[Editor’s Note: This article came out the day before this past weekend’s 2019 Socialism Conference in Chicago. There are important questions raised, which DSA members need to be asking. If the growing DSA is to be a much-needed force for political change in the nation any cover, soft-pedaling of or collaboration with US corporate empire building and support of right wing dictators and criminal regimes within the DSA needs to be challenged. — Mark L. Taylor]
By Ben Norton & Max Blumenthal
The Grayzone (7/6/19)
Socialism is now apparently brought to you by the US State Department.
From July 4 to 7, thousands of left-wing activists from across the United States are gathering in Chicago for the 2019 Socialism Conference.
At this event, some of the most powerful institutions on the American socialist — but avowedly anti-communist — left have brought together a motley crew of regime-change activists to demonize Official Enemies of Washington.
One anti-China panel at the conference features speakers from two different organizations that are both bankrolled by the US government’s soft-power arm the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a group founded out of Ronald Reagan’s CIA in the 1980s to grease the wheels of right-wing regime-change efforts and promote “free markets” across the planet.
The 2019 Socialism Conference, sponsored by American leftist juggernauts the DSA, Jacobin magazine, and ISO’s Haymarket Books, features regime-change activists from multiple US government-funded NGOs.
Another 2019 Socialism Conference panel rails against the socialist governments of Nicaragua and Cuba — two-thirds of John Bolton’s “troika of tyranny” — with outspoken proponents of regime change. One of the speakers, Dan La Botz, hosted an event in 2018 that featured right-wing Nicaraguan activists wearing masks and disguised as students, who were junketed to meet with Republican lawmakers in Washington by the US government-funded right-wing organization Freedom House.
The Socialism Conference’s regime-change lobbying “Nicaragua expert” La Botz has admitted in leaked emails obtained by The Grayzone that “there is virtually no left among the opposition” to Nicaragua’s democratically elected socialist government.
La Botz, a leader within Democratic Socialists of America, likewise acknowledged in these emails that there is “little likelihood of an outcome to the rebellion that goes beyond a more democratic capitalist regime.” But he has still vociferously lobbied for Nicaragua’s Sandinista government to be overthrown by US government-backed insurgents — and is using his platform at the biggest socialist conference in the United States to do it.
Merging of largest US socialist organizations
The 2019 Socialism Conference is advertised under the catchy slogan: “No borders, no bosses, no binaries.”
Each ticket comes in at a neat $105 per person (or a $250 “solidarity rate,” for the hardcore supporters) — and this doesn’t include the rate for the rooms at the hotel where it’s held.
For years, the Socialism Conference functioned as a platform for the International Socialist Organization (ISO), a small group steeped in the tradition of sectarian American Trotskyite politics, which pushed a hardline anti-communism and attacked virtually all socialist governments in history as “not truly socialist.”
Founded in 1977 after a long line of sectarian splits, the ISO never became a significant political force. It was mostly relegated to recruiting young impressionable students on liberal arts college campuses.
As an avowedly anti-communist organization, the ISO eschewed symbols long associated with the communist left, like hammers and sickles and red flags. Instead, it chose a clenched fist — one eerily similar to the symbol used by the US government-funded Serbian activist group Otpor and similar offshoots in Eastern Europe, which carried out Washington-backed neoliberal “color revolutions” in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism.
The ISO claimed to be anti-war, but its leaders spent a disproportionate percentage of their time and resources attacking the anti-imperialist left. They could more accurately be referred to as the anti-anti-imperialist left. …