The Activist is a publication by and for volunteer organizers in the Young Democratic Socialists of America, edited by members of YDSA’s National Political Education Committee and featuring the writing of YDSA activists from chapters across the country. Early editors and contributors included Jacobin contributor and NPC member Chris Maisano, Jacobin founder and editor Bhaskar Sunkara, former DSA Deputy Director David Duhalde, and 2019-20 executive editor Halsey Hazzard. The original Activist ran its last issue in Fall 2017, but the 2019 summer convention passed a resolution to revive the publication, based on the idea that “there exists within YDSA an acute need for a unifying, engaging, and thoughtful publication of the socialist youth perspective, particularly from the most marginalized youth in the United States; for political dialogue and theoretical development within YDSA on topics including organizational culture, tactics, and strategy, which is guided by the real experiences of organizers on the ground; and for a means to develop a shared community and camaraderie by promoting and institutionalizing respectful and rigorous political debate as an integral function of YDSA.”
YDSA’s membership has skyrocketed since the Bernie bump in 2016, and with now more than 120 chapters, the organization has a wealth of members with a variety of experiences, perspectives, and skills. The goal of The Activist is to bring those perspectives together, to heighten the level of political conversation in YDSA, and to encourage comradely discussion and debate between organizers across the country. By publishing chapter reports, political discussion, and commentary on the state of our organization, the left, and the world around us, The Activist aims to create spaces where YDSA members can come together to deepen our camaraderie, refine our strategy, and build the future of the largest student socialist organization in the country. We have a lot to learn from each other, and we have a world to win.
A few times a semester, The Activist will send out a newsletter featuring short reports on campaigns and actions that YDSA chapters are currently organizing. These will also be collected and posted on The Activist blog (see below). These reports should be 100-300 words, provide a general outline of a particular campaign or action, and offer a brief reflection on its progress, success, and anything you’ve learned in the process.
To submit a chapter report, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to reports from chapters, The Activist blog will also feature longer and more detailed articles on YDSA and the socialist movement more generally. Some of these will be collected in our semesterly print publication. These articles should be aimed at encouraging political debate and discussion among YDSA organizers on topics relevant to the organization; critically evaluating our strategies and tactics by assessing work done in our chapters; and fostering a culture of political education more generally throughout the organization.
The Activist is a multi-tendency democratic socialist publication open to submissions from all YDSA members. Articles do not necessarily reflect the position of the organization.
Articles should be between 800-1200 words, but we will consider shorter/longer submissions (within reason).
To submit an article, please e-mail email@example.com. Once you submit your work, an editor will get in touch with you and start the editorial process. We won’t be able to publish everything, but we are absolutely willing to work with writers to help develop their ideas. If you have an idea for an article and would like to discuss it with editors, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Activist also accepts creative mixed-media submissions. If you want us to consider an illustration, poem, painting, podcast, video, or other work, please send it to email@example.com with “Media Submission” in the subject line.
Sunday Hot Takes
Starting March 7th, 2021, will be publishing weekly writing by our editors as well as YDSA members from around the country. We hope to increase the number and diversity of writers as well as the number and diversity of topics that The Activist covers. Contributions should cover current events, international issues, debates within the socialist movement, culture, or anything else — as long as it’s political and related to socialism. Any and all YDSA members are invited to submit contributions, which should be no more than 500 words and e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Activist magazine
The first print issue of The Activist was published for the YDSA Winter Conference on February 15th, 2020. The second print issue of The Activist was published for the 2021 YDSA Winter Conference and can be read here, online or in pdf.
If you’re interested in contributing illustration or graphic design to the print issue, please email email@example.com. (Unfortunately, we are a volunteer publication and cannot offer compensation, but your help will bring us that much closer to liberating us all from the yoke of wage labor!)
The Activist hosts writing workshops and political discussions. Watch this space for more information, coming soon!
Griffin Mahon, University of Virginia – Executive Editor
Elias Khoury, University of Michigan – Managing Editor
Finn Cooley, Texas Christian University
Taylor-Raye Council, Old Dominion University
Ruy Martinez, Harvard University
Andrew Pfannkuche, Illinois State University