Against Anthropological Socialism

Statement by Nathan Fisher, Member & Sam Forman, Healthcare Committee Co-Chair
Position: Opposed

The Food 4 Solidarity proposal cannot assist DSA in the project of party-building and its attitude to the working-class is mistaken and condescending.

I would like to strenuously oppose the F4S proposal on two grounds:

(1) That the F4S proposal, by necessity, would contradict and work to undermine the agreed-upon chapter priorities ratified at the Annual Convention. DSA already has a problem of overextension, and I see that exacerbated here.

More significantly, however is

(2) The proposal’s underlying assumptions, and those of its authors, appear to take a view of the working class that is not only fundamentally mistaken, but is acutely condescending. The program assumes, in its very first sentence, that working people are inherently disinterested if not intellectually incapable of being recruited on the basis of shared interest in a common political project. “A single loaf of bread from the hands of a socialist helps a working class person more than a hundred pamphlets” is not only a dubious claim (certainly not an eternal truth) but is scarily close to the notion that the working class is deprived of intellectual agency and can only respond to baser ‘needs’ or ‘instincts’ (like hunger) rather than be engaged as an already existing political subject. The authors here constantly approach the ‘working class’ as an anthropological object — something always external to the organization, to be studied, examined, cajoled, or enticed. It is evidence of a sustained distrust of working class self-organization. This should be rejected entirely: all of our constituents are already political agents to whom socialism is immanently relevant and all have just as much ability to participate fully and equally in our political struggles. Through our existing priority of Costa-Hawkins repeal and organizing around tenancy issues, we’ve been able to connect with constituents on the level of a shared political vision — this should, and must be, our approach.

To approve the Food 4 Solidarity proposal is to reverse this approach and erect an ideological barrier between us and the community we desire to organize — one that would significantly rupture our gains thus far and concretely relocate our organization from class struggle to the realm of professionalized service provision.

It should be straight-forwardly opposed.