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/leftypol/ is a non-sectarian board for leftist discussion.

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Okay, What Is To Be Done? Anonymous 01/27/2020 (Mon) 21:45:24 No. 235465
To counter all the negative fatalist, doomer, etc. sentiments that have been piling up on this board, let's instead focus our efforts on what exactly can we, first as individuals, do to help crush capitalism and build the socialist world we all see in our hearts right here, right now?
>literally two threads >doomerism is pandemic!!1! how about you fucking sage them and stop dragging this stupid arguement out
>>235465 Join a union and get active. I am active in a (non-Ameriburger) party and a union, and I get far more anti-doomer inspiration out of union work - not because the party is bad, but because union work is just more immediate and hands-on. Representing a worker as a delegate in a dispute where management is trying to ratfuck them, or taking part in pay negotiations, or putting up union posters (here it is an acknowledged right to post union material) or supporting someone to make a workplace bullying claim -- these things give a here-and-now success feeling that drives away the fatalism of gazing too much at the infinite horizon.
>>235467 First of all this. Second of all; Positivity ain't a bad thing. I think the board could benefit greatly from a more positive atmosphere. Personally, what i do at an individual level is plant my self in situations that, Nominally, keep me around actual, real working people and have face too face conversations with them about the economy and politics. I meet all kinds of people in the small town I recently moved too; real working people who are really feeling the effects of Capital flight here. They seem to be slowly comming along to my message, though the oldest ones are the least receptive. They all know my political affiliation. Hiding it only makes you suspicious.
>>235465 I don't know why as an athiest you would have hope. As i've started to love christ, i have infinite hope. CHRIST IS BORN, ALL SIN IS FORGIVEN, HEAVAN IS WAITING. Also in the longest term the communist will win , as they will receive heaven. Porky has earned hell
>>235536 This is about as detailed as you can get OP. The core principles are fight exploitation wherever it may be, and unify that fight in one party. The party has branches, it has pieces that are somewhat independent in their activity because that is necessary to be effective and fluid, but it is within one large organization that can direct the mass movement and can seize legitimacy as a massive functioning political and administrative body outside of the state. What sucks is that this doesn't fucking exist. The closes thing to it, and it is distant and not at all similar basically, is the DSA. I mean that in the sense that the DSA is a non-electoral party that has the ability to be whatever it wants, and its primary goal is to organize, educate and agitate a leftist movement. There needs to be a party like that, that isn't just an electoral party, but that also acts more deliberately on a program of expansion and organizing in a way an org like the DSA just doesn't right now. The DSA also has really bad internal organization right now, and nobody in it likes national. It is a set of clubs in different cities that have varying degrees of quality, and basically no coordination.
>>235614 Opium of the masses. Etc etc etc.
>what is to be done Unionize your workplace, and try to build dual power organizations. Start doing permaculture (guerilla style if necessary). The less you depend on the market the better and safer you are. Talk to your neighbors, your friends and family, about socialism, horizontalism, sustainability - whatever angle works. Speak to their needs and concerns and speak in their language. If they are woketards, don't use logic; give them an injunction to be woker by being socialist. Do some work locally at protests and shit, even if the issue is kind of stupid. You can find people there who are already agitated for you, and you can talk about how capitalism is causing the problem. And keep posting online. It does actually help change people's minds believe it or not. Use the engagement functions (likes and shit) to boost comrades' metrics, and join their arguments. A lot of people are conformists and susceptible to the appearance of popularity. It's not necessarily going to decide their opinions, but is often enough to sway them and make them curious or push them just enough to hit a tipping point.
>>235639 Marx was retarded on this point. Athiesm makes no sense. Hell half the communist turned him into christ. Man longs for a spiritiual saviour,
>>235658 >Atheism means the death of religion That's not what he MEANT.
>>235664 >That's not what he MEANT. Then what did he mean?
>>235667 He mean't STATE ATHEISM. The idea that religion can have no effect on a nations laws and customs that people are free to practice whatever religion they'd like and not practice any religion.
>>235675 Have you thought of Actually ever reading the man? You are so way off base it's fucking laughable.
>>235658 >Athiesm makes no sense. Why does not believing in that for which there is no evidence not make sense?
How the fuck does every potentially good thread keep getting derailed by one fuckwit deciding to run one obviously bullshit line all day long? If its not rhe incel or the trannyhater it's this fucking holy roller. Fuck off, talk about concrete actions not ideology. https://youtube.com/watch?v=v8qoB1XwtHM Video related, good summary of religion by a legendary Wobbly
>>235826 How indeed?
Socialist white pills can counter doomer black pills .
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>>235842 This. Working towards Socialism is the thing that's keeping me going through all the pain.
>>235832 This is becoming a singular obsession at the moment because I see it everywhere. Generating gibberish - literally in the case of text generating algorithms - is ten times as fast/cheap/easy as refuting it, or even just having a genuine sincere reasoned conversation. This works for Brexit, Trump, Boris, Australian politics ("LABOR WILL TAX YOU TO DEATH", google it), union thug smears, climate change denial, Corbyn antisemitism smears, Bernie sexism smears, Pizzagate, QAnon, Freeze Peach, all of it. I know it was ever thus, but it's leading a plurality if not a majority of the population off the idiocy cliff in politics and nobody has yet worked out a way to properly jam the garbage signal because talking shit is just so much easier than trying to reason with people.
>>235852 Why don't we make our own prole bots and pit them against the porky bots, Robot Wars style?
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>>235842 >>235849 This. Never pass up an opportunity to help people if it's reasonably doable, and when they thank you, tell them that as a communist you are happy to help out your neighbor, and that we must struggle against capitalist atomization teaching us to hate and fear each other.
>>235857 Not a bad idea, but instead of gibberish muddying the water use actual slogans and talking points. Just give the bots a big list of arguments they can spam. Bonus: use a neural network to teach them when it's appropriate to drop which argument (using the social media engagement as feedback).
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>>235852 hmmmm
>>235866 That's scary shit, man. What a time to be alive, truly.
>>235884 Surely all the porky propaganda-bots are just an extension of the mechanization of labor but applied to the creative writing process? Chances are if you've read a newspaper in the last 10 or so years you've read an article written by an AI. To me, as an artistic person, this is fundamentally no different from the car replacing horses or the printing press replacing scribes.
>>235891 Yes, but no. This is not the car being replaced with automation. This is the sharpening and the automation of the manufacturing of consent of society. This is a level of propaganda that has not been seen before and will peer into the depths of the human psyche in time. It is truly terrifying levels of manipulation.
>>235900 Yes, I see now... Whatever the case, let's keep up the fight and face this together, comrade.
>>235891 >>235900 Whereas most infotech has a profound democratizing influence, learning AI has major barriers to entry that make it an effective tool exclusive to people/groups of means. Rather than AI itself running away with its power and escaping the leash, the real threat we face today is technocrats using AI as a tool to corral people toward the desired consensus. The danger is in things like Amazon using AI to push you to consoom the right product.
>>235918 Technical part of the argument - neural networks used for learning algorithms are very resource intensive. They require large amounts of data and a lot of processing power/time. This is the barrier to entry I meant. The process of making AIs is pretty primitive, so the learning algorithms we have are basically brute-forcing it by trying lots of shit and keeping the parts that seem to work.
>>235918 A 50 billion dollar Amazon or Google AI facility can be seized by 20 dudes with rifles and equipment that cost about $10000 at the most. And there is no shortage of qualified left leaning computer scientists who can run that facility for the people and turn that AI to work against porky. Seizing the means of production works the same at it always has and nothing can change that.
>>235976 I was talking more about the interim but yes, what you wrote is correct.
>>235891 AI needs to be destroyed at all costs until the revolution happens, probably after as well.
>>236048 Neural networks are especially nebulous because it's not merely running its code, the decisions it makes can not be predicted ahead of time so no one can be held responsible
>>235658 >turned him into Christ And, that's a good thing? The revolution doesn't need some messiah tier cult of personality. That shit is unnecessary. Especially Christianity. The erosion of past moral institutions is ultimately a benefit from capitalism.
>>236069 I find it very interesting how porky found a way to basically engage in discrimination for profit, by obscuring it in a magic black box called AI. If there is ever any scrutiny, you have a perfect alibi. >>235884 fucking same. gave me chills thinking about this in 30-40 years. It's amazing what people believe these days, flat earth, reptilians, the QAnon cult, but also mainstream media is fucking insane. When I see what the media is reporting, for example, the blatant bernie attacks, or any Jimmy Dore episode, I feel a little like a crazy conspiracy theorist. Then there's the thing about newspapers shutting down, getting bought by Big Porky, and setting up paywalls. What will the easy news of the future be? Will spectacle-tier political news sell?
>>235658 This is exactly what Marx said. The problem is that even communism is an opiate.
>>236048 >probably after as well. That's stupid, they can be used to plan economy.
>>236521 That's a bad idea unless you're only talking about running some numbers or simulations. An AI should never have the power to make economic decisions at all. It needs to serve people, so people can judge the plan according to human needs. It's very easy to overlook something when programming an AI's success and failure metrics, and it can be hard to predict solutions it generates even to meet good metrics. Proposing solutions is ok, but any ideas a robot has need to be reviewed by humans before implementation.
>What Is To Be Done? Among other things, keep posting adorable board mascots.
>>236677 And that's why you run updates and patches, so that you can prevent those failures from happening. Otherwise you get those Y2K nutjobs that think the world will end because of one tiny number.
>>236679 >adorable board mascots Yes, I love our mascots too <3
>>235976 >A 50 billion dollar Amazon or Google AI facility can be seized by 20 dudes with rifles and equipment that cost about $10000 at the most. this. you could probably BTFO google by building a dam overnight or releasing some beavers https://www.npr.org/2017/05/08/527214026/google-moves-in-and-wants-to-pump-1-5-million-gallons-of-water-per-day?t=1580228948052 https://mashable.com/2017/04/23/google-data-center-south-carolina-water-wars/?europe=true
>>235826 Who's quote was that? it takes 10 minutes to refute nonsense someone wrote in 5 seconds or something like that?
>>235465 spoiler that shit anon
>>236730 >Google just want a bunch of water Oh FFS! Disney World has a sewage water treatment plan. Why can't big corporations nowadays create the infrastructure they need, instead of just sending the bill to some poor county?
>>239484 privatize profits socialize costs and this >>239488
>>239484 He was insinuating that if you cut their water source, they'll have to shut down their servers.
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>>235826 It is a mystery.
>>239490 >>239488 So Disney did a bad thing when they made their own sewage treatment plant? :-/
>>236692 But a lot of failures only show up after the fact. The first phones made it harder for women to be understood. Because their sonic bandwidth was developed by men.
Key ideas for community organising Taken from: https://libcom.org/organise/key-ideas-for-community-organising Some very broad basic ideas for getting started at organising in your local area. Firstly, remember: If you are going to do community organising, do it in your own area! Don't be a missionary! >Research and preparation Look around your local area and determine what issues it faces. Talk to your neighbours, what issues do they think are important regarding the area. Determine what kinds of projects you can develop or direct action you can take that meet the area's needs or address the community's issues. Find out if others are already working on the problems in their area and if they've been effective and what you can learn from them. Determine what kinds of resources you have available and who in your area might be useful allies in accomplishing your goals. >Volunteering or starting your own group If there is a group doing work in your area and they are effective, it would be a good idea to volunteer with them to gain experience. If there is no group doing work on the issues you are concerned about or existing groups are not effective, start your own group but try to remain on friendly terms with existing groups. >Planning Set a goal. Devise objectives (or strategies) to achieve the goal. Devise actions to achieve the objectives. >Community-building projects Plan everything you do in your area with an effort to bring people in the community together and get them involved. Make a special effort to get people in the area who are not politically conscious to work on projects and become active. In short, gear your work towards not just helping the community but towards actually strengthening a sense of community. >Fight prejudice as you organise Make a special effort to ensure that your organisation and its projects reflect the racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the community and make sexual equality and anti-racism explicit parts of your organisation's politics and policies. >Get attention Be visible in your area, make every effort to let people nearby know you exist. Seek press attention when you do an action, gain a victory, or establish a project.
How to start a community kitchen A guide to setting up community kitchens, originally published by South Norwood Community Kitchen and republished by Freedom News as part of their "Don't Despair, Organise" series. Taken from: https://libcom.org/library/how-start-community-kitchen Community kitchens are popping up all around the country and they are truly spaces that can make the world a better place, create friendships and make our neighbourhood feel more connected. One myth that needs to be dispelled is that community kitchens are not only for those in dire need and should be and are for everyone regardless of if you can afford a meal or not. Bringing people together from different backgrounds, as we have seen, can heal divisions and dismantle a lot of preconceptions that some people don’t always realise they have – all through the power of a shared meal! Here are some key ingredients that we have found to be fundamental in running a successful community kitchen. We are by no means experts and we are constantly learning and evolving but these are a few things we have learned so far. >Venue Probably the most important thing is having a space to host your community kitchen. These can come in all shapes and sizes: Community centres, village halls, churches and other places of worship, street corners, parks in summer, restaurants and cafés out of hours. We have been very lucky to be hosted by the South Norwood Baptist Church for the last 3 years but we will be moving to our own venue at the Socco Cheta Community Hub so that we can operate 6 days a week and provide more activities and support for the community. You need as decent a kitchen as you can find, unless you are cooking in your own homes and serving it on the street. If you are serving the public, you will need to make sure it has been inspected by the council’s food hygiene team and if it is inside then make sure you have enough space for at least 40 guests. You often have to make do with what you can get but creating a clean and safe environment is a must. >Food There are a number of ways to get food. Fareshare is a charity that redistributes surplus food to charities and not-for-profit organisations. We have had wonderful donations from them ranging from whole lambs, cheese, birthday cakes and an abundance of fruit and veg. City Harvest is also a reliable supplier and can provide high quality vegetables alongside chilled food if you can handle it appropriately at your venue. You can also ask your local supermarkets for food donations but being frank, the quality of food you receive can vary depending on the supermarket you use and their interest in the cause. They also may need reminding as staff shifts can change and may not be aware of your regular collection date. The food you provide should obviously be tasty but also nourishing. Not every kitchen has the resource to provide a 3 course menu but giving your guests some decent food that feels like it’s made with love can give a bit of dignity and just because something is free doesn’t mean it has to be rubbish. We choose to serve people at their table, clear up after them and treat them as if they were dining in our restaurant for the same reason. >Volunteers Volunteers are the lifeblood of community kitchens. We are lucky at SNCK to have such committed and passionate volunteers and also to those who are with us briefly but allow us to never miss a service because we are short of people power. Having a sign-up rota (we use sign-up.com) is fundamental so you can see how many volunteers you have for the week and to make sure you can fill any upcoming gaps. We have seen patterns in volunteer numbers as the seasons flow. Summer can be quiet with Christmas and the new year good will giving healthy numbers earlier in the year. Take advantage of these moments and be mindful to find ways to boost your numbers as that warm weather beckons. Of course, volunteers when they start need to be supported to learn the ropes and understand any health and safety issues, but they should also have the freedom to just get stuck in and make suggestions on how the project runs or could be improved. Volunteers can come from many different channels, through your social media posts and in community facebook groups, your guests that attend, asking neighbours and friends, and also through your local volunteer centre or voluntary support organisation. >Spreading the word and getting the community on board Give it a good name and an identity but without any of the corporate malarkey. People need to know who you are and where you are. Get your project on the council lists for free meals,, social prescribing databases and local noticeboards. Put posters around the area, post on Facebook groups and use the most effective method of all, word of mouth around your local networks. As the name says, a community kitchen is nothing without its community. Getting your community onboard is the best support you can receive, they will be your guests that attend, source of all kinds of donations and an all-round cheerleader for your project. Collaborating is also key, always look for opportunities to partner with other local charities and organisations or with local businesses. We have worked with local youth organisations who have volunteered with us to our local community cinema who we are about to do a lunch and film screening with. Partnerships can yield people power for your project, donations and also more support for your guests that attend. >Solidarity not charity We have nicked this phrase from the epic Streets Kitchen but it couldn’t be more true. The Victorian charity model of feeding the poor and homeless does little to help people move beyond feeling like victims and empower them to build more supported, resilient lives. Guests that walk through those doors should be made to feel valued, empowered and listened to. Providing opportunities for guests to volunteer or take ownership over some part of the project can go a long way in facilitating this. Community kitchens are great ways of being hubs of informal advice and support for the community. Of course, getting in official advice providers can be useful particularly around finances, housing etc. but creating a space where everyone can share experiences or offer help when someone needs it offers immediate solutions. This has happened in many ways at SNCK, when someone needs something like a new fridge because they’ve finally got somewhere to live or a lift to the hospital then we know among us or reaching out to the wider community, that we can sort it. >Make it fun This is a vital ingredient. Making a fun and vibrant space that people want to return to and to feel a part of. A quiet environment punctuated by slurps of soup and clattering cutlery may suit some but is not always conducive to encouraging people to chat and relax. Stick on a bit of music (funk and soul always works in our case), encourage a bit of dancing or put on some kind of activity like Bingo. We like to have fun in the kitchen too and volunteers will play with the menu and have a laugh through what is mainly chopping vegetables and washing up! Community kitchens can be hard work and take a while to establish themselves and get the support that they need but they are worth every minute. When you see those new friendships made, the satisfied faces, the raucous laughter, the dance offs, the hugs and kisses and as one guy once said to us ‘this place is like coming home’, it makes it all worthwhile.
Tips for effectively carrying out door-knocking visits and talking to people in your local area. In community politics, door knocking plays an essential role. From just getting to know your neighbours better, to carrying out a local survey or trying to sign people up to a local campaign or petition talking to people at home is a valuable exercise, due to its face-to-face nature, However, it can be a daunting task, so we put together a set of tips to help you on your way, with pre-planning and then how to act on people’s doorsteps. Before you go >Never go out on a rainy day, people are put off if you look like a drowned rat or are covered with a hood, hat or umbrella >Similarly, avoid going out if you are ill. >Dress smartly; not necessarily suited but ironed and clean. Don't look like a burglar or bailiff - people are less likely to answer the door to someone wandering up their drive with a big hood or black hat and scarf... >It's best to start organising with your closer neighbours, so you have a basic trust already. >The best time to go knocking is during daylight hours. It is best not to go around dinner time. Yes people will be home, but they won’t be happy to talk. Similarly, don't go just after work, people need at least half an hour to relax before doing anything like talking to strangers. >It's always good to have a clip board in you hand - even if you don't really need it, take one with some leaflets on. >The resident’s first point of eye contact is either your face or the clipboard so always make sure that your group or campaign’s header is present and clearly visible on the board. >Depending what sort of thing you're doing it could be useful to have two sets of leaflets, one for people who are out or answer the door and tell you they've got no time and a separate one for people who are more interested. >If you have enough time it is worth calling back to houses that didn’t answer the first time. Just make sure that you keep an accurate record of which houses you spoke to people in or else you'll end up calling on the same person several times and they'll get pissed off..... >Bring a sheet to note down the contact details of particularly interested people. >Some people have put a card through the doors of the areas to be visited announcing the time they'll be along - if people don't want to talk they can just put the card in the window to indicate they're not interested. While time-consuming this can be worthwhile. >If you're leafleting for a 'controversial' issue (e.g. anti-fascist) then start at the top of a tower block, otherwise you may have to walk down past hostile people who might have been alerted by your leaflets. At the door >Say the most important thing first. Avoid apologising for bothering them in the first sentence – people prefer you get to the point of why you're calling. >The person opening the door won't want to hear too much complicated stuff in the first minute or so leave aside complicated explanations in favour of making a good first impression >If you seem confident and relaxed, so will they - if you're nervous and tense then they will also tend to react defensively. >Use inclusive gestures, open stance - never cross arms while you speak, or stand like you are about to leave for example. >Don't be intimidating, and don't approach the door in a big group. Knocking in pairs is usually the best format, for not overwhelming people, for your security and also so you have some company and can get feedback from each other on how it went. >Remember to smile; don't go if you're in a bad mood. People always pick up on it. >Look people in the eye, use a strong handshake – it makes you seem more trustworthy. >Always be honest about what you know and don't know - don't flannel to sound more informed. >Know your script, and answers to frequently asked questions, so you don't fumble your words when asked. >It sounds silly, but your knocking style is important. If you sound too official, people may not come to the door. >Behave from the moment you touch the gate - people often hear it and will check you through the curtains. Close the gate behind you, and don't walk on the grass. Close the gate behind you when you leave as well. Finally... You shouldn't be nervous about knocking on people’s doors. Most people are very nice even if they're not interested in what you have to say. It helps if you have a leaflet to give people because then you can refer to it, point out the date and venue of a meeting etc. Also if what you're trying to organise is local and for the good of the community then you have an immediate advantage over most people who are door-knocking for other reasons. Once you've knocked on a few doors and got some feedback it's plain sailing usually, although don't be disappointed if all the people who seemed enthusiastic don't actually turn up to a meeting or event. Last of all, enjoy it! It's a great buzz when you get into it, and a great way to get to know people in your community.
>>242639 (Comments from the libgen posting of this article I thought was necessary additions: >Don’t be intimidating, and don’t approach people’s doors in groups. I know people who did or do charity canvassing, and from them I've learned that two people at the door usually works better than one, even if one person does most of the talking. Maybe it's because people feel more embarrassed to tell you to go away if there's another person there as a witness. Or maybe it's because your cause seems more legitimate if you can have at least one other person there with you (so you don't just seem like a lone weirdo). Agreed though that three or more people would be too intimidating and a bad idea. ------- Having spent a couple years canvassing in my youth (in an Alinskyite organization), I've got to agree with boomerang (above user). Also, an old radical I used to cover the city leafleting with (including on public transit) made it a point of principle to always do it in pairs. There were many reasons for this, including back up in case something turns sour (like having the cops called or dealing with a gun-toting reactionary -- which isn't unknown in the U.S.), for keeping up morale, and simply for giving each other feedback. Otherwise, this door knocking guide has excellent advice.
Get Up and Get Going: How to Form a Group Taken from: https://libcom.org/library/get-get-going-how-form-group Post 1/3 A guide from It's Going Down on how to start new groups and projects. Becoming radicalized in a small town by yourself, seemingly in the “middle of nowhere,” can often be one of the most difficult experiences you may ever encounter. But even harder than the feeling of being adrift can be the desperation of not knowing how to go about attempting to make the leap from being just an individual with a set of ideas to someone that is part of a movement and specifically, a group of people who are organized in a set area, acting in concert, with that movement. While this column will be written in a way that assumes that the reader is located in a place without other anarchist, anti-authoritarian, or autonomist groups, hopefully it will also have some good advice for anyone that is looking to start a project or group of any sort, regardless of what the overall terrain looks like around you. In today’s age, where the internet has taken up more and more of what social movements and struggles are based around, the need to have a presence on the streets and in our neighborhoods, is now greater than ever. >Before Getting Started Before you begin to form a group (in this context, group is going to refer to everything from an organization, a project, a crew, to any sort of collective attempt at doing something), it’s good to keep a few things in mind, and also to look around your general region for different examples of ways to organize, how to intervene, and things that other groups are doing, building, and working on. First, it’s always good to go back and read and study the history of your region. Who were the original people that lived on the land that you now live on? How did they respond and fight back against colonization? Are their descendants still in the local area? What is the history of past movements, from labor to civil rights to the fight against the war in Vietnam? Are there examples of riots, strikes, and occupations that shaped your town? How have people historically responded to the police, to pollution, environmental racism, and ecological destruction? The results of a few internet searches, calls to local union halls, and trips to the library, may surprise you. Second, it’s probably worth it to check out the groups that are in your town and also general region. If there’s a university and junior college, see what is happening on campus. Are there groups of people putting on film showings and discussions in town? Are there hold overs from past movements still meeting that before you didn’t know about. This goes for reactionary and far-Right forces as well; as their presence will of course impact your ability to organize. Looking into what is happening in towns around you may also be worth your while. For instance, finding a group of people in a town 45 minutes away might not lead you to find a group of people you might organize with, but it might give you an idea of what people in a somewhat similar context are doing in their own location. The point in doing all of this background research is to see if there are other people out there that like you – are looking for something else. Third, it's good to have an understanding of your local context and what the primary tensions and contradictions are within daily life of the general area that you inhabit. This can change, neighborhood to neighborhood, but in general you need to know who holds wealth and power in your area and what their interests are, and how they are attempting to shape and control the area around them. You also need to map out how this is causing tensions to arise; and how people, if at all, are responding. This can mean everything from gentrification and police sweeps of the homeless to the closing of schools and manufacturing plants to pipeline projects and simply generational abject poverty. Reading the local news daily, while understanding its real limits, will also help in this regard. Chances are, you already know that your town has a history of being polluted by the XYZ plant, that the opioid crisis has ravaged the region, or that the biggest issue is lack of affordable housing, etc. The reason that you need to think strategically about these realities is that by doing so this can and will inform how you may be able to respond to them. A big mistake that some people new to organizing make is that they simply try and jump into what group they most closely associate with; often networks and organizations that are already established across the US. This means that folks often with no experience suddenly set up IWW chapters when they have no history of actual labor organizing, and often times, just sit around in meetings until after 6 months to a year, the project folds. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t start an IWW, Redneck Revolt, Earth First!, or Anarchist Black Cross group, but only to point out that as you find people and begin to get organized, the work you end up doing may be completely different than the original project that you had in mind. Also, there’s nothing stopping you from later on incorporating aspects of these other groups into your organizing: from letter writing nights, to labor organizing, to learning how to use firearms properly. Final point, the biggest pot hole that many new people get stuck into is that of social media. In short, setting up an account won’t magically make a real life group appear. And while running a Facebook page for “XYZ Town of Anarchists” might be a great way to meet some people, if all you do is share memes and links about things happening elsewhere, as opposed to going out and starting projects and organizing, then what’s the point? If you set up accounts, use them to boost that you are doing and to hopefully find new people, but don’t mistake a page for actually being organized. >Building a Crew If we are operating from the idea that you are essentially alone in the project of building a group of people you can being to organize with and take action along side of, then you’re going to have to work at finding like minded folks – and trust us, they are out there. For instance, for every mail order IGD ships out to a Portland or Brooklyn, we ship probably twice as much to towns and cities we’ve never heard of. So rest assured, people are out there, and generally they are just as isolated, alienated, and looking to connect with other people as you are.
>>242647 Post 2/2 (Not 3 as in the previous post) So then, you’ll need to think of ways of creating opportunities for you and potential comrades to meet. In general, here are some ideas: *Organize A Low Key Event: One of the easiest things to pull off in order to ‘test the waters’ of your local area, is to organize an event to see if curious and like minded people show up. One of the simplest events you can organize is to host a film screening, for instance of an episode of Trouble from the folks at Sub.Media. As they have films that cover a wide variety of topics, you should be able to find one that fits your personal context. If you’re looking for a place to hold a screening in order to avoid bad weather, generally places like public libraries are cheap to rent out and easy to set up. If weather permits, you might want to do it outside in a public park, just make sure to figure out a screen, sound, and power before hand. Also, make sure that you put a lot into actually promoting the event. Make flyers and do a social media campaign. Make sure you get the word out in all the different working class neighborhoods in your general area. Put up flyers at schools, corner stores, health food stores, smoke shops, at the library, barbershops, tattoo parlors, coffee shops, etc. You may also want to use this opportunity to set up a social media account to promote your event, such as “AUTONOMY [Name Of Town]” etc. *Table With Literature: Tabling is a time tested way to meet other folks face to face. What you’ll need is a table and also literature. Check out our store for a few packs of zines and stickers you can get and hit up groups like CrimethInc. to see what they offer. Look around at different online distros for more stuff to print out and get creative. Choose places to table with high foot traffic such as flea markets, college campuses, music events and shows, farmer’s markets, busy Downtown areas, and beyond. Then there’s also places such as the DMV or the Food Stamps office where large amounts of people are stuck at all day, often looking for something to read. Carry around en email sign up sheet with you and add people as you go to a mailing list. *Host a Skillshare: If hosting a film screening or tabling with literature isn’t your idea of a good way to meet potential comrades, you might also consider hosting something less overtly political and more based around sharing a skill, such as learning herbal remedies and learning how to grow your own food. Events like this appeal to a wide variety of people and often are very popular. *Create A Publication/Broad Sheet/Poster Campaign: If you’re looking to do something different that may take a while to build, you may want to go the publishing route. Creating a local magazine or broadsheet that presents an anarchist analysis and critique of the local news is one idea. Check out War on Misery from St. Louis to get inspired. You could also do simply a one off broad sheet, (11″ by 17″ double sided print) or even just put up posters that include a contact email. By setting up a network of free boxes you can increase your distribution range, while also dropping off copies at places like the library or at liquor stores. *Start a Reading Group: Reading groups offer a way to bring together people both interested in radical ideas with people already well versed in them in a low key environment that lets people get to know each other and build relationships. The idea behind them is fairly simple: to read as a group a text and then discuss it. People may also find it easier to read a text out loud as a group as opposed to reading it at home and then discussing it the week after, but the choice is yours. With these set of ideas, we think you should be off to a good start. Keep experimenting and applying these suggestions to your own local context. Don’t be afraid to try something new as well. Organizing, Intervention, Mutual Aid, Infrastructure, and Base Building So you’ve read about your town and general area’s history. You understand the terrain around you and have also mapped out the key contradictions. You’re up on “local politics” and have your ear to the ground. You’ve also branched out, organized a few events, and against all odds managed to meet a few people that want to do something with you. The next question is: so now what? How you answer that question will depend on the kind of group that you want to build. What follows are some general concepts to help you think about what direction you could go in. *Base Building: All good organizers should be engaging in some form of base building – the idea behind it is that you are putting work into the building of relationships with people, neighborhoods, and communities that you want to have a greater connection to. This could mean choosing to table at the local flea or farmer’s market every week, organizing an antifascist patrol of a set area against fascist activity, to simply spending a lot of time in a neighborhood making connections with people who live there. *Mutual Aid: Many groups engage in a wide variety of mutual aid projects, from providing community meals like Food Not Bombs, to organizing events like Really (Really) Free Markets, to free brake light clinics, to free grocery programs and free stores. Mutual aid projects can often be an easy thing to engage in within your wider community, as they are a “positive” activity and generally will win you support and respect of those around you. They also are very labor intensive and very quickly you will discover who is actually down to put in work, and who isn’t. At their heart, mutual aid programs can address real needs and problems directly while also creating a project that is easily accessible for new comers. *Organizing: Organizing of course is a broad term, but essentially we are referring to initiatives in which people build up a material force which can collectively engage in class combat; to assert working class interests in the face of capital and State authority. Examples of this include tenants unions and associations, fighting pipeline and fossil fuel infrastructure, workplace organizing, and solidarity networks. *Intervention: To speak of intervention means the process in which we insert ourselves in wider tensions already happening all around us. This means analyzing and understanding our local context, and then thinking strategically about how one could intervene within it to deeper one’s own position. This could mean everything from poster and banner campaigns in the wake of sweeps against the homeless that seek to gentrify a Downtown corridor, to mobilizing free groceries for striking workers to offer in solidarity. *Infrastructure: Lastly, there is the question of how to sustain this activity? The answer lies largely in the creation of autonomous infrastructure. This could mean the building up of land projects and cooperative housing, to the purchasing of copy machines and printing presses; essentially everything that we need to deepen ourselves as a material force. What Happens Next? You’ve come a long way. From someone with big ideas to part of a fighting community. The question now is – what’s next? What’s next is that you make connections and relationships with more people in your general region and begin the process of networking and federating together, becoming stronger as a regional force. Until next time.
Organising in our Communities: Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth Part 1/2 An article by Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth setting out their approach to organising. First published by Base Publication in 2015. Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL) have been organising together for two years on housing, benefits and other issues we face relating to poverty. Over time we have explored ways to make our organising more accessible and better addressed to our diverse needs. There are people in our group for whom English is not their first language, some are the sole carers for their children, some have mental or physical disabilities, or struggle with various other difficulties that living in poverty can entail. HASL is part of the London Coalition Against Poverty. When starting up we found their booklet ‘Building Mutual Support and Organising in our Communities’ to be a vital guide. We recommend that others read this and hope that some of our insights from our early years are also helpful. London Coalition Against Poverty was formed in 2007 in response to the mass mobilisations around the G8. The idea was to set out a way to do politics that is relevant to our daily lived experiences and allows us to take control over our lives. We’re certainly not the only ones engaging in mutual support and collective action to meet our basic needs. The last two years of the Coalition Government saw several new groups form who shared a community organising approach. These groups include London Campaign Against Police and State Violence, Anti-Raids Network, United Voices of the World, as well as growing numbers of localised housing action groups, including Focus E15 mums and Sweets Way Resists. Links are being built between our groups and we are inspired by the work they’re doing. Recently, there’s been a renewed focus on ways people can provide practical support, action and solidarity for survival. We hope some of the experiences we share here can contribute to this. Direct action Like many of the other successful housing campaigns and action groups that have emerged – Focus E15 mums, Our West Hendon, Guinness Trust Tenants – we know collective direct action is often the only way to get the housing and benefits that we need and deserve. LCAP too, when it started out in 2007 in Hackney, described their approach of direct action casework: ‘acting together, disruptively if necessary, is the only effective way to win improvements’. Hearing tales in south London of Hackney housing office pulling down the shutters when they saw Hackney Housing Group (made up mostly of women of colour) descending upon them yet again was one of the inspirations for setting up HASL. When approaching the housing office, council, landlords, or any other institution with our reasonable demands doesn’t work, we discuss a variety of direct action tactics that we can use to put pressure on them to get our basic needs met. Our direct action tactics have included buddying at the housing office, town hall occupations, eviction resistances, and communications blockades. We make sure that our actions are as accessible as possible to our members’ different needs. Our actions are usually local (so not involving travel costs or tiring long distances), finish before school ends or are in half term holidays to include children, and child-friendly with activities for children and people sharing childcare. They don’t require any specific skill, simply being there as part of the group is enough to make a difference. And they get results! From occupying the town hall to demand someone is housed that day, to stopping an eviction, we can see the direct impact of our collective action. One of our members described our group to her sister: “I call the group the danbang group – in my language, Hindi street language, that means ‘solid’, you are ‘the solid group’. It also means a daring person, who can do everything. If they are evicting people, they resist it, they make a group and stand outside and talk to them (the bailiffs and council) so they are not evicted onto the streets.” Another member describes the direct action we took together: “The group saved my family from another embarrassment of eviction from the bed and breakfast provided by social services. They stood by us, very early in the morning they were in the hotel, pressing all buttons they know that will be useful. Even to the extent of escalating it to Southwark town hall to see the big boss.”
>>242652 Part 2/2 Collective support and organising We meet twice a month to provide support, information, advice and to plan actions. In these meetings we also organise how the group is run, any campaigns we’re working on locally, and our participation in London or national events and actions. As well as attempting to solve (or at least deal with) our problems together, we know that wider change is needed to achieve justice. Otherwise we will continue to face these problems again and again. Organising our mutual support and action together is absolutely key to how we work. The importance of this has been affirmed by our experiences over the last two years when we have sometimes drifted away from this collective approach. This leads to problems like, for example, one member becoming like a caseworker which can put huge stress and pressure on that individual which will result in inferior advice compared to the far more effective and powerful collective support provided through our meetings. How does it work? Someone will come to a meeting with a problem and together we will work out some possible options for actions we could take, explain the processes of these, refer to previous similar cases and how these went, and share our anger, frustration, outrage, and empathy with the person in question. Doing this as a group allows us to check the courses of action we’ve discussed. We can draw from and build the collective knowledge and experience of the group and the problem itself becomes one that we can deal with as a group, rather than unsustainable, stressful, and alienating one-to-one (unpaid) casework. As well as taking collective ownership of our issues, discussing them in the group allows people to see directly that they are not alone, that others are going through similar problems and that the issue is systemic. Socials We wanted to set out time we could spend together where, unlike in our meetings, housing didn’t have to be the main topic of conversation. We have celebrated HASL’s birthdays, Christmas, and in the last couple of months we’ve managed to organise (almost) monthly community meals or supper/lunch clubs. Through collecting donations from local businesses, we have cooked up large meals to eat together. We want to make and eat delicious, nutritious food together. As well as struggling for good housing, we know that low incomes mean that we can struggle to afford and find time to make good quality food. We want to politicise and challenge (food) poverty, but we also just want to hang out together. We also want to create a welcoming space for people interested in the group to meet us. Training sessions We have regular training sessions so that we can learn and develop as a group. As well as empowering ourselves through learning housing law, we also conduct skill-sharing on things like how to be a buddy at the housing office. The more that people learn, the more the group’s capacity grows as more of us can volunteer for particular tasks. Our recent ‘how to be a buddy’ skill-share was organised to encourage more people to feel confident enough to volunteer for this vital role (having a buddy with you at the housing office can be the difference between being turned away with nowhere to go that evening and getting access to the housing you need). LCAP has supportive lawyers who have run training sessions on housing law, and LCAP members ourselves have designed and run training sessions looking at homelessness law and role-playing how to get what we need at housing offices. These workshops have been vital for people to learn the few rights that we do have, to better understand our personal situations and to build confidence. Our recent eviction process legal workshop was a great example of radical education. With many people currently going through this process, getting an understanding of the legal aspects of it becomes even more important. The complexities of housing law need to be de-mystified. Going out and talking with people Whilst we’re not as organised as Focus E15 and Sweets Way Resists who have regular stalls every Saturday afternoon to talk with people about housing and share information about their campaigns, we do hold information stalls regularly (though without a set day or time) outside housing offices and job centres. This way we can talk to people about their situations, hand out ‘know your rights’ leaflets and invite them to come to a meeting. We’ve also organised workshops to talk about HASL, what we do, and basic housing rights with local community groups including the wonderful Skills Network and English for Action. These workshops help to strengthen our links and gets us talking about how we can support each other. Don’t give up! At the very beginning and even later on, you might have a meeting with yourself and two other people who wanted to set up the group. Or maybe you haven’t had a concrete win in a while. It can still be demoralising at times and we can still take it too personally when we’re ignored when handing out leaflets. It’s dispiriting for sure, but if you keep on leafleting and speaking with people about their housing issues, leaving posters and leaflets about, people will come along to meetings and want to be involved. There is a huge housing crisis, things are getting worse. Doing what you’re doing makes sense, even if it’s tiny, you’re still building important knowledge and infrastructure for when more people get involved. Other problems Setting out some of the lessons we’ve learnt probably makes it all look and sound easier than it is. Of course, all these lessons and suggestions have been learnt after failures, frustrations, and difficulties which still continue. Organising a local group, even with a decent amount of people involved, still leads to common problems including high stress when urgent situations arise, feeling personal responsibility for people’s situations and the urge to try and solve it, people using the group as a service and not returning to the group once their situation is resolved, and our group being socially cleansed (whilst we have helped secure housing for people, sometimes this has been far away from the group, meaning it is difficult for people, already with very little time and other pressures, to continue to be involved). Sometimes there isn’t an immediate answer or concrete action that we can take to deal with our situation (homelessness law means that councils only have a duty to provide temporary accommodation for people who meet a narrow set of criteria). And sometimes our direct action does not get the results we wanted, sometimes our occupations are ignored. Discussing what to do as a group about these issues can help resolve them or lessen their impact. LCAP groups from across London meet every three months or so to share our experiences between us, and often hearing how other groups have dealt with similar issues is helpful and comforting. Housing action groups are being set up and growing across London and beyond, linked together through the Radical Housing Network and the London Coalition Against Poverty. Other grassroots groups are providing mutual support and fighting against the vicious and serious attacks we face. We’re starting to build tighter links between our groups – with our issues overlapping and interweaving as many members of HASL have experienced and as the recent Reclaim Brixton day and targets (town hall, Foxtons, Job Centre, Barnardo’s – for their links in child detention – and the police station) show. Join your local group!
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