History shows that a mass revolutionary party is needed to help the working-class overcome all the obstacles in the road towards winning power. Socialist Organizer aims to build such party — and we invite you to join us to organize for the liberation of humanity from the chains of capitalism.
Obligations of Membership in S.O.
Membership in S.O. is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. However, the demands of membership are not extreme and are accessible to the average worker or student.
Lack of previous activist experience, leadership skills, or political education should not deter anybody from joining. Enthusiasm to change the world is the most important thing you need — the rest you can learn in the organization and in the struggle.
Socialist Organizer aims to train skilled activists at the service of the working class. We educate ourselves in public speaking, organizing campaigns, writing, graphic design, and other necessary skills. We analyze current events and learn the method of Marxism and the lessons of the revolutionary movement — and how to put these ideas into practice today. We encourage critical thinking, open debate and democratic functioning. All members have equal rights and an equal say.
Being a member of Socialist Organizer is a commitment — but it is not a sacrifice. Faced with a decaying society of poverty, exploitation, and oppression, there is nothing more meaningful or inspiring than to collectively work with like-minded people for revolution.
Members of Socialist Organizer agree to the following:
1. To support the general purposes and political framework of S.O. The bedrock of our organization is our Marxist political program — an indispensable guide to action, which we think sums up the lessons learned from the past 200 years of class struggle. Applicants are expected to read and discuss the “Intro to Socialism” documents explaining S.O.’s positions before joining. New members are expected to read the Revolutionary Handbook and discuss it with a comrade in their branch. Continuous political education is crucial to developing each of us as leaders in our workplaces, schools, or communities.
2.To accept at least one ongoing “assignment.” We are an activist organization, not a group of armchair radicals — we agree with Karl Marx’s famous saying, “the philosophers have only interpreted the world; but the point is to change it.” An assignment may be a specific task, such as regular participation in an area of work, such as the antiwar or immigrants rights movement or coordinating sales of S.O.’s press in one’s branch. We think it is vital that our members be involved in and build struggles (no matter how big or small) in our workplaces, schools, and communities. All comrades are encouraged to read our press; participate in discussions, study groups, and events; and to assist S.O. during outside events such as demonstrations and campaigns.
3. To attend branch meetings and to notify the branch organizer ahead of time of necessary absences. (At-large members, of course, are exempt from this point.)
4. To act in compliance with democratic centralism, the traditional means of decision-making in the Marxist movement. Democratic centralism means complete freedom of discussion internally before making a decision. Members are free to put forward differing political proposals and perspectives and win others to their point of view.
Decisions are made by a simple majority vote. Once a decision is democratically decided on, all comrades are expected to act consistently with the decisions of the organization and, at a minimum, to not act against such decisions. Only in this manner can the political orientation adopted by the majority be tested in the class struggle — the “test of life.”
Unlike in some organizations, S.O.’s interpretation of democratic centralism does not require comrades to claim agreement with decisions they may oppose when speaking to others outside of S.O., provided the majority decision is not misrepresented. However, member action against or inconsistent with democratic decisions is prohibited. The practice of democratic centralism ensures that decisions are taken seriously and carried out effectively.
5. To pay monthly dues of $10. We live in a capitalist society and, therefore, need funds to publish a newspaper, hold events, and implement our campaigns. The basis of our political independence is our financial independence; we do not accept funding from the state, NGOs, or private institutions. Our entire income is based on member dues and sustainers, individual donations, event admission fees and collections, and sales of our press.
If applicable, members should pay an additional pledge (called a “sustainer”). Comrades who are unemployed and/or full-time students are exempt from paying a mandatory sustainer, though they may do so voluntarily. All others comrades must pay a monthly sustainer of any amount they choose.
6. To conduct oneself responsibly. While S.O. does not spell out rules of personal conduct not directly related to organizational functioning, it is assumed that comrades will not engage in illegal, unethical, or disruptive behavior of a nature that may jeopardize the security, safety, or reputation of S.O. or any of its comrades.
Membership is not automatic. Applicants are voted into membership, either by the S.O. branch in their area or by the S.O. National Committee for applicants who are not located in an area represented by a branch (called “at-large” comrades).
Socialist Organizer functions in compliance with its constitution and with certain traditions from the history of the socialist movement. Members have responsibilities and rights spelled out in the constitution.
The basic unit of our organization is the branch, the structure for members located in a specific geographic area, school, or workplace. Most of the day-to-day activity of our organization — i.e. mobilization, education, and organization — takes place within the local branches.
A branch must have at least three comrades, located close enough to each other to be able to meet in person regularly. A branch must elect an organizer and a treasurer, and may elect other officers, as needed. Larger branches are encouraged to elect executive boards. Branches may keep a percentage of their comrades’ sustainers (but not dues) to finance branch activities. Branches must meet regularly and record minutes of their meetings with copies forwarded to the national office. Minutes include, at a minimum, the first names of comrades
in attendance or absent (excused if noted), an agenda, and a summary of any decisions made.
The highest and most important body of our organization is the National Convention.
Conventions must be held at least every two years and are usually held more often. At the Convention, the members draw a balance sheet of the organization’s activity, analyze the current situation, and democratically decide on a political strategy for the coming period. Conventions elect our main leadership structure — the National Committee.
The National Committee is responsible for making decisions between conventions. It meets by conference call once a month. Between National Committee conference calls, the acting leadership is the Resident Steering Committee, which is composed of members of the National Committee who live in San Francisco, the location of our national office. The Resident Steering Committee meets once a week.
At both the branch and national levels, comrades are encouraged to form ongoing “fractions” (subcommittees) for different areas of work.
“Fractions” may be ad hoc for specific functions, as well as ongoing. Members of fractions consult with each other about the area of work and may make decisions, though they are subordinate to the National Committee or branch. Currently we are in the process of consolidating the following fractions: immigrants rights, trade union, Black politics, women’s liberation.