSA NPC member, presented on the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union of the 1970’s, providing a historical context to current debates in feminism.

In Saturday morning’s plenary, “Democratic Socialism and Social Movements,” DSA Honorary Chair Frances Fox Piven and NPC member and DSA Vice Chair Joseph Schwartz introduced attendees to the political tradition of democratic socialism and the need to develop strategies to transform society within capitalism.

The final plenary, “Socialist Self Education,” brought socialist intellectuals Emahunn Campbell and Nichole Shippen together with Jacobin Magazine founder Bhaskar Sunkara and Dissent editor Sarah Leonard. This new addition to the winter conference was well received by conference attendees. Speakers discussed the influence of thinkers ranging from Karl Marx to bell hooks on their intellectual development.

The majority of the conference was composed of activist trainings and workshops on political education. Activist trainings focused on the nuts and bolts of organizing and offered practical advice for starting YDS chapters, transitioning leadership, tabling, and running campaigns. Political education workshops featured speakers who discussed a variety of political, social, and economic issues facing activists around the world, including racism in American politics, trans* inclusivity, the neoliberalization of the university, immigration, and precarious worker organizing. Introductory and advanced workshops on democratic socialism were also provided by YDS veterans. Caucuses for women, people of color, LGBTQ, and working class members along with caucuses for allies provided safe spaces for discussions on how to confront oppressive dynamics within the organization and at the conference.

solidarity_forever.jpgOne of the many highlights of the conference was a rousing rendition of Solidarity Forever led by Vassar YDS member and YDS Coordinating committee member Sarah Slichter

In contrast with previous conferences, the majority of the workshop and plenary speakers were either current or former YDS members. This set an important precedent. It’s our hope that by promoting the voices and ideas of YDSers and young DSAers, the national organization can play a stronger part in the intellectual development of socialist activists. Additionally, the presence of activists from Germany’s Social Democratic Party and Mexico’s Party of the Democratic Revolution at the conference gave attendees an appreciation of the international scale of the socialist movement.

This year’s conference was the strongest in recent years in terms of participation and content, and sets a standard for future conferences to live up to. More importantly, conference participants will go back to their chapters with a firmer grasp on theory and practice that will shape their campaigns against student debt and school privatization and for better conditions for campus workers.

David Roddy currently serves on the National Political Committee of DSA and is active in the Sacramento local. This article was originally published in slightly different form on the Democratic Left blog.


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published this page in News/Media 2014-03-31 14:29:26 -0400

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)