#YDS16 Conference Review

By Louis Messina

The 2016 national YDS Winter Conference, aptly titled “Generation Left: Millennials Building the Next Socialist Movement”, was a powerful demonstration of the widespread excitement and motivation that is growing in today’s Left, especially among its youth leaders. The conference was held at the MayDay Community Center in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn from February 12 to 14th. The event served as a successful forum for education, networking, and camaraderie of over 100 young activists and socialists.

As to be expected, some of the weekend was focused on the Sander’s campaign, and what we, as young socialists can do to show our support. The main topic for discussion at the conference, however—and the Berning question in everyone’s minds—was, of course: “What comes after the campaign?” The opening plenary of the conference, titled “Building on Bernie: What Comes Next”, sought to address this question. Co-sponsored by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, and moderated by Moumita Ahmed, from People for Bernie, this exciting session set the tone for the rest of the conference. Speakers from Jacobin Magazine, Rosa Luxemburg, College Students for Bernie, as well as the We need Bernie Committee of the DSA, addressed a packed room—filled with socialists, young and old—who were more than happy to fill all available space. Each speaker discussed what their organization was doing to help the campaign, and how they were using it as a means to build up the socialist movement. The plenary provided a demonstration to all who attended, of the multiple different ways in which we as young socialists can get involved in educating the public and garnering support for the DSA and for socialism in general. In addition, many informative workshops, plenaries, and even casual conversations, addressed the true impact of the Sanders Campaign, and how we should use it as a means to a greater end, by building the DSA, and building the next socialist movement.

Though the YDS winter conferences never lack fun and excitement, they are essential to the growth of our organization, as they always provide high quality discussion and opportunities for education to both new members, and seasoned veterans. I was able to attend a wide variety informative workshops and plenaries over the weekend that branched out from the normal Sanders rhetoric, which many of us are already well versed in. Among my personal favorites were two workshops, one of which was entitled “Fighting the Neoliberal University”, and the other, “Coalition Work and Solidarity”. The first of these, “Fighting the Neoliberal University” was of particular interest to me, as my own chapter is discussing the possibility of a campaign for workers rights for those employed by our university. The workshop provided valuable information about some of the challenges and strategies of running such a campaign. Each speaker provided helpful commentary and tips, and were able to answer all of my detailed questions. Other topics of discussion included: Gender and Sexuality, Socialist Feminism, Starting a YDS Chapter, Alternative Labor Organizing, and Climate Change and Capitalism—All of which are important aspects of our organization and our political movement.

In many ways, the Sanders campaign has already sparked the next socialist movement, but it doesn’t stop there. It is up to us to continue being social justice activists, continue speaking out against capitalism and the systems of oppression which it creates, continue campaigning for socialist candidates, and continue feeding the fire. This conference was evidence of the desire for change that already exists in our nation’s youth. With so many people feeling the Bern, we must seize this opportunity to create a red hot political revolution.  

Louis Messina is a YDS member and student at Sewanee University.


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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)