Here is a sad truth about this essay. It has taken me more than ten years, with dozens of abandoned attempts and scuttled drafts, to find the courage and motivation to write and share this piece with you. This is not because I’ve been spending a decade quietly preparing, polishing, honing. Not really. It has taken me ten years because I have been wracked by my fears of the often toxic cultures of discourse that this writing would send me into, and I have been worn thin by the pain and loss that I have experienced over and over again in movement work.
But after ten years of licking open wounds, and watching as a new generation of organizers has risen and then suffered many of the same internal blows in the wake of Occupy, I felt compelled to try and say something.
With this piece, I am placing a kind of bet, that with whatever skepticism or indifference that I might receive for trying to say so much about so many things that I want our movements to do differently, that there are at least a few people who have shared my same dissatisfaction, my same longing, who will come out and say that they agree. From there, we get to work.
I have taken the time here to lay out what I feel is a relatively comprehensive and unique proposal for movement building toward a better world, a mass-based, vision-centered approach to building revolutionary communities. I have explained why I want movements that exercise revolutionary imagination, that seek to work at a mass scale, that are open for creative militance, and which foster mutually inspirational relationships. I have offered specific proposals for structures and tools that I think can help us reach these ideals: from the broad rallying point of “The Idea,” to written statements of vision, to a strengthened ecosystem of movements, to revolutionary congregations, and even “movement Sundays.” After 50 something pages, I’d hope that you have many questions, many suggestions for improving these ideas, but also some sense of whether or not you agree with the overall position. If you do agree, at least for the most part, then the proposal continues with some more steps.
Beyond any specific engagement with me or with this piece, there is other work as well: reflecting on and articulating your own personal vision for revolutionary change; discussing visionary ideas with your friends and groups; reaching out to strengthen the roots of solidarity between movements in your locale. This piece is full of holes and gaps, and you are strongly invited to contribute to patching and extending them.
Right now, in the fall of 2014 and into the future, my local comrades and I want to raise awareness of this approach across our movement subcultures, and we want to start experimenting with some of our proposed models in daily practice—beginning with the revolutionary congregation idea. We want to invite you in to these efforts, whether through dialogue and parallel experiments if you’re far away, or through direct collaboration if you’re near Seattle. How to get started? Send us an email or message us on our social networks; contribute to the discussion on our website, mutualinspiration.org; or try to forge your own path if that feels better to you for some reason. Meanwhile, we will continuously update our website—mutualinspiration.org–with additional articles, resources, and news.
In a society that fosters so much loneliness, isolation, and self-doubt, even the sharing of a simple knowing glance can keep us going for another day. A nod on the bus. A honked horn as you drive by a protest. Even a “like” on Facebook. This essay is me, stretching myself out of my own loneliness, trying to make eye contact with you, even briefly. I hope you’ll look back this way.