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, and former DSA Deputy Director David Duhalde. 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 70 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.
The Activist Newsletter
Every month, 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.
Each month, we’ll be seeking articles inspired by discussion questions from the YDSA National Political Education Committee, but unrelated submissions are always welcome!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with “Media Submission” in the subject line.
The Activist Magazine
The first print issue of The Activist will be published for the YDSA Winter Conference on February 15th. Submissions to the print issue are due no later than December 31st, 2019.
The theme of the first print issue of The Activist is Socialist Organizing as Students. What unique advantages and obstacles do student socialist organizers face? How can socialist students build power on and off our campuses? What can we learn from the students and young people on the front lines of today’s most pressing struggles? If your article deals with these themes and you want to have it considered for the print publication, please check the box on the submission form.
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
Finn Cooley, Texas Christian University
Taylor-Raye Council, Old Dominion University
Elias Khoury, University of Michigan
Ruy Martinez, Harvard University
Andrew Pfannkuche, Illinois State University
Jack Zhang, University of Pennsylvania