I recently read a piece by community organizer George Goehl about the power of ritual in organizing. It got me thinking about our own rituals and symbols. New members join all the time and, for so many, DSA becomes a place of refuge from the isolation and loneliness of life under capitalism and a place of collective action and power. What do our own rituals and symbols say about us?
First, we often greet each other with “comrade.” We truly are comrades in arms in the struggle for socialism and against the owning class that grinds working-class people to dust. Every day, we organize our friends, neighbors, and co-workers to link arms and keep fighting for justice. Our weapons are the clipboard, the bullhorn, and the picket sign.
Second, we’ve got red roses everywhere. Attend a DSA rally or mass meeting and you’ll see roses on banners, clothing, and jewelry. This is a global symbol of socialism, and in the United States historically has been used both by women’s suffragists and striking women workers to demand not just the bread to survive, but the “roses” to thrive. Without capitalist hoarding, we could live in a world with more beauty and leisure time for all and the space to breathe and care for each other the way we deserve.
DSA’s logo is a twist on the traditional socialist fist and rose. Two hands, black and white, clasp as they hold a red rose, symbolizing that multiracial solidarity is the only way to overcome the divide-and-conquer tactics used by the capitalist class to keep us fighting each other instead of uniting and using our true power.
Third, we always stop and ask ourselves, “What can we learn from this experience?” Meeting to debrief an action or campaign keeps us honest about whether we’ve actually won something and built more power, and if not, why not? Doing it collectively means we democratize the skill of strategic and critical thinking.
Finally, we close our national convention every two years by singing “The Internationale,” with fists in the air. We adapt to different economic, political, and cultural realities than were faced by our forebears, but we are a global working class, and we are rooted in a long history of international worker solidarity and struggle. I look forward to singing alongside delegates at this summer’s convention!