Last night I gave this short speech at the Socialist Feminists NYC meeting about the importance of having internal democracy. Because it’s an issue that keeps coming up in Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) I thought I’d share it here.

When they won’t let us build democracy out there, we will build it in here. And the democracy we build here is so important even if it is so relatively small. Our socialist movement needs participants, not followers. Now that doesn’t mean everyone has to run for a position to do their part. But it does mean that everyone should engage beyond merely voting. We should discuss it with our comrades, we should encourage others to run, we should challenge those who do run to put forward reasons why we should give them our trust. The so-called democracy in modern politics is all about shutting out people, especially people of color, it is about not being accountable to the masses, it is about not giving choices beyond a narrow capitalist range. That’s all the more reason for us to spend as much energy and time on democracy as possible. Because when they won’t let us build democracy out there, we will build it in here.

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And democracy is a feminist project. In a capitalist economy where women are told to shut up, are spoken over and silenced, are segregated and stymied, democracy is our means of fighting back. It was women lead organizations, from the mutual beneficiary societies to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, that overturned Jim Crow through active robust internal democracy. Women around the world have always been the champions of democracy while men have always been the dictators, the moguls, and the tyrants. So in the fight for socialism, it will once again be up to us, and that is what we are doing here. Because when we build democracy in here, we can change the world.

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Feminist socialist writer fighting for econ justice. Views do not represent my firm, DSA, or my cats, who are sadly both ultra leftists.

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