Blah blah heated exchanges on Twitter- and more heat than light, because, well, that’s what
a) the platform encourages and
b) some people want/are capable of.
Tbf, that my doomer-rants will trigger some people is to be expected. After all, I am pointing out – with sark, snark and manly certainty – that the salvation narrative they are heavily invested in is at best moth-eaten and at worst a total delusion.
Of course there will be a reaction. People will not thank you for pointing out that kind of thing. And they will, under the red mist and being unused to criticism (“grassroots” comes with various haloes of approbation and legitimacy), reach for the easiest tools to hand.
I’ll come to those tools, but let’s deal with the “substance” – such as it is – of the main response.
Drum roll please…
“People will continue to organise.”
That’s not quite the knock-out blow those wielding it seem to think.
Of course people will continue to “organise.” I never said they would not.
However, chances are (for multiple reasons, many of which I’ve described and helpfully named as the smugosphere/emotacycle etc) that they will continue to do this “organising” in ways that have demonstrably not worked. They will call meetings. They will set up groups that quickly die or persist in a zombie state, doing zombie repertoires. They will burn out people. They will destroy credibility and hope. But it will all be called, nonetheless, “organising” and if you dare criticise it you will be told that you are saying “don’t do anything,” that you are advocating quiestism.
To shout: THE. WHOLE. POINT. OF. WHAT. I. AM. SAYING. IS. THAT. THE. OLD. WAYS. OF. “ORGANISING.” NO. LONGER. WORK.(if they ever really did)
THEREFORE. WE. HAVE. TO. INNOVATE.
INNOVATION. IS. DIFFICULT.
INNOVATION. WILL. BE. RESISTED.
And that last point is proven for me nicely by the ad hominers.
And in any case, rarely do people ever explain what they mean by “organise”.
I rarely – if ever – get the sense that “organisers” are trying – explicitly or tacitly – to organise a culture that supports people who are busy/desperate/demoralised etc to be involved at the level they can be, while gaining skills, knowledge, connections, hope.
When I see the word “organise” (and I will admit, I am not everywhere always and am therefore not able to say it’s universal), it is attached to organising an event (a meeting, a rally, a march, a protest) or a series of such things.
And the tacit implication is that if you do the right publicity and so forth, and a lot of people turn up, you have somehow “organised” them, and your “organisation” is now stronger.
As “organise” is often (I won’t say always) used as a synonym for “mobilise” – to get feet on the street, or bums on seats.
And mobilise is then often a synonym for “movement-building” – as in, once you’ve organised people to turn up to these events, you have magically and mystically been “movement-building.”
Have you heck.
So, to recap;
The word “organise” is sometimes used as a bludgeon, a “get out of jail free” card.
It also occludes the inconvenient truth that if we persist with the same patterns, we will likely get the same (poor) results.
Therefore we need to innovate.
But innovating will bring out resistance (conscious or unconscious) from those who are benefitting from the status quo.
And one of the ways people will resist is via pitiful and embarrassing ad hominems (especially if they can just call you a “man” or an “academic” as if these were knockdown, winning arguments.) It’s the old thing, isn’t it – if people are resorting that quickly to ad hominems then they are losing because either
- They’re just not smart enough to even understand the arguments you’re making (which may also be your fault if you’ve not made them clearly enough) or
- They ARE smart enough, but are too scared to actually engage because it might force them to have to reflect, innovate, and there is an easier path out – the ad hominem.
I suppose we really should have compassion for those people. Maybe one day I actually will. In the meantime, my attempt at compassion will be dismissed (accurately?) as condescension.
So it goes.