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.