Food For Solidarity - Building Socialism From the Ground Up

Statement by Steve Ducey, Interim Chair - Prison Abolition Committee, Communications Liaison - Housing And Homeless Committee, Member - Libertarian Socialist Caucus

Position: Support

The mission of the F4S Working Group fulfills our priority resolutions and creates the opportunity to activate members and build our organization's power

In my statement of support for the Food 4 Solidarity Working Group, I will demonstrate that common criticisms of the program do not stand up to scrutiny.

F4S Fulfills our Priority Resolutions
Build DSA Throughout Los Angeles County. Our efforts to this end have been laudable with our first branch meeting attendance by over 100 people. However, focusing on areas where we already have members creates a feedback loop, wherein we never work in certain communities. Sign ups cannot dictate where we organize. Unless we pursue projects where membership is low or non-existent, like the Brakelights Clinic in South LA, we will never build a mass socialist organization throughout L.A.

Put The “Organizer” in Socialist Organizer. The F4S working group will incentivize members to learn transferable skills to ensure its success, such as those outlined in the resolution (Organizing Conversations, Meeting Facilitation and Preparation, Strategic Listening and Story Sharing), as well as Fundraising and increasing Language Diversity.

Prioritize the passage of Prop 10 and Housing Justice. F4S and housing justice are not mutually exclusive. Given the project timeline, it is unlikely that F4S will undermine our ability to organize around Prop 10. Members of the F4S working group are participating in canvassing and assisting the campaign in other ways. Furthermore, F4S would provide an opportunity to organize tenants. As the proposal rightly points out: “community-building activities are just ways of building trust, so that when we come in and start organizing for a tenants union or mobilizing against rent control bans, people have more to go on than a few pamphlets and a single conversation we had in their living room”. The proposed areas have renter densities ranging from 53%-83%, and housing insecurity affects these communities just as much as food insecurity. The Presentation and Discussion section could focus on housing issues, with a F4S event as a perfect staging ground for a Tenant Clinic in coalition with allies such as Union De Vecinos or the LA Tenants Union.

With over 1,000 members, DSA-LA Has the Capacity to Implement F4S.
The proposal was created by a committed group of 15 people and that work did not meaningfully detract from DSA-LA’s other organizing. I attended the Westside branch meeting and saw many new members genuinely excited about F4S. If only 5 of them joined the working group, that would mean 20 people actively working on F4S. No one is DSA is compelled to work on projects they are not interested in and the creation of this Working Group places no demand on members to do so.

Fundraising, While a Challenge, Will Not Bankrupt the Local.
The proposal outlines fundraising methods to alleviate this concern. Though we are moving away from fundraising specific to campaigns, this is not explicitly banned by our bylaws. Examples of past successful fundraising: $7,826 (Abortion Access Bowl-a-thon, funds not usable by DSA but in line with our political goals), $6,092 (NOlympics Research), $6,936 (Sustaining Socialism for the general fund), and over $2,000 (Brakelights). F4S would not need to rely on solely on LA based funding sources, and would likely get national attention.

Done With Care, F4S Will Not Alienate the Communities We Serve.
The proposal goes to great lengths to address this criticism by partnering with existing community organizations and tailoring the educational component to issues raised by the people, rather than DSA dictating the content of programming. F4S aims to improve the conditions for those who do not have the ability to meaningfully participate in the political process as they have been deprived of the basic necessities of life. It is all but impossible to form a tenant association when you’re working two jobs to stave off food insecurity. This is material analysis at its most rudimentary, and has been a tool of capitalist exploitation for generations. I find it odd that the Marxist Caucus of DSA-LA stands so firmly opposed to this project when Marx and Engels wrote "people cannot be liberated as long as they are unable to obtain food and drink, housing and clothing in adequate quality and quantity. 'Liberation' is a historical and not a mental act and it is brought about by historical conditions."

Ultimately, we cannot control what others think of us, only the work that we do and the way that we do it. I believe F4S will strengthen the organization and move us closer to building socialism from the ground up, and thus urge my comrades to support it.