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Round Table Post

Dec 14, 2013
Bleakney: Building human-community-earth relationships

Dave Bleakney has been the national union representative (Anglophone) for 17 years for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. He was an active founding participant of Peoples Global Action and is active in anti-colonial Indigenous solidarity and has authored several publications and articles on social struggle and radical pedagogy.
Beyond Stop Harper
We are never permitted to vote on neoliberalism and colonialism, only the players defending them.  The majority party now is actually the people that don’t vote, which reveals something of how well the system is resonating. People often vote to keep someone out of power rather than bring in anything meaningfully new. 
Strategic offensives can take the place of constant reaction. We can re-learn how to be in movement, or else learn from diverse and vibrant struggles away from the mainstream. 
Radical rank and file activists must build connections and spaces, going around the stifling bureaucracies. New structures, cross-sectoral and community assemblies for enragement and participation will learn to “dig where people stand” and stop waiting for a faceless “public” to come to us. 
In our representative organizations, strategic planning and membership engagement is exceptional. Membership involvement is an afterthought. This can change. If we shift our priorities and bureaucratic-liberal gestures, it is easier than we might think. Isn’t it time for some class victories?
But this requires a fundamental rethinking. Building human-community-earth relationships in the long term, and learning to convene assemblies in places they have never happened in the short term. We must learn the value of face to face communication and understand how to listen. 
If we are to make long term change we need now to change the way we do things at the ground floor. Resistance is emotional and cultural and learned by doing, not by “telling.”


could our organizations be more like people?

Great post Dave!

Captures some really critical questions!

I just posted a blog myself on if the NGO/charity and union world treated elitist, corporate management structures as the scandal that they really are. It still amazes me what many orgs accept as appropriate organizational forms, despite their massive contradictions with those same orgs' stated values.

Inevitably though, the forms we choose to adopt will significantly shape the outcomes we get. And elitist, undemocratic, bureaucratic hierarchies will produce similar forms in their wake. Which isn't exactly what I think most of us get involved in this stuff with the aim of doing!

I've been working from the premise that we can organize 'more like people'; that rather than adopting these machine-like structures that divide people and relationships into so many cubicles, what if we organized as we do when we don't have so many of the structures and processes that dominate institutional life?

I've also recently published 'The Constructive Subversive's Guide to Organisational Change' which is my attempt at a DIY pamphlet for those inside various progressive bureaucracies, looking to change them, without relying on the higher-ups to do it for them... would be interested to hear what you think...

Thanks for a spot-on post!


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