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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