Eight top tips for how to destroy your group’s morale

State budgets are going to take a massive hit thanks to Covid. Education? Kids can watch youtube, that’ll do!  Health budgets?  It starts with one nurse between two, it ends up suicide pills a la On The Beach.

With regards to what used to be called, unironically “Public Safety” well, while there’ll always be money for riot shields, robot soldiers and (Predator) drones, actual on the ground ‘humint’ is quite costly and unreliable.  Sometimes the spooks and spies get it wrong. Sometimes they go native. Sometimes they’re just somewhat, ah, plodding

Grass roots movements for democracy and ecological sanity aren’t going to disrupt themselves (Well, okay, actually, all too often they are but let’s pretend….) If we’re going to ensure the Anthropocene continues to unroll as it has been, and that life in 2050 (or earlier!) is an unimaginable hell-scape where the living will envy the extinct, then we have work to do.  Here’s the top eight tips for how to destroy YOUR group’s morale and effectiveness.

  1. Be “undemocratic” – either don’t have policies/procedures at all (helloooo Tyranny of Structurelessness), or allow individuals with charisma/”power” to ride roughshod over them (the more you allow this, the more they will do it)

2. Make it difficult/impossible for core people to raise concerns about the group’s structure, behaviour or direction (saying they “don’t get it”, or “are just griping” or “are depressed.”) For bonus points, say “everyone is in charge,” or “there’s no hierarchy” or “we’re all crew” until people give up and go away.

3. Be unfocused –  don’t have clear goals about what you are trying to achieve, if you get my, ah, drift.

4. Be unrealistic – don’t have regular conversations about what is achievable given your current resources and likely near-term future resources. Consistently and persistently over-promise and under-deliver. This will fuck your morale with the added bonus of also destroying your credibility. This will make recruitment even more difficult, ensuring that your group can’t replace members who leave (for whatever reason) (see below for what to do if someone does get involved)

5. If by some miracle (slow news day, media thirst, politicians in need of a photo op) you have a “victory”- under no circumstances celebrate it and pat yourselves and each other on the back.

6. Be stubborn – don’t learn anything. Don’t do post-mortems, don’t reflect.  Do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.  One more emotacycle comrades, and the Winter Palace is ours!

7. Be laissez-faire about stuff not getting done – allow important jobs not to get done at all/well enough. Let everyone get into the habit of just, not doing stuff they said they would.

8. Make it difficult (ideally impossible) for new people to get involved. Don’t offer any simple jobs that people can do. Don’t circulate minutes of meetings with job lists. Keep it to “come to our next meeting”.  Insinuate that any new person who joins the group might be a cop.  Don’t thank people for the work that they do.  Show no interest in what skills they have, what skills they might want to acquire.

In case this list seems daunting, don’t worry – any three or four from this list will have your group listing seriously, and an additional item will send it to the bottom with all the other wrecks and bones.

See also Active Citizenship Toolkit – morale maintenance (collective).

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