What DSA is
Democratic Socialists of America is a grassroots, multi-tendency, membership-based socialist organization committed to radical democracy and freedom in every aspect of our lives. With over 50,000 members, DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States and poised to be a significant force in the resurgence of a popular socialist movement.
We’re building a mass movement of the working class. We’re socialists. And we’re unapologetic about it!
DSA is made up of local chapters that organize autonomously. Our chapter is called Silicon Valley DSA. We organize in an area ranging from Redwood City to all of Santa Clara County. Silicon Valley DSA has two branches that meet regularly:
- SV DSA – San Jose Branch
- SV DSA – Lower Peninsula Branch (Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and nearby)
During shelter-in-place, most of our activities are conducted virtually.
Many of us know the problems that capitalism presents: the rent is too high; healthcare costs are rising; the earth is headed towards climate catastrophe.
The principal goal of DSA is eliminating the capitalist mode of production and all the interrelated forms of oppression that it keeps in place (like racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia). We’re working to create a world where everyone thrives. In DSA, we say we’re a “Big Tent” organization because we pursue many different avenues towards socialism: from running progressives for public office to civil disobedience actions; from tenants unions to community land trusts; and from building union power to forming worker-owned cooperatives.
Silicon Valley DSA seeks to build a majority movement to liberate the US from capitalism. Instead of a political-economic system serving an elite few, we envision a society based on democratic control of resources and production, and social and economic justice for all.
This effort takes many different forms, which means there are many different ways to get involved. Some examples of what we do include mutual aid distribution, political education, campaigning for progressive candidates, coalition-building, putting on events, and much more. All types of people and all types of skills are needed.
Why We Fight
Capitalism is the Problem
Democracy is incompatible with capitalism, because the decision-making power is not in the hands of the people. Instead, those who own the means of production have disproportionate influence over how society functions. This makes shared collective power impossible, because those who have power work to maintain their dominance.
Democratic Socialism is the Solution!
In a Democratic Socialist system, we would run our society and our economy democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few.
- Radical Democracy
- Having meaningful decision making power about the things that affect our communities.
- Radical Equality
- We believe in abolishing white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, cissexism and other forms of oppression – not just ones reducible to class.
- True freedom for all to thrive and be fully human
- Basic human needs are met through collective solutions to our collective problems, individuals can meet their potential and pursue their dreams, and our communities are places for true human connection and love.
Our Local Chapter
We are a membership organization. Each member has an equal voice and vote, and all decisions in our chapter are ultimately up to members like you.
We are a volunteer-run organization, each contributing our time and labor as we are able. We share a vision of a just and equitable society. We are building power across Silicon Valley to achieve that vision, using a diversity of tactics rooted in a realistic understanding of how to organize and to challenge entrenched structures.
We are a leaderful organization. That means leadership is not restricted to our elected officers, but is something we encourage in all members. There is a place for everyone’s ideas and skills. Want to organize a campaign or event, or have an idea for how to build a better local chapter? Let’s do it together!
Most of our chapter work is organized into issue-based working groups and task based admin committees. Each working group meets monthly to organize events, work on projects, and socialize. Most admin committees meet weekly or bi-weekly. Outside of regular meetings, working groups will frequently hold events and project-specific work meetups; and they also hold socials to have discussions, ask questions, and hang out in a casual setting. You’re welcome to attend anything you may be interested in, and anyone is welcome to attend any working group or admin committee!
Here’s a list of currently active working groups and some of their recent projects.
- Collaborating with the Protect Juristac coalition (South Bay Indigenous Solidarity) to protect sacred native lands
- Collaborating with Extinction Rebellion on climate die-ins and protests
- Canvassing for progressive candidates we’ve endorsed, like Alex Lee (AD-25) and Jake Tonkel (SJCC-6)
- Researching and publishing voter’s guides for upcoming elections
- Hit the Streets Anna Eshoo Pressure Campaign: Canvassing, Educating & Advocating for Medicare4all
- Healthcare Teach-ins/ Mutual Aid
- Opposing the RV ban in Mountain View & collecting & delivering signatures to bring it to a referendum vote on the 2020 Ballot
- Expanding Tenant Protections
- Abolishing policing and prisons. Working to defund the police, get cops out of schools, and end the school to prison pipeline. Dismantling structures that protect cops from being held accountable for their actions.
- Demanding the release of incarcerated prisoners and working to stop new jails and prisons from being built.
- With allies, exploring alternatives to policing such as Restorative Justice & community reinvestment.
- Coming to strikes to support workers
- Putting on “how to organize your workplace” trainings
- Partnering with the Wage Theft Coalition to build a database of wage theft claims
- In collaboration with South Bay Mutual Aid, distributing resources to the community, including groceries, PPE, rides, or whatever else might be needed
- Raising money for the Mutual Aid Fund via events and other efforts
- Hosting reading groups for different leftist texts
- Hosting “socialist night school” trainings on organizing skills
- Creating and distributing period packs with hygiene supplies and other resources to help unhoused folks who are menstruating
- Exposing fake health clinics (also called “crisis pregnancy centers”)
- Looking at the chapter’s internal needs for childcare and accessibility (among other things), to enable everyone who wants to participate to do so
- Menlo Park, EPA, PA
- Redwood City
- Mountain View
- Sunnyvale & Santa Clara
Admin committees keep the internal functions of SV DSA running. Want to support our chapter as a whole? Volunteer for an admin committee!
AMP: Agendas and Meeting Planning
Our committee makes the general meetings of our chapter happen! We handle logistics and work with members to agendize votes, talks, and discussions to make meetings effective, engaging and accessible. Let us know if you want to help out, or have questions, feedback or ideas for meeting content!
We work on outward-facing media for our chapter. Join us if you like tweeting, editing, drawing, designing, social media, or if you have journalism skills. Comrades are doing so much cool work in our chapter–we want to make sure the world knows!
FI: Finance and Inventory
We work on budgeting, finance, and managing our office space and assets. If you want to help make sure our working groups and caucuses have the financial and physical resources they need, join us!
MDC: Membership Development
The Membership Development Committee helps new members smoothly enter our chapter and get plugged in to our work. We’re also working on leadership development and training so that anyone can be a leader. If you want to help with new member onboarding or leadership development, please join us!
The Outreach Committee organizes our chapter’s presence at external events, spreading awareness about democratic socialism, recruiting new members, and supporting local organizing. If you like to meet new people, talk about socialism, and table, join our efforts! firstname.lastname@example.org
Tech and Data
The Tech and Data Committee builds and maintains the chapter’s technology infrastructure and membership data. We collaborate with other chapters on technology projects and provide technical resources and support to chapter members. email@example.com
How do I get started?
The easiest way to get involved is to start attending events! We regularly have canvassing (contacting individuals directly to solicit support for electoral support), research parties (collectively gathering information on a new topic to broaden our understanding), tabling (presenting information to passersby at public events), and social events. During shelter-in-place, most of these activities are done virtually.
Events that are particularly good for newcomers are New Member Orientations (NMOs), which are a great intro to the org; Branch Meetings and Chapter Meetings, where we get together as a larger group and members report back on what we’ve been working on; and Social Meetups, where we have opportunities to talk in casual settings.
All of the events on our public calendar are open to the public, so feel free to attend any events or meetings you might be interested in. NMOs are on the 4th Saturday of every month from 2-4 PM and Chapter Meetings are the 3rd Sunday of every month from 2-4PM.
Another great way to get started is to sign up for a 1-on-1 conversation with an SV DSA organizer! These conversations help you get involved in the projects you’re most interested in. Fill out this form and we’ll be in contact with you.