Organizing 101 – 10 Questions, Part I

Tacoma activist Arthur M sent along an email and link about organizing that I think is right on. Thanks, friend.

Here is the link if you want to read the whole article. It’s 14 pages and I recognize that we live in a world of tweets and sparkle fingers today, so I want to tweet this article down a bit.

It’s funny, email seems so 1999 now. I still rely on email and I do not like telephone calls or telephones, but emails seem superfluous to blogging and the resultant give and take. Now I am thinking/wondering if blogging is becoming superfluous, being replaced by more interactive social networking tools. Not sure about that. I am continuing to blog, but also becoming more involved in social networking stuff.

Back to Organizing. Thanks again to The End of Capitalism for this work. I recommend reading the whole text, but here is Part 1:

“We aren’t done, we’re not leaving, and we’re in this together.”

1. What Is Organizing?

A. How to actually organize and build lasting radical organizations, particularly in terms of maintaining radical politics while reaching beyond insular communities

B. Without a sense of why they are there or a program about which to talk with people, door knocking will yield few productive results

C. Build Dual Power, Confront State Power. Building coalitions, political infrastructure, and visionary, alternative institutions that prefigure the types of social relationships we desire — while simultaneously confronting the state, right-wing social movements, and other forms of institutional oppression. One without the other is insufficient

2. How Do We Build Intergenerational Movements? (A Challenge to Young and Old!)

A. Recognizing that the struggle is for the long haul means that no generation can or should exist in a political vacuum

B. Most people do not work in productively intergenerational groups or live intergenerational lives outside tightly circumscribed roles (e.g., teacher-student)

C. We have a responsibility to find and work with the teenage radicals who are just now becoming political conscious and active

3. What Role Do Militancy and Confrontation Play?

A. People want to not just register their dissatisfaction with the war through petitions and periodic protests but actually end it

B. Develop a strategy that incorporates a sense of direct action in line with the state of local movement

C. Maintain relationships with other activists and groups who may not have engaged in the same tactics but who remained committed and sympathetic

D. Continually expand the movement numerically, while simultaneously increasing the militancy of those prepared to take risks.

E. Build mass movements where militant tactics can be present without dividing the movement

4. What about Anti-racism and Multiracial Movement Building?

A. The left, like U.S. society in general, remains significantly divided by race, so proactive measures are needed to create multi-racial spaces

B. The relationship of race to gender to class is still a challenging one for many U.S. radicals to grasp and organize around

C. How do we build a radical power base among white people that is profoundly anti-racist to contribute to toppling white supremacy?

I think the groups that M & I are working with in Olympia are very much about 1. C. right now. I feel good about the dual power. More of the ten questions sometime soon.




4 Replies to “Organizing 101 – 10 Questions, Part I

  1. Mike, how do you define “radical politics” in terms of the first question?

  2. I am not sure that I define it all. But maybe politics that just does not give up on core values. The commitment level of groups like Solidarity in Poland, the folks in Tahrir Square. The folks so many years ago in Tianamen Square. Black folks at a lunch counter in Memphis. That seems to me to be radical politics.
    Imagine politics that could stop the war machine, that could levy a carbon tax that would drive a green energy conversion that would reduce our need to go to war for oil, and would reduce our carbon foot print and limit the impact of global warming. Not just talk, but real political action that would accomplish that kind of thing.

  3. There are multiple ironies in all this. I went to bat for running one of Don’s pieces in the radical Olympia paper Works in Progress last year. I thought Don had some views on labor issues that were important even if they were steeped in Democratic party politics. The purists I was working with simply did not want to be seen running something that they thought could run in the Seattle Times or The Olympian. It caused a rift and I have not worked much with Works in Progress since that time. But I am seeing the mirror image of that conflict here. My politics may be too radical for this group as Don’s politics were too mainstream for Wipsters to embrace.

    Look at Point 3 C and 3 E above. We are wrangling with the challenge described right there. Change comes when we demand it and we refuse to back down. That’s radical. The Egyptians could teach us a thing or two about radical politics.

  4. Mike, as I said, I welcome your views, though they’re lefter than mine. I think lots of Democrats have been radicalized somewhat in recent years because they’ve come to realize that too many Democratic leaders are sell-outs.

    I hope this website can contribute to constructive dialog among lefty groups.

    BTW, Chad, I’m surprised by your apparent sympathy to Mike’s views. I had thought you were more centrist than that.

Comments are closed.