“Socialist Summer School”
By David Duhalde – National Organizer
The 2007 Socialist Summer School was held at Local 1199 SEIU Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Center in New York City, August 10-12, 2007. This was the most promising and exciting gathering in my four years as a member of the Young Democratic Socialists. There was triple the attendance at this year’s conference compared to our previous gatherings. The demographics reflected the growth and vibrancy of YDS. In addition to the genuinely multi-class, multi-racial milieu, chapter leaders came from as far away as Nevada and Colorado with delegations from red states such as Texas and Kansas.
Friday night featured a group discussion about YDS’s participation in the United States Social Forum and the importance of building social movements. The weekend’s emphasis was on internal socialist education and transforming our ideals into productive activism. YDS placed special attention on creating a program that gave all participants a solid foundation in democratic socialist perspectives. Workshops focused on our views of the Iraq War, Labor, electoral politics, gender issues, and race. All attendees were required to attend an interactive workshop on democratic socialism so they could become “tribunes for socialism.” Each workshop also had a concluding discussion on how to take our values and put them into action. This excellent balance of praxis set the foundation for our members’ sophisticated activism.
One of the most positive elements of the new YDS membership is our sense of unity. YDS chapters no longer want to be a loose collection of socialist clubs. We seek to coordinate national actions to give weight to our work. The continuation of our National Immigrant Rights Project and the adoption of a Student Debt campaign emphasizes our work to be the socialist voice in coalition politics. At this convention, YDS voted to create a Coalitions Coordinator position to emphasize the importance of us being a working partner in student and youth politics. Chapter members already have been planning actions with the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition and for the Student Labor Week of Action.
This unity also translated into the collective responsibility to make our organization better. The new YDS is placing special emphasis on building a group that people of color, working-class, women, and queer communities want to join. Anti-racism and Feminist Issues Committees have been reestablished, each with a specific project to create visibility for their work. The new Coordinating Committee, with a respective 50% representation of women, people of color, and working-class members, shall continuously support the efforts of productive anti-oppression work within YDS.
YDS cadre appreciate not only our new activist home, but also that the need for a socialist project such as YDS’s. From the Pink Tide in Latin America to our own domestic backlash against the neoliberal agenda, there is an important role for democratic socialists in politics today. A revived YDS will continue the tradition of being the voice for the left of the possible; in the streets, on campuses, and in our communities.
VIDEO FROM SUMMER CONFERENCE (2007)