Our Mission: Organize, organize, organize!

As people seeking fundamental social transformation, we need to take seriously the mission before us: to radically shift the way millions of people view their relationship to the rest of society.

Many of us who advocate “people power” and democracy, still hold to a view of power as fundamentally unchanging. They view power as sitting atop a giant stone monolith. The most they can hope for is to make demands to the powerholders, who sit on top of the pillar, and hope that sooner or later those people grant the demands.

But power isn’t monolithic, and the rulers don’t hold all the power. Society, it’s rulers and it’s institutions require everybody’s consent and cooperation to function. Our mission isn’t to pressure decision makers to meet our demands, but to organize tens of millions of people to refuse their consent and cooperation with oppressive institutions.

Therefore, a primary question we should be asking ourselves when we act as organizers is this: are we organizing more people?

Often times we unintentionally muddle our energy by doing things because they fit the archetypal radical image, instead of doing things because they’re part of a winning revolutionary strategy. We should be careful not to fall far from a strategic path. Many of us distract ourselves from organizing through spending a lot of time and energy on a sexy action that doesn’t recruit. Or through endless meetings where little is done. Or through focusing more on trying to get a decision maker to meet our demands, rather than building our own power so that we don’t need to demand anything anymore.

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One Response to Our Mission: Organize, organize, organize!

  1. Hans Barbe says:

    I think you get at some of the heart of things, Aaron. I agree: there are currently too many groups out there who’s energy is mostly spent trying to get power holders to bend to their will rather than spent altering those very power relationships. what we must instead relearn as a society is to ASSERT our will; we must DECLARE ourselves power holders and demonstrate this by organizing ourselves, giving our power real form and palpability.

    The original American revolutionaries expressed this sentiment in their Declaration of Independence:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men… are endowed… with certain unalienable Rights… that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED… that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right [later they call it the “duty”] of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principles and ORGANIZING ITS POWERS IN SUCH FORM, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

    It saddens me deeply that men could say such things and still not renounce their ownership of slaves, but the founders laid it right out there: a government and its people are ultimately one and the same being. The power relationships we give in to as people are what allows our government to be a government. Pleading with “power holders” to act on our will is the very thing that perpetuates their role as “power holders.” As I see it, the responsibility of changing oppressive power relationships lies unequivocally with oppressed and, if I may be so bold, to deny this responsibility (“duty”) is to not live up to our potential as human beings with “self-evident” Rights between us.

    It seems those founders put a bit of thought into their little document. It is a beautiful, potent expression of revolutionary consciousness.

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