cj#804> list topic: building a movement for a Democratic Renaissance – ideas invited

1998-07-22

Richard Moore

Dear cj,

I want to encourage comments on the Bear River report I posted on the 20th.
I know its easier to talk about cover ups, evils our governments are up
to, and utopian ideas of better societies, and I get no end of suggested
postings on such topics.  But we've got to _do something about it!  I
sincerely hope some of you are inspired to follow up on the ideas generated
at Bear River and help get a productive discussion going re/ "movement
building".

One of the people I met with in Boston was Ronnie Dugger, along with two of
his co-workers in the Alliance for Democracy, Nick Penniman and Garrett
Whitney.  Following the meeting Ronnie sent a message saying he was open to
suggestions for how we could help one another, as we both felt our
understanding of `the problem' and `the solution' were very much in
alignment.

I didn't have any quick answers for him; figuring out _how to build a mass
movement is very difficult.  But I did come up with a couple rough ideas
which I sent to him (no response as yet, was just sent yesterday).  I'd
like to share those ideas, rough as they are, in the hope that they might
inspire ideas from you.

All the best,
rkm

------------------------------------------------------------------------
It seems to me the movement needs to be built at two levels: among activist
leaders, and among the public.  Each of these are quite different problems,
and I've got some initital suggestions for each, to offer for discussion.

---

Activist Leaders
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
The impression I've gotten is that there is too much isolationism between
different activist efforts, too many leaders with the feeling they have the
`one true approach' and everyone else is getting it wrong.  As I met with
different people in the Boston area, as well as those who came to Nova
Scotia, I found I didn't have any trouble understanding the sense of what
they were doing, and how it made a postive contribution.  But when I'd
mention one person to another, there'd typically be a dismissal, such as
"He doesn't understand such-and-such part of the problem".

I think it would a very positive thing to hold something (or a series of
somethings) which might be called "Solidarity Workshops".  I picture one of
these workshops hosting perhaps a dozen people, two each from six different
organizations, and lasting a weekend, from Friday night to Sunday evening.
We'd start off with each pair presenting their program, and reporting how
successful they've been and what they've learned.  Then we'd have
discussions and go through various exercises the goal of which is for
people to learn from each other, to see how all the efforts contribute to
the movement, and most of all, to help build a _sense of a `movement'.

Of course these ideas are very rough, but I think if we held one such
workshop we'd learn a lot, and perhaps get better ideas for an even more
effective approach.  My guess is there would be a pattern that develops,
some kind of breakthrough, where isolation turns to affinity.  This is what
we'd want to learn to promulgate, to "bottle", so to speak.

---

The Public
^^^^^^^^^^
The problem with the public is to get to them at all.  The mass media
constantly conveys a counter-movement propaganda line, and any positive
coverage the movement would get would be more than offset by negative
coverage.  Other means of mass communication must be found.

I recall in the sixties that the movement used large rallys, speakers on
campuses, teach-ins, and various other in-person methods to spread its
messages.

What do you think of the following idea?...  An "All Wing, No Wing Roadshow"...

The idea (and this _is rough!) would be to have a roadshow that is a cross
between a tent-revival, a circus, a rock concert, and a polticial meeting.
We go from town to town, renting large halls (or using tents?), we have
some entertainment, and we have some speeches.  The speakers would be from
across the spectrum - "all wing" - people you wouldn't expect to see on the
same stage, each with strong appeal to some audience segment (hence,
collectively, bringing in large crowds).  But the common - "no wing" -
message would be about the need for grass-roots democracy, and an overthrow
of the corporate-dominated top-down fat-cat propaganda system.  As Carolyn
Chute says, "There's no left or right, just up and down.  All the fat cats
up there having a good time, while the rest of us are down here struggling
to survive."

For entertainment, we could have a foot-stompin' country-music band (for
filler) and some political / satire skits that are funny and biting, to
punctuate speeches and insure lightearted moments.

---


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