Members of Unity & Struggle have been working to develop new methods of community organizing, reflecting on the big picture of what a (pre-)revolutionary moment asks of us. Part one in our series on organizing, “New Tools Needed: Community Organizing,” argues that existing organizing models, such as Alinksyite-style community organizing, are hegemonic and invasive. Carving up the class into distinct interest groups, community organizing fights for winnable demands and immediate interests, abandoning the goal of larger social transformation. While we may be critical of these models and their theoretical underpinnings, these are often the only models available to us.

If a primary goal of organizing is to help the class realize its power through collective action, then we need a model that foregrounds building power through confrontation. Drawing on existing workshops and wisdom, such as the Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) Organizer Training 101 (OT101), the IWW General Defense Committee’s picket training, Stan Weir’s method of talking politics, as well as our own experiences in organizing, we sought to create a workshop that could accomplish two things. First, it seeks to put forward a clear theory and vision for organizing: a model that emphasizes building community power, using networks and infrastructure independent of and seeking to confront outside influences such as the police, the state, the bosses, the landlords, and sometimes non-profit organizations. Second, the training provides practical tools for developing this model of organizing.

We hope this training can be a valuable tool for organizers, and that people feel empowered to use it as needed. The training is designed to last around 6 hours, work for small and large groups, and help both experienced and brand new organizers improve their organizing.

If you’d like to organize, attend, or facilitate a training, please get in touch via email unityandstrug@proton.me. We can offer online trainings and potentially send trainers to your city.

Autonomous Organizing Training (AOT) Outline

KICK-OFF

  1. Introduction
  2. What to expect in training
  3. Logistics

PART 1: Defining Autonomous Organizing

  1. Existing definitions
  2. Defining “autonomous organizing”
  3. Defining “organizer”

PART 2: Planning

  1. Terrain
  2. Examples
  3. Goals
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Benchmarks
  7. Group activity to determine an organizing scenario
  8. Report back

PART 3: Talking Politics

  1. Examples of talking politics
  2. AEIOU (agitate / educate / inoculate / organize / unite)
  3. Exercise: “One Big Organizer”
  4. Exercise: Break into pairs

PART 4: Day-to-day practice

  1. Fostering relationships
  2. Follow up: Remember
  3. Integrate new members
  4. Reflection
  5. Make meaning

Review and conclude

-END-

Presentation slides

The slides (above) and notes (below) are available for your use. Contact us at unityandstrug@proton.me if you would like to get editable slides and notes for your own training.

Worksheet

Presenter notes

____________________________________

Further Reading

New Tools Needed: Community Organizing By Chino of Unity & Struggle, Regeneration, 2019

Secrets of a Successful Organizer by Bradbury, Brenner and Slaughter, Labor Notes, 2016

Roots to Power by Lee Staples, Praeger Press, 2016

Playbook for Progressives by Eric Mann, Beacon Press, 2011

Singlejack Solidarity by Stan Weir, University of Minnesota Press, 2004

The Worldview of C.L.R. James by Noel Ignatiev

Reflections on Organizing by Don Hamerquist of Sojourner Truth Organization, 1970, and Review of Reflections on Organizing by Paul Thompson of Big Flame, UK, 1970

Crisis and Class Consciousness by Advance the Struggle, 2010

Class Consciousness or Class Composition? by Salar Mohandesi, Science and Society, Vol 77, No 1, 2013.