The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the United States with over 70,000 members nationally. DSA’s members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing a democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics.
At the root of our socialism is a profound commitment to democracy, as means and end. DSA fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people, so that we can enact system change and build a better, socialist world. For example, we support:
- Medicare for All
- Environmental justice and a Green New Deal
- Strong unions and worker protections
- Defunding police and reallocating funds into communities
- Canceling student debt
- Housing as a human right
- Immigrant rights and abolishing ICE and detention centers
- Anti-imperialism and international solidarity
- Prison abolition
- Decreasing the influence of money in politics
- Electing democratic socialists to all levels of government
To learn more about Democratic Socialism, check out the Q&A page from the national DSA website.
How do I join?
In order to become an official voting member of DSA Los Angeles, you must be a dues-paying member of the the national Democratic Socialists of America. Dues are pay-what-you-can, but we recommend the $10 per month dues plan, as a portion of monthly dues go directly to the chapter to support our local organizing. All dues plans give you the same type of membership. You can pay your national dues here. For more info, check out our join page here. For FAQs about your membership and more, please see here.
OK, I joined. Now what?
Check out a DSA 101 on our calendar! DSA 101 is a two-hour presentation and discussion about what DSA is, our structure, theory of change and politics, and how to be more involved. It’s the number one recommended first even for DSA members, although you’re always welcome to drop in on other events listed on the calendar.
None of your campaigns address X? Does DSA-LA not support X?
Just because our chapter is not involved with something does not mean we are not interested in it. We only have so many people with so much time, and we have to make choices about what we can commit to. We always want to be doing more, but we want to do it well. We invite any member to take up areas of work we’re missing and help lead our chapter. As a democratic organization, a member is always empowered to bring up things that they think the chapter should consider, and to try to persuade and move people in a direction.
Aren’t you a party that’s in competition with the Democratic Party for votes and support?
No, we are not a separate ballot-line party. Like our friends and allies in the feminist, labor, civil rights, religious, and community organizing movements, many of us have been active in the Democratic Party. When we support political candidates for office, they usually run as Democrats, although we have also supported candidates running under third party tickets.
Doesn’t socialism mean that the government will own and run everything?
Democratic socialists do not want to create an all-powerful government bureaucracy. But we do not want big corporate bureaucracies to control our society either. Rather, we believe that social and economic decisions should be made by those whom they most affect.
Today, corporate executives who answer only to themselves and a few wealthy stockholders make basic economic decisions affecting millions of people. Resources are used to make money for capitalists rather than to meet human needs. We believe that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own and control them.
Social ownership could take many forms, ranging from worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives to government ownership, depending on the industry.
If so many people misunderstand socialism, why continue to use the word?
First, we call ourselves socialists because we are proud of what we are. Second, no matter what we call ourselves, conservatives will use it against us. Anti-socialism has been repeatedly used to attack reforms that shift power to working class people and away from corporate capital. In 1993, national health insurance was attacked as “socialized medicine” and defeated. Liberals are routinely denounced as socialists in order to discredit reform. Until we face, and beat, the stigma attached to the “S word,” politics in America will continue to be stifled and our options limited. We also call ourselves socialists because we are proud of the traditions upon which we are based, of the heritage of the Socialist Party of Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, and of other struggles for change that have made America more democratic and just. Finally, we call ourselves socialists to remind everyone that we have a vision of a better world.