This report from YDSA’s elected leadership, the National Coordinating Committee, was prepared for the Winter 2021 print issue of The Activist.
The past year has been packed with historical moments that have drastically changed our world — and our organizing terrain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left a permanent imprint on society. The pandemic has forced working class people to face the contradictions of capitalism in a severe way everyday as our government responded to the crisis by putting profit over the lives of millions. We responded to the crisis as a socialist organization should: by pointing out the contradictions and laying out a clear path to building power to improve conditions for the working class. We organized campaigns on our campuses across the country to stop tuition hikes, get PPE for students and workers, and more!
As some of us lived in isolation for weeks and processed our quickly changing lives, police brutality raged on. The Black Lives Matter movement exploded once more after the murder of George Floyd sparked hundreds of spontaneous mass protests across the country. We joined the tens of thousands of people filling city streets in protest of police brutality. After the protests died down, we continued organizing and many of our chapters began defund police campaigns at their schools.
The presidential election, and the replacement of Trump with Biden has slightly shifted our strategy. Bernie’s campaign raised expectations and taught us what a president could do for the working class. The federal government is now ever-so-slightly friendlier to student debt cancellation and more accessible public higher education.
Trump encouraged his supporters to lead an attempted coup. Although this anti-democratic stunt did not seriously challenge state power, the events at the Capitol on January 6th led many of us to ask, “How do we stop the rising fascist movement?” The appeal of fascism is due to the failings of the neoliberal state. To truly fight fascism, we need to win real, material change to drastically improve the lives of working-class people. The answer is that the fight for democracy is the fight for the mass organization of workers. We must build more militant, democratic unions, and that’s why we are organizing national rank-and-file schools: to provide students and workers with the tools they need to organize as workers and build more democratic unions from the bottom-up.
The crises we have faced in the past year has also led to unprecedented growth: YDSA now has over 126 chartered chapters and 60 organizing committees that are in the process of becoming official chapters. The past few months, we’ve been hard at work changing how our national organization operates to catch up with our growth. Through all of the debate and voting at our annual convention this past summer, our members — you — have made it clear that we want to build an organization that helps recruit, train, and organize lifelong socialist organizers. To that end we have developed national committees that have taken on ambitious organizing projects like never before: the National Political Education Committee, the National Labor Committee, and a new National Organizing Committee.
As we enter a new political moment under the Biden administration, we also decided to launch a national Student Debt Cancellation Campaign. We are organizing nationally to pressure President Biden to cancel all student debt via executive order. We’ve formed a field committee that is organizing bi-weekly phone banks every Monday and Thursday to collect petition signatures and bring more people into our movement for a better world. We’re building a Labor for Student Debt Cancellation coalition that includes union members and leaders from across the country who are willing to organize alongside us for full student debt cancellation. We will also be coordinating direct actions with our chapters across the country to continue to put YDSA at the forefront of the fight for College for All.
The fight for socialism continues! Thank you for your commitment to YDSA, the socialist movement, and your participation in the struggle for working-class power.