Recent Discussion of Closer Collaboration Among Socialist Groups

Recently, we have seen at least four expressions of the desire to coordinate and unify socialist activism in the U.S., including at least two major initiatives involving meetings of hundreds of people.

Mark Solomon published an article, “Whither the Socialist Left? Thinking the ‘Unthinkable,’” which led to a public meeting June 6, 2013, in New York City.[1] At this meeting, leaders of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), the Communist Party, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), and Jacobin magazine spoke.

Solomon’s vision is ambitious – a merger of left groups: “Speaking only for myself, I would like to see the creation of an entirely new organization. However, a total merger of organizations at this time can justly be viewed as utopian at best and naïve at worst. One must acknowledge the need for a patient process – for ongoing consultation, for gradual building of mutual comfort and mutual confidence, for a possible stage of confederation or alliance. Crucially, joint activities to defeat austerity and the right wing offensive constitute a sound basis at this juncture on the road to convergence.”

Tanya Lee and Steve Williams, Bay Area community activists, have published a report, “More than we imagined: Activists’ assessment on the movement and the way forward,” and were featured speakers at the Radical Organizing Conference in Boston on August 10, 2013, where most organizers and participants were union or community activists and women or people of color. They have announced an organizational initiative, LeftRoots, that will seek to build a more unified, left “movement of movements.”

Lee and Williams write, “We believe that one of the most central challenges facing social movements is the absence of a strong Left, and we think that the conditions exist for a re-emergence of an engaged and engaging one. We believe that we can help to build a new kind of Left for our times, rooted in on-the-ground social movements; a Left that is compelling, relevant, rigorous, and visionary. This is partially true because so many of the participants we interviewed identified their politics as Left, but so many also mentioned feeling lost about how they might develop as a Leftist. So many of us are deeply rooted in the communities and sectors that have a vested interest in building a powerful movement of movements. For too long, we’ve been isolated. And yet, we keep plugging away, building the capacity of ordinary people to take control of our own destiny.”[2]

A third, smaller, initiative is offered by a group called, “Campaign for a United Socialist Party” (CUSP). This group published on August 23, 2013 an Open Letter to the American Left, stating, “Shouldn’t purity of program or method come second to actually establishing a mass socialist party that can pick up where Occupy left off, recruit the Millennial generation, and attract millions with a message of class anger?”[3] It called for regional unity oriented meetings “of the independent socialist left.”

A fourth suggestion for unification on the left is offered by Greg Pason, National Secretary of the Socialist Party, in an article, “Thoughts on Socialist Unity” dated August 25, 2013. Pason offers “some clear points where a larger coalition can be built.” These include: “Focus on a radical reform platform”; “Independent political action”; “Rejection of ‘Democratic Centralism’”; “Rejection of Vanguardism”; and “Focus on Education.”[4]

Pason’s vision is to “build dialogue with organizations that share our ‘neither liberalism nor Leninism’ ideology.” He writes, for example, “There is absolutely no positive benefit for compromising with organizations that continue to see the Leninist project as a model.” The Socialist Party defines itself as a multi-tendency party, and its organizational structure differs sharply from the strict political discipline required in groups that call themselves “democratic centralist.”

In a future post, this writer will comment on the initiatives described above.

[1] “Whither the Socialist Left? Thinking the ‘Unthinkable,’” Portside, accessed August 28, 2013,“unthinkable”.

[2] “More than we imagined: Activists’ assessment on the movement and the way forward,” Ear to the Ground Project, accessed August 28, 2013,

[3] Open Letter, Campaign for a United Socialist Party, accessed August 28, 2013,

[4] “Thoughts on Socialist Unity,” The Socialist, accessed August 28, 2013,


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