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Wednesday, November 22, 2006 

My first Wikipedia article...

Since I know for a fact that several people who read this blog are either better writers than I am, or are at least more knowledgable about STORM's history, politics and work, consider this a call to friends to help improve a somewhat shitty Wikipedia entry (which is none-the-less superior to non-existant one). Namely, if you know how to index Wikipedia entries please do so.
Nelson H.

Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM)

Formed by young activists in September 1994, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement(STORM) was a revolutionary cadre organization based in the Bay Area. During its existence STORM's membership was always more than 60 percent women and 75 percent people of color, and most of STORM's membership had never previously been in revolutionary organizations. STORM officially dissolved in December 2002.

A collective summation entitled Reclaiming Revolution: History, Summation, and Lessons from the Work of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM) was written by former STORM cadre, collectively endorsed by a majority of the organization's former membership and published in Spring 2004.

"Sisters at the Center"

Throughout its history, STROM was committed to maintaining itself as a majority women, majority people of color organization. This commitment certainly extended to the areas of mass work in which STORM members collectively worked. Growing out of theoretical frameworks inherited from revolutionary, third wave and Black feminisms members of STORM developed the "Sisters at the Center" slogan early on in their organization's history. Application of this slogan meant a conscious emphasis to keep women of color and working class women at the center of the organizations analysis, program and practice.

External links

I did some more work on the STORM entry you started on Wikipedia. It still can be fleshed out quite an bit but it is a good start.  

Posted by Takealeft

Hmm, pretty interesting. I think there is a lot of thinking to do behind the quota of women policy that STORM took up -- or any quota system like the Bolsheviks had (ie: 20% intellectuals, 40% women, 65% factory worker, etc. etc.)

Given that ideas do not determine reality, I am skeptical of any system of mechanical quotas, but on the other hand I certainly support methods of organizing that empower those usually shoved to the back. But then again, I am not exactly sure what particular aims STORM was taking up -- in the end, it failed, no?  

Posted by celticfire

Celt - yes, STORM "failed" in the end...but so has every other revolutionary organization in the US so far. The fact of their dissolution is real and I think needs to be summed up as a bad thing (though they were certainly facing a number of very difficult internal contradictions). But to me that doesn't make all their politics invalid and doesn't mean that there's nothing of value to learn from them. Quite the contrary in fact!

STORM was a truly multinational revolutionary organization, with largely female leadership and majority oppressed nationality membership, but that also included white people. That in itself is quite remarkable on the US left. They built a relatively large communist cadre organization in one major US city for a period of a bit less than a decade. Their members played important roles in leading many important and vibrant movements and struggles during that time. And they initiated some mass organizations and projects that continue to this day. They were interested in how to grow or ally with others beyond the city they were based, and they built relations with some others toward that end. But then they dissolved.

Being just based in one city allowed them to avoid some of the serious difficulties in building a national revolutionary organization, and it allowed them to really focus on making a deep impact in their one city. So in that sense being in just one city was an advantage. On the other hand being in just one city tends to allow the particular dynamics and idiosyncrasies of that city to affect the political line of the organization to the detriment of experiences from different types of cities. San Francisco has a relatively large left and progressive population overall. This makes things more relatively easy for the left there. While there are large concentrations of oppressed nationalities there, there is also a large enough radical milieu to be able to build a multinational radical organization and operate within a multinational scene there that would not be as easy to do in most other cities. I think that was a factor in their (acknowledged) problematic approach to the national question and national oppression in the US. They succeeded in building and operating within a multinational radical milieu, but to some degree this was at the expense of fully understanding and relating to the particular struggles of specific oppressed nationality communities.

Anyway, these are just a couple off-the-cuff thoughts, not a full summation. I think STORM's history is full of lessons for people interested in building revolutionary organization in the US. They tried and did many interesting things, in terms of ideology, organizational structure, political line, and mass organizing and practice. They didn't succeed - it was very disappointing to hear that they dissolved their organization in 2002, when they had seemed to have so much promise and potential just a short time before that. But the summation they wrote of their history is an important contribution and I think folks should read and study it. 

Posted by LS

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