Class not Cliques, An Observation About Organizing

I have noticed a trend of behavior in activists, organizers and mobilizers where I live. Before I proceed though I want to make it abundantly clear that this is not a call out, nor is it directed at any specific person or organization. It is simply an observation that I have made after losing count of how many committee meetings and protests I have attended.

Now first of all, when it comes to organizing it is important to remember that not every analysis or motivation for organizing will be the same. Disagreements about which marginalized voices deserve the bigger platform, or disagreements about what a post capitalist society will look like are bound to happen.

However, a disturbing trend I have noticed within organizing is that certain voices and groups will actively sabotage mass mobilization because of these disagreements. The sabotage is not always an intentional thing but it is genuinely damaging and a hinderance towards building a mass movement. This sabotage manifests when political organizations act as clicks rather than as a service to the masses.

Specificity in the fight is important, the causes we care about the most should always be our guiding light, but if that specificity causes us to be at the mercy of one individual or one group’s whims then the movement will never grow beyond just a few activist circles. Also, organizing means working with people you do not necessarily like. If you only work with people you like as opposed to people who are right for whatever tasks are at hand you have abandoned organizing and you have decided to create a clique.

This is the folly I have noticed, creating clicks within the movement instead focusing on engaging the unengaged. Yes, it is important to feel comfortable with who we work and organize with but if that comfort means never expanding our organizational circle outside of people we are chummy with, nothing will ever happen and no change will ever manifest. No one will be liberated, resources and wealth will never be redistributed, and no one will stop the climate change that is threatening our existence.

This does not mean we all have to get along or that we shouldn’t make friends out of the people we organize with, what it does mean is that if we only organize within our comfort zones we will never build the momentum we need to liberate the marginalized and save the world from the racist, patriarchal, capitalist masters.

It also does not mean that you should not call out frauds or sexual predation. I recognize that this rhetoric about “comfort” could be misinterpreted in a way that can be endangering to some people. Truth and safety should be as much of our guiding light as anything else. If there is someone who makes you uncomfortable for racist, ablest, or sexist behaviors then that needs to be called out so that such behaviors can be eradicated. What I am saying is that if we are only comfortable with organizing with a few select people because we are the most chummy with them, any mass mobilization we build will die with us because the foundation for making the organizing expansive is never laid down.

So again, this is not a call out of any specific group or person. I myself have been guilty of this cliquish behavior in the past. This is simply an observation about what I think holds back strong grass roots organizing for a mass movement on the local level.

We are in a class war, founded in racist ablism and patriarchy. We are not in high school where the stoners get one corner of the yard and the preppy kids the other. We are here to liberate the entirety of the working class, to liberate all marginalized people, to save the world.

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