How to Form a Spring 2015 Mobilization Committee

How to Form a Spring 2015 Mobilization Committee

You’re new to political organizing. You don’t have the experience or the networks, but you know you want to help somehow. You’re excited about the March 24 day of action that’s coming up, but don’t know where to start. You want to organize a Mobilization Committee, but aren’t sure how. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there. The only way to get good at organizing is to organize; there’s no trick, secret method, or anything like that. The RSM has created a small guide to help you out.

Any action begins with a plan. You should have some idea of what you want to accomplish. What sort of action do you want to organize? What are the necessary steps required to get there? But before any of that, you need to get people together, and that’s the point of a Mobilization Committee. The Mobilization Committee fundamentally is a committee that brings people together to organize an action, in this case the pan-Canadian day of action on March 24. The first goal in pulling together a Mobilization Committee should be to hold a successful first planning meeting, which usually means getting a decent number of people involved, developing a basic plan of action, and assigning responsibility for carrying out the tasks contained in that plan.

Begin by figuring out who you already know that would be interested in organizing a Mobilization Committee. Start with a meeting to plan the launch of your Mobilization Committee. Specific tasks should be assigned to specific people, and one or two of your most dedicated and reliable people should also be tasked with making sure everything is getting done.

In terms of getting a Mobilization Committee started, promotion is generally your most important task. There are a number of ways you can do this kind of outreach:

  • Making posters advertising the date, time, location, and purpose of the meeting. These posters should be full-colour if possible, eye-catching and attractive. The RSM has a number of designs that can be modified for this purpose so don’t hesitate to ask for one if needed.
  • Putting posters up everywhere on and around campus, including places off-campus where working-class students hang out. Every campus has rules about who can poster, what and where, and those rules are always a little different from place to place so it’s a good idea to find out what those rules are to minimize the chances that all your posters will be taken down and your hard work will go to waste. Often the local student association office will know, so ask them. That said, if it’s impossible to poster without breaking the rules, fuck the rules, do it anyway.
  • Small handbills are also nice for face-to-face outreach. These can be sized as 1/4 of a standard piece of paper and should be double-sided. One side should be a smaller version of your poster, with the other giving a brief description of what the Mobilization Committee is and what it aims to accomplish, plus an invitation to the meeting. Hand these out in highly-trafficked hallways on campus, or approach people sitting on benches and tables with them to start a conversation.
  • One-on-one conversations with people are your most valuable and important organizing tool. Most people are used to getting a wall of bullshit advertising thrown at them day-in-and-day-out; more often than not, people don’t even notice posters. One-on-one conversations are your chance to show people you’re sincere, have a plan to win, and aren’t full of shit. When you’re talking to people about the Mobilization Committee, try getting them pissed off – not at you, of course, but at the system that leaves them indebted, unemployed, and oppressed – and show them getting mobilized is how they can finally do something about it. Get their names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers for follow-ups and reminders.
  • Professors will often allow students to make quick announcements before class. Find out where large classes are held, and where lectures are held that might have students who would be sympathetic to your efforts. Show up before the classes and ask the professor if you can make a quick announcement about a student activist initiative. Have a quick, 2-minute speech prepared (and practiced!) and pass a contact sheet through the class. Stick around until it’s circulated and collect it afterwards, then send a follow-up text or email to the people who signed up.
  • Find out what publications are distributed on your campus. Most schools have at least one newspaper, and many faculties or departments will have one as well. See if you can get an announcement of your meeting in the paper, or write a letter to the editor about it.

The meeting should be in at least a semi-private place so that you can focus, but preferably on campus for accessibility. Ask the student association office and/or the Student Life department of the school about booking a lecture hall or study room for your meeting, and if that fails then pick a room on campus you can access freely without having to ask for permission. Worst case scenario, a table in the cafeteria or a common area works just fine.

Generally speaking, people should be given at least one week (ideally two weeks) notice before a meeting. Think about how much time you need to adjust your own schedule; everyone else faces the same challenges. Try and be accommodating to other people’s schedules.

So you’ve done all the promotion you’re capable of, and it’s time for the first meeting itself. First off, many of the people you talk to, even the ones who say they’re interested, won’t come to the meeting. Don’t be discouraged! People are busy; they work, have families, hobbies, etc. . The majority of people will not be able to be political organizers, and that’s alright. What *is* important is that you don’t adopt a self-righteous attitude, looking down at those that don’t show up; that’s a perfect way to isolate yourself. Some new folks will come, and anything at this point is progress. Often times the people who don’t get heavily involved will become part of the base of contacts you can call on for one-off marches, rallies, events, etc.

Be prepared for your first meeting in every way possible. Be there early to set up and greet people. People will show up late, so expect to start about 15 minutes after your scheduled time. Chat with the people who show up on time and try to find out what they’re all about.

When you’re ready to start the meeting, do a quick go-around for people to introduce themselves and maybe say a little about why they want to be involved in a Mobilization Committee. This helps people become comfortable with one another. Then get down to work.

Before the meeting, you’ll want to have an agenda prepared. You’ll want to think about what you hope to accomplish in the short-term (the next weeks) and the medium-term (March 24 actions) and the specific steps to take so you can get there (what actions, what outreach strategies, what messaging, etc). Come up with this plan at the Mobilization Committee meeting.

The people who show up will probably have some ideas about what they want to do, but chances are they won’t have spent as much time developing a whole, cohesive plan. If somebody brings up something clever, integrate it into the plan! If somebody brings up something that’s a little hazy or half-baked, there’s often at least some kernel of truth in it. Your goal as an organizer is to find that kernel and integrate it into your plans. Not everyone has to agree on everything, but everyone should feel as though they had input into the decisions that were made. The best way for people to feel invested in the Mobilization Committee is for them to feel as though they have ownership over it; without that, people will begin to drift away, and will prioritize other things.

At the meeting you should set out the specific tasks that have to be completed – which at first may just be doing more wide-spread promotion for the next Mobilization Committee meeting using the strategies above. All tasks should be assigned to specific people based on what they volunteer for. You should also decide on one or two people who are responsible for coordinating tasks and making sure things are getting done. You should set the next meeting date and location, and get a contact sheet to collect people’s information so you can follow up with them.

From there, a lot of what happens will be determined by the specifics of your campus and the goals you set out for your Mobilization Committee. This basic guide should help you get to a place where you can figure that out. Of course, if you ever feel stuck or lost as to how you should proceed, contact the Revolutionary Student Movement, which has accumulated a fair amount of experience and might be able to point you in the right direction on the challenges you’re facing.

See you in the streets on March 24!

Resolutions of the Quebec City Conference

Resolutions of the Quebec City Conference

1. The RSM officially supports the Spring 2015 movement and will dedicate itself to building the movement.

The RSM will bring forward an anti-capitalist line into the mobilization committees for the spring 2015 Strike.

In Quebec:
-comrades should openly throw themselves into mobilization committees and the Spring 2015 committees.
-they should aspire to be the best and most active militants on these committees.
In the rest of Canada:
-where GAs don’t exist, GA campaigns should be launched.
-where GAs do exist, democratization campaigns should be launched.
-across Canada we should launch mobilization committees, broader than the RSM, with the goal of either spreading the strike across Canada or organizing a pan-Canadian day of action in solidarity with the strike in Spring 2015.

 

2. Wherever possible, the RSM will mobilize the least-often mobilized students, notably in:
-high-schools
-technical schools
-adult high-schools
-transitional programs

 

3. The MER-RSM should support the IWW Montreal’s call for a strike on May 1st 2015. This could be related to, but not limited to, Spring 2015 mobilization. Some visibility actions should be organized everywhere it is possible.

 

4. Be it resolved that an open Transformative Justice Committee be struck
Be it resolved that the Coordinating Committee organize a first meeting of this committee
Be it resolved that this committee be tasked with investigating the accumulated experience of the RSM and of other organizations in handling sexual assaults, and all other forms of oppression as outlined in the preamble. This committee will create a praxis guide for local RSM chapters as well as the pan-Canadian organization.
Be it resolved that this committee work with the Proletarian Feminist Front on the committee’s mandate.
Be it resolved that this committee contact any groups with relevant experience to their mandate.
Be it resolved that this committee submit a proposal of a praxis guide to all members at least two weeks prior to next Congress.
Be it resolved that this committee present a follow-up of their work at the next Congress.

 

5. The RSM should actively support the creation of a youth branch of the Revolutionary Worker’s Movement, and use our contacts and experience to do so.

 

6. The next congress should be held in Ottawa.

 

7. The RSM calls for the destruction of the CFS, CASA, the FEUQ, and the FECQ.

Denounce the MRAs! Defend Womens’ Rights! Build the Revolutionary Student Movement!

Recently, U of T has seen an upsurge of men’s rights activism (MRA).  Warren Farrell travelled to the university to discuss his new book, The Myth of Male Power.  His “in-depth” outline of male powerless has incited a new pro-men movement on our campus.  MRAs on campus have been campaigning with posters and guest speakers in order to draw attention towards new issues men are facing within our society. Some of these issues revolve around the erosion of masculinity, sexual consent, biased portrayals of men in the media and a global lack of representation.

It is not a surprise that significant numbers of Western men are drawn towards a pro-male movement that distinguishes women as the reason for economic depression and the erosion of patriarchal norms. Men feel threatened by dramatic changes in their traditional roles in recent decades. They have seen a dramatic decline in their economic status and ability to achieve economic success or stability, a shift in their ‘historic’ role as breadwinner and a general shift away from patriarchal structures of the family.

As a result, the underworld of misogynists has been unleashed. From the blogosphere, to men’s separatist movements and now to campuses nationwide their fury goes well beyond criticisms of the family court system, domestic violence laws and false rape accusations. The scary reality is literally hundreds of websites, action groups and advocates whose political line reeks of misogyny: within this movement, women are branded sluts, gold diggers and temptresses and the police have been named ‘armed enablers’ or women’s rights. Unfortunately, men’s rights activist and the organizations they politically affiliate themselves with hold other anti-modern, proto-fascist sentiments such as opposition to same sex marriage, immigration, women in the workplace and the economic advancement of non-white citizens.

black_activism_clip_image002

We do not deny that men have suffered in daily life, mental health and self-esteem. However, we contend that blame placed on women is misdirected.  Instead of understanding economic hardship and political powerlessness as the manifestations of the capitalist order, in which increasing numbers of proletarians are forced to compete for crumbs, while the bourgeoisie reap record profits, MRAs categorically blame women for their losses of social, legal and economic status. We cannot tolerate this reactionary point-of-view! The MRAs must be exposed for what they really are—at best, opportunistic hate-mongers who are taking advantage of the powerlessness keenly felt by the masses. At worst, they represent the most reactive, backward voices within the masses. As such, they need to be verbally condemned as well as physically challenged.

Only a revolutionary students’ movement that unites the progressives on campus will be successful in fighting this hateful, opportunistic trend as well as future proto-fascist movements. Only a RSM can unite proletarian women on campus with those who seek to defend and further women’s rights, and all genders’ liberation. Let’s build the RSM!

Letter of Solidarity to Peterborough Students

This letter was written by PRAC-RSM upon learning of a planned walk-out and potential sit-in, by Peterborough students, on Dec 11, 2012. This walk-out is in support of Ontario teachers fighting for better work conditions, as well as for the reinstatement of extra-curricular activities. The Peterborough students correctly recognized that the blame for the teacher’s work-to-rule action is on the government and the bourgeoisie, and not their teachers. We laud the initiative taken up by the students. We hope that this protest movement will strengthen into a movement against the privatization of education, and eventually against the ongoing crisis of capitalism itself.

Fellow students,

We were excited to learn about the stand you’re taking today, and we wish to extend our congratulations, our enthusiasm and our solidarity.

You all know as well as anyone that with a loss of school activities comes a loss of hope, a world where only those with the money to pay have a chance to develop into the whole, fulfilled people they have the potential to become while the rest of us face boredom, stagnation and isolation.

You also know that the blame for this situation falls not on the teachers, who in their work-to-rule action against the provincial government are exercising what little power they have over a power structure that wants to deprive them of a good job and a good life.

But yours is a struggle not just for extra-curriculars or for a fair contract for your teachers. It’s a struggle against a system that can no longer provide us with what we need.

Ours is a bleak future – one of debt, poverty, unemployment and imprisonment. Everywhere we look, the promises of prosperity and peace made to us by those who run the whole show are coming unraveled. Pensions are being cut, the cost of living keeps rising, and wages keep falling by comparison. How many of us will have a higher standard of living than our parents? Fewer and fewer all the time.

Broken promises, hardship, and exploitation: that’s all the system has to offer us. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You haven’t asked for our advice, but if you want it, it’s this: the power structure is your enemy. If you oppose them, they’ll never respect you and the only way they’ll ever listen is if they’re afraid – afraid that the spirit of rebellion you embody will escalate and spread, threatening the whole system of exploitation that makes them rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of us.

The spirit of rebellion you’re showing today can be nurtured and can grow into a force for revolution that will change the face of the planet. You can help make a world where we, the masses – the working class and oppressed people – are in control, where all the potential we hold together can be used to better ourselves and each other, where we reject domination and embrace empowerment, where everyone has everything they need.

We’re doing what we can to build this force for revolution, and we want to work with you in doing the same.

It is with great pride we count you within our ranks as students.

In Solidarity,

The Revolutionary Student Movement, Toronto

Report-Back from the Anti-Corporatization, Anti-Imperialism Rally

Report-Back from the Anti-Corporatization, Anti-Imperialism Rally

Recently, PRAC/RSM participated in an anti-corporatization, anti-imperialism rally organized by a coalition, headed by a student organization at UofT. The rally was by-and-large successful, despite the fact that one of the coalition groups threatened to back out after seeing the previous post.

This experience led RSM to make a post about right-wing sectarianism and opportunism.

Background info:

The deal-breaker, as it came to light, was the fact that PRAC/RSM supported the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan–the C(M)PA . Confusion and abdication of responsibility momentarily took hold of the coalition, as the coalition organizers tried to decide whether to capitulate to the withdraw-ees by changing the overall tone of the event, or moving forward without the withdraw-ees.

This turn of events makes a good teaching moment about one of the dominant tendencies within the mainstream Left: sectarianism.

Sectarianism

Sectarianism is sometimes disguised behind anti-sectarian appearances, as MLM Mayhem recently writes. For instance, the broad “‘anything goes’ ideology” that infects the Left fosters the exclusion of groups and ideas that are deemed too radical.

Moreover, sectarianism is complicated by its indulgence in right-wing opportunism, which is the:

“Adaptation of the policy and ideology of the working-class movement to the interests and needs of nonproletarian (bourgeois and petty– bourgeois) strata”. Opportunism is usually associated with revisionism (q.v.) or dogmatism (q.v.). It can be right-wing or ‘left’-wing.”

“Right-wing opportunism comes into being together with the organised working-class movement (trade-unionism, Lassalleanism, “Economism”, [and in this case petty-bourgeois student activism–ed.] etc. ). It manifests itself in the rejection of revolutionary methods of struggle, conciliation with the bourgeoisie and, in the final analysis, abandonment of the struggle for socialism.”

From our recent experience, for instance, we were able to cooperate with the various coalition groups with whom we attended the rally, but only through reaching a disunited kind of unity, and a lowest-common-denominator kind of cooperation, where the coalition prematurely degenerated into a group of ad hoc parties.

Of course, there are time restraints, as the coalition organizers were all working to put together an action at the top possible speed. However, this does not detract from the fact that we all need to be better organized, and rely less on the spontaneity of the moment to stage a successful rally.

RSM learned from this experience that sectarianism is the opposite of unity.

For coalition-building, MLM-Mayhem suggests a number of principles that provide guidelines for maintaining unity. RSM thought it worthwhile to reiterate these principles.

The coalition organization/organizer:

“a) will work in coalitions without trying to force the entire coalition to liquidate itself into its ranks; b) will maintain its parallel principles in this organization without apology, but with humility; c) will not intentionally engage in asinine and internecine left-wing turf wars and member poaching; d) will maintain that their principles will be proved in the class struggle rather than in name-calling.”

Unity is of vital importance, especially in the face of the enemy. Without criticism and self-criticism, there can be no unity. To quote Mao, “that means starting from the desire for unity, resolving contradictions through criticism or struggle, and arriving at a new unity on a new basis.”In the case discussed in this article, the rally could have been better had there been more unity to start with, and better criticism and self-criticism along the way.

Click  here to read the RSM speech from the rally.

Thoughts on the Upcoming Elections

Thoughts on the Upcoming Elections

vote-or-die

With provincial elections on its way, we the proletariat see the usual string of promises. These promises have no other purpose but to diffuse people’s rage at the bourgeois Canadian state.

All the candidates have adopted rhetoric that addresses the working class, but it is all a sham! All the candidates are simply slight variations of each other. All of them are only interested in protecting the interests of the rich from the disaster the rich has wrought for itself. None of them, or their party platforms, truly analyzes the heart of the proletarians’ problems.

We, whether youth, proletarian, or both, face mounting and unpayable debt. We must work non-stop just the make ends meet, and yet we come nowhere near it. When we try to search for jobs, we find ourselves amidst increasingly bigger seas of jobless people similarly looking for work. We cannot get adequate housing free from overcrowding. These, among other issues, define our generation.

Yet all the bourgeois parties can offer us are meaningless promises that don’t address the root cause of our misery.

The NDP party, a prime example of a party that is left in word and right in form, is dangerous because it works hard to deceive the masses by projecting a so-called working class agenda. It says it will raise people’s standard of living, but it shamefacedly represses people’s knowledge of the sources of the wealth that fills its coffers. Like the Conservatives and the Liberals, the NDP will just as gladly plunder third world countries. Its ultimate interest is the maintenance and growth of the capitalist system.

The Liberals, for its own part, is trying to funnel disaffected young people into NGOs, hoping that these young people will waste their youth working for reforms, as the representatives of endless myriads of identity groups. At the same time, the Liberals are trying to paint itself as the “immigrant-friendly” party by appeasing businesses and professional people of color. Meanwhile, poor migrants are kept outside of borders, and poor workers, working for minimum wages and less, languor inside of the borders, unable to benefit from a policy that only promotes the interests of the businesses and the bourgeois class of immigrants.

While the NDP and the Liberals are busy deceiving the proletarians, the Conservatives, similarly despicable, are working to fan an anti-immigration wildfire: by pitting the immigrants and non-immigrants against each other, the Conservatives hope to distract the masses from the dismal state of the economy. As the economic conditions get worse, the Conservatives will have nothing for the masses but increasingly bold hatespeak.

At wits end about who to exploit next, the capitalists cut down funding in order to maintain profits, and people are starting to mobilize against cuts. Our jobs, though, as students, proletarians, and revolutionaries, is to place the misery of our lives within the larger context of capitalism and crisis. We must have the courage to hold the glaring inequalities and contradictions in front of us to heart; we must address the problem at its root; we must take hold of our attachment to parliamentary democracy, at least as it exists now, and uproot it!

Under the present circumstances, voting simply works to legitimize a fundamentally unjust system. We must opt for the more drastic, the more truthful, solution. We must mobilize the masses to act in its own interest.

We must boldly shout: “revolution is the only solution!”

4 Things Students Face under Capitalism

4 Things Students Face under Capitalism

4 THINGS STUDENTS FACE UNDER CAPITALISM

 

Capitalism is a socio-economic system in which the poor majority toils in misery to maintain the wealth of the rich bourgeoisie. These are four conditions that proletarian (working-class) students and youth face under capitalism:

1. The overwhelming majority of working class students will never get to go to university, or even college because education is not free—state-run education systems starts streaming youth from day one. Where youth end up is entirely dependent upon their class background.

2. Those who do, incur back-breaking debt. There are no jobs out there other than minimum wage jobs, precarious jobs based on fleeting contracts. These jobs offer no end in sight for repaying student loans, forcing working-class students into decades of wage slavery.

3. Social democracy as opposed to radical change—youth movements, including campus movements, are forced to stay within the constraints of bourgeois (i.e. electoral) politics, which serve the rich.  Parliamentary democracy has not, and will not, radically change conditions for the working class.

4. So-called student representatives on campus have no interest in the working class—Student leaders whose aims are cushy jobs with unions and federations are only interested in pushing an NDP (social democratic) agenda and furthering their own careers. We oppose careerism.

It is time for us to realize that our future under capitalism is intolerable. Proletarian youth should not be forced to succumb to the misery of working for minimum wage, struggling to balance two or three part-time jobs just to pay our rent and feed ourselves, waiting for welfare checks or being broke at the end of every month. As struggling youth we must recognize that it is this misery that is the foundation of the capitalist system. It is a joke to blame our social positions on our lack of motivation- it is clearly the proletariat who works the hardest! It is also the proletariat who must surrender the fruits of their labor!

With this said, the rich will not let go of their power and wealth without a fight! We know very well that it will not work to aim for reform, or simply replace the individuals in power with others who appear to have a working-class agenda. We must instead take down the bourgeois state! Historically, we have seen the people power of proletarian students, youth and workers mobilize to abolish capitalism. We see proletariat students, youth and workers from Nepal, India and beyond rising up and resisting capitalist oppression. We must learn from history and from people’s struggles across the globe and take the steps to make revolution a possibility now, right here in the heartland of capitalism and imperialism–Canada!

To learn more, visit rsmtoronto.wordpress.com

To join us, e-mail revolutionary.studentsTO@gmail.com

RSM’s Statement on Jack Layton’s Death

Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party, passed away earlier this month. Indeed, this death was regrettable, as friends, families, and supporters mourned their loss. A blog post on MLM Mayhem criticizes the state sanctioned fanfare around the funeral, but more importantly–criticizes  the general radical left in Toronto, who, while identifying as anti-capitalist and anti-statist, took part in the state-sanctioned mass mourning, all the while moralizing against those with other views and opinions on the matter.

Although there are some who agree with the position put forth by the author of MLM Mayhem, this post on Layton, like the post on boycotting the Federal 2011 elections, became the subject of derision and defensive hatred on reddit and rabble.ca. Some have even went as far as to call for censorship on one the critical threads.

Members of the Revolutionary Student Movement stand firmly behind MLM Mayhem’s analysis and position on the NDP. We are in agreement  about the default opportunism appearing in the “movement.” Our comrade’s blog exposes that Layton was as much a running-dog of imperialism and, given the constraints of the capitalo-parliamentary structure, could not but have assumed this role, even as leader of the official opposition.

NATO bombs have been raining down on Libya since the NDP scored official opposition status, without any word of resistance.

We believe that young people have something much better to work for. What we ought to build  is our own movement, a project that doesn’t not yet exist within the comforting limits of accepted bourgeois legalisms or within the cozy offices of student unions, the university counterparts to these parliamentary cretins. Our project is to help create revolution with the people. The masses are that elemental force necessary for root change. That’s why we are, in part, Maoist.

Our task is to find the correct expression for the rage, felt by  those of us who have to toil daily just for a roof over our heads, 3 square meals, and clothing. This rage is all around us.  We strive to work with our peers and with proletarian youths to target and shape that rage–to give it expression.