Josh Marshall points us to this brief history of political organizing, from veteran organizer Marshall Ganz. If you’re reading this site, you need to read it.
Here’s one of many fascinating tidbits (my emphasis):
… [T]he promise of “connectedness” via the Internet is an invitation to a dance that has yet to begin. The Internet is a market place, not an organization. As such it offers motivated participants an opportunity to give money, exchange information, and market causes. Organizations, however, as Alinsky organizers know, are built of interpersonal commitments people make to each other of their time, money, and energy. With skilled leaders, organizations have the capacity to strategize, motivate, and engage in purposeful effective action – and develop more skilled leaders. But in the last election, opportunity created by the Internet was only intermittently translated into action because there were few organizers. This time, perhaps it will be different.
I’m happy and proud that BMG has been a watering hole for the progressive types. It’s great to be able to exchange information with other folks who are working on politics in their own areas, and have their areas of expertise. And insofar as we can create real relationships through blogs (including “meatspace” relationships), I think that’s an important part of organizing and being “relational” (a very Alinskyish word, I gather) — or creating “social capital”, if you prefer.
I recently asked a smart person who’s keyed in to internet politics whether BMG ought to get involved more in organizing “actions”, rather than pretty much acting as a scrolling, free-wheeling op-ed page. His answer was emphatic: No, do what you do. In other words, he felt our important function was as a marketplace for information, ideas, “frames,” — yeah, for talking points. In other words, as sco said in the election post-mortem, “bloggers should blog.”*
While I was gratified to hear that (justifying my own work), it just can’t be the end of it. In the end, activists need each other — to swap favors, hold each other’s signs, get involved in each others’ causes and candidates. That requires a level of interaction, of trust, — and of having fun — that you just can’t get online.
*(Although in sco’s case, bloggers should deliver Watertown to Deval Patrick, just because they can, dammit.)