Although I have worked closely with multiple Left tendencies, organizations, and study groups throughout my life, I have made a serious commitment to two groups over the past half-decade. The first is our faculty grad union, the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, and the second, more recently, is Tempest.
Through several long-time friends, allies, and comrades, I have long had ties to people who were involved in forming Tempest. What has always impressed me over the years is their level of organization and consistent commitment to revolutionary socialist principles.
As we confront the most dangerous period of our history, in which right-wing authoritarianism is stripping the last democratic vestiges of our beleaguered (and limited) liberal democracy, the need for political organization and community has never been more urgent. In many respects, I think that with the recent rulings of the far-right Supreme Court and the passage of voter suppression laws in more than half the states in the country, minority rule has already been achieved within the legal and electoral apparatus of our country. In this context, it is essential that we organize, support one another, and build a socialist community for the survival of all.
Working with a union with a broad industrial vision has been some of the most gratifying work of my career. It has also shown me what an enormous impact a small group of committed Leftists can achieve. I see this work as directly aligned with the mission of Tempest, which is to fight for revolutionary socialist principles against the wages of racial capitalism.
Marxism has always been core to my own political and intellectual development, and Tempest represents a crucial space to think about how this global episteme informs the many struggles that we face. I consistently have learned from Tempest’s publications, as well as from communion with its members and engagement with Haymarket Books. I was excited to have participated in the recent Socialism Conference. The depth and range of topics addressed and the unflagging commitment to racial justice and anti-capitalist principles have made it one of my favorite political events.
In urgent times, with looming climate destruction, racial fascism, and mass extinction, working together in a collective is the only way to confront, and to survive, the existential challenges we face.
Earlier in my career, I saw writing as my primary form of activism. However, the core lessons I have learned over the years are about the importance of breaking down ego, empowering other people, and working collectively. I cherish coming together with comrades in Tempest and our union to work toward a just future—because, without real political change, it is not clear to me that we will have one at all.
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Donna Murch is associate professor of history at Rutgers University, where she is chapter president of the New Brunswick chapter of Rutgers AAUP AFT. Her newest book, Assata Taught Me: State Violence, Racial Capitalism, and the Movement for Black Lives, was published by Haymarket Books in March. She is a member of the Tempest Collective.