Radical media, politics and culture.

Olek Netzer, "Open Forum on Political Organization"

Olek Netzer writes:

"Open Forum on Political Organization"

Olek Netzer

Some weeks ago a person who, as I understand, is one of the leading voices in the British radical scene, posted here an article about Strategy and he had written, specifically, "we do not know how to organize effectively."

I have done much work learning and researching human behavior to answer my own and other persons need to organize for becoming politically empowered without falling into the pitfalls of traditional movement or party politics. So far, attempts to humanize organized power-politics have been invariably failing, giving rise to the expression "Paving One's Road to Hell with Good Intentions".

That was my early life's very painful experience too, and since then I have been busy finding out why exactly it happens and what the practical alternatives, if any, are.I did find some solid pathways around the pitfalls of political-organization power-corruption and I want to share it with you. Today I believe we can go a long way toward breaking the "Power Corrupts" spell and take part in creating a new, more humanized, political experience.

I suggest that we discuss Alternative Organization here in an open forum.

Humanized politics, like power-politics, implies values. It is my hope that among activists who reach this Info-Exchange there are persons who would share with me my Democratic-Egalitarian Humanistic Values. The organizational scheme offered here comes to serve the needs of like-minded people for an organized/ empowering/effective political experience:

• Being personally empowered (not regimented or manipulated by leaders)

• Equality and true sharing in the decision-making process of their political party or movement (resisting both submission to party bosses\leaders and dominating/psychologically exploiting others).

• Non-Violence, Non-Aggression: open communication as the way of solving problems, rejecting interpersonal domination and aggression such as are universally characteristic of party-politicking or corporate life.

• Individual Dignity-Integrity: Value decent human intercommunication toward liberation of the individual mind, problem-solving rather than conflict, and open access to organizational influence\power.

The quality of organizational life is something that it is difficult to cheat on or have illusions about. People who experience it feel it. We must ensure that the organizational corruption we avoided by abolishing the pyramid of power and arranging for the decisions to flow from all member-groups, would not infect the group itself with inefficient, unequal, unfair, non-democratic communication and behavior patterns.

Power-pyramids attract people with stronger power and competitive drives and fewer scruples. They repel the more sensitive, independent, and conscientious ones, who are neither natural pushers nor ready followers of leaders and crowds.

Our suggestions aim at creating such organizational climate in the web-organization that would be suited for the latter types and repel the more conflicted on issues of power and control of others.

In contrast to all our predecessors, we posses today the sources of practical knowledge about interpersonal dynamics that make it possible to conduct the decision-making processes differently, in ways that do not cause the usual burnout afflicting sensitive and conscientious people in hierarchic and conflict ridden organizations. The alternative ways are characterized by open resolution of conflicts and open communication, and by having the quality of life of the group itself as a regular item on its agenda. Upon suggesting them, we may responsibly claim, that today we know how to narrow the gap between good intentions and organizational reality, as we had never known before.

Dedication: I dedicate this section to two then-young women from the American radical "Movement" (nowadays referred to as the "New Left") in 1960's and early 1970's, Betty Doerr and Vicki Legion. They wrote the following "Letter to the Movement" in its periodical Liberation. Since reading their article, I have had those two women and their experience on my mind, seeking to find an alternative way of being a "Movement", but making sure that what had happened to them, and to many thousands of others, would never happen again:

The women’s movement experience pushed us into some fruitful struggling against our competitive upbringing, but the old ways are hard dying. Correct-lining, snap judgments and labeling make us lose the exploration of real differences in a haze of rhetoric, personal attack and counterattack. When we’re preoccupied with our fear of being labeled, our ability to think critically gets suspended.

Right\wrong thinking impedes critical thinking and creativity. I am sad at how often I have seen this dynamic play itself out in discussions. Marx, or Third World revolutionaries, or the Panthers or some other authority is defined as “Right”. Anyone who questions what the authority says is at best “wrong” and at worst “counterrevolutionary”. The discussion degenerates into a biblical exegesis, with different sides swapping quotes and impressions. Facts and experiences that don’t fit “the line” are ignored. Real differences are obscured in barrages of rhetoric, while new events are jammed into old categories. So much for our ability to respond creatively to changing conditions.—Betty Doerr and Vicki Legion, “Letter to a Movement”, Liberation, July–August 1974.

The above text says it all. Nevermore of that!

I invite interested members of this list to respond toward sharing ideas and experience in an open forum.

With affinity, and apologies for my less-than-literary-standard English.

Dr. Olek Netzer

37860 Barkai, Israel