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Commentary :: Education : Environment : Gender : GLBT/Queer : Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Media : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare : Technology : War and Militarism
Discussion on what is an activist and what is a revolutionary organizer
10 Aug 2007
The organizers play a role in shaping the consciousness and laying down the foundation for the self-organization of the people.

An activist is someone who reacts to whatever the state is bringing down on people.

They're are usually folks who jump from issue to issue - depending on what's hot at the moment and because they have leisure time. Being involved in an issue makes them feel good about themselves and the label activist usually comes from a person with privilege. So even though a lot of us still get caught up in “activism.” I think it is something we have to break from.

What is more powerful and what has more potential is building and being "pro-active," which to me is building a base in our "oppressed" communities, creating the people's power institutions that will replace capitalism and the current power structure, laying down the foundation for a revolutionary popular movement, and building the infrastructure for self-defense, as well as the fighting capacity of our people and all oppressed people. For me it goes deeper than that, and deeper than going to a protest every weekend, but a multi-faceted strategy and approach.

This is not to say there isn’t a role for activists in the revolutionary process, but the question is what is that role or what should they be doing?

Suggestions for Activists:
-Raise money for revolutionary organizations that are organizing the hood and for their community programs
-Put your bodies on the line – there are many activists that go around the world and act as human shields for colonized people, activists should do the same for colonized people in the u.s. empire
-Organize your community wherever that might be and build strategic alliances and coalitions with colonized people organizing themselves
-Whenever working class and unemployed communities of color are under attack – mobilize your base and people in YOUR community to aid, support, and fight alongside that community.
-Don’t Just attend a protest, follow that up with any of the suggestions
-Stand with the people of the world, solidarity doesn’t just mean going to a protest, visiting another country, saying you support a particular struggle – going beyond solidarity means doing all that you can to bring down u.s. Imperialism by any means, which is the cause of the world’s suffering.
-Join or help build the grass roots movement, start a collective or organization wherever you might find yourself.
-Don’t issue-hop – help connect issues, but jumping from issue to issue does not help build a popular movement, in fact it holds it back.
-Wearing a t-shirt and listening to Immortal Technique does not make you an organizer or revolutionary. Revolutionary culture is important, but without building a base and taking direct, the system remains in tact.
-Educate others who call themselves activists
-Share any resources you have to the grassroots revolutionary movement, oppressed people, and organizations made up of working class people of color.
-Provide safe housing and sanctuary for people
-Create your own work that is in unity with the revolutionary grassroots movement lead by working class people of color

As an anarcho-communist this is how I see leadership:

I think that there is a role for organizers, and leaders in the community. There are certain people who will step up first, have more experience and wisdom to share. Indigenous people look to elders for guidance for those same reasons -- because they have experience in struggle. That's not to say that the elders, organizers, leaders, can't learn from those who don’t have their experience. It's not to say the elders can't learn from the youth, in fact most of the time it's them who challenge dogma and what is known to be conventional and take it further because their energy and fearlessness.

There is a relationship between the two. Without mutual respect it cannot work, if the elders don't respect the youth or if the organizers can't learn from the people then they won't get the respect in return.

As an anarchist though, I do feel we all have the potential to be leaders and we shouldn't build the dependency on leadership: as organizers our job is to help others realize their potential that they already have. There aren't any born leaders -- it happens through experiences -- I think as organizers we have to be able to step down and allow for the people to collectively own the revolutionary process. Otherwise we'll end up with the same shit and the same social relationships and power dynamics.

The organizers play a role in shaping the consciousness and laying down the foundation for the self-organization of the people.

We have to fight our enemies on our terms, not on theirs.

I agree too, that chasing the minute men around is not strategic, but we shouldn't allow them to come into our communities.

We should defend our communities and ourselves.

To me also is how we do the legal observing, and how that is being followed up. In CWLA (Cop Wach LA) we have the position (on paper) that people can't do patrols in a community we don't live in, where do you don't have roots in, and where you're not invited. We try to follow that up with community programs (in South Central we coordinate this through the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities). So we can be accountable to the neighborhoods we live in. And not promote a model of "professional activists or so-called professional revolutionaries.”
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