Recently, the National Political Committee – the executive body – of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) dissolved their Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions Working Group by fiat, triggering a backlash from the rank and file membership for their undemocratic maneuver. As a result, a mass resignation is taking place. Here is a resignation letter from Christopher Sloce, the former co-chair of the Richmond, Virginia chapter of the DSA
The following is an address I planned on giving at the March General meeting of DSA. The meeting was postponed. I am posting it now as a letter:
Today is going to be my last meeting co-chairing the Richmond Democratic Socialists of America.
I didn’t expect this to be the case, as up until Friday the 18th, I had every intention on running for Steering again, as being Steering co-chair for the Richmond Democratic Socialists of America has been the greatest honor of my 29 years, as has my association with this chapter and organization despite the difficulties I have experienced.
However upon learning the DSA’s National Political Committee decision to decharter the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Working Group for its public criticism of the NPC’s choice to neither expel or censure Representative Jamaal Bowman for supporting Israel’s continued campaign of terror against the Palestinian people, I revoked all my current plans to run for Richmond DSA steering.
Someone may point to its temporary spot on the International Committee, or Thursday’s decision to re-establish the Working Group but as we’ve seen, nothing is safe as long as criticism cannot flow freely to the top, even the International Committee.
It should be noted with Thursday’s decision two things happened: the first being the original leadership of the Working Group is not put back in place with the second being because Matt Miller, in one of the most cowardly acts I’ve ever seen, resigned from the NPC after changing a “yes” to reestablishing the leadership to an abstain, meaning the vote split. You cannot be in a foxhole with someone who runs.
I too, am resigning, and refuse to be as much of a coward as Matt Miller. I will not be involved with the Democratic Socialists of America in any way until
- Jamaal Bowman is expelled. They say baby steps and talk about how he can be pushed, but then he turns around and explicitly tells you he supports the Iron Dome. Other progressive politicians have their foibles, but Bowman proves how meaningless of a label progressive is.
- all NPC members voting “yes” towards dechartering resign and are banned from national leadership for gross violations of our democratic principles
- the BDS working group charter is re-established and remains the autonomous body it was designed to be, with the original leadership in place
I love all of my comrades who will stay and struggle to make things right. But my loyalty is to the oppressed people of the world, not to an organization, not to a representative, not to Washington’s bullets put in apartheid guns. My choice is clear.
I have never served that cause of the world’s oppressed than today, telling you I cannot be in this organization while I tell you the classes in the imperial core cannot free themselves while the multitude is branded, killed, and ridiculed.
I have put five years of work into this organization because I believed it would best advance the battle against capitalism, against imperialism, against colonialism, against all oppression. It cannot advance these battles in its current juncture.
I refuse to legitimize Palestinian bloodshed for the benefit of well-heeled connections to Washington. I repeat: my loyalty is to the oppressed people of the world.
I have learned more from the fight against colonialism, taken up by comrades stronger than me, than I have in any school. This fight has been one against my own internal prejudices being born into the belly of the beast where now I live and survive amongst its entrails.
Regarding those internal prejudices, a story comes to mind. When I was at VCU, as an English major, I took a class called “The Ends of the British Empire”. It was this class where I was introduced to post-colonial thought. The embarrassing admission is I took it because I had to. I made a C. But it changed my life.
During this class, I encountered a book called A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid. Jamaica Kincaid, if you’re not familiar, is an Antiguan-American writer who wrote in this book about the effects of British colonialism on Antigua, particularly in its tourism industry.
This is an angry book. Schooled in American literary thought, I thought any show of emotion was against the clean prose I was taught held literary value. So I said this in class, and I got more and more angry myself, and I made it known. And a black student looked at me, and she said, quite softly, “Are you mad?”
I was mad. But I kept reflecting on why I was mad. And it began to click more and more. Jamaica Kincaid laid down her anger righteously. I was mad because I was a subject of anger for once. This is exactly what the NPC is doing. They are punishing you and everybody else who dares stand for Palestinian rights because they are mad that they were questioned. This is the case for 52% of the NPC with 48% voting against.
That book, A Small Place, has stuck with me. As I watch my home region of Appalachia be used to mine bitcoins, this coming after those miners who made the lights come to make an option like Bitcoin mining even possible, now wracked with opiate addictions because of their injuries.
We now see it becoming a blighted landscape where nothing grows straight and where everything is flattened to extract continuous profit, even mountains. And when I think of this I don’t think only of American poverty, but I think of the global South because we are all brothers in how our labor and resources are extracted.
And I think of how in 1921, gas and bombs used on the working class in Europe were used on Appalachian miners in order to get them to back to work, and of the actions of United Fruit, 1928, firing upon striking workers in Colombia. The commonality beyond labor versus capital was American guns versus the people of the world. These scars are central to my politics.
Now that same Caterpillar equipment I saw parked in those old mountains as the detritus of capital, extraction slowly becoming more and more unprofitable, has found its use in Palestine as weapons of war. If the chauvinists I’ve had to share the air with think Caterpillar equipment only becomes destructive out of American context, I can assure you, it does not. We are all bound by capitalism. The small places may have different cultures and creeds, but they are still at the behest of imperialism.
I am from a small place, and it is about fucking time I start acting like it.
DSA has always had to stand between loving its class or its country more, and it has chosen its country at this juncture.
Until it chooses its class, I choose to resign.
Until it chooses the multitude over the few, I choose to resign.
Until it chooses democracy over apartheid, I choose to resign.
Until it chooses socialism over capitalism, I choose to resign.
There will not be a drop of sweat from my brow wrung to legitimize the character and political assassination of our comrades in Palestine, America, and the world–and in Palestine literal assassinations– by this liberal mafia that’s taken over the NPC. Their names: Kristian Hernandez, Justin Charles, Jose Alejandro La Luz, Ashik Siddique, Gustavo Gordillo, Sabrina Chan, the aforementioned Matt Miller, Gilman Bagga, and Sydney Ghazarian.
It is these names I ask loudly: are you mad? Did it hurt this much? And I ask it from a small place, in solidarity with the other small places. We will not exist for the benefit of big places any longer. Find your own help. Mine your own coal, file your own mailers, do your own grunt work for once, because we have a world to build.
It will take time, but one day, everyone who voted to disband this working group will look back at themselves and see a fraud staring back. They may only see it in glimpses but they’ll die more every time they do.
And I choose to wake up in the morning and see a reflection of someone who fought for small places and the multitude, not the right of Jamaal Bowman to get free staffing and electoral work done by an organization of unpaid interns.
From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. And we can choose to free ourselves or exist in the bonds of oppression. When our victory comes only then can we redeem the dead souls in Sheikh Jarrah, Santa Marta, and Blair Mountain.
Today, we keep them in the purgatory of history, in the constant flames of these issues and fights still continuing. We will only achieve victory through our solidarity with these moments and currents. If we do not recognize this, we will lose.
I quote now a Kentucky lawyer who assisted with the greatest revolution in American history: “If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.” The National Political Committee’s majority vote has chosen another path, one I cannot take. They have chosen suicide. I choose to live through all time.
Thank you all.
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