Have you started becoming an activist, going to protests, and showing up at events recently? If so — this is for you.
I see so many new faces, bright, powerful, fierce minds at public actions and I know that many of you aren’t in organizations. I am writing today, as someone who’s been around barely a minute longer than you, to say that you must.
The struggle is collective. We need others to inspire us, challenge us and change us. Join existing organizations or collectives, change them if you hate them, or start new ones. Organizing is a skill set, its not just a set of ideals, and those skills must be honed. There are no schools, and few mentors.
In my experience, individuals in organizations, affinity groups, and collectives remain politicized for longer, because we need a counter-balance to the rest of society’s imposition of a very different truth. Part of what neoliberal capitalism and colonialism have done is individuated us. At best, we may have our nuclear family’s support, or have a partner, but we are told that we have to alway look out for #1. That each of us needs to make decisions that improve our individual life. At the same time, we are told, no one person can change anything, and so we find ourselves in a bind.
Here’s the thing, one person can’t change anything. But a few people, working together, in comradeship certainly can. If there is a hope in hell of us transforming our society, and building the kinds of worlds we want to live in, we need masses of people organized, disciplined and militant. It may seem that media moments are where change happens, but that is fleeting. Large scale movements rise up and dissipate. Organizations, collectives, affinity groups are needed to build up to them and beyond them. We need to win immediate material changes in the lives of our global communities, and create the conditions where new worlds can be imagined.
A lot of you are supporters, are in solidarity with communities in struggle, many of you show up and throw down so hard — but too many of you are being told that your role is to just support. The struggle is too vast, the work too complex for any of us to not also be building in organizations, and with others on an ongoing basis.
There’s a lot to be said about how to be in organizations when you’re in them — but for a start, remember this work will not be easy. Political organizations, collectives and affinity groups are rarely places of healing. Do not expect to have your emotional and care needs met easily. Most people in these spaces are also hurting, and few have had good ways of being modelled to them. Strive to build such spaces, but see that as one part of the work, the prefigurative part, not the whole. Many of us organize collectively not because it’s good for our hearts and bodies in the immediate term, but despite it. But with enough of us, practising together, that doesn’t have to be true. Which is why we need you.
Joshua Kahn Russell: Resources for organizers
350.org: Resources for organizers
Jessica Bell: 5 things I wish I knew when I became politically active
The Moment Centre: Naming the Moment
Act Up: Affinity Groups
Organizing for Power: Website
please suggest others in comments