Brain Fog and pushing wet spaghetti uphill #MovementNonBuilding

It’s properly Sisyphean, isn’t it? Only, you don’t even get the damn “thing” to the top of the hill before it rolls down again.

I am writing in this context-

am trying, with colleagues, to do some “services to the movement” (yes, that is as pompous as it sounds) around

a) skillshare evenings where people come together to discuss relevant topics with a bias to creating “how to” guides and

b) a handbook/directory of environmental groups in Manchester

And it is just so damn hard. So many last-minute cancellations for the meeting (and in each individual case an inarguably good reason) , so many organisations not replying to simple emails, forcing us to send again.

And these are mostly people and groups who will swear blind that they care about movement-building, capacity-building etc.

What is going on?

I think there’s the usual level of nonsense – there was no golden age, ever. We just aren’t that organised or diligent. We’re humans.

And I think there is a lot of undiagnosed brain fog, as if we as individuals and organisations have been affected by the last 16 months, whether we caught the damn bug or not.

What is to be done?

Don’t know, to be honest. Part of me (the part I repress, mostly) wants to grab people by the lapels and shake them and say “why don’t you actually match all your vigorous agreement with me about the importance of capacity-building and movement-building and so on with the occasional piece of you know, actual fucking action?”

Yeah, I used to do that, back in the TADs (total asshole decades). Eventually I knocked it off because

a) it’s tedious being the asshole all the time (tbf, it’s more tedious for those on the receiving end of assholeness)

b) it doesn’t work.

All you can do, I guess, is

a) grit your teeth,

b) lower your expectations

c) have compassion for all of us (it’s not like I don’t have brain fog too).


d) make sure that those you are actually working with are getting what support you can give them, what opportunities you said you’d give them. And, you know, lots of those opportunities will be squandered, as I have squandered countless opportunities in the last few decades.

One thought on “Brain Fog and pushing wet spaghetti uphill #MovementNonBuilding

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  1. This post reminded me of this analysis, which I think gets at a significant part of the challenge here in North America. Not sure how much it might apply in UK, EU countries. Published in The Atlantic, 2020 January.

    EXCERPT: ‘…they consume political information as a way of satisfying their own emotional and intellectual needs. These people are political hobbyists. What they are doing is no closer to engaging in politics than watching SportsCenter is to playing football.’

    College-Educated Voters Are Ruining American Politics
    Eitan Hersh

    EXCERPT: ‘Many college-educated people think they are deeply engaged in politics. They follow the news—reading articles like this one—and debate the latest developments on social media. They might sign an online petition or throw a $5 online donation at a presidential candidate. Mostly, they consume political information as a way of satisfying their own emotional and intellectual needs. These people are political hobbyists. What they are doing is no closer to engaging in politics than watching SportsCenter is to playing football.

    For Querys Matias, politics isn’t just a hobby. Matias is a 63-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic. She lives in Haverhill, Massachusetts, a small city on the New Hampshire border. In her day job, Matias is a bus monitor for a special-needs school. In her evenings, she amasses power.

    Matias is a leader of a group called the Latino Coalition in Haverhill, bringing together the Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central Americans who together make up about 20 percent of the residents of the city. The coalition gets out the vote during elections, but it does much more than that.

    It has met with its member of Congress and asked for regular, Spanish-speaking office hours for its community. It advocates for policies such as immigration reform for “Dreamers” and federal assistance in affordable housing. On local issues, the demands are more concrete. Dozens of the group’s members have met with the mayor, the school superintendent, and the police department. They want more Latinos in city jobs and serving on city boards. They want the schools to have staff available who can speak with parents in Spanish. They want to know exactly how the city interacts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Matias is engaging in politics—the methodical pursuit of power to influence how the government operates. If she and the community she represents are quiet and not organized, they get ignored. Other interests, sometimes competing interests, prevail. Organizing gives them the ability to get what they want. Much as the civil-rights movement did, Matias is operating with clear goals and discipline, combining electoral strategies with policy advocacy.’

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