Movement-building is, I think we all agree, an Important Thing. Involving so-called ‘new’ people (who may often have extensive experience in other fields, or other times), is clearly at the core of building a mass movement to overthrow the evil capitalist system and replace it with something nicer. Which makes the following anecdote all the more hilarious (or depressing, if you’re one of those people who still needs to believe that the apocalypse can be deferred).
Once upon a time (okay, about six weeks ago) a meeting was ‘organised’ via facebook. It was at Untie the Union’s offices in Manchester and it was for a group – to spare their anonymity let’s call them – oh, I don’t know – “Take Back the Energy.”
Two ‘new’ people (see above), and one who had some minor connection to at least one of the organisers, turned up. And waited. And waited.
And waited. Finally, after 45 minutes, a text arrived to the one with the minor connection. Meeting cancelled, because few of the cool gang (my words) were going to be there. But nobody thought to facebook message those who had said they would go, or – crucially – have one person turn up to tell any ‘new’ people the score.
And this debacle was followed by precisely no grovelling apology, no real acknowledgement of the cataclysmic rudeness and loss of credibility. With regard to “movement building” some groups that are claiming they are all kapow, err in their self-assessment. If they ever do any self-assessment, which is doubtful in the extreme.
As someone has just said to me on facebook –
“A movement is deep and complex and based on shared needs. This is just people cosplaying at being a moment. If a social movement is the Sistine chapel ceiling, this is some words chalked on the wall. Sure, it can send a message and its better than nothing, but it’s no surprise when some rain washes it away.”