Help rebuild the Left

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Welcome and thank you for joining with LeftRoots to do an initial mapping of movement forces in different parts of the United States. The opportunities and challenges facing organizers and activists looking to make transformative, revolutionary change have never been greater. As a political project aiming to spark the emergence of a radical and relevant Left in the U.S., LeftRoots hopes this process will be a small step towards developing a more accurate assessment of our collective strengths and weaknesses.

We have two goals with this movement mapping process:

  1. We want to gain a deeper understanding of how social movement activists see the strengths, weaknesses and questions facing movements forces in different parts of the country. As the great strategist Sun Tzu once said, knowing oneself is a core task of any grouping trying to make change. This information will inform LeftRoots’ project to develop grounded strategies for socialist liberation. For more information about that project, click here.
  2. We hope to begin dialogue with social movement leftists in different local areas about the possibility of building strong LeftRoots branches in the coming period.

Our goal is to collect assessments from at least 5 – 7 local areas before December 15. Clearly, this will not give us a total and complete assessment of movement forces, but it will be a start that we can build from.

Your commitment to complete the Movement Assessment Tool (MAT) will be a huge contribution to our success, and we appreciate it.

The Process


LeftRoots is releasing the MAT to folks in November 2014 that we have been in dialogue with over the last year, and we hope to collect completed surveys by December 15, 2014. On November 16 at 10am PST, LeftRoots will hold an online info session about the MAT, and we’d encourage at least one person from each group planning on filling out the MAT to attend.

Ideally, groups of 3 – 5 people will work together to complete the MAT in each local area. Each group will answer all of the questions to the best of their abilities, and they will each develop the process that works best for them. For example, some groups might convene local discussion groups to solicit input on different questions. Other groups might do 1-on-1’s with movement activists in their communities to collect responses. Still other groups might divide up the questions amongst themselves and come back to share their perspectives with one another before completing the MAT. Each group will figure out what works best for them and their community.

We hope that groups of people will work together to complete the MAT for a local area, but that’s not a requirement. Individuals can fill the MAT out too. Also, the people completing a MAT can all be affiliated with the same organization, however in assessing whether a LeftRoots branch is immediately possible will be informed by whether people from different organizations work together to complete the MAT. Finally, different groups can fill out more than one MAT for the same local area although we don’t necessarily encourage it.

After the MATs are submitted online no later than 12pm EST on December 15 (you get bonus points for submitting them early!), the LeftRoots branch in the Bay Area (currently the only branch) will compile and figure out the best way to share the results of the MAT.

In the meantime, the LeftRoots Coordinating Committee members will have conversations with groups that submitted MATs about whether it might make sense to start a branch in that area, what the steps for that might look like and how folks can get involved in LeftRoots’ work in 2015.

We recognize that you are strapped for time, so we’ve tried to make completing the MAT as easy as possible. The MAT is an online tool. You can access it by clicking the button below. You can also download a PDF of the questions to work on it off-line here.

Completing the Movement Assessment Tool


Mapping our movements’ strengths and weaknesses is a messy undertaking, and there may be some questions that are confusing. We ask that you do the best that you can. Some of the questions might call for a level of research and investigation that you’re not able to pull off. Others might ask for your opinions that might not be shared by a majority of movement activists in your area. We trust that you’ll do the best you can, and we recognize the limitations of this process but our primary goal is to begin a dialogue with you. As this dialogue continues, we’ll figure out the best way to answer these questions together

In hopes of making the process as clear as possible, the Bay Area branch of LeftRoots is doing three things:

  1. We created a glossary that defines what we mean by some of the terms we use throughout the MAT;
  2. We worked together to complete our own MAT for the Bay Area. Hopefully, this will give you some more of a sense of what we were trying to get out of some of the more confusing questions; and
  3. We will host an online info session on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 10am PST for folks planning to complete the MAT.
Thank You


Thanks again for helping us map the movement and strengthening LeftRoots’ attempts to spark the re-emergence of a radical and relevant Left in the U.S. We are honored and excited to be working with you because we believe that together we can build a movement guided by transformative strategy to win lasting dignity and liberation for all.




For the purposes of the Movement Assessment Tool, here’s the definitions that we’re using for the following terms:

  • Movement— sustained efforts where various groups and individuals take collective and individual action to challenge authorities, power-holders or cultural beliefs for the purpose of achieving a common goal.
  • Movement Forces— those individuals, organizations and institutions working on any number of fronts to make radical or progressive change.
  • Left— we’ve used the definition created by Chilean political scientist Marta Harnecker, “the array of forces that oppose the capitalist system and its profit motive and which are fighting for an alternative humanist, solidarity-filled society, a socialist society, the building blocks of which are the interests of the working classes.” (Marta Harnecker, Rebuilding the Left, p. 32)
  • Social Movement Leftist— includes movement activists who may or may not be members of Left parties or organizations. Individually, they both hold leftist ideas and their primary place of political activism is in mass organizations that organize and develop the capacities of people from historically oppressed and marginalized communities.
  • Local Area/Community—the geographic area that you are assessing. For the MAT, we are defining local area as the area from which people could be expected to attend a meeting.
  • Working class(es)— We believe that a developing a concrete and current class analysis of U.S. society is one of the key tasks facing Leftists today, but starting from the understanding that class is defined by a group’s relationship to the dominant political economy, we are using the following definition of working class(es): the class(es) which have no legal means of subsistence other than selling to capital their power to work.
  • Revolutionary Organizations— Political organizations whose membership is united by agreement around a political ideology. The ideologies of those organizations and the work that they might do varies greatly. Some examples of revolutionary organizations in the U.S. include the Revolutionary Community Party (RCP), the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Common Struggle and New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO).
  • Political Tendency— Common currents of thought or ideological outlook that are shared by activists so that those activists could be considered part of a common political tendency— even if they’re not in the same political organization.

Here is an example MAT from the Bay Area to give you a sense of what we’re looking for.