Organization Trends

The Anti-American Left: Democratic Socialists of America

The Anti-American Left (full series)
Communophilism | IPS and the National Lawyers Guild
Democratic Socialists of America | Alliance for Global Justice
The War on Terror and Code Pink | Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Democratic Socialists of America

Recent polling indicates that as many as a third of Americans hold a positive view of socialism, and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the most prominent socialist political group in the country. It has received considerable mainstream media attention in recent years, due in no small part to the visibility of controversial member politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and for its association with radical and quixotic legislative proposals like the Green New Deal.

Organized as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the DSA claims 92,000 members nationwide, including multiple sitting members of Congress. While the group’s domestic anti-capitalism is widely understood, less attention has been paid to its inveterate hostility toward American international influence and its simultaneous support for some of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

In its official platform, the DSA laments how it “operates in the heart of a global capitalist [American] empire that has wrought untold suffering on billions of people and the environment.” It demands that the United States unilaterally withdraw from NATO and close all foreign military bases, forgive all debts and pay reparations to “colonized peoples” and their descendants, and pursue closer diplomatic relations with those countries currently engaged in “resisting US imperialism.” Sanctions, according to the platform, should be eliminated against countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran, and replaced by new ones against Israel—which it accuses of engaging in “apartheid, colonialism, and military occupation.”

The group’s approach toward Cuba is illustrative. According to the DSA, “the primary detriment to quality of life for Cubans, and the primary force of instability on the island” is not the country’s own repressive communist government, but the malevolent machinations of the capitalist United States. The DSA declares that it “will not compromise on the virtue of socialist internationalism” and “will not permit American imperialism to violate Cuban autonomy.” The DSA is committed to “an independent, socialist Cuba” and even appeared to express support for the Cuban government while its forces were putting down large anti-regime protests in the summer of 2021.

Through its Venezuela Solidarity campaign, the DSA has also affirmed its unqualified support for that country’s catastrophic descent into authoritarian socialism, blaming its myriad problems on sanctions and American “interference,” not on profound governmental corruption, abuse, and economic mismanagement. During the summer of 2021, a DSA delegation met with Nicolas Maduro and expressed its admiration for the dictator whose regime has been accused by the United Nations of perpetrating widespread crimes against humanity. Considering the sham elections that the country purports to hold, the DSA’s insistence that the United States is preventing Venezuelans from “determin[ing] their own political future” is nothing short of astonishing.

Other examples can be found in the Middle East. The DSA accuses the United States of having “held Iran in its sights since it broke free of despotic rule under the U.S.-backed Shah”—itself a remarkable manner of framing the 1979 revolution that saw an autocratic monarch replaced with an equally autocratic Supreme Leader. In 2020, after President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq, the DSA condemned the assassination as an “act of war against Iran,” perpetrated as part of America’s relentless “imperialism and militarism.” General Soleimani was the infamous Quds Force commander whom the Department of Defense has blamed for killing hundreds of American and coalition military personnel and wounding thousands more. The DSA made no corresponding statement condemning Iranian militarism when the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a civilian airliner just days later, killing scores of innocent people.

Perhaps most astonishing of all is the DSA’s Korea Solidarity campaign. It falsely blames the United States for “artificially splitting the peninsula in half,” waging a decades-long “continuous war against the people of Korea,” and playing a “central role in the collective trauma brought onto Korea.” It characterizes economic sanctions as “attacks” on North Korea, which it claims have been leveled purely “to serve US imperialist interests.” Never is the North Korean government faulted for the deprivation and oppression that have made the country’s leadership internationally notorious, nor is pro-American South Korea’s wildly successful ascension to democratic prosperity ever acknowledged. To read the DSA’s statement on Korea is to conclude that the United States alone stands in the way of lasting peace on the peninsula.

In 2017, the DSA voted to disaffiliate with the Socialist International, a global association of democratic socialist and social democratic parties like the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Mexico), the Socialist Party (France), and the African National Congress (South Africa). Its withdrawal was prompted by concerns among DSA membership that the Socialist International and its constituent parties were not as stridently anti-capitalist as they should be.

This is notable given that Joshua Muravchik’s original 1984 formulation for communophilism specifically identified hostility toward the Socialist International as a defining feature—one that helped serve to distinguish communophiles from more mainstream socialists. According to Muravchik, communophiles did not consider the association’s member parties to be true socialists at all, accusing them of having allegedly “made peace with capitalism.” It seems that today’s DSA—an increasingly visible pillar of the Anti-American Left—has reached a similar conclusion.

In the next installment, Alliance for Global Justice calls the United States “the most significant threat to peace in this world.”

Robert Stilson

Robert runs several of CRC’s specialized projects. Originally from Indiana, he has a B.A. from Hanover College and a J.D. from University of Richmond School of Law, where he graduated…
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