Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee - Organizational History - Harrington Founds DSOC

Harrington Founds DSOC

See also: Socialist Party USA

Even before the convention, Michael Harrington had resigned as an Honorary Chairperson of the Socialist Party. Some months after the convention, he resigned his membership in SDUSA. Harrington and his supporters from the Coalition Caucus soon formed the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC). (Many members of the Debs caucus resigned from SDUSA and formed the Socialist Party USA.) Despite opposing the majority of the Socialist Party, Michael Harrington, acknowledged the validity of its members' concerns:

"The anti-war activists of the sixties were overwhelmingly white and middle class. Many of them were unconcerned about the domestic political consequences of their actions and were even contemptuous of that majority of Americans who supported the war. There was a profoundly elitist tendency in the movement that denounced as dilettantish and collegiate. Moreover, there was a vocal, and regularly televised, fringe of confrontationists, exhibitionists, and Vietcong flag wavers who could plausibly be dismissed as freakish, or sinister, or both."

Harrington's caucus in the Socialist Party endorsed the "New Politics" movement and sought to expand that tendency into a viable left-wing pressure-group within the Democratic Party, advancing an explicitly socialist agenda and attempting to win influence over elected officials for that program. Harrington led many members of this caucus and from his networks to establish the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) in 1973.

The writer Michael Harrington, a former editor of the Socialist Party's weekly newspaper, New America, was the most important figure in the establishment of DSOC. Harrington had resigned as National Co-Chairman of the Socialist Party, many of whose leaders criticized McGovern, when Harrington focused his efforts on electing McGovern in October 1972.

In his first memoir, published in 1973, Harrington defended his choice of peace activists over trade unionists:

"But in their derogatory comparison of this movement with the trade unionists, my comrades failed to notice two of its historic aspects. First, the anti-war young were right: Vietnam was not only an immoral conflict, it was counterproductive from all points of view, including that of progressive anti-communism. Secondly, the new strata of the issue-oriented and college-educated who provided the mass bass for this phenomenon were, and are, extremely important to the creation of a new majority for change in this country."

And so DSOC was founded.

At its start, DSOC had 840 members, of which 2 percent served on its national board; approximately 200 had previously had membership in Social Democrats, USA or its predecessors in 1973 when SDUSA stated its membership at 1,800, according to a 1973 profile of Harrington.

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