For New Members

What is DSA?

The Democratic Socialists of America is the largest socialist organization in the United States, with over 92,000 members and chapters in all 50 states. We believe that working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few.

Capitalism vs. Democratic Socialism

Capitalism is a system designed by the owning class to exploit the rest of us for their own profit. We must replace it with democratic socialism, a system where ordinary people have a real voice in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and society.

We believe there are many avenues that feed into the democratic road to socialism. Our vision pushes further than historic social democracy and leaves behind authoritarian visions of socialism in the dustbin of history.

What does it mean to be a member? 

Marin DSA is made up entirely of its members. Everything we do—knocking on doors, phonebanking, organizing meetings—is organized and funded by our volunteer members. It’s a lot of work, but there’s space for everyone to get involved at any level.

We’re building a mass movement for a more just world. To get there we have to organize. This means talking to people we don’t usually talk to, standing up for each other, agitating in our workplaces, and building working class solidarity.

Being a DSA member means paying dues to national DSA. Dues keep our organization independent, democratic, and member-driven, leaving us free to pursue our own political and strategic priorities without having to listen to deep-pocked donors or risk-averse foundations.

Become a dues-paying DSA member at dsausa.org/join

Being a DSA member also means participating in local democratic decision-making and then helping to carry out those decisions.

How do we keep it comradely?

A comrade is a teammate in the struggle to dismantle capitalism. We don’t all have to be friends, but we’re on the same side, and working towards the same end.

DSA is a “big tent” organization. This can mean that we’re not all on the same page on what the best path to socialism is. There’s likely to be differences of opinion. To effectively work together, we need some ground rules.

  1. Act in good faith.
  2. Assume good faith in your comrades.
  3. Notice when you’re thinking in either/or terms, as if two things are exclusive when they’re not.
  4. Know when to step up, and when to step back, when to listen, and when your voice is needed.
  5. Listen with the willingness to have your mind changed. 
  6. Recognize others’ feelings and differences in culture and background.
  7. Keep the conversation accessible.  

What can I do?

We can’t win socialism by sitting on the couch or doom-scrolling on social media. To affect change we have to get involved. Marin DSA is still young and growing. We’re currently focused on a strategic campaign to win rent control in Marin, both to advance an urgent moral demand to keep renters in their homes and to grow our membership and build a working-class base across the county. We hope you’ll get involved! Sign up here: www.marinrentcontrol.com

If you and a couple of other comrades want to get started on your own project, you can do that too! Please attend a General Meeting to propose a new committee or working group.

We’re looking forward to working with you!

This guide has been liberally copied from a lot of existing DSA New Members guides – most notably the East Bay, Austin, and Denver chapters.

Labor to make this guide has been donated.