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July 11, 2008


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Jay Taber

This type of activity, sometimes funded by hedgefunders like Soros, obviously fill a deep psychic need to belong to a meaningful movement or society. Sans tribal connections, it's perhaps the best we can do.

Some of these young people will undoubtedly learn lessons applicable to authentic community organizing.

Until they are entitled to represent constituencies engaged in social conflict, the artificial campaigns provide a learning experience useful to both careerists and budding activists. As long as they don't conflate hobby activism with the real thing, I guess there's little harm done.


Jay, thank you. Meeting online for mentoring maybe saves cost?

Jay Taber

While travel is prohibitive for many of us, the quality of mentoring online is inferior to face-to-face. Still, as an initial contact forum, it's great; some of our best interventions began that way.

Absent an alternative, it's all many have access to. There just aren't many opportunities to get experienced mentoring outside the non-profit industry.

I only wanted to point out that the framework for civic engagement is established by powers that be, and rarely do hobby activists comprehend that fact. Small donors are a godsend, but as you've noted previously, they don't write the rules of philanthropy. In mentoring, I try to prepare proteges for independence.


Hobby activism - Alinksy's Rule 6 for Radicals: "A good tactic is one your people enjoy. If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”

Jay Taber

With all due respect to Saul, effective strategies include fun tactics, and I attempt to relate how they can be incorporated into high-tension conflict.

But not all tactics can be designed for fun if one takes politics seriously. At some point courage, commitment, and endurance enter into play, and if camaraderie, loyalty and trust hasn't been accomplished through mutual effort, then the goals may not be attainable.

Determined activist citizens cannot be in it just for the fun; those who are will soon become cynical and disheartened.

Conducting corollary educational fora to prepare novices for the tough times has to be done alongside the more satisfying or amusing tactics; otherwise the participants are unprepared for the inevitable counter-attack.

I have witnessed irresponsible leaders sacrifice innocent adolescents for the their own glory and grant-generating column inches in the news, when they should have been protecting them. I don't think this is what Alinsky would have recommended.


So far online giving fora have stuck to pretty noncontroversial topics. Giving is generally treated as a feel good effort, or as an exercise in making a new social capital market. The idea that there are dark forces in play, that they have high level backing, and that philanthropists or online giving sites, confront them is not within the bounds of current discussion. To take such an attitude pretty well guarantees marginalization.

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