Tempest Statement of Purpose
STRUGGLE FROM BELOW
The Tempest Collective sees the activity of the vast majority of the world’s population whose ability to work is their only means of survival as the crucial factor in building the socialist movement and winning reforms. The working class is the agent of social transformation – of ridding our society of capitalism, addressing the existential environmental catastrophe, and building a socialist society – if we can organize ourselves.
Struggle is the key vehicle through which the balance of class forces can shift and on which working class demands like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, Defunding the Police, Gender Liberation, Open Borders, etc, will be won. We support running socialist candidates for office, but we do not believe that amassing more socialist officeholders is the way we are going to win. However popular policy reforms are, historically these have not been won without a mass-based movement that involves millions of ordinary people.
ANTIRACISM & ABOLITION
We are antiracists and abolitionists. The US working class has moved most forcefully and consistently when it has confronted racism, in particular anti-Black racism. We take this lesson seriously and prioritize antiracist struggle even when it is unpopular or appears to detract from broader ‘class-wide’ interests. If the socialist movement does not center the primacy of anti-oppression inside the working class, in all its diversity, it is not going to be effective. The George Floyd uprising was an important reminder of the power of Black-led resistance and how forcefully it can assert itself as a political actor, demonstrating the absolute necessity of systemic transformation. We see the anti-racist rebellion that took place in the summer of 2020 as the most important development of the current radicalization. Even with a movement still in development, its potential should not be underestimated.
Crucial to the politics of abolition is the recognition that the state under capitalism is a means of violent repression wielded to ensure the domination of the ruling class. In the U.S., prisons and police are indispensable tools of racist oppression. As socialists, we fight for the full abolition of the cops, the courts, the prisons, and the capitalist state.
FEMINISM & LGBTQ LIBERATION
Internationally, the feminist and gender justice movement is the leading edge of working class resistance. Structural gender oppression under capitalism shapes life and resistance in myriad ways. It has shown itself to be a potent vehicle for social transformation.
Standing against sexual violence, domestic violence, and femicide are questions of principle that socialists must develop ways of addressing – politically, but also organizationally, as very few groups can point to processes that have helped address grievances inside left organizations.
We demand full equality and liberation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people and unequivocally oppose the attacks against transgender people, espescially transgender women of color. The resurgence of trans-exclusionary feminism on the Left must be challenged. The project of revolutionary socialism aims to build a world based on sexual and gender freedom and self-determination.
Elections are a crucial tactic of working class organization, but they are not the motor-force of change. Elections can help develop and spread demands, contribute to concessions from the ruling class, and project a socialist worldview. However, we do not believe that winning elections is the same thing as winning power or changing the balance of class forces. The capitalist state is an anti-worker apparatus that cannot simply be taken over by workers. For that reason, elections are a vehicle towards the development of struggle and independent working class institutions, not an end in themselves.
INDEPENDENT WORKING CLASS INSTITUTIONS
We believe the Democratic Party cannot be reformed or realigned. Every previous effort to do so has weakened and undercut our ability to build the type of struggle organizations that could transcend the choices on offer under a two-party system.
We are for an independent working class membership party and we are open to different tactics and roads to get us there. However, we insist that this strategy and process cannot be deferred down the line to a more favorable moment. A new party can come together as struggle rises, we need to prepare for that now. Even people who support the Democrats over the Republicans in elections are more ready to criticize them and advocate a new party than ever before. Socialists should never be the people telling anyone who wants to break from the Democrats that they should stay inside. The socialist movement should be the home for those who yearn for political independence.
The key ingredient in the formation of new working class organizations and parties is heightened working class self-activity and struggle that raises expectations and makes millions feel that change is possible. The growth of working class organization should go hand in hand with the growth of all wings of the movement, including a revolutionary one. This is the pole of the movement we aim to contribute to building, with the goal of a strong and vibrant revolutionary current, front or organization.
Flowing from the centrality of struggle and working class self-activity is an insistence on democracy. Democracy is relevant in multiple ways – from ensuring that our organizations are run by the membership, to the need to defend and expand democratic rights, to the threat of far right authoritarianism. We believe that the weakness of the organized left goes hand in hand with a lack of organizations through which working class people can participate in political, workplace and community decisions. Whether it is a tenant group, a labor union, a BLM organization, etc, democracy and participation is a crucial factor to the development of working class institutions. The lifeblood of socialist organization, in particular, is a thriving democratic culture.
We see working class self-activity and democracy – both inside and outside of the existing trade union movement – as the key roads to winning working class demands and power. We look to workers in their workplaces to organize themselves for their own interests, a rank-and-file labor strategy, which is a political and organizational orientation on the self-activity of workers inside the workers movement. We believe this will facilitate the creation of our goals more than a strategy of building influence through the labor bureaucracy or staffers in the existing unions. For us, the rank-and-file strategy is about much more than simply having socialists inside strategic sectors or getting union jobs. It is about building a socialist wing of the workers movement, fostering bottom-up organizing, and continuing to reverse the 40 year isolation that socialist politics have had from working class institutions. Through the development of a socialist wing of the workers movement, a strategy for class power can become a reality by overcoming the strategic impediments that have hamstrung the organized labor movement for decades.
INTERNATIONALISM, ANTI-IMPERIALISM & SELF-DETERMINATION
We are internationalists. We support working class self activity in every country and oppose the borders that physically, violently, and ideologically divide workers from one another. We are always on the side of ordinary people in their quest for democracy and self-determination and liberation against authoritarian rule.
We are principally opposed to imperialism, which we understand to be the manifestation of capitalist relations at the level of the nation-state. Imperialism is not an abstract concept, it is the inevitable outgrowth of a system built on profit and competition between capitalist states. As the economic crisis intensifies, so too will ramped up rivalries between different countries. Military activity is part of the package of attacks on working class people internationally.
We vehemently oppose US imperialism, which has destroyed the lives of our brothers and sisters across the world and has served as the justification for amped up islamophobia and xenophobia. We also hold a principled opposition to all imperial interests that are competing for international power. Instead of choosing sides with one imperial bloc over the other, we look to the strengthening of working class solidarity internationally as the central opposition to capitalism.
As socialists in the world’s biggest imperial power — in a country founded on settler-colonialism — we see our support for the struggles of indigenous, colonized and occupied people as a cornerstone of anti-imperialism. From Turtle Island to Palestine and beyond, our internationalism is inextricable from national liberation.
HOW TO JOIN TEMPEST
Tempest is run by a membership Collective that meets monthly for political discussions and monthly for organizing meetings. Some members of the Collective are DSA members, others are rooted in parts of the labor movement, anti-racist struggles, or local organizing. What binds us is not full agreement on every question, but a shared strategic outlook on the central importance of struggle and building organizations of and by working class members.
We organize regular public events – replays can be found on our Facebook page or our YouTube channel.
We have a rotating editorial board that is subordinate to the Collective. Many Collective members contribute to the writings, interviews, and production of the Tempest website, but one need not be a member to publish with us.
We also have a growing list of committees for ongoing strategy discussion of different areas of activism; a finances committee; an organizing committee that plans our monthly discussions; & an event planning committee.
If you agree with the politics, and perspective laid out on this page, we welcome you into the Tempest Collective. We ask that members pay dues and participate via monthly meetings, being part of a committee, or contributing to the publication.
Sign up to join and we will follow up with you shortly about how to get involved.