[lbo-talk] Stray Thought

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sat Dec 3 15:52:13 PST 2011

The purpose of any radical action is to recruit more activists. The key to that is people talking to each other. The adage about preaching to the choir has been ignorantly misused on this list at times. The premise of this misuse was that we had to change the minds of those who heard us. This is nonsense because no one has ever changed another person's mind. People change their own minds. We therefore aim only at those who already agree with us, but note, "aim" means someone who is not us. O.K. Who agrees with us but is not with us? Those who are not activists but merely agree with us passively. And passive belief has no importance whatever until it is turned into action. Once passive belief is changed into action, the belief itself begins to change as participants in the action talk with each other and search for more knowledge and understanding by which they can make their action (of turning passive believers into activists). Then they change their minds; belief changes through action. (But action is not mere motion; action is motion accompanied by self-critique, by debate among the actors of what the meaning of their action is.

Probably in the case of rallies, forums, lectures, etc, this means that the nominal "main event" must end at the very latest before people begin to rustle in their seats or anyone leaves. This means the speakers must realize that what they have to say is not in itself important: they have no new information to give, no new understanding to offer. As soon as they forget this, they turn their audience into a choir which they are preaching to. This is where the adage bites. When the speaker thinks she is trying to _teach_ or _reform_ or _persuade_ the audience, the speaker can no longer say we.

(Personal gripe re this list. Whenever any poster says, Such and such is the thing that needs to be don" I have to walk around the room a bit in anger. Because that wording (or a passive) implies that someone else should do it, that the world divides into and "I" who knows what should be done and a they who should do it. If youcan't say we and mean it, we meaning you are engaged already in doing it, do not suggest doing it. Leftists say WE. Even when they are talking about what other leftists are doing; even when it was done before the speaker was botn, the speaker says we.

I've been to a meeting today which was partly excellent and partly rotten, hence this rambling on the screen.

But the core is: Audiences must become the speakers; people must talk to each other, because only thus with new militants emerge.

I guess there can never be too much democracy.


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