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Why we are going to Socialism 2022! (Part II)

Comrades from the Tempest Collective offer their reminiscences of the annual Socialism Conference and motivations for everyone to attend this year’s event over Labor Day, September 2-5, 2022.

After almost four decades, the annual Socialism Conference has established itself as a critical and unique esource on the U.S. Left. One of the only events that brings together people from all over the country for sustained, intentional Left political debate and discussion. The four days of Socialism represents the confluence of the lessons and inspiration of radical history and politics with the activists and movements changing our world right now. The Tempest Collective is honored to be one of the endorsers of the conference and because of the change to a September date, we want to make sure Socialism 2022 is part of everyone’s plans. Here we present three comrades – Kristen Godfrey, Luis Meiners, Hector Agredano Rivera – offering their reminiscences and motivations. We hope to see you in Chicago!

Kristen Godfrey

I attended the socialism conference for the first time in 2017 and it was there that I made a commitment to be in struggle to fight for revolutionary socialism from below. I had joined a political organization in late 2016, but it’s just something about sitting in a room full of 1,000+ socialists talking about history, coherence and strategy that really made me realize that Black and trans liberation can only come from an organized working class mass.

The political education I received from the conference and the relationships I made sort of made real for me the need for discipline and organization. I currently live in Tucson and have been working to bring a group of comrades to the conference. In a time where it feels like history is moving backwards and there doesn’t seem to be a Left to fight back against all the constant violence coming at us, there is a need now more than ever to have a space where folks can receive intensive political education. We need people ready to go back to their communities to organize, recruit more workers to revolution, and win.

Luis Meiners

This year´s Socialism Conference comes at a crucial moment. The political context, both globally and in the United States, calls for urgent strategic debates and this conference promises to be the space needed to have them.

From the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the attacks on reproductive rights in the United States, to the rebellion in Sri Lanka and the growing efforts to build unions in workplaces such as Amazon or Starbucks, the current situation presents huge challenges and opportunities.

But the urgency of the moment finds socialists still trailing behind in terms of building organizations that can decisively influence the ongoing struggles and those to come. While socialist ideas have gained a broader audience over the past decade, we have yet to transform this sympathy into an organized force.

Over the past years, many of the efforts in this direction in the United States have been focused on the electoral terrain and contesting within the Democratic Party. In this sense, Socialism 2022 comes at a very particular conjuncture, one that is marked both by the experience of the 2020 electoral cycle and the historic rebellion against racism. While the former underlined the structural limitations of the strategic orientation of important sections of the socialist left, the latter illustrated the possibilities created by mass struggles from below.

Discussion of the strategic debates around these processes, the tasks of socialists, and the paths to build strong organizations will, in my opinion, certainly be among the highlights of the event. They will also be enriched by the international experiences brought by socialists from different parts of the world.

Socialism 2022 will bring together thousands of people who are looking for ways to change the world. Unlike other events of this type, its sessions will feature different and even contrasting responses to the challenges that the socialist left faces. This will undoubtedly create the space for contrasting ideas and strong and interesting debates that can strengthen the struggles and organizing efforts that many of us are involved in day to day.

One final point. The opportunity to meet people who share the urge to “change everything” (as the conference name embraces) is not something that happens often. Unlike the bosses, the billionaires, and their politicians and intellectuals, we don’t have the resources or even the time off work to have these events regularly. That is why organizing with comrades to get to Chicago in person, considering the necessary health precautions, is so important.

The sessions will definitely be worth it, but much of what happens in this type of gathering takes place in the halls, in informal discussions, and in passionate night-long debates around the venue.

I hope to see thousands in Chicago. Let’s organize to change everything!

Hector Agredano Rivera

While the decision to struggle is an individual one, the struggle is a collective process. Every day, capitalism aims to crush our communist spirit under the weight of alienation and exploitation. Besieged, we fight back and resist, or we seek refuge and an escape route from the unfolding disaster. Alone, isolated, we succumb, almost seduced by the siren songs of ideology and the false promises of our old enemy, the commodity.

But things don’t have to be this way.

The antidote to this poison is community and collective struggle. Together, we recover a sense of solidarity—the reassuring feeling that someone has your back, that you are not alone. On the contrary, in community, we find each other, we build bonds, we become stronger and conscious of our power. Together, we confirm that our individual liberation is bound up with our collective struggle, that none of us are free until all of us are free.

The truth is that nobody is coming to save us but us. No benevolent politician can deliver socialism from above. Once again, the bankruptcy of the social democratic project is clear. The last three years have shown that reformism and electoral politics decoupled from the streets leads to a dead end. This shift in terrain presents a new opportunity for revolutionaries to challenge the ideologues of this current, and to redefine the struggle for socialism as a visionary, irreverent, and unyielding anti-capitalist movement of rupture and socialist revolution.

With a clear vision, we can move forward.

That’s why I am going to the Socialism Conference—to find community and reconnect with comrades, to participate in timely debates, and to meet a new generation of radicals embracing the abolitionist road to socialism. I am returning to Chicago because in times like these, we have a responsibility to organize and to create the possibilities for hope.

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