by Allan Frasheri, Vice Chair, UF YDSA
The old world is dying …
It isn’t a secret that capitalism is in decay. After 40 years of neoliberalism, income and wealth inequality is at the highest point it has ever been in the post-war era.
With the top 1% owning more wealth than the bottom 90% and close to 20% of the US’s total national income accruing to the top 1%, we have reached the same levels of inequality which existed during the Gilded Age.
Additionally, with real wages remaining mostly stagnant as productivity has more than doubled, almost all of the economic growth generated in the past 40 years have been captured by the capital-owning class.
Through corporate lobbying and Super PACs, the ruling class has been able to translate this newly acquired wealth into political influence. Due to this, public opinion now has a completely insignificant effect on policy.
Corporate political influence is then translated back into wealth via tax cuts, deregulation, and weakend labor law, resulting in a positive feedback loop of wealth inequality and concentration of political power. There’s no end in sight for this rising inequality and the pandemic only exacerbated it.
While generating immense profits in the short term for those who run the system, capitalism is destroying our planet as we know it. The window of time we have left to avoid the most severe effects of Global Warming is quickly closing in without any sign of the sudden and radical changes we need to save our planet.
On top of this, far-right populist politicians, like our governor, are using social distrust and economic frustration to their advantage through the age-old tactic of redirecting the object of anger from those who run our system to marginalized communities.
Unfortunately, the Democratic Party establishment is too committed to the current capitalist system and too focused on assuring donors of their moderateness to be an effective force to stop the far-right threat.
To stop the far-right, save our planet, and move towards a more equitable and just world, the working-class ultimately needs a movement of our own.
And a new world struggles to be born …
While we are in a difficult predicament, we have reason to remain hopeful: the Left is stronger and larger than it has been in over 80 years. More than half of people over 40 view socialism more favorably than capitalism and millions of Americans voted for an open socialist running for presidential nomination, something unimaginable only ten years ago.
Before Bernie’s campaign in 2016, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) had 6,000 members. Now the DSA has around 100,000 members spread across 200 chapters in all 50 states and hundreds of members elected to seats in local, state, and federal levels.
Some of the strength of the DSA can be attributed to its “Big Tent” nature which allows it to bring socialists from all over the left, from Social Democrats to Marxists and Anarchists, together to work on a multitude of campaigns: labor organizing drives, electoral races, mutual aid, direct action, etc.
Other DSA chapters in our state, from Polk County to Tallahassee and Miami, have been effectively organizing to build working-class power in Florida. Two years ago, Pinellas DSA launched and won a campaign to elect the first openly socialist official in Florida in over 100 years, Richie Floyd, to St. Petersburg City Council. Currently, they are waging a campaign for social (community financed and owned) housing and for the right of tenants to legal representation when facing eviction.
Gainesville is one of the most progressive cities in the state and a Gainesville DSA can not only replicate but also exceed the successes of other chapters in Florida.
A group of activists, labor organizers, students and community members are coming together to form the Gainesville DSA Organizing Committee in order to build a successful chapter in our city. As previously mentioned, the DSA is a big tent organization, a home for all communities on the left.
The YDSA is the youth section of the DSA, with chapters on college campuses and high schools. To join the fight and get involved, please fill out our form at actionnetwork.org/forms/gainesville-dsa-interest-form or email us at GainesvilleDSA@gmail.com.
We hope to see you a future meeting. A better world (and a better Gainesville) is possible!