2018 Congress Day 1: Jonathan

On February 15, 16, and 17, LeftRoots is holding its first national congress. Members from across the country are gathering to identify, discuss, and debate the key features of the current moment, the strategic implications of those conditions, and how LeftRoots and its members can continue to develop and grow to make decisive interventions to push the moment closer to 21st century socialism.

After each day of the congress, a few LeftRoots cadres will blog about their experiences that day in hopes of giving those interested a peek at what we’re doing in California and why we’re so excited about it.

Jonathan, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

On the first day of the LeftRoots Congress, we dove right into our mandate to “Make the impossible possible.” It was exhilarating to be in a room full of comrades, most of whom have spent our whole lives organizing “in the trenches” against day-to-day injustices, giving free reign to our revolutionary imagination as we told the story of how we actually won liberation. It felt like finally breathing fresh air (perhaps not coincidentally, this is also how it feels to visit California from Pittsburgh).

A fast-paced, high-energy blend of collective, individual and small-group work, the best moment for me in “The Story of How We Won” was the moment in which our small groups were presented with the “conjuncture” that right-wing legislators revoke the right to vote for people without outstanding student loans. Rather than debate the constitutionality of such a law, or proposing challenging it in the courts, my small group made up of comrades from coastal cities and rural New England as well as the Rust Belt immediately came up with the response of a student loan strike. This, to me, is one of the most important roles of LeftRoots: fostering the ability to see ruling class overreach as a strategic opportunity to raise the scope and militancy of the struggle.

After flexing our revolutionary imagination, we practiced “conjunctural analysis” — how to look at the balance of forces in a particular historical moment, under particular historical conditions. Being given an hour to work our way through an exercise developed by Latin American social movements over the course of several years was challenging, but also energizing. If we as social movements and Leftists are going to get out of the rut of doing the same things we have been doing, we need to develop these new “muscles” of analysis and practice. The physical sensation of sitting in a circle of a dozen organizers, trying to piece together an analysis of the totality of popular forces, was not unlike the first time I did strength training — awkward and sometimes painful, but leaving me wanting to do it again, to get better.

As LeftRoots National Secretary Steve Williams reminded us in the opening of the Congress, it is both a great responsibility and a great privilege to figure out how to do what so many people around the world need us to do, to begin a process of revolutionary transformation of the U.S. It will be hard work, but the first day of our National Congress gave us a good foundation for the revolutionary road ahead.

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