How to build a grassroots democratic movement.

This post only expresses the opinion of the author

The short answer is YOU CAN’T. The movement has to grow by itself.

A perfectly democratic movement is one in which every individual has equal decision power or at least equal chances of access to the positions of so called power. A grassroots movement is one whose strength lies on the individual contributions of it members who unite to pursue a comon goal and not in the strength of the leadership.

The image of an uncountable number of grass shoots covering the prary is excactly what describes the aspirations of a grassroots movement. Every wisp of grass is autonomous, is independent, is free and strives to make the world greener. The question is then “Which are the conditions in which the grass can best grow?”

The key to grassroots movements is self organization. Anyone, anywhere within the movement, as long as he or she doesn’t contradict the principles of the movement, should be invited to work along the line of personal choice. If there is anything that the movement, as an institution, should do, is precisely to offer a helping hand for those people to start working how they think fit.

In this post I refer to the fact that some people would like to cooperate with other people in their neighbourhood, while others would rather work with people who live thousands of miles away. They will do that because they speak their mother tongue, because they have the same approach to life or just because; but what we, the rest, need to do, is to help them thrive.

DiEM25 is organised around the concept of Spontaneous Collectives. If people spontanously group though the internet and not locally, their contribution to the overal movement should be welcome, and they should be given the chance to take part in the overall game like any other DSC,

Furthermores, in order to interconnect the members of DiEM25 across the continent we should not only be thinking of which tools (Forum, Slack, Loomio, Democracy OS) should we use, but also, more importantly, in which human connexions can make the movement coherent. Technology will never replace human connection. It will make it easier, but not replace it. To work together, to be able to commit to a project, you need to know with whom you are working, be it by means of pen and paper signed letter, teleconference or face to face. There are only so many people you can be in touch with, and you have to trust them

If I personally hear from my colleague in Helsinky that their DSC is going to take to the streets I can happily put my hand in the fire when I talk to my colleagues in Dublin about that action which we may want to support in our city. Of course, a coordinating group could do the same, but it presents a bottle neck in the information flow, because its members can only personally know so many people, and hence they cannot dedicate enough time to each of the people who have to work with them. This is a true fact about information theory as well as about human nature, not a personal remark – and should not be taken as criticism. Note that the internet is so successful precisely because it communicates using redundant paths. You cannot break it. The information will flow some way else if you try.

Thus, in order to foster the growth of the movement, in order to nurture its roots, we should encourage the multiplication of national and trans national spontaneous network collectives, which can either deal with day to day DiEM25 issues or have their thematic lines of work. However, their top priority should be to feed back into their local groups what is happening in the larger world. Anyone coming into DiEM25 must be able to see, with her own eyes, that this is truely a pan European movement, where s/he can work along people from many countries in the subject of European Democracy.

If there where at leas two or three members of each DSC who were simultaneously active in one of multiple and diverse DiEM trans national network collectives, the horizontal information flow in DiEM25 would be so incredibly fast and efficient, that we would be in a possition to say with one voice to the rest of Europe “Come and work with us, we are building a great place to live”

Salud, Paz y Democracia

Pj

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