directions to the fight
May 20, 2004 12:02 PM

I've seen this happen in movements and groups since I've belonged to either. Everyone would like for the group they belong to to perfectly represent them. So we fight over representation, over the simple fact that a group can't (and shouldn't) have one homogenous opinion. Everyone gets upset. Some people bail. Things change.

People and democracy are imperfect. I don't think I've ever been part of anything where this didn't happen.

I wonder if this is a uniquely Western problem. That is, if the problem is trying to coalesce a group out of people who place a premium on individuality and individual contributions. I find the frustration of group participation less... well, frustrating, when I think there might be a global explanation for why people act in mode X when mode Q would be so much more effective. [In a completely unrelated vein, it just hit me that a coalition is what you get when people coalesce. Which is obvious, I suppose. They're good words.]

Direct democracy is problematic.

I say this because leaderless groups I've belonged to seem to suffer this problem of coalescence pretty much constantly, while groups with recognized leadership seem to not suffer so much (unless the leadership is contested). It's nice to be able to look up from the group and see someone pointing: This is the direction we're taking. This is what's next.

This is all by way of introduction. I commented on Tish's entry about the problems of coalescence on BFB that other social movements aren't any more in agreement, even on essentials, than we are.

What other movements have is action, organizations that will point you to the problem and the action you could take to solve it. It's a form of leadership and direction. It's the fight. Whether that fight be for overtime pay protection, reproductive rights, marriage rights, equal pay, accessibility to buildings. Someone has a list of demands. It's not a list approved by everyone in the movement, but at least there's something to fight for.

There is an aspect of any fight that should be education and conversion of people. That's the glacial current of social change. But education is really the recruitment arm of any movement. You change attitudes so people demand and make changes to the How Things Are.

The problem with fat activism is that there's no easily followed map to the fight. Sometimes it feels like there is no fight, nothing to be demanded. Just talking and educating people for the fight that isn't.

How does a movement get out of recruitment and into the fight? Kell had an idea. What are our demands? What is our plan of action? Who is pointing the way to the fight?

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your wicked thoughts

I think frequently about the possibly western problem of non-coalescence. We have personal space. We have mental space. We can't stand to live too close together. We can't stand to work too close together. Yet we expect to be able to set aside our entitlement, our self-importance, and work together for a cause? Or even to have a dialogue? It seems to me one foundational thing every activist needs to do is keep a mental check on their "space".

Non sequitur but I also wanted to let you know I'm listening.

I should think harder about my own points myself. I'm severely guilty of being un-communal.

these are the thoughts of Kim on May 26, 2004 07:30 PM

I have to say though, coalescence versus Eastern forms of obedience and conformity?
I actually value our need for privacy. I also value the essentially flat social structure/ lack of a formal caste system.

these are the thoughts of Trey on May 27, 2004 03:17 PM

I have to say though, coalescence versus Eastern forms of obedience and conformity?
I actually value our need for privacy. I also value the essentially flat social structure/ lack of a formal caste system.

these are the thoughts of Trey on May 27, 2004 03:17 PM

Not that I'd want to swap groupthink for the sort of individuality and pluralism I experience. Just, the idea that frustrations within movements are part of this (positive) individualism makes them less frustrating to me.

I wonder if you can get direction and action within a social movement without also having either strong coherence or leadership? Maybe flexible leadership? Multi-directional action?

these are the thoughts of april on June 1, 2004 12:00 PM
















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