Creeping Socialism

Maxine Phillips joined the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee about 40 years ago, before it became the D.S.A. in 1982.

“I was so impressed with how [a Catholic socialist] ran the meeting,” she remarked. It was “focused, and we had time budgeting, and we had goals, and we had a three-month plan. That kind of went against the popular image of socialists as just spending a lot of time sitting around talking.”

“There’s such a confusion in this country,” said Ms. Phillips. “In Europe, socialist parties were not supporting China or the Soviet Union, or any of the totalitarian regimes.”

David Reed, a millennial who serves as interim editor of the New York D.S.A.’s religious socialism website, joined the D.S.A. around 2012, after Googling “socialist groups in the United States.” … “I was trying to make sense of American politics and Catholic social teaching,” he told me. He found democratic socialism more compatible with church teaching than anything else he had read about.

Like Ms. Phillips, he believes that a lack of “baggage” distinguishes this spate of activism from the labor movement of the past 100 years. Young millennials and members of Generation Z have no memory of the Soviet Union.

“At this point, I’d be happy to have what they have in Sweden. But at a later point I’d be happy to have complete worker control.” The D.S.A. does not want Band-Aid solutions, she said, “but Band-Aids can help people. You can put something on a wound that can help it and then people can get stronger and they can fight for something better.”

“There’s a careful balance to be made that can be tricky at times,” said Mr. Niles. “Completely swearing off electoral cuts us off from an important avenue of power, but depending too much on it damns us to be co-opted and absorbed by the Democratic Party while not empowering communities and building leadership within our own ranks.”

—Brandon Sanchez, *America* [^1]