Don’t be a know-it-all

When plotting the course of a group, I think that actually most forks in the road are fairly straightforward, something that most non-academics could understand.  Sure, there’s some background about how different groups have historically organized, there’s a competition of ideas about tactics, yeah.  But it’s something that can be broken down into simple language, and spoken of in terms of events that have been going on around the people making the decision.

Unfortunately, some leftist groups have a cult of intellectualism, bordering on a cult of academia.  (There is a difference…intellectuals have knowledge but are allowed to actually do things.)  They print more text than any human being with a job could possibly keep up with, and obligate their members to read as much of it as they can.

This effectively limits real decision-making power to either professors and other intellectual-professionals, who are literally paid to do research; the paid staff of the group, who are paid to work for the group, which is often defined to include huge amounts of reading; or decades-long members who have read an amount of reference material that can only be accumulated over decades.

None of these three demographics are really the best for having your finger on the organic pulse of where people’s minds are.  All of them tend to come with a pre-programmed set of expectations and interpretations that can sometimes act as a tool for reading reality and can sometimes act as a considerable hindrance.

They can all sound very intellectual, they can quote various radical bibles verse and scripture, they can speak with a confidence gained with either years of practice or too much back-patting, and they are often organizational insiders who can rely on the unwritten rule that the group’s internal culture privileges their speech as authoritative.

They can do all this while blatantly ignoring the shifting reality, and shouting down younger, poorer, less-read voices who frequently know what’s going on because, unlike the “cadres,” they actually are what’s going on, they actually are the movements, they actually are the outsiders-looking-in, able to tell what looks crazy and cultish, what doesn’t, and what is necessary anyway.  But that knowledge is lost, because in the contest of public speaking, the ability of newcomers and rank-and-filers to even articulate their insights is disrupted in the cadre’s onslaught of rehearsed fast-talking.

If we are trying to repackage our message to be able to reach the broad masses whom increasingly identify with class warfare, then we’re going to have to speak in plain language, and keep it brief.  Most people are intimidated by long articles with tons of citations.  They think to themselves “I could never do that.”  Yes, it’s a good idea to get people doing political writing, but my goal is to build a movement that most people can relate to, not found The Academy of Marxist & Russian Revolutionary Trivia.

Be cool.  Keep it short.  Patiently explain.  Understand the perspective of most people.

Besides, too much text makes your brain hurt.

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One thought on “Don’t be a know-it-all

  1. Pingback: why anarchists should care about bolshevism | spreadtheinfestation

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