Everybody wants to be the van­guard

I kib­itzed a bit of on­line spill-over of an ar­gu­ment be­tween an­ar­chists, Occupiers, ac­tivists, & sundry in­ter­ested par­ties re­gard­ing or­ga­niz­ing & protest­ing around the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The dis­cus­sion was about or­ga­niz­ing & ac­tivist method­olo­gies & the ar­gu­ment (whose prove­nance is in dis­pute) was about “di­ver­sity of tac­tics” which, as far as I can tell, is just spin for “we’ll join y’all if all y’all let us do what­ever we want”, which de­feats the pur­pose of or­ga­niz­ing in the first place.

I don’t re­ally have any thoughts worth voic­ing about the specifics of that argument/​discussion, but it got me think­ing.

One of the things I’ve learned over the past decade I’ve spent in­volv­ing my­self in var­i­ous civic or­ga­niz­ing ini­tia­tives is that most peo­ple want to do some­thing big and flashy that will get them rec­og­nized. Everybody wants to be the van­guard.

I’ve also learned that the van­guard gets wiped out first.

The thing that no one wants to do is the leg­work. You can have a badass army, but if you don’t have com­pe­tent folks bring­ing bread and cheese and wa­ter in on trucks, your sol­diers get turned into sausage. 

There’s noth­ing flashy about the work of be­ing a Congress-crit­ter. They’re all sausage-mak­ers. The power lies in the will­ing­ness to do the te­dious prepa­ra­tion and un­sung heavy lift­ing to achieve your goal, what­ever it may be. That’s the way it works with any great process. That’s the great test of com­mit­ment. People who show up to do the bor­ing shit are the ones you want around, be­cause they know how to make sausage.

There will be plenty of peo­ple com­ing in to town to protest the 2016 RNC, and even more folks com­ing to par­tic­i­pate in it. The folks in Cleveland prepar­ing to protest might con­sider (if they haven’t al­ready, like I said, I’m only tan­gen­tially aware of their dis­cus­sion) whether they’d rather be 1 of nu­mer­ous un­co­or­di­nated & ques­tion­ably trust­wor­thy van­guards, or the un­sung ground crew that keeps it all to­gether.

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