Despite concerns about “triggering” crowd noise, the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, managed to get some business done at their annual convention in Georgia last weekend.
Among a raft of left-wing measures, DSA resolved to officially join the fight against “fascism” despite concerns over aligning with antifa. By a narrow 521-493 margin, the ascendant socialist organization voted in favor of creating an “anti-fascist working group” to put their “foot in the streets” against “fascism.”
“We can’t fight exploitation, white supremacy, or patriarchy without antifascist work,” explains Resolution #9, which creates the working group.
The proposal posted online does not explicitly mention antifa, a loose-knit movement that sees itself as resisting a supposed fascist resurgence, with violence if necessary. A reference was removed from an apparent draft of the resolution that called for: “Coordinating antifascist praxis with existing antifascist and community defense groups.”
DSA did not immediately respond to Pluralist’s request for clarification.
According to leftist Current Affairs writer Nathan Robinson, the socialists were bitterly divided by the measure, with both sides “pissed.”
“Proponents thought it was obvious that the DSA, as a group that was against fascism, should devote resources to figuring out how to stop fascism,” Robinson reported.
Meanwhile, he said: “Opponents believed it tied DSA too closely to the specific anti-fascist tendency known as Antifa, which could cause negative legal and safety consequences for DSA.”
Robinson recounted that one member bemoaned that the measure would thwarts his efforts “to organize in a very conservative area, where Antifa are regarded as literal terrorists. He could sell [Independent Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate] Bernie Sanders’ socialism to these people, he thought. He could not sell the idea of marauding black blocs.”
DSA versus antifa
DSA’s vote to form an anti-fascist working group came at a time when antifa has made headlines for violent activities.
Last month, an apparent antifa activist was shot dead while firebombing an ICE detention center in Washington state. In June, Andy Ngo, a Quillette editor and photojournalist, was hospitalized after being assaulted by masked demonstrators while covering an antifa rally in Portland, Oregon, one of the group’s favorite stomping grounds.
In both cases, Ngo and other critics condemned authorities for their permissiveness. They also slammed journalists and politicians, including Ocasio-Cortez, for allegedly turning a blind eye to the left-wing violence, or even fueling it.
President Donald Trump later in July tweeted that antifa could be declared a “major Organization of Terror.”
Meanwhile, even with its sometimes absurd-seeming divisions over wokeness, DSA has emerged as a force in mainstream U.S. politics. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan won election to the House in 2018 with the group’s support. She champions many of its positions, and vice versa.
“We’re here to win,” proclaimed DSA national director Maria Svart at the convention. “And at a grand scale, we want to transform society,”
In addition to the vote to form an antifascist working group, DSA resolved at the conference not to back another presidential candidate if Sanders loses in the primary. Members also voted to support the Green New Deal, universal childcare, the decriminalization of sex work and “open borders.”