Under the current toxic political climate of hate and jingoism in the United States under President Donald Trump, socialist organisations have reported an explosion in membership. Even those, who were deemed apolitical during the post-Trump era has been started siding with socialist movements in America.
In case of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the organisation’s membership has soared to 16,000, more than doubling since May 2016. In the last two weeks alone, more than 2,000 new members have registered, DSA’s deputy director, David Duhalde, explains.
As an young American writer from New York Connor Southard puts it, many of them had never been involved in political organising and had never been a member of a political organisation - until the election of the far-right US President, Donald Trump.
As it became clear that the organised left was getting stronger and facing more formidable threats to its agenda ... it was clearly time to get involvedConnor Southard, Writer from New York
Trump’s victory and his Republican Party’s firm grip on both chambers of Congress, far-right oufits in the United States - and in Europe - has been energised.
The only way to oppose this level of the malignant power [of Donald Trump] is to get organised. ...This moment is radicalising a lot of people due to the levels of outrage and disgust. People all over the country are asking what to do. The answer in one word is: OrganiseConnor Southard, Writer from New York
These socialist groups have participated in mass protests against Trump’s inauguration, supported the Women’s March, and called for the release of immigrants detained at airports owing to the new president's ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
We’re taking advantage of the rising energy around socialism and the popular feeling that capitalism is not working for the majority of people. It’s critical in our politics to promote coalition work and now to be part of a popular front against Trump. Socialists need to be in the masses of protests and doing solidarity workDavid Duhalde, Deputy director of DSA
Duhalde was quoted by Al Jazeera, adding that around 50 new chapters have been founded in communities and on campuses in recent months.
For the Socialist Alternative, a Trotskyist party, its membership has grown by more than 30 percent since Trump’s election.
Another outfit, the Socialist Party USA has also said to have encountered “a solid spike from right after the elections”, though they declined to provide the numbers.
Despite the numbers remain small in comparison with Democratic and Republican Party membership, the new wave has poltical significance. Though it was fuelled by anger at Trump, the phenomenon has not come entirely out of the blue.
But interest in socialist groups, grown accustomed to being small and isolated in U.S. politics, appears to be surging in a way it hasn’t in decades.
“Many of those joining are young people who don’t have their parents’ Cold War hangups about socialism. Politicians like Bernie Sanders—an avowed socialist whom many supporters are looking to for an effective counter to Trump—have further sparked their interest in a politics outside mainstream Democrats and Republicans,” poltical commentator Kate Aronoff observes.
During the election days, it was observed that Sanders’s presidential campaign has made clear that even many Democrats are inclined to vote for a candidate who proclaims himself a democratic socialist.
According to Connor Kilpatrick, an editor of Jacobin, a New York-based socialist magazine, the “failures of both mainstream US parties” have played a significant role in the rise of leftist politics. Kilpatrick also alleges the the mainstream corporate US media is keeping a selective amnesia towards socialists groups.
Although nationally the socialists are weak today, an April 2016 study by Harvard University found that 51 percent of millennials - a loosely defined group of people aged between 18 and 29 - reject capitalism and 33 percent support socialism.
The Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014 attracted thousands of newcomers to progressive activism.
The US may suddenly be home to millions of socialists or several socialist groups, but it still lacks an anchor to make it into a pan-american socialist movement, experts observe.