December 3, 2020

Concepts

I don’t do political theory a lot and I don’t like doctrine at all but there are certain important concepts, ideas and models for moving forward together that seem to me to be simple, obvious and necessary. These ideas are not ‘mine’ but they resonate with my way of thinking. I understand the following articulations so I’m sharing them I may have changed the wording slightly in some cases but I’ve noted all the sources:

Dialogue
To enter into dialogue presupposes equality amongst participants. Each must trust the others; there must be mutual respect and love (care and commitment). Each one must question what he or she knows and realize that through dialogue existing thoughts will change and new knowledge will be created.

Praxis (Action/Reflection)
It is not enough for people to come together in dialogue in order to gain knowledge of their social reality. They must act together upon their environment in order critically to reflect upon their reality and so transform it through further action and critical reflection.

Conscientization
The process of developing a critical awareness of one’s social reality through reflection and action. Action is fundamental because it is the process of changing the reality.

Conversational Leadership
Conversational Leadership is about appreciating the extraordinary but underutilized power of conversation, recognizing that we can all practice leadership and adopt a conversational approach to the way in which we live and work together in an increasingly complex world.

Distributed Leadership
The rise of the distributed leadership movement comes in response to the problems that arise when we rely on ‘Hero Leaders’. Many community institutions/initiatives have leaders who do everything, so much so that when they leave, vast amounts of knowledge and skill upon which the initiative departs with them. The void that they leave behind is difficult to fill and the community struggles to maintain any legacy from the departed Hero Leader and the period of transition with new leadership can be very turbulent indeed. Distributed leadership, therefore, was born out of the idea that if leadership of an institution/initiative and its activities are distributed across many leaders, both formal and informal, it can continue to grow and flourish as leaders come and go. The focus is shifted from organisational structures and hierarchies being key to the initiative’s long-term success more towards an investment in community capital that is able to successfully renew itself, as skills and knowledge are retained in the community.

Horizontalism
Over the past ten years, the world has been witnessing an upsurge in prefigurative revolutionary movements; movements, that create the future in the present. These new movements are not creating party platforms or programs. They do not look to one leader, but make space for all to be leaders. They place more importance on asking the right questions than on providing the correct answers . They do not adhere to dogma and hierarchy, instead they build direct democracy and consensus. They are movements based in trust and love.

Anarcho-syndicalism
Anarchism is a revolutionary political tradition that declares “freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.” Syndicalism is the workers’ movement. Deriving from the French word for trade unionism (syndicalisme), it seeks to unite workers to fight for their interests at work. Anarcho-syndicalism is anarchism applied to the workers’ movement. From small educational groups to mass revolutionary unions, libertarian organisation grows and is controlled from the bottom up. The role of anarcho-syndicalist networks is to advocate and organise mass meetings of all workers or community members involved in each struggle so that the workers or community members involved retain control. Within these mass meetings anarcho-syndicalists argue for the principles of solidarity, direct action and self-organisation. In this way anarcho-syndicalism is completely different to trade unionism, which seeks to represent our economic interests, and the so-called ‘workers parties’ which seek to represent our political interests. Instead, anarcho-syndicalism unites the political and the economic and opposes representation in favour of self-organisation.

Learning and Making Culture
Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things.These things are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our souls. To feel whole as a community there must be a sense of us being makers and learners, of being productive as collectives and as members of collectives. Making things in the community roots learning in the community and creates value for the community. It can include everyone from the youngest to the eldest.

Sources:
Paulo Freire
Distributed Leadership
Anarcho-Syndicalism
Sitrin (Ed.) – Horizontalism – Voices of Popular Power in Argentina