Strategic Campaign Planning

The questions we never ask ourselves when planning a campaign or founding an organisation…

  • OBJECTIVES AND AIMS
  • WHAT IS YOUR ORGANISING PHILOSOPHY – THIS WILL AFFECT EVERYTHING ELSE
  • WHAT IS A WIN?  ARE THERE SMALLER WINS ON THE WAY?
  • WHAT ARE YOUR DEMANDS?  WHO FROM (OURSELVES? AN EXTERNAL AGENCY)? 1) Wishes.2) Demand of Refusal.3) Plan B/ Reformist demands. 4) No demands. 5) Transitional Trotskyist demands – the impossible ones which reveal the need for revolution. 6) Plan C/directional demands – the possible demands which would significantly change society and strengthen our politics, not just make life a little bette

 

  • STRATEGY
  • WHAT/WHO ARE YOUR TARGETS?
  • HOW LONG YOU WISH TO TAKE?
  • WHAT IS YOUR CAPACITY?  WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU HAVE?  MONEY, PEOPLE (HOW MUCH FREE TIME AND WHAT SKILLS DO THEY HAVE?), OTHER RESOURCES
  • WHAT TACTICS DO YOU WISH TO USE?

SCALING UP

IF YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL MANY PEOPLE MAY WANT TO JOIN IN. ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS

  • IS OUR ORGANISING STRUCTURE CLEAR?
  • DO WE DO ACTIVITIES THAT MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE CAN GET INVOLVED IN?
  • CAN WE DEAL WITH PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT LEVELS OF COMMITMENT AND SKILLS?
  • CAN WE DEAL WITH DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES – AND PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS?

 

  • TACTICS – WHAT TYPE ARE YOU GOING TO USE?  WHAT ARE THEIR RELATIVE MERITS?
  • DIRECT ACTION – STRIKES, NVDA
  • LOBBYING – ORGANISING BLOCK VOTES, PETITIONS, DIRECTED PUBLICITY
  • PROTEST – DEMONSTRATIONS, STUNTS
  • SKILLS + CAPACITY – DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR CAPACITY IS?

ASK YOURSELF – DO WE KNOW

  • NUMBER OF PEOPLE DIRECTLY INVOLVED AND PERIPHERALLY INVOLVED?
  • HOW MUCH FREE TIME THEY HAVE?

CAN WE THEN?

  • IDENTIFY WHAT WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE AND SPLIT INTO TEAMS/ WORKING GROUPS?
  • IDENTIFY SKILLS NEEDED VS SKILLS GOT I.E. THE SKILLS GAP?
  • CAN YOU PAY FOR THESE MISSING SKILLS, FIND FRIENDS, DO TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT?
  • PROMOTION (PROPAGANDA) –
  • DO YOU DO THE FOLLOWING IN AN ORGANISED AND  CONSISTENT MANNER?  
  • WHAT DO YOU FOCUS ON?  
  • WHAT IS ACTUALLY MOST EFFECTIVE FOR WHO YOU ARE TRYING TO REACH AND FOR YOUR SKILLS AND CAPACITY?
  • STREET PROMOTION – STALLS, FLYERS, POSTERS
  • MEDIA – MAINSTREAM PRESS, RADIO, TV – ALTERNATIVE MEDIA
  • ONLINE – SOCIAL MEDIA, WEBSITE
  • INTERNAL – YOUR OWN MEMBERS – EMAILS, FACEBOOK, PHONE TREE
  • EVENTS – LOOK BELOW

 

  • EVENTS
  • ASK YOURSELF, WHAT IS THE PURPOSE? FUNDS?  PUBLICITY? RECRUITMENT?
  • WHAT TYPE? SOCIAL (MUSIC, COMEDY, ART, ETC) EDUCATIONAL (SPEAKERS, FILMS, DEBATES).
  • IDENTITY WHO YOU ARE TRYING TO REACH.  TARGET YOUR PROMOTIONAL RESOURCES AT THEM
  • GET FEED BACK FROM ATTENDEES

 

  • LESSONS + THEORETICAL OUTLOOK
  • RECORD YOUR OWN LESSONS – NO ONE EVER DOES THIS!
  • RESEARCH PAST LESSONS – ESPECIALLY FROM DIFFERENT THEORIES OF SOCIAL CHANGE

EXTRA RESOURCES

GOOGLE

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Don’t let the urgent crowd out the important

OK so it’s a west wing quote, so what?
I am writing this off my phone as a trial, but I do intend to write this out properly, to explore how our desperation to solve single issues stops us focusing on the need to build an infrastructure beyond campaigning…

Is reaching out enough?

Well check this

article

Mo

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All Wars Are Crimes

Yet again we are being asked to rally around the flag, to support a war that is against our own interests, and will do nothing but ruin the lives of others.

Cameron and his Lackeys in the Labour and Liberal parties may be presenting this as ‘Invasion-Lite’ – with the all new and improved ‘no boots on the ground’ policy, but the fluffy rhetoric hides a violent a terrible reality for all of us.

1)  Even if the war was just, it would be ineffective, air strikes are not going to stop ISIS, and the Kurds are saying that it just making them fight harder and will cause more civilian casualties.

This is just like what happened in the so called ‘just war’ in the Balkans – in the end the bombing campaign we launched for ‘humanitarian reasons’ left 10,000 unexploded bombs across Kosovo, ‘destroyed ten years of hard work’ by  human rights and civil society organisations (according to Human Rights Watch), created $100bn of damage (which UK companies made a bucket off rebuilding) and MOST IMPORTANTLY we actually started the Ethnic cleansing and precipitated four times more deaths after we started bombing!

2) Britain (by which I mean the government and it’s weapons companies, not us) set up all the rotten bastards in this part of the world – including ISIS.  Our enemies and friends keep changing in name, but one thing is the same – we are always helping someone kill someone else…

Check the list of our former friend friends – Quaddaffi, The Saudi royal Family, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, the royal families of all the Arab Kingdoms, Israel,  Hosni Mubarak, the Shah of Iran, the various dictators of Pakistan, and cruel puppet ‘democratic’ regimes of Iraq and Afganistan, and so on…

3) Do you think that they supported them by accident, that they keep trying their best to help the poor Arabs, but they keep fucking it up by mistake?  No.  Some people (in the UK) made a fuck ton of cash out of all those bastards.  And all the poor fuckers they killed, raped and tortured.

The UK is all four horseman of the Apocalypse for this region, we have caused the suffering of untold numbers of working class people whose names we will never know, and we have made the world a more dangerous place for them and us.

4) If you think this makes us safer you must be fucking kidding!

Every time they bomb another country,  they kill more and more working class people. I imagine the survivors bear a grudge. It is probably hard to see how bombs killed your family for your benefit (it is hard to have perspective holding a dead family member in your arms).

They also are taking our  freedoms away one by one, to protect ourselves against a threat that kills less British people a year than choking on food!

They are using our taxes to do this – to strip us of our freedoms and mutilate and destroy the lives of thousands.

If politicians and nutters want to fight people I suggest they go and get a weapon and duke it out with each other, leave us all the fuck out of it.

But they wont will they?  Cowards

P.S.  Yes I am aware there are nutters beheading and murdering people out there, but I just don’t believe we can help by bombing the shit out of anyone, or sending in the army.
And when that chinless wonder says we should go in, you know there is only one reason for it – money.
All wars are crimes, this one will be no different.

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Black Bloc


FLYER

SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE ‘BLACK BLOC’

 

  • IT IS NOT AN ORGANISATION
  • IT IS NOT JUST ANARCHIST
  • IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT VANDALISM


THE ‘BLACK BLOC IS A TACTIC, USED AT PROTESTS, WHICH ANYONE CAN JOIN, SIMPLY BY WEARING ALL BLACK.

WHY DO THIS?

  • AS A SIGN OF SOLIDARITY AND UNITY
  • TO SHOW THAT THE PEOPLE ON IT WILL RESIST POLICE OPPRESSION
  • TO ALLOW EVERYONE INVOLVED TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS
  • BECAUSE BLACK IS GOOD FOR ALL SEASONS, YAH?


ISN’T JUST AN EXCUSE FOR VIOLENCE?

  • COMMON TACTICS USED ARE

– De Arresting (stopping the police from arresting other protestors)

– Linking up (linking arms to protect protestors from the police)

– Protecting protestors from tear gas, rubber bullets and misleading/misdirecting the police

– Avoiding/breaking out of kettles

 

  • OCCASIONALLY

–        Property is graffiti’d, windows are smashed, or other property damage is done, on specific targets – usually corporate or government

–        Violence against people or their ‘personal’ property is not what it is to be used for, though ‘private’ or ‘public’ property (of the rich, of big business and the government) is fair game .

WIKI QUOTE

“Property destruction carried out by black blocs tends to have symbolic significance: common targets include banks, institutional buildings, outlets for multinational corporations, gasoline stations, and video-surveillance cameras”


WHY DO PEOPLE PICK THIS TACTIC/DO THESE THINGS?

  • TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM POLICE INTIMIDATION

–        Keeping off a ‘domestic extremist’ register is important for many professions, and for at risk groups such as refugees

–        At more energetic demos, it is important to keep each other safe from attacks from the police, or from them splitting up and ‘kettling’ protestors

 

  • TO BE INVOLVED IN ACTIVE PROTEST

–        Black Blocs have a reputation for not just doing what they are told, a key ingredient in the push for change (IF WE ALL DID WHAT WE WERE TOLD, THERE WOULD BE NO CHANGE)

–        What some people called ‘Pacifist’ is usually another term for ‘Obedient/Passive/Weak’. ‘Active’ or ‘Militant’ protest is about making change and being impossible to ignore.

 

  • TO TAKE DIRECT ACTION
    – To directly affect the ‘bad guys’, for instance costing them cash by forcing them to repair their buildings.

 

  • TO HAVE NO LEADERS
    – Everyone is a leader in the ‘Black Bloc’


DOESN’T IT DISTRACT ATTENTION FROM THE MAIN PROTEST/GIVE PROTEST A BAD IMAGE?

  • In short, no, the media do
  • The media are the ones who pick the story.  If they want it to be about protestors and police they will.  If they want to bury it on page 32 they will.  And if they want to tear it apart with right wing commentary they will.
  • If you are being praised by the media for your protest/strike/action, you are probably not causing enough problems – the media loved the Stop The War protests and hated the Poll Tax Riots.


BLACK BLOC – UNAFRAID TO BE HATED

  • Throughout history those who made change were always hated at the time, and were always described as ‘violent thugs’ – Nelson Mandela, The Black Panthers, The Suffragettes, even the Chartists
  • So don’t be afraid to be hated, and don’t hate the ‘Black Bloc’ – it is just another bunch of people who want to see a better world and are willing to protect each other and actively fight for it
  • Even if it is not your bag, respect that there are a range of tactics that we can use, and we should always respect each other and argue against the elites first and publicly – and with each other second and privately.

 

********

DRAWBACKS

  • Yes, it does scare some people more than it inspires others
  • The Police can and do often infiltrate them and commit acts of violence which are blamed on the protestors
  • Yes, sometimes even nutters can use it as a cover – though this is rare, and they usually get sorted out
  • It allows the Police to identify and attack a specific group of people
  • It allows the Police and the media to try and play ‘good protestor/bad protestor’ games
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ABC

AN ABC OF ANARCHISM

RIGHTIO – so you’ve heard of us dirty black hooded punk listening scum, but you’ve not really got an idea of what we’re about – except we seem to like black, right?

Well, here’s a little starter for you, just to give you a taste and see what you think – I promise we’re not gonna quote any dead Russians at ya!

Firstly –what we don’t like (always so much easier!)

Political Parties – the leaders of parties, however good they sound, always turn out to have been lying all along and screw us all over.  Always. Every time.  Honestly it never fails.  if you ever look back in history and go, ‘well they weren’t so bad…’ well I bet you’ll find out that at the time they had a near revolution on their hands and had to be nice or else they weren’t gonna be seeing their nuts for a good long time* – or actually they were just utter bastards and we’d been lied to at school. **

The worst bit is that their following – the members of the party – believe in their leaders so much they go around desperately defending their actions, whether it’s war, genocide, torture or making crap references to old adverts!

Revolutionary Parties  – Just to add, these guys are a bunch of pricks as well.  Not only do they hang out with megaphones everywhere, but again, everywhere they’ve taken power (Russia, China, Cambodia, etc) they’ve been equally responsible for genocide in the name of the party and for the crushing of individual freedoms as well!

It’s not just historical, if you’ve ever joined one of these organisations, they immediately try to indoctrinate you, force you to sell papers, and kick you out if you don’t follw the party line.  ‘Nuff said.

Organised Religion –Hopefully this is pretty obvious – every time someone says they speak for God and you’ve gotta listen to them to know ‘The Truth,’ about 5 minutes later they’re pointing out all the sinners and what you’re gonna have to do to them (kill, burn, torture, etc).

They usually go around telling you perfectly natural things like sex, masturbation and dinosaurs are abominations put her by the Devil to distract you from The Truth as well.  Of course the first two are pretty enjoyable… maybe they’ve got a point?!

No, no.  They’re just conveniently stuck together ideas that usually have nothing to do with the people or teachings they’re talking about, but because they’re so clear provide us all with a bit of something to believe in a crazy world.  That is then used to dominate and divide us all (often with the best of intentions again) – until we end up realising, this yet another bunch of shitty bastards trying to tell us what to do.

Just because it’s in the name of God doesn’t mean they give a shit about us.

Monarchy – yeah so what?  who cares really?  We all know that being born supposedly better than someone is stupid, but whatever.

Capitalism – Ah the big C.  It’s often made out to difficult, but it’s a pretty simple one – the big C is way of living the guarantees that all we live for, our sole purpose in life, is to make profit.

Looking out for other people? Forget about it.  Feeding the poor? Where’s the cash in that?  Looking after the planet? Err can we put a 99p in it?  Having fun?  Well there’s ways to make money out of that right? Etc, etc.

It’s a pretty sad world where we put a price on everything – the cuts are a good example, it is clear from cuts in benefits, pensions, welfare, environmental protection that these things are worth less than the bonuses of bankers, and the corporations (who are recording record profits!).  But really should helping a sick person be measured in money?  Or sharing knowledge? Or growing food for each other?

The worst thing of all is that there can be democracy whilst there’s capitalism, cause money is power and well, power corrupts.

I know I robbed it, but so what, I’m an anarchist!

Hierarchy – err, yeah, right…

Well this is just my easy way of lumping together everything that’s bad and putting it in one place.

Appalling ideas like:

Racism (I’m better than you cause of my skin colour, community, identity, whatever) –shit right?

Sexism (the idea that half the world is somehow inferior to the other half and should be treated like pretty vases that should up and be looked at) –well that’s wack as well.

Any form of oppression where the rights, wants, or desires of one set of people is put over another is pretty bait.  Well that’s what we think anyways.  That’s hierarchy, putting some people over others.  It always ends in disaster so…

So down with that crap!

Nations – Nationalism for starters is crap.

You draw a line in the sand and then say, well you people on the other side are shit, and here’s why… you live over there!  You probably speak in a different way or dress in a different way – how fucking awful is that?!!! You scum!!! WE MUST KILL YOU!!!

That’s our potted history of nationalism.

Nationalists, not content with starting on people on other sides of lines, also like to start on the people inside their own lines – and not just the ones with different coloured skin or noses either!

Nope, they like starting on socialists, trade unionists, anarchists – or as they describe them ‘dirty lefty teachers, students and hippies’.  I guess they’re partially right!  Basically anyone who cares about other people, they hate.

So it would seem like a good idea to get rid of nations.  I mean without nations you can’t have nationalism.  And you don’t have to have the shitty governments that come with nations either. I mean they’re the ones always screwing us, along with the ones making the cash.  We think governments always serve the interests of the rich even if they don’t mean to – it’s just the way it’s set up.

That means the UK government – for instance – will always screw the majority of it’s own people, and the rest of the world to protect profits and business.  It’s sounds simplistic, but trust, that’s how it goes down.  Regardless of the party, the result is the same.

Seeing as that’s the way it seems to work, we’ve started thinking, come on now, there’s gotta be a better way to organise ourselves!

So things we like…

Communities – people looking out for each other and working together, however they think of their community.

Whether it’s your hood, the people you go clubbing with, watch the footy with, or go to work with, they’re your people.  Which is good thing.  You running your own community without being told what to do is good thing as well.

Democracy

So here’s where it gets deep!  We think that the people that make decision should be you and me.  I mean all of us.  That means politicians do what we tell them. In fact there shouldn’t even such a thing a career politicians, you should do it for a year and then fuck off.  It should be like jury service – or community service – a punishment we all have to do once!

The ideas are pretty simple for Direct democracy.  Everyone you choose to represent you does exactly what you tell them, and they get sacked if they don’t.  They should be rotated constantly so they don’t get to comfy and start giving orders instead of taking them, and they should ideally be on the wages and doing the same work as you – they’re not gonna be swanning it up on 80k a year with expenses and two homes unless we all are!

Working – for yourself and each other!

Work nowadays is wank – most of us do summat we hate, for someone we don’t know to make them cash – and we consider ourselves lucky if we don’t have to, or if it pays a us bit more than some other unlucky fucker.

Well calling the shots is what we want with our politics soooo…

We think this should be the same where you work.  Fuck getting told what to do (unless of course you like that, in which case you can choose to do that – the beauty of democracy!) and letting someone else decide you wages.  How about you call the shots?

Fairly simple stuff.  And it works.  In Argentina there are over 350 factories being run by the workers.  They all get paid more than they used to and they make more than enough to put money into their communities and local services.

How about somewhere less exotic?  Well all over the UK co-operatives (run by the workers for the workers and the stake holders such as the community) out perform commercial enterprises in wages and happiness – which lets face it is what counts.  Working less for more, with better hours to fit more fun stuff in, surely that’s what we all want right?!!!

Federations/Networks/whatever/ just not Nations

OK but what about Nations and stuff we need them right?

Not really – I mean we could live in networks, or federations of communities, choosing what federation we want live in not cause of where it is, but cause of what it’s i like – it’d be like Star Trek!

Basically the idea is that we don’t define ourselves by one land mass, but choosing together as community what we want to be part of.  And because there should be no borders, you can move wherever you want if you don’t like it, or have enough democratic control in your hood to change it.

A bit too out there for ya?  Well we’d get to choose together in a democracy, so we could sort out however we think is best.

So that’s our rough plan.  Get rid of the shit, take a bit of control over our own lives and have more fun and be just a bit nicer to each other.  What do ya reckon?

*(for instance, in 1945 the Labour party took over government in the UK and brought in the national health service, built houses and a load of other half decent stuff – but what people forget is that they were gonna have to deal with over a million armed men coming home who had been striking all the way through the war – and they’d been promised something good to come home to, or else there was gonna be hell to pay).

** Churchill, for instance, was a knob.  Inventor of the concentration camp, this war obsessed nutball was considered crazy by most Tories of the time.  An out and out racist, he sided with the fascists in the Spanish civil war and was the only Prime Minister to use the British military on his on own people in the 20th century, who he used to kill Welsh miners (saying ‘lets get those dirty rats out of their holes’).  What a bastard.

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THE LIMITS OF UNSTRUCTURED COLLECTIVES

THE LIMITS OF UNSTRUCTURED COLLECTIVES

This article, or series of articles has been put together to discuss the strengths, but more importantly the limits of a certain type of organisation – one that has been defined variously as non hierarchical, horizontal, autonomous, anarchist, lifestylist , anarchist inspired, grass roots, direct action, freely associating and others.  We are rejecting all these terms because not only have they been rejected at one point or another by those who organise using this form of organisation, often they refer to other forms of organisation or concept.

For the sake of ease, and because the term has been used in reference to our

generation for our form of individualism, we are going to refer to the type of organisation as ATOMISM.

This form of organisation many are familiar with – it traces it’s antecedents back to the Zapitista rebellion in ‘94 and further back to the libertarian movements of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  It is the form of organisation the utilises collectives, working groups and networks for collective organisation and consensus decision making and hand signals for meetings. In the past decade we can see it’s use in the environmental, anti-globalisation, anti-immigration and more recently the anti-cuts movements through networks such as Climate Camp, No Borders, Dissent and UKUncut.

The strength of this form of organisation has been its’ resistance to vanguardist hijacking/entryism, it’s lack of emphasis on a particular dogma or ideological bent explicitly (though there are implicit assumptions we deal with later) and it’s willingness to embrace a variety of end goals, strategies and tactics.  This is a refreshing change for everyone who fears the monoism of demonstration, lobby and strike as the only methods for social change, especially when organised by monolithic and ineffective, or downright counter-revolutionary, organisations.

It is also suited to an age when rigid following of singular belief systems, such as religions, marxism, or fascism is widely derided (in the UK at least) as fundamentalist and peculiar.  Few want to be in a group that feels cultish, or claims to have a monopoly on truth and understanding of society.
It can be seen to build groups dedicated to particular issues in campaigning that sustain their activity long enough to achieve campaign victories.  This is unlike the popular front model used by Leninists that bottom feeds off current activity and campaigns around particular issues to recruit membership (or even worse ‘agitate’/educate) then leaves the campaign high and dry after three months of activity with no support.
There are other things to celebrate, such as the skill based activism that these collectives engender that helps campaigners develop unique skill sets, learn to deal with confrontation and repression fairly rapidly through immediate exposure to it, and generally helps people to learn by doing, rather than relying on the handy hints of a long dead Russians.

This is aided by an encouragement to freely choose roles and activity instead of being ordered to do so, or simply being given a task over which you have had no say in. The idea at the core of this practice is that decision making is not a responsibility to be given to others, but to be empowered to control yourself.

As such there is much to be lauded in these forms of organisation.

For all intents and purposes it is the most popular form of organisation for youth movements and single issue movements of our age.  Its’ methods are borrowed and supported by liberals and lobbyists, derided by Leninists for the outright threat they pose to their monopoly on anti-capitalist resistance, are the subject of academic study, as well as being screamed about by the right wing press.

There are clear limitations, though, that have consistently failed to take into consideration core organised Anarchist methodology as well as well lessons learnt from the recent past about it’s own failings.  If these lessons are ignored again, another generation is doomed to make the same mistakes at a time – at the risk of seeming hyperbolous – when the importance of getting it right could not be greater.  On the edge of complete global economic and climate meltdown a movement for peace, equality, freedom and justice that has now captured the hearts and minds of the majority of agents for social change has to focus on being more effective.

The following is for the dedicated souls who wish to do more than create pockets of change, but for those who want to exceed our own expectations and engage a wider world with our ideas and hopes.

Here we are focusing on mostly organisational aspects, with the attendant ideological and strategical conclusions that can be drawn, or feed into this critique.

The lack of democratic accountability, the lack of rotation of roles, the development of knowledge and personality hierarchies, the elitist aspects of preference being given to those with time, money, education and societal status of being white and male and educated, the limited life span of groups, and their lack of coherent history, repositories of knowledge and their inability to provide easily accessible frames of reference are the what we identify as the limits of Atomism.

The focus on single issue campaigning, the internal, action based and skill focused nature of the movement, and groups’ engagement through socialisation rather than through wider forms of communication are also discussed.

Finally an inability to express alternatives, and the fact that action focuses on reaction to excesses of the capitalist system rather than the system itself are questioned.

The emphasis on open process that closes processes and the constraints of the decision making procedures, as well as the social and lifestyle constraints of fashion choice, meeting etiquette and the dominance of particular modes of discussion and being that are prevalent and promoted are all also major limits to the success of this model of organisation.

The lack of delineation of roles beyond working groups creates many problems.

There is a lack of democratic accountability and rotation in position of responsibility that cause knowledge hierarchies to develop.  Knowledge hierarchies can be seen in the assumed positions of power of those with the most developed skill set around a particular task the group performs.

This is detrimental to the groups and the individual in several ways.

To the individual it sometimes lumbers them with responsibilities they never wanted, or inhibits them from learning new skills, taking on new roles, or, most importantly, occasionally taking a back seat.  This is the primary cause of activist burn out, the developing feeling that nothing would be get done if it wasn’t for you – which leads to personal exhaustion, a over pronounced sense of self importance and a certain disregard for fellow group members – and people generally – who don’t do as much as you.

For the group it leaves it considerably weaker in several respects.  Firstly political direction becomes dependant on the capabilities in practice of small group of individuals – what they can do and when they can do it decides your available plans of action.

Secondly new members, who are not often aware of the particular importance of someone due to their greater stake in the group through their particular skill set, are often disenfranchised by the assumed roles of responsibility and importance.  It is not clear why these people are more important often, or when it is, it is not clear how you can develop the same skill set, or assume that position of responsibility.  If it is not clear that there is a beginning and end point for that position (often because it is not even acknowledged that that person is responsible for a particular role in the first place) then how are you going to be able to have an equal voice to that person?

Thirdly there is little accountability.  When someone is not doing a job well, or is in fact contravening the wishes of the group, it is hard to publicly rebuke.  There is not only the social awkwardness, there is the inability to fill the role if they were stood down.  By large there isn’t even a methodology for doing this and when there is it often seems like a personal attack on an already overworked soul who has only volunteered to take on the role anyway.

Meeting conduct is not only alien to most people and quite off-putting, it also rewards those with the most time, money, perseverance and personality.  This can be seen be the length of consensus decision making, but also by the ability of those who know most how to use this complex system being able to manipulate it the most, either through pre-arranging the process to favour certain outcomes, by bullying the facilitation and process during a meeting, or just by being the most confident, forceful and tenacious.

Personality hierarchies develop, which are similarly due to the lack of rotation as well and, like knowledge hierarchies, leave groups precariously developing around the personal and political development of one or two individuals, and has the same attendant proneness to falling apart with that individuals change in mind, burn out, or holiday plans.

One of the most interesting aspects that these meeting and social processes limit groups in, is the way that they exclude, almost without exception, people of colour and of lower social class background and education. There is quite clearly the dominance of white educated males within these groups, followed by educated white females, and to certain extents there is an engagement with the LGBTQ community.

However in the rare cases these groups come into contact with what could be described as working class individuals, they are met with derision, disregard or active opposition.

For instance Climate Camp could actually be seen as an attack upon the working class in the attempt to deprive the working class of jobs with little, to no, alternative articulated.  This is an extreme and general example, but when applied on a personal level there are interesting and important points to be learned.

Consensus is an alien concept to most people, but even more alien is the array of hand signals.  However well explained these are (often to the impatience of the vast majority) it still provides a clear barrier to people wanting to engage with these new movements (this is discussed further in another article).

This is not something that cannot be overcome, however, if it wasn’t associated with a certain snootyness that, no matter hard they try, white educated people tend to exude.  In many cases people from outside this particular social class have felt, or expressed, that they have been actively talked down to or ignored (on those rare occasions that they’ve engaged with ATOMIST organisations).

This has to do with a number of things, including dress (if you’ve ever turned up in a suit from work, or looking particularly trendy/fashionable before a night out to a meeting, you’ll truly know what it is to be an outsider), tone of speech, accent, emphasis on politeness (in Southern Europe, as amongst many here in the UK, politeness is considered the muzzling of true expression of feeling and thought) and topic of conversation outside of politics (how many times have you chatted about X-Factor with people at a national gathering?).

The fact remains that the key actors in these movements build movements of the same social class.  This social class is the minority and is regarded by hardened right-wingers to left leaning workers with same dislike for the same reasons.

The limited life span of groups and networks can be seen as a strength. The ability to move on when something is not working and change completely can be seen as adaptable.

But at important times like these it does leave us with no easily accessible repositories of knowledge, no easily accessible methods of access to th scene or movement for newcomers and for a more popular frame of reference.  Where do we read the history?  Who do we even ask to find out?  What would you associate with the movement/movements, if explaining to someone random on the street, that they would have heard of?

It is still hard for even sympathetic onlookers to understand the methods, aims and ideology of our movement as we have no coherent and accessible organisation, set of organisations, or simple source of information for people to engage with -beyond the most longstanding and widely used of information services, Indymedia of course.

Sadly it is limited to current events and not theory or organisational practice and so doesn’t really help with us explaining who we are, why organise, how we organise and what are our alternatives.

By and large the stories of our achievements and failures are oral.

As such they are not only coloured by personal experience to a greater degree than most, but are again inaccessible to wider society.  It becomes so that the majority of the population who were not directly involved in particular movements do not understand the agents, tactics, purposes, achievements or causes for particular social changes or campaigns – take GM crops or the roads movement for examples.

The lack of knowledge of origins for certain practices of resistance that have become commonplace is disturbing not the least because they can easily be hijaked (like the far right have in Germany with Black bloc tactics) misrepresented easily or completely ignored.

This particularly relates to the fact that whilst action has been aimed at infrastructure of capitalism, it has often been a reaction to its’ excesses, rather than its’ essence.  Campaigns have been won, or had marginal success, but have our groups been key in writing the narrative?  The anti-GM movement clearly had its’ story written by the Mail for the majority of people in this country.  All the movements highlighted (environmental, anti-globalisation, anti-cuts, anti-immigration laws) are in opposition to symptoms of capitalism and power relations, not the causes themselves.

Of course this is always a problem, and how else is there to be an entry point to anti capitalism?  However single issue campaigning that is so dedicated to achieving its limited goals, without expressing a coherent alternative (the radical co-operative movement for instance?) leaves itself open to becoming nothing more than a radical form of lobbying.  Gone is the hope that this can be an agent for social change, for the transformative change we so badly need to address the massive inequities of global society.

The narrative we express, then, is one that says ‘take action now, stop this horror, before it’s too late!’ but in it’s immediacy forgets to say (or drowns out) the cry ‘and lets build something better, or else it’ll never stop!’

Is this an organisational problem?  Partially.  It is most definitely a political, strategic and theoretical problem, but one of the problems of this form of organisation is its’ inability to go above or beyond a certain size, and its method of recruitment through socialisation.

Atomised collectives, by and large, never really exceed the amount of thirty. Maybe fifteen dedicated to meetings, and two to five core individuals, with a maximum one hundred peripheral to be called upon for large events. *

This can be said to be the nature of activism, the general result of mass disengagement with radical politics.  However even in major urban centres where there a activist scenes of many hundreds, it can be observed, as regular as clockwork, that collectives reach a certain size then split, as some leave to focus on another single issue.

Is this the nature of human interaction and collective action?  We are not sure.

But it could be suggested that personal growth and the ability to take on more responsibility and therefore more ownership of the projects the groups undertake, are stifled by the lack of rotation and the well developed knowledge hierarchies.

In this situation it is natural for a developed activist, desirous of more control and ownership of this major part of their life, to involve themselves in another area of activism that has not yet been monopolised by one clique.

Socialisation is the main form of recruitment to atomised organisation, with friendship being the number one reason to get involved.  Shared experiences of a unique nature cement that socialisation process, in turn creating cliques of very tight knit friendship (or ‘affinity’ groups).

Communication tends to be internal and self regarding, leading to an obsession with the media, or publications internal to the atomised movement as these are the only places our actions are communicated and evaluated.  They are rarely, if ever, communicated with the wider populace directly, through stalls, flyering, postering, door knocking, or any of the other dirty work that other forms of political organisation busy themselves with.  This inward focus is another restriction to growth, and very rarely moves the organisations out of their singular hole.

There is little to no engagement with large organisations in any form, such as trade Unions, NGOs or political parties.  Quite rightly they are rejected as dead ends, nonetheless the rank and file of these organisations are often approached by other political movements, are the atomised movements missing an opportunity here?

That atomised anti-capitalists are forever expressing their critique of the system through single issue engagement, rather than a broader critique, then, is due in some part to the nature of their organisations.   The only way to engage people and continue to do so is by creating a narrow focus that key individuals can take ownership of, and that their socialised recruits can identify with, as the organisations do not make attempts to engage the wider populace, especially from outside of their social class.

Whilst there is some inherent questioning of the system that a protest camp, attack on infrastructure, squat, social space, or symbolic action creates, it does not express a broader narrative or alternative.  This is failure of organisation, not only in focus of communication and lack of external focus.

Because of the social make up of the movement, and because of the limited numbers who will act together, there is a narrow focus on what is defined as constructive action.

This leads to a very physically based definition of action (I.E. prioritising a spectacular demonstration over a strike), and one that it is very skill based.  Whilst skill sharing is emphasised and encouraged, it surely must be obvious that tripod climbing and arm tubes just isn’t an option for most people.  This is not because they would be physically incapable (though many would be) or just need the right training, but because it is seen as an undesirable and unnecessary form of action by the majority of people.  This is not necessarily a moral view point, but tactical and life view point.

Basically not that many people are action junkies because it is seen as peculiar (and thank heavens for that – i am not sure a beautiful new world could be made by a majority of people who base their lives around ‘taking action’) and because there are repercussions that come from acting – in what is still a minority – in this fashion that would be detrimental to peoples lives.

Another discussion that will be continued further as where is that of open process.  The idea of open process is not only  contradictory because of the reasons pointed out about (the personality and knowledge hierarchies, the limited recruitment due to the process of socialisation and closed social class, and the impenetrability of consensus and hang signals and the physical and lifestyle orientation of the groups involved) but also because decision making meetings are not necessarily an accessible way to involve someone in the actions of a groups or network.  At least as a first step.

There is often a limited emphasis on introductory meetings covering who we are, why we do what do and how we do it.   An incremental approach to involvement in group activity might be a preferred route to being invited to a decision making meeting as a first port of call.  They are as daunting and alienating as the indoctrination techniques of the SWP – and reveal cliques very rapidly.  An examination of open process is required to discuss further the implications of engagement with wider circles.

This lack of growth of numbers able to be involved in the movement is clearly a hindrance to the wider social aims of transformative politics, as it is going to require a wider populace than this small scene of thousands to enact true change.  The inability to grow except through division and refocusing on single issues or tasks is part of the limiting factor on growth in numbers, and is also an expression of it.

There needs to be a balance between the hideous dogmatic party format approach of Leninists and the single issue cellular growth of Atomism – something that clearly articulates alternatives and a wider critique of capitalism, beyond the inherent questioning of capitalism through taking action against its infrastructure in single issue campaigning – and something that is more widely accessible, even less dogmatic in its ideology, that is not so based around lifestyle preferences, inherited BONUSES social exclusion or elitism. Something that is democratic, simple, easy to understand and engage with and openly available to take ownership over.

Within the atomised movement the suggestion might be re-engineering some focus toward direct external communication with the wider populace.  This might be one hour a week for each group member putting up posters, flyers through letter boxes or doing a stall.

It might mean clearly announcing who is responsible for what and when that responsibility will finish.

Another consideration might be to do introductory meeting once a month or so, on a semi regularly basis, in order to give groups an opportunity to focus on engaging with new communities, or within their own community a little more consistently.

This could also give people a chance to break down social barriers to entry and engagement with the movement, as well as engaging a wider populace with the ideas of a wider a message.

For some though it is time to look beyond the atomised movement, if they haven’t already.  There are radical unions, alternative economic projects, and co-operative movements out there to engage with, or start.  As ever, it is worth keeping the Anarchist mantra of DIY close to your heart, as these projects offer a great opportunity to engage people with massive, transformative and radical change in a non dogmatic, easily accessible and day to day fashion.

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Dirty benefit cheats

DIRTY BENEFIT CHEATS ARE AT IT AGAIN

 ‘They’ve been taking the piss for years, now it’s time to help them kick the habit and get back to meaningful employment’ (A NINJA)

For years, in fact for as long as NINJA can remember (which is a long time – we’re like elephants. With masks instead of trunks) there has been a portion of society taking the rest of us for a ride.

They’ve been cheating the rest of us out of our hard earned money and sponging off the state.  This has been confirmed by HMRC in figures that show these scroungers are in fact stealing £120bn a year!!!  (http://www.pcs.org.uk/campaigns)

£120bn is enough money to pay for the whole NHS budget again and go a long way to paying the whole education budget again on top of that.

We are of course talking about that motley crew some call ‘the elite’ – bankers, corporations, politicians, executives, etc. The powerful and wealthy in general.

It has recently been reported (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/may/08/rich-list-recession-billionaires?INTCMP=SRCH)  that their wealth is back at pre crash levels, and to get onto Britain’s Rich list you need to have £15 million more than you needed in 2008 before the crash.

But in a new low for the scum, they have resorted to attacking disabled people in a shameful attack on the most vulnerable to feed their grasping need for the state to subsidise their wildly wasteful lifestyles.

Corporate thugs ATOS have been employed by the government to drive people off benefits (at a cost of £300 million btw), by coming up with such ingenious tests for fitness such as ‘can you left a pen?’ or ‘can you put your arms above your head’.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/11/disabled-marchers-thousands-benefits-protest

As you can imagine these stringent methods for judging disability are forcing people to survive without home care, mobility allowance or even enough money to pay the rent.

 As one disabled activist pointed out ‘I had my home help cut from 7 days a week to 2 because I was able to put a pen in my pocket.  I live the other 5 days a week now in fear of having an accident.’ 

Of course this is only to pay for the lavish lifestyles of powerful people who more money than morals, who nonetheless have spent vast amounts getting us to blame those in society who are the most vulnerable and least wealthy.

 A NINJA

‘They’ve been taking the piss for years, now it’s time to help them kick the habit and get back to meaningful employment’

 ‘By meaningful employment we mean they should start doing something with their lives that actually makes them and other people happy.  This doesn’t have to have anything to do with money, in fact, especially in their case, it most definitely shouldn’t’

 ‘We are only going to do this by getting off our arses, getting organised and tackling the problem at its root – by tackling the elite themselves. This means getting our money back and getting some sort of control over these scroungers.  It’s time to finish this government and all others that try to steal from us, whilst supporting these fraudsters’

 ‘Most of all it means we are going to have to act with kindness, respect and understanding towards each other.  We mustn’t believe the divide and rule stuff.’

 ‘We can’t start believing public sector workers have cushy jobs so they should be sacked, or that students have it easy, so should pay more, or that benefit claimants are lying scum and should get to work, or that people of different colour skin or different religious beliefs are the cause of all society’s problems, because they’re different.’

 ‘Looking out for number one is what they want you to do.  Because that way it’ll be easier to steal from you and everyone you know, whilst blaming you for it.  Don’t buy it, be better than that and let’s start creating an alternative’.

Next week, how they are tricking the nearly 3 million unemployed off their benefits, driving people out of their homes during the process – and more importantly driving down wages for everyone by creating a desperate underclass. 

Wonderfully this is all done whilst blaming the victims!

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