F4S vs Convention Priorities

Statement by Jason Netek, Political Education Committee Co-Chair
Position: Oppose

DSA-LA should not adopt the Food 4 Solidarity (F4S) proposal because it is incompatible with the priorities adopted at our Annual Convention in April.

The Three Priorities
At our Annual Convention, DSA-LA debated and adopted three chapter-wide priorities for the year. The first was "Building DSA-LA Across All Los Angeles County," the second was "Putting the Organizer in Socialist Organizer," and the third was "Prioritize The Repeal Costa Hawkins Campaign." These three priorities expanded the chapter’s conception of its work considerably beyond the unique projects of its numerous committees, most of which do not require chapter-wide discussion, approval, and support. We chose them with the understanding that they would be our chapter’s priorities until the next Annual Convention.

In the lead up to convention, a draft F4S proposal was under preparation to contest for a spot as one of the three Chapter Priorities. It has always been understood that the proposed project would be on a scale considerably greater than regular committee work, and would place at least some significant demands upon the chapter as a whole. A thorough examination of the proposal shows this to still be the case.

There is nothing in the F4S document that could be called relevant to the Organizers resolution, or the Costa Hawkins resolution, and as far as I’m aware, no one has suggest that it does. Any attempt to graft it onto the Branches resolution would be a clumsy addition at best, as it fits into none of the resolution’s planks, even if some see it as faithful in spirit. F4S would be tantamount to a fourth priority. That’s the essence of my argument, but the discussion around the scope of the Costa Hawkins campaign and the focus on housing has been somewhat confused and so that priority demands further discussion.

Repealing Costa Hawkins
It has been suggested that an amended version of F4S be adopted now, with an added provision to delay rollout until after the Repeal Costa Hawkins campaign ends in November. This indicates either a misunderstanding or a rejection of the decisions made in April.

When we passed the ‘Repeal Costa Hawkins Campaign’ resolution, we voted to accept three things:

1. Leading up to the November 2018 election, DSA-LA will focus its organizing efforts on the ballot initiative to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

2. DSA-LA will prioritize tenant organizing, eviction defense, rent control, and “housing justice” generally.

3. After November, the Local will reorient its work around housing justice and expanding rent control in Los Angeles, and potentially, across California.

The stated intention of the adopted resolution was “...to focus DSA-LA’s internal organization, political education, and overall orientation on a critical arena of the class struggle for the foreseeable future for the purpose of building working class power and socialist capacity in Los Angeles.”

To adopt a delayed F4S would have us missing the larger picture. It’s true that right now we need the greatest possible mobilization for the repeal effort underway. But whether we win or lose on Election Day, we have a perspective which will need to inform our work. It’s not that we have four months left before we’re free for another major project. We have four months left in this phase, after which we’ll need to reassess how to best implement the perspective faithfully.

The Politics of F4S
I don’t hide my disagreement with the politics underlying the F4S proposal. I think F4S is little more than a charity project, with no clear path from objectivity to subjectivity regarding the people it intends to reach. It starts from a faulty premise for base-building and is lacking a strategy for bridging the gap between DSA-LA and the communities to which we lack an organic connection. Several statements have already been produced which convincingly make this case. My hope however, is that whether comrades share these assessments or not, we can all agree that F4S is a distraction from the priorities set at our convention only three months ago.

Our chapter voted on a set of perspectives and methods, which stand until the next Annual Convention. Instead of preparing for a post-convention, fourth chapter-wide priority, we should direct our energy and time toward the existing three. They deserve the attention we voted to give them, for the period of time we voted to give them. We face no major crisis or turn of events which would justify altering or pulling back from the decisions we so recently made.