NPEC 2021 Round Up

What follows are the thoughts of a few members of the National Political Education Committee about their favorite political education events and content of 2021. 
Evan Moravansky, co-chair of Member Education (Mid-Hudson Valley) and NPEC

At the end of 2021, MHVDSA hosted a labor education event featuring a panel of regionally-based union members and organizers. Not only was this event among the highest attended in the chapter’s recent history, but it was successful in building up our relationship with organized labor in the Hudson Valley. It took many meetings and much deliberation, but the end result was much more valuable than the work it took to pull together. Attendees learned from first-hand experience how they can organize a workplace or support the labor movement, event organizers developed critical organizing skills, and participating labor organizers cultivated new and pre-existing relationships. This event required months-long planning, effective communication, and creative approaches that often aren’t applied to run-of-the-mill political education. It is not a precise model to be applied to all socialist organizing, but it demonstrates the potential for political education to better support and elevate working class consciousness by grounding itself firmly in the forces of material change and class struggle.

MHVDSA labor education event:

Sanjiv Gupta, member of River Valley DSA (Western MA) and Steering Committee, NPEC

NPEC had a series of pre-convention panels, and one hosted the authors of the People of Color’s History of DSA (Sacramento DSA). We focused on the convention resolutions that commit DSA to substantially increasing BIPOC membership and multiracial organizing. At the panel, I learned that BIPOC members like Manning Marable, Dolores Delgado-Campbell and Lydia Tom played an outsized role in organizing from DSA’s founding. However, unlike Michael Harrington, they are not mentioned either in DSA’s official “short history,” nor in typical chapter orientations or educational events. BIPOC members continue to be some of the hardest working and most influential organizers at every level of DSA, yet our numbers remain low. The panel helped me understand some reasons for this. It also motivated me to take a hard look at how our political education reflects and reinforces this deficiency. As educators, we need to do our part in helping DSA meet our stated goals with regard to BIPOC membership and multiracial organizing. Crucially, we need many more BIPOC educators to correct this longstanding problem. 

NPEC pre-convention event: 

POC history of DSA:

Daphna Thier, NYC-DSA and Steering Committee, NPEC

The pre-convention panel put on by the National Political Education team on electoral work hosted Richie Floyd, Fainan Lakha and Robin Peterson, and did a fascinating deeper dive into DSA’s electoral strategy and how we concretely use it to build working class organization. 

Electoral politics panel:

Rashad X, at-large member, NPEC (Events and Speakers Subcommittee)

I read The Pedagogy of The Oppressed by Paulo Freire over the summer and in an attempt to apply the theory to our education praxis, it has inspired me to ask three questions of our work. 

  1. How do we ensure political education events are co-intentional, where the facilitators and speakers, and the participants and attendees, are all teachers and learners?
  2. How do we create the space for participants and attendees to grow and practice their critical thinking skills, rather than just acquire information–what Freire calls “the banking model” of education?
  3. What opportunities do we have to integrate active problem-solving into our educational experiences?

These questions stem from a broader desire to ensure our educational experiences are not only a rejuvenating break from the oppressive education experiences most of us have undergone, but are revolutionary prefigurations of how we want all learning to occur–not just political education.