For those who don’t get it, the admittedly labored joke in the title has to do with soon to be Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proudly identifying as a member of the Democrat Socialists of America, or DSA for short.
The overwhelming majority who are not up to speed on these matters will ask “What’s the problem?”
The answer, mavenite sophisticates of Marxist lore will be glad to inform you, has to do with the DSA’s history going back its organizational forebears in the German Social Democratic Party. The latter was and is notorious within the left for having suppressed the Spartacist uprising and murdering the leadership of German communist party (KPD) including, most famously, Rosa Luxemburg.
But what does this history have to do with the present?
The answer to that is best expressed with an emoji \_(ツ)_/¯
That’s because most active DSA members derive from a variety of left tendencies. They (or I should say “we” since I just rejoined the organization) work within it based on its proven record of success in advancing broadly held left objectives such as single payer, a $15 minimum wage, abolishing ICE, protecting minority communities from the police abuse not to mention its decisive role in the Ocasio-Cortez campaign. Probably most members have some idea that Rosa Luxemburg is a martyr and left icon. But few detect any relevance of this increasingly distant past to the present, similar to volunteers with Catholic Charities not seeing much connection between their soup kitchens and the murderous activities of 12th and 13th century popes.
But there are those who do care about the connection. For them, it is always 1919, and any organization calling itself social democratic is what the KPD referred to them: “social fascists”, opportunists looking for any opportunity to undermine the power of the working class.
Or, to take at random various facebook postings on the subject “Ebert was a social democrat who used the freikorps to kill her and LIEBNECKT to Stop revolution. That social democrats do they fight communists for the bosses. (sic)” Or “They are not ‘leftist’. They are conservatives in disguise.” Or “A good liberal Democrat. Meaningless. Fake socialist.” Or “I do appreciate the fact that more people are interested in socialism, but I do not support bourgeois candidates or muddying the water. “
Fair enough, you might say. Everyone has a right to their opinion. But there is more to it in that most of those taking this line (and it is a party line) belong to one of the alphabet soup of Marxist, Lenninist, Trotstkyite or Maoist sects which have been a feature of the left political landscape for as long as I can remember.
Having written about them before (e.g. here and here) I won’t mention any specifics though I would recommend for those interested Norman Finkelstein’s wonderfully entertaining brief memoir of his days as a “fervent Maoist” some three decades ago.
For years mired in almost complete dysfunctionality and irrelevance, a viable socialist organization of the sort which DSA represents would almost certainly be the coup de grace finally dispatching them into oblivion.
Their increasingly hysterical attacks on a brilliant, charismatic and principled Puerto Rican woman is nothing more than -the death throes of the old as the new is being born.
I for one am thrilled that the baton is being passed and that the future of the left-and the nation-is being placed in their hands.