What is Community Organising?
In 2005 I read the article 'Give Up Activism', which rejects the responsibility and specialisms of 'activists' to achieve social change. It was a welcome relief from a label I resented to describe my activites as a human being trying to navigate in the world's crises of capital and ecological destruction.
In February this year I came across the book Wind(s) from Below, Radical Community Organising to make a revolution possible. It ignited a chain of learning and events to help me come to terms with how I organise in my community, what this means and how I can work with others to be more effective.
In the dictionary, 'Radical' is described as 'Favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions.' It means getting to the root - and that was my task, am I really addressing the causes of problems or does my work play out as a sticking plaster?
After a serious amount of reading and reflection I have attempted to summarise the principles of radical community organising.
"Our organizing must compliment itself. Targeting systems and ideas is necessary to create an ultimate change in social relations capable of eliminating the inequities and injustices existing on a local level, but simultaneously we have to invest ourselves in solving those day-to-day problems and engaging with non-anarchist individuals. On the same note we should work concurrently with community organizations to help build up autonomous infrastructure and resist everyday attacks while maintaining our own larger assault on the overall system that perpetuates the war against our communities through engaging in anarchist education, agitation, and militancy." - David Zlutnick
Principles of Radical Community Organising
It involves organising to autonomously meet Community Needs:
- Creates a movement that can 'reproduce' itself (link to footer)
- Is empowering, builds confidence & offers those involved tangible yields & ways for improving their own lives
- Focuses on efforts around reproducing ourselves e.g. health care, food, land, education, raising children, meeting life needs
"A movement that can reproduce itself and moves to reproduce larger communities without capital and state, after all, is one of the most dangerous." - Team Colours Collective
- Supports people to experiment with decentralised, collective & cooperative forms of organisation
- Is about increasing the control that people have over actions that affect them
- Is about increasing local self-reliance
- Is ultimately about building relationships & building collective power in communities from the bottom up.
"Revolution is about the process of making power and creating autonomous communities that divest from the state. And as these autonomy movements build, they can become large enough to contest state power." - Paula X. Rojas
Embraces people care, solidarity & cultures of mutual aid
- Incorporates forms of community care & mutual aid
- Acknowledges the importance of self care & caring for each other in cultures of violence
Debunks 'activism' & starts from where we are
- Seeks to build upon & amplify the forms of organisation & resistance already taking place in everyday life
- All peoples & struggles contribute (not just anarchists!)
- Struggle itself is a liberatory force
- Embraces radical notions of hospitality & solidarity & strengthening our social fabric
- Recognises the creative & visionary potential of the everyday nature living social justice
"Ultimately, political involvement that comes at the expense of our relationships with loved ones and the larger community is not truly liberatory." - Paula X. Rojas
- Organisers work from an open, multitudinous approach to struggle against, within, through and beyond capitalism
- Rejects activist cultures & self marginalisation & seeks to build relationships across movements & communities
- Makes room for a multiplicity of organising possibilities
Organises against & beyond capitalism, taking a systematic approach
- The goals are not to placate or 'fit' into oppressive, destructive societies
- Takes a systematic approach recognising the multiplicity of oppressions
- Challenges & questions the not for profit industrial complex
- Does not just focus on re-building society but organising towards points of confrontation
- Is strategic & focused on the long term, not just reactive gestures
- Involves continuous cycles of enquiry, critical & useful analysis & reflection
"This is not only a political project, this is a project for existence" - Team Colours Collective