A year and a bit after the 2016 elections, we’re still debating exactly what happened. But most of those conversations revolve around the candidates, the parties and their official campaigns. What about lessons for community organizations and their social movements? What did we do right and wrong in that cycle, and what can be learned? What can be done for groups who don’t see a champion on the ballot or who don’t see “hold-your-nose-and-vote-for-the-lesser-of-two-evils” as a convincing mobilizing opportunity?
“It’s our job to make a movement so big and so beautiful that we get the best legislation possible because they’re so afraid of what we’ll do if we don’t get it.” – Chronicling the emergence of a bottom-up movement for immigrant rights at the UU General Assembly in 2014.
Virality has several key components. We discuss it on the Stop the Presses webcast along with its relationship between social media popularity and on-line and off-line organizing efforts.
This essay, written by B. Loewe in the Fall of 2010, is included in the astonishing anthology We Have Not Been Moved available at PM Press.
After the state of Washington ran out of tear gas, after the echoes of bucket drums faded, after the teamsters and the “turtles” (environmentalists) parted ways, and global capital appeared momentarily derailed by a city full of barricades, her short article circulated listservs and email inboxes with penetrating questions for the debut showing of the newly born “anti-globalization movement.” Martinez highlighted the ways in which people of color did participate but asked us to reconcile the apparent divide. If “we are to make Seattle’s promise of a new, international movement against imperialist globalization come true,” she wrote, we must understand and learn from the low-level of participation from people of color.
Also published in Auburn Seminary’s Mountain Top Series: Writing in 1979, Walter Brueggeman turned to the old and new testament to reflect on the role of a prophet in a society he observed of waning social movements and a rising cynicism. What he shares in the Prophetic Imagination is dueling imaginations, a god that takes sides, and a legacy of prophets fluent in the languages of grief and hope; criticism and alternatives; compassion and energy. For those puzzling today at how to spark a new exodus from modern day Pharaoh’s reign, the thirty year old book offers inspiration and insight.
One does not have to be familiar with the bolt sizes on the wrecking balls that tore down Cabrini-green to oppose the demolition of public housing. One must hold close the comfort of stepping into a warm room from a cold outdoors, the solace of a bed to lie in, and the security of a place called home.
We have become the expert biographers of our own demise. Rather than offering a vision of the world we yearn for, we study and share the machinations of government and capital that harm us. Like doctors who offer diagnoses but no cures, we are the town criers of a sick society rather than the midwives of the world to come.