Addendum for National Electoral Strategy Proposal

  • Posted on: 29 January 2018
  • By: thecollective

via the DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus

National Electoral Committee has created a document to guide DSA electoral strategy, LSC has built an Addendum that addresses holes in the document and centers the creation of bottom up libertarian municipalism through community organizing and building direct participatory democracy. This document will be given to NPC members to consider adding to the NEC document this weekend. If it is not adopted, we will revisit it and build our own electoral document off of it.

"Electoral strategy should focus on and follow from building local power through community organized institutions”


  • Socialist electoral politics must prioritize direct, participatory democracy and encourage existing local neighborhood institutions to democratize or build new institutions where needed.
  • These institutions can exercise a dual power, contesting the power of the capitalist State while simultaneously generating local, accountable leadership that can become candidates for local office with a solid base of support.
  • Existing institutions such as block associations have large material impacts on the everyday lives of Americans. Successful socialist movements are built block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and are intimately tied to the communities they are organizing.
  • Transferring power to the local community should be a top priority for a DSA local.

Building Dual Power

National Electoral Committee should recognize the residential community as the primary political-economic unit from which electoral power should be built and developed. From this basis, electoral campaigns should grow from the organized power of local communities. Socialist electoral politics should empower communities to pursue direct participatory democracy, with a particular focus on empowering the most marginalized. Concurrently a medium and long term strategy of devolving existing State power to these participatory grassroots institutions must be pursued.

Where suitable local institutions exist, such as block associations, tenants unions, homeowner associations (HOA’s), neighborhood clubs, assemblies, and town halls, efforts should be concentrated on helping to transform them into participatory democratic institutions. Where they do not exist, the goal should be for DSA members to create such institutions in the communities where they themselves live. Bringing this about will be different for each DSA local, depending on the highly variable needs and material conditions of each local context.

This organizing model aims to build dual power, that is, an oppositional power base rooted in local, radically democratic institutions that are an expression of the self-governance of communities. Genuine dual power can be built only through the direct, engaged participation of the local community in these institutions. These institutional community structures can generate candidates out of their own base who will be accountable to the communities they represent and open further space and create infrastructure for their further empowerment. To the extent that engaging in formal electoral politics is deemed necessary, those campaigns and the candidates are put forward to make structural changes and implement non-reformist reforms that reinforce the power of working-class communities.

Our grounding example is the block association as it currently exists in most American cities. Block associations regularly organize community events, discuss infrastructure concerns, and even deal with security problems at the local level. In choosing this model, we want to redefine electoral work to incorporate the most local level of governance, which is often overlooked but has a substantial material impact on the lives of almost all Americans. The basis of all successful socialist and labor parties in the history of the 20th century was built block-by-block by neighborhood organizers who intimately knew the communities in which they lived. This model involves organizing within the community and listening to the needs and aspirations of its constituents while stitching together a political unit by building solidarity between individuals. The electoral strategy proposed here can re-establish these structures either by transforming present community institutions into participatory and democratic ones or by creating them where they don’t yet exist.

Radically democratic community institutions networked in a democratic confederalist model to steadily supplant capitalist State institutions can become the governing bodies of the new, socialist society. Such a movement has the capacity for radically reshaping the political terrain of the United States to advance the goals of democratic socialism. Through confederation, organized communities can extend their power into challenging higher levels of political authority with accountable socialist candidates.

This organizing process builds the base that brings its own momentum for the broader national electoral strategy and supplanting the capitalist State. The DSA local, serving as a center for organizing and networking between community institutions, facilitates each residential community in building dual power, and runs electoral campaigns when appropriate that are accountable to the communities which socialist politicians claim to represent.

Devolving power to the local community should be a top priority for a DSA local. Ultimately, the DSA electoral strategy should build toward socialist political campaigns which are staffed and run wholly by local, participatory institutions in which the DSA local is embedded. This all being said, until dual power is built that is capable of such a feat, local electoral working groups must recognize that DSA’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders’ national campaign opened the organization to a flood of newly radicalized people who have since become socialist organizers. This historical shift should shape DSA’s endorsement process to recognize and center the potential propaganda value of any candidate running for state or national level office.

Legislating the reforms necessary for empowerment of local communities through direct democracy should be top priority when drafting platforms and legislative priorities. Examples of such legislation should include but are not limited to ballot initiative reform, participatory budgeting, instituting direct voter recall of elected officials, HOA reform, supporting unions, expanding worker ownership and control, land trusts, addressing local ecological concerns, police accountability, and prison abolition initiatives. Any endorsed candidate should thus be committed to building, growing, and supporting these priorities.

Anonymous Comrade

Anonymous Comrade


Noooo not again

Why here tho?

This is the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the DSA. "Libertarian Socialist" is a synonym for "anarchist".

no its not. you're confused and don't know much about anarchism. Sorry not sorry

Would be more accurate to say that a century ago, those were synonyms and nowadays, at the best of times, there's important nuances around individual autonomy that create problems for party socialism .... OR

You're dealing with dumbass Americans who don't even realize they've been conditioned to freak out when you even mention socialism. (Hint: Usually the latter)

just shows how shallow your understanding of history, anarchism, and socialism is. Go back to your electoral politics? I know it hurts to be confronted with ideas different than your own. I know you want anarchism to fit into your socialism label so much. Explain it away, if you can.

You're such a reactionary dumbass. I'm not a socialist, in no way support electoral politics and generally not even close to the strawman you're used to shrieking at. Just know my history, is all. For some reason, that triggers you ;)

you mean *reactive* (as in knee-jerk, like a triggered person as you correctly point out), not “reactionary,” which refers to someone who promotes the return to a more structured (i.e. hierarchical) social order. reactionary is the opposite of progressive. please learn the difference

I actually did mean reactionary, as in hysterical red baiting is typical of REACTIONARY politics in the US. Elsewhere in the english-speaking world, you'd be hard pressed to find somebody who assumed all that nonsense about me just because I made a relatively objective statement about anarchist history.

Are you the same asshole or some other random pedant chiming in?

random pedant who’s also an asshole, but only to those who refuse to accept that history is not static. already in 1905 socialists had attacked anarchists and non-statist revolutionaries in mexico and in russia. and then in germany in 1918-19, then in russia again 1918-1921, in china 1920s and culminating in shanghai in 1927. by the 1930s, only a minority of anarchists would say they were socialists. 75 years later only anarcho-leftists in their dotage still hang on to the label “libertarian socialist” and mostly as a way to avoid the horror-inducing label ANARCHIST. after a century of deception, manipulation, suppression, and murder, it’s high time that anarchists catch up with what the socialists have been doing and saying. they are always and everywhere in favor of the state, police, and prisons. there’s nothing for anarchists to gain from even the most tangential relationship to them.

and you’re still using “reactionary” incorrectly. “hysterical red baiting” may be one particular characteristic of american reactionaries, but liberals have done the same thing over the years. fascists do it too, but not all reactionaries are fascists. you should learn the difference between definitions and characteristics. how’s that for pedantry?

Absolutely ridiculous. Still doubling down on your bullshit? Sounds like you don't like conceiving of yourself as a reactionary. That's the only interesting thing about your post.

Along with the fact that you just can't get your head around the simplest idea that all this libertarian thinking comes from the same origins. The only difference is the HOW, it's the same fucking WHY. I can't make it any simpler … it's very possible you're just too dense for this stuff windbag.

Ok, lets separate these two issues. I'll concede on the first-point: I straw-manned you. I don't know your positions. But what about the second issue- our dispute over history?

You claimed that 100 years ago, anarchism and socialism were the same thing. A quick search for "anarchy 1918" brought up this quote: "The Cheka, the Communists' secret police, attacked Anarchist centers in Moscow on 12 April 1918 and then attacked Anarchist centers in other cities"...

So how were they the same if the future police of the socialist republic is attacking them?

Terrible argument … of course there was bolshevik bullshit going on. That's not news and REMEMBER, I was never defending party socialism in the first place. But before the revolution, libertarianism/socialism/anarchism hadn't picked up all the baggage you're unable to get over today. They were all interwoven in the labour movements and the concepts were still being defined.

Note: this doesn't mean that they are in fact, the same thing and I'm not saying that either.

looks like we've managed to provoke each other, but to what end? I don't know if either of us learned anything. I still don't really understand your position.. but have a great weekend anyway.

OMG I thought Stirner hammered the last nail home in the coffin of libertarian socialism and sent them on their way to spookdom, but the stubborn post-Marxists just won't fade away,.,

Lol you know Stirner died decades before the heyday of Libertarian Socialism right? Hard to hammer nails from the grave.

That's Le Way and he doesn't know much! Just keeps trying to graft Stirner on to McCarthyism because he's a halfwit reactionary troll.

Well one could be anal pedantic and say that 'heydays' are not the original seeds of an idea, and that the original political concept which inspired Libertarian Socialism took roots from the writings and ideas of Jean Jacque Rousseau, who preceded Stirner by almost a century, You know, all that "All men are born equal "and "All are born free but we all live in chains". But applied in that sickening sentimental Romanticism of that era following the Renaissance without any clue to individual agency and will power and blanketed with X-tian guilt and cravings for forgiveness. This is libertarian socialism minus all the idealist Utopianist fantasies driving it, bereft of the red claw of Nature, but desiring the lamb to share it's pasture with the lion.,.

Why not just get some DSAs and some libertarian party types and just create a breakaway org of non caucus libertarian socialists. This is just pathetic to watch and read.

From what I’ve seen of the libsoc caucus they refuse to be associated with anarchism. I’ve never once seen the term in anything they have written. I understand that given they are attempting a electoral route they might want to rebrand, but wouldn’t that just make them socialists who care about freedom in some way and therefore closer to autonomist Marxists than anarchists? I just figured it was an attempt by DSA to pick up disaffected Libertarian Party members who have lost their champion Ron Paul.

From their "Bylaws" on their website ( )

"We take libertarian socialism to encompass those parts of the socialist movement (including syndicalists, council communists, anarchists, cooperativists, and municipalists, among many others) which have historically seen the surest path to socialism as residing in the creation of independent institutions in civil society that give the working class and ordinary people direct power over their lives."

Is that you reach them by creating a distinct org not being part of some branch of a party that has not hope in hell of power.

I myself obviously reject this orientation but for the sake of a greater anarchist ecosystem I would actually like to see the return of a plumbline libertarian position that could supplant the current Rand-Rothtbard worldview. It could be were some 21st century De Cleyre to be would get their start with greater improvements to come.

Being a rump of DSA is not the way to do it, get the interesting ones from there as well as the LP types and see what distinct org can come about from there.

Also, go with orange and black not communist colored red and black.

I agree, I do not support it but see the obvious answer here as quite obvious and likely to be fairly successful.

Obviously all these kids that hate capitalism have to go somewhere but you can't negate without an affirmation if you want it to go anywhere.

Aw fuck these liberals are like the plague. Perhaps even worse than online tankies for how nicer they behave, yet equally aggressively recuperative to online anarchists.

That's how I see it. I actually think people like this can be useful though. Everyone's level of consciousness is different and some are in formal political continuums. One strategy and tactic where folks like this could be useful would be in the nullification movement to sever ties with federal structures and abolish laws. See this interview with Thaddeus Russell

Also go to orange and black and get those Russian collectivist communist colors out of it.

Anything that raises an Amendment X consciousness cannot be a bad thing, whilst exercising some Machiavellian strategy. The best tactic is independent self-sufficiency along the lines of the Amish model but utilizing modern media and communication technology to thwart the tendency towards isolation and stagnation of consciousness,.,

I essentially see the green colored anarchists becoming the secular age equivalent to the Amish and other groups like them. Essentially they will be part of that concrete element of humanity that rejects machineological metastasization.

I think being performatively consistent and effective relative to the particular consciousness is what matters. For instance I have more respect for a liberal who is pushing liberal limits on the cusp of becoming an anarchist then I do for someone like Cindy Millstein who is just an ossified anarchist. I would very much like to see a new orange and black movement that becomes a new gateway to greater anarchism and anarchy. This is how you get the new Tuckers and De Cleyres.

The new lateral mass information culture promises to incite/excite alternative creative experimental ventures and tip the demographic over to a miniature separatist culture functioning within the democratic republic. Definitely preferable to the Millstein wax model and other stagnant blueprint formulae which go against the desires of a majority of folk, and also, these diverse and regionally evolved sovereignties can exchange and develop unique marketing processes. Never a dull moment without the NannyState.,.

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