2020 Movement Priorities (priorities discussion)

Please see the movement report on our reports page.

Economic organising
On the basis of some notes, a couple of people suggested I post on this here, as a contribution to the current convergence process leading to the December 1st meeting. See the original note: MayFirst & solidarity economy

I fully acknowledge and support the commitments of MayFirst in political organising and digital infrastructure for movement organisations. But I have a sense that a further dimension could be developed which may have been only tacit: economic organising.

What’s the movement rationale for this? This would need formulating by the membership of course, but threads include:

  • Development in the ‘solidarity economy’ can be a fully fledged form of resistance. Organising is organising, and skilful economic organising is politics by other means.
  • Post-Covid there will be enormous economic hardship, layered on top of the ongoing hardship stemming from the ‘austerity’ attack on the conditions of working class communities. The waves of both are far from spent.
  • Provisioning everyday means of subsistence is a sphere of everyday organising, inescapably present in the life of people in ways that ‘politics’ might not be, and cultivating the capacity for mutual aid.
  • Place-based (regional, etc) economic organising has a potential to visibly join things up, further highlighting the everyday reality of class forces in the system in both economic and political forms, in family space and civil space.
  • It’s probable that many MayFirst member organisations are already involved in economic organising in their communities, but MayFirst hasn’t specifically considered whether particular tools or focus are called for to support them in this.

Following this outline rationale, here (in three further comments) are two proposals for consideration in the current convergence process, and a third that might be for future consideration:

  1. Economic organising - Initial steps
  2. Digital infrastructure for economic organising - Initial steps
  3. Stewarding digital infrastructure - Evolution in MayFirst Unable to post a further comment right now - new to this forum.

This is posted by Mike Hales. But I originally created an account called 'conviv' and can't seem to change the name.

Proposal 1 - Economic organising: Initial steps

  • Appoint a small pod from the leadership, experienced in roots and regional economic organising, to undertake initial assessment of this as a field of possible focus in MayFirst, and bring a perspective to the membership for review.
  • Timeline for this, to be specified.

Initial work by the pod to include . .

  1. Map the fields of economic organising currently undertaken in the membership. Maybe just a quick, first-cut mapping. More sophistication further down the line. As a guide for a possible mapping frame, see Economic activist sectors.
  2. Explore and refine the movement rationale for a focus in economic organising. Rather than in the Discourse forum (which doesn’t necessarily converge things too well) perhaps do this thro an experimental ‘converging’ exercise using Pol.is - this picks up on a hint Micky Metts made in the infrastructure & services meeting, Oct 27th. Sounds interesting.
  3. Organise a membership meeting, to review the above and integrate with the digital infrastructure review (see Proposal 2).

Proposal 2 - Digital infrastructure for economic organising: Initial steps

  • As an aspect of exploring and developing support for economic organising in the membership, MayFirst will review tools that can specifically support economic organising, in relation to the current provision of infrastructure.
  • Timeline for this, to be specified.

The following three-layer framework may help in reviewing:

  • Trinity - Three classes of platformed digital tools that arguably are needed in all kinds of group interaction.
  • Stack - Five further generic classes of tools that are needed, once organising and collaboration becomes systematic and ongoing; and
  • Deck - More specialised kinds of tools, required in particular sectors of economic organising.
    For a slide deck of this with notes, see Toolsframe - A framework for infrastructuring with digital tools .

Stages of work would perhaps be:

  1. Profile the current usage by members, of the existing MayFirst tools, in terms of the categories/layers above.
  2. Review this toolsframe picture, against a map of the economic organising commitments of the membership (developed by the ‘economy’ pod, see Proposal 1) and form a picture of needs and possible unmet needs for tools.
  3. Review this picture of needs against infrastructure & services commitments of MayFirst, with regard to labour and skill implications.
  4. Bring the review and proposals to a membership meeting.

This is work for the digital operations crew, and the economics pod, jointly?

Hi Mike - I’m glad you started this thread - it’s way past due for us to tackle the issue head on.

For starters, I don’t think there will be any ideological or principled opposition to work around the solidarity economy. I think the obstacle is less about what we are talking about (politics vs economics) and more about with whom are we talking?

Most of our movement work over the last 15 years has centered around the social justice movement in the United States. That’s where our gender and race politics have developed and where we have experimented with and devised ways of moving this sector toward recognizing the importance of owning our own technology (largely culmination in our Tech and Rev campaign). That web site might make it look easy, but it took us 12 years to get there!

In compraison, the solidarity economy world is very very different. As our mission is still the same (build movements for liberation), I would expect we would have the same goal with this community: we want to move them to the left, funnel energy toward the bigger movement for global transformation.

However, the language we use, the arguments we use, the workshops we propose, who we recruit to help - all of this is totally different and would need to be re-thought out and developed.

In any event, I don’t think any of this will come as a shock to you :). But I’m mentioning it as a reminder that making this shift is not a small pivot, but quite a big step. And, given our tight resources, raises further questions about how we maintain our work with the social justice movement whilie moving into this new arena.

1 Like

As for your two policies - they are very well thought out. I like the approach and how it integrates research, organizing and technology. I also really like the toolsframe and how you break up those tools. I think that’s a helpful way for groups to think about what they are going to use.

Our technology overhaul is still going strong, but is currently scheduled to complete next summer. So, there are openings for us to apply some tech work to this project, particularly once the overhaul is complete.

Thanks everyone who attended the meeting - here are the notes.

And here’s a recording.

I note this in the proposed priorities at today’s General Meeting:

  • Expand work of bringing organizations and activists into May First while spreading our thinking within the rest of our movements.
    • Develop a policy toward and work plan for our involvement in the solidarity economy movement

So that’s cool :slight_smile: Will be voting for this and encourage others to do likewise :clap: