On Organizing


The introduction to the series On Organizing

Our terrible dilemma: While the climate scientists tell us our time may well be short, the road ahead seems so long and winding.

Start now. Start organizing.

But, what is the culture of organizing? What are its underlying assumptions, principles, methods, and tensions?

And, most important: What is the purpose of organizing?

As with the series on the Inside/Outside Strategy, Electoral Strategy and Martin Luther King, On Organizing proposes a method of mobilizing people toward the goal of social transformation.  Organizing is a means to an end: Participatory Democracy and the Next American Revolution.

Organizing is a way of seeing and being in the political world—a way we must cultivate if we are to rebuild and renew the social movements.

The culture of organizing grows through a sustained engagement with people and assumes that knowing the world and acting in it are inseparable parts of the same process. Organizers value research, analysis and history, but usually assume that learning through experience and teaching by example are the most effective means of education.

This emphasis on practice predisposes organizers to experimentation. We learn from failure as well as success; from allies as well as enemies. Failure and enemies are the mothers of invention. Study them both but above all act, for activism is the greatest teacher of all.

The organizer’s rhetorical, strategic and tactical repertoire is designed to produce social action because it is in the tumult of political life that leaders emerge, relationships develop and transformations in consciousness are realized.

One way to understand the culture of organizing is to explore a series of creative tensions that underlie the organizers work and view of the world.

Next: Continuity and Change

About Richard Moser

Richard Moser has over 40 years experience as an organizer and activist in the labor, student, peace, and community movements. Moser is the author of "New Winter Soldiers: GI and Veteran Dissent During the Vietnam Era," and co-editor with Van Gosse of "The World the Sixties Made: Politics and Culture in Recent America." Moser lives in Colorado.
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6 Responses to On Organizing

  1. VanessaVaile says:

    great timing again as CEW’s last day theme is continuing action. I’ll use the rhetoric to connect the post for extra boost. I look forward to seeing where you go with this. Changing the culture will be the challenge.I hope necessity will be enough of a mother for a kickstart


    • Richard Moser says:

      Thanks Vanessa! What was your take on this years CEW? This is a long series of posts and i hope it will provide a useful framework for all of you in the trenches. If we keep practicing maybe someday we will get this right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • VanessaVaile says:

        I was following feeds and media all week — would have liked to see local accounts of area activities, not just large very managed events. Even the social media was too coordinated and managed — recycling prepared materials.

        There were also some gaps — no word from usual groups that had been doing CEW on their own during the so-called gap years, 2009 and 2o11. Of course some of that could be because two high active areas, California and New York, were working toward strike actions.

        I was also surprised not to hear anything from Front Range or other Colorado community colleges.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. James David Lovw says:

    Dick, These articles are a godsend. I am just getting back into organizing. I am setting up a community association to fight back against Prudential taking over our neighborhood and gentrification by MY hipsters. Your writings is helping me get back up to speed. Thanks, Jamie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Richard Moser says:

      Great to hear from you and so glad you are back into the struggle. We need you brother. Sounds like a really great project. Well there is lots more to come. I’ll be back in NJ for the holidays for 2 weeks. Beer?


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