“Once the movement [grows to the point of needing structure and/or] no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of “structurelessness,” it is free to develop those forms of organization best suited to its healthy functioning. This does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and blindly imitate the traditional forms of organization. But neither should we blindly reject them all. Some of the traditional techniques will prove useful, albeit not perfect; some will give us insights into what we should and should not do to obtain certain ends with minimal costs to the individuals in the movement. Mostly, we will have to experiment with different kinds of structuring and develop a variety of techniques to use for different situations. The Lot System is one such idea which has emerged from the movement. It is not applicable to all situations, but is useful in some. Other ideas for structuring are needed. But before we can proceed to experiment intelligently, we must accept the idea that there is nothing inherently bad about structure itself — only its excess use.
While engaging in this trial-and-error process, there are some principles we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:
1) Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored.
2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised.
3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills.
4) Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person’s “property” and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job.
5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a position because they are liked by the group or giving them hard work because they are disliked serves neither the group nor the person in the long run. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of “apprenticeship” program rather than the “sink or swim” method. Having a responsibility one can’t handle well is demoralizing. Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one’s skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process.
6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one’s power. When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion — without the group participating. The more one knows about how things work and what is happening, the more politically effective one can be.
7) Equal access to resources needed by the group. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources. Members’ skills can be equitably available only when members are willing to teach what they know to others.
When these principles are applied, they insure that whatever structures are developed by different movement groups will be controlled by and responsible to the group. The group of people in positions of authority will be diffuse, flexible, open, and temporary. They will not be in such an easy position to institutionalize their power because ultimate decisions will be made by the group at large. The group will have the power to determine who shall exercise authority within it.-Jo Freeman (aka Joreen), “The Tyranny of Structurenessless.” jofreeman.com. May 1970.
A short fiction where I pretend to you, dear reader, that I am still capable of reading more than a book a week.
- Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel M. Ingram
- Fool on the Hill by Mark Sargent
- The Omnibus Homo Sacer by Giorgio Agamben
- Cargill Falls by William Lychack [x]
- Black Imagination by Natasha Marin (Editor)
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
- Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth by Marilyn Waring
- Deep Adaptation by Jem Bendell [x]
- The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limon [x]
- Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen
- Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures by Mary Ruefle [x]
- How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong
- Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions by Martin Gardner
- Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology by Gregory Bateson
- Are Women Human?: And Other International Dialogues by Catharine A. MacKinnon
- War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires by Peter Turchin
- Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind by Alan Jacobs
- Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy
- Take the Long Way Home: Memoirs of a Survivor by Susan Gordon Lydon
- All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
- Ball Four by Jim Bouton
- The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men by Robert Jensen [x]
- The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
- Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World by Olga Khazan
- The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics by Christopher Lasch
- Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold
- On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
- Another Birth by Forough Farrokhzad
- Darkness Spoken by Ingeborg Bachmann
- So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ
- Oblivion Seekers by Isabelle Eberhardt
- The Neopolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
- Machines in the Head by Anna Kavan
- The Selected Poems of Rosario Castellanos by Rosario Castellanos
- Mad in Pursuit by Violette Leduc
- The Wedding by Dorothy West
- The Hebrew Bible by Robert Alter
- The Red Book: Liber Novus by C.G. Jung
- New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
- Heart of the Original by Steve Aylett
- On the Brink of Paradox by Augustin Rayo
- The Commonwealth series by Peter F. Hamilton
- Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher W. Alexander
- Sandworm by Andy Greenberg
- Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis
- A Passion For Friends by Janice G. Raymond
- The Precipice by Toby Orb
- Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump
- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
- Primeval & Other Times by Olga Tokarczuk
- Consuming the Romantic Utopia by Eva Illouz
- Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich
Here’s the Storyline from IMDB:
“Barney Ross leads the “Expendables”, a band of highly skilled mercenaries including knife enthusiast Lee Christmas, martial arts expert Yin Yang, heavy weapons specialist Hale Caesar, demolitionist Toll Road and loose-cannon sniper Gunner Jensen. When the group is commissioned by the mysterious Mr. Church to assassinate the merciless dictator of a small South American island, Barney and Lee head to the remote locale to scout out their opposition. Once there, they meet with local rebel Sandra and discover the true nature of the conflict engulfing the city. When they escape the island and Sandra stays behind, Ross must choose to either walk away and save his own life – or attempt a suicidal rescue mission that might just save his soul.
The Expendables is a moderately entertaining action movie, a “popcorn film”. But, the thing I noticed about this film is that this team is hired, they recon the mission, and decide to pass on it. But, Barney Ross (Stallone) goes back out of some strange sense of guilt over leaving the local guide to die, which she chose to do. The movie then proceeds with lots of conversation about how these mercenaries can save their souls, redeem the moral damage that comes from killing untold numbers of people with a single act of kindness, especially by saving a woman in distress.
There are a number of things bug me in this redemption narrative. First, and foremost, is that one cannot redeem one’s bad behavior with a single act of goodness. It’s like saying Lucifer could become Jesus, atone for his failures and the world’s through dying on the cross. It’s a terrible morality. The Bible asks for an unblemished sacrifice for a reason.
Second, the gendered element is suggesting that saving a woman somehow justifies the brutality and indiscriminate killing of the lifestyle these men are living. It’s an example of why patriarchy is so harmful to all genders. It justifies its oppression by glorifying violent behavior in men as a good, while at the same time turns women into objects for use in salving their moral wounds from that very behavior.
Then, there’s also the matter than Sandra (Itié) chooses to die rather than escape. While it is understandable to want to save her, there’s little in this film that respects her agency and choice.
And the really puzzling thing about this movie is after they have lived through a suicide mission, saved the heroine and redeemed himself, Ross leaves. Mission accomplished. He gives her money and just walks away because she wasn’t “his type”. More accurately, he has to walk away because dealing with Sandra as if she were a real human being would throw into relief the bankrupt ideas at the heart of this movie..
Who would Ross become if he decided to make this relationship work? That might be a real redemption. However, it’s something that would happen on a time scale that wouldn’t make for an entertaining movie. ‘Tis a pity that it is so easy to show evil and so difficult to show what is good about the human experience that you can only come to know of it over time and through lived experience.
“Although the age of community-based photography collectives and adequate funding for the arts is over, their principles are more salient than ever. As our lives become increasingly saturated with manipulative visual culture, questioning the social context of a constant stream of images could not be greater. By asking who images are currently produced for and for whom should they be produced, this forgotten history teaches us the power of inclusion, the importance of documenting community struggle and reinforces a belief in the camera as a universal tool for emancipation.”-Clarlie Bird, “Flashing In Hackney: The Forgotten History Of London’s Radical Photography Collectives.” The Quietus. October 24, 2020.
Never really thought of photography as a tool for emancipation. Also, interesting to read about the Hackney Flashers as a precursor that led to the Guerrilla Girls, whom I had heard of before. Doing a quick Internet search, I came across this quote in a New York Times piece:
“‘Some of us wanted a piece of the pie, and some of us wanted to blow the whole pie up,’ Kahlo said. ‘We agreed to disagree.'”–Melena Ryzik, “The Guerrilla Girls, After 3 Decades, Still Rattling Art World Cages.” The New York Times. August 5, 2015.
The fuller article and the focus on counting as a means of highlighting inequality is worth thinking on.
I think that about covers it. Classy, yet cutting through the bullshit.
20th Century Women is such a lovely little movie. Part coming of age story. Part a story about aging. Part a story about male/female relationships that explores how difficult these are to navigate, particularly given our collective idiosyncrasies and brokenness. Recommended.
“‘Wrestling gives you what you need to be successful,’ Kretzer explained. ‘It gives you dedication, commitment. It gives you somewhere where you belong. You can be your own self and be a total badass…
‘Wrestling allows you to find yourself. With your wins and losses, you get to reflect and try to develop yourself into something better. It’s not something you practice a few hours; it’s a 24/7, full commitment. The struggles in wrestling help you with the struggles outside of wrestling.'”—Liz Clarke, “A Sport of Their Own.” The Washington Post. November 8, 2019.
I fully support wrestling as a sport for girls. Wrestling changed my life, and everyone should have that opportunity.
“Enough of stating the fucking obvious, though. Let’s talk about how we’re going to survive the next year of bloviating sexist fuckwaddery. Let’s talk about what it means not just to survive, not just to escape predation and tolerate douche bro-viating and tune out all of the ignorant dipshit-itude, but to savor life and embrace joy as a woman or a girl or a enlightened human of any gender in this ludicrously insipid, unseeing, witless world.”-Heather Havrilesky, “Manic Pixie Mean Girl.” Ask Molly. November 8, 2019.
I love Ask Molly. Everything about it.
“When I was pregnant with my third son a young colleague asked me whether I wanted a boy or girl. I responded that I thought that the role model pressure of having a daughter would be hard, so I would be more comfortable with a son. She wagged her finger at me and said, ‘You have it all wrong. The most important thing you can do for women like me is to raise fair men who are equally competent at household activities as they are at working collaboratively with women in the office. That’s the role model you should worry about–your being a strong woman who expects her sons to treat women as equals.'”-Jules Pieri, “For Fathers of Daughters.” jules.thegrommet.com. October 10, 2019.
Advice for all men, not just fathers.