The BDS WG’s Dechartering and the Long Game in DSA

Ken Barrios
2 min readMar 19, 2022

I remember the 2020 Jacobin article by Dustin Guastella. For me, that article about “shedding fringe positions” was the first insight into what DSA’s right-wing was going to cohere around. 2yrs later, Baskar has repackaged this as “hyper politics”, Ramsin as “ultraliberalism”.

Leo Casey’s “Whither DSA?” article is the most explicit call to arms for DSA’s right-wing, building off the other points. For him, it’s “ultralefts” that are the problem.

The polarization seems to be a pathological fear that the left-wing of DSA will drag it down. This fails to note that the org exploded because of Bernie, not DSA’s politics or activity. Just as the tide lifted DSA, its recession is pulling it down. But scapegoats are needed.

Interestingly, the pathological fear is also that the abolitionists and overall left wing of DSA are somehow secretly “anti-electoral”. In spite of the fact that many of us have participated directly in electoral politics.

We should have predicted that the first sign of DSA’s shift to the left, its embrace of BDS, would also be the first thing to go. Politicians regularly side against Palestine, so of course, the BDS WG couldn’t stay because it would be a regular thorn in the electoral project.

At least, it would be a regular thorn if DSA’s approach to electoral politics was going to be top-down and essentially mimicking the Democratic Party. It’s constant backing away from left-wing positions, reliance on backroom deals, etc. Claiming easy victories, etc.

If we’re going to let the BDS WG get shutdown for challenging “parliamentary cretinism” (to quote Engels), then any number of us are next. Especially us abolitionists. This is either the start of an open internal struggle or the start of a *collective escape plan* for the left-wing.

One way or another, I bet that the attack on the BDS WG is only the start. Testing the waters for the right-wing to see what they can get away with. That’s why they had the petition conveniently ready to publish as soon as the NPC went belligerent. They’re counting their numbers.

We should be counting ours. DSA wasn’t always a big deal. Orgs rise and fall. The question is: who have you met, built trust with, and would you build your own org together? We can have an abolitionist socialist org of our own. Not overnight. But we can do it if we have the vision.


UPDATE 03/19/22, 4:44pm: There is now a petition circulating to defend the BDS WG. Let’s count our own numbers. I signed on and I hope you do too.