[WSMDiscuss] Fwd: The SDS, the DSA, and the Biden endorsement

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Wed Apr 29 19:54:41 CEST 2020

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The US in movement…, Politics in movement…, Strategies in movement…

[Merely the cut and thrust of those in movement ?  There’s a great deal at stake in the dramatically evolving situation in the US.  Here, an intervention, by a partisan :

The SDS, the DSA, and the Biden endorsement

Richard Greeman

            Thanks for sharing this with me and us, Richard.



> Begin forwarded message:
> From: Richard Greeman <rgreeman at gmail.com>
> Subject: SDS, DSA and the Biden endorsement
> Date: April 25, 2020 at 3:24:59 PM EDT
> To: Richard Greeman <rgreeman at gmail.com

Dear Friends,

Recently headlines were made when 66 self-described "leaders" of the 1960's "new left" group SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) published an open letter from "the Old New Left to the New New Left." It's purpose was to endorse Joe Biden and urging all of us who "yearn for a more just and equal social order" to "face facts" and "work hard" campaigning for Biden and the Corporate Liberal National Democratic Party. https://www.thenation.com/article/activism/letter-new-left-biden/ <https://www.thenation.com/article/activism/letter-new-left-biden/>

The signatories were aiming their barbs at "New New Left" represented by DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), which has recently risen to prominence and gained tens of thousands of members, promoting Bernie and AOC, and succeeded in placing democratic socialism back on the agenda for the first time in generations and giving a socialist political home to the rising anti-capitalist movement that began with Occupy in 2011. DSA has sound socialist principles and will be around after the November election (if it takes place!)

As a very old, pre-SDS, New Leftist and a present member of DSA, I would like to dip my oar into this teacup tempest about CAMPAIGNING for Biden and the Dems, the "soft" or "liberal" face of our corrupt, conservative, racist, imperialist, billionaire-run duopoly.

Please note: this is not about VOTING for the lesser of two evils, which our corrupt system inevitably obliges us to do. This is about actually ENDORSING the Dems, who in my time brought us the the Red Scare, the Loyalty Oath, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and years of nuclear terror. The very idea of giving money and ringing doorbells for the DNC (remember Chicago 1968?) turns my stomach.

Obviously, we're all going to vote AGAINST against Trump, so this is a non-issue. But as far as campaigning is concerned, it must be FOR our goals: the Green New Deal, Free College, No Voter Suppression, Medicare for all, saving the Post office and not for a corrupt Party and candidate that is against these goals and always has been. 

What's ridiculous about all this is the lockstep conformity with which the so-called "Left" is asked to sign on to campaigns to people who themselves can't be bothered to oppose Trump – all in the name of "we gotta oppose Trump." Excuse me, but I do read the news and have not yet heard anything anti-Trump coming out of the hypocritical mouth of Joe Biden, only criticism of Democrats to his left. Meanwhile, the Democrats in the House and Senate, are busy capitulating TO Trump, giving billions to save the banks and corporations and a symbolic pittance to the frontline workers, the poor and unemployed. 

To the extent that Bernie Sanders represented a movement, he led the progressive campaign for social justice that  "Our Revolution" ought to be mobilising its huge bankroll, mailing list and organizers to promote. By campaigning for these issues we will most effectively oppose Trump. As far as the election is concern, those who listen to us will vote against him, and vote for the latest worn-out party hack, holding their noses. 

Personal note. In the late Fifties I was a student activist, in YPSL, the Young People's Socialist League (the ancestor of DSA) along with Bernie Sanders.  I also worked with Columbia CORE and the Independent Committee Against the War in Vietnam and later, at first reluctantly, in SDS. Indeed, when SDS first appeared at Columbia and Dave Gilbert asked me whether we (the Independent Committee at CU) ought to join it, I said I was suspicious of the new group, given that SDS's sponsoring organisation (LID) had red-baited our YPSL campus socialist group at Yale, where I was an undergrad, and came with a lot of Cold War baggage. Our 1950's New Left represented a break with the Old Left that apologised for the Stalinist system, which had crushed the Hungarian soviets in 1956.

But the SDS new left had no sense of history, and so I was not surprised (albeit horrified) when after 1968 the self-appointed "leaders" of SDS switched Cold War sides and joined Mao's China which was conniving with Nixon to crush the Vietnamese rebellion.

History is important, and I attach a somewhat overlong but very accurate article on this point by my contemporary, the socialist historian Paul Le Blanc from New Politics magazine (which I have been writing for since the 60's). In it, Paul demolishes the historical analogies about 1919 and 1968, which in fact demonstrate the exact opposite conclusions of what the today's opportunist 66 repentant SDSers are arguing for.  His points are very instructive and worth considering.

https://newpol.org/an-all-hands-on-deck-moment-sixty-six-old-new-leftists-urge-support-for-joe-biden/ <https://newpol.org/an-all-hands-on-deck-moment-sixty-six-old-new-leftists-urge-support-for-joe-biden/>

Best wishes to all, Richard Greeman


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
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