All posts tagged: Wisconsin

Populism & Hegemony (series)

The broad political Left in the United States has been plagued for decades now with a culture of reaction, fragmentation, issue silo-ing, and a chasm between insiders and outsiders.  Can the concepts of populism and hegemony help to explain these challenges?  What insights might we gain through an exploration of these ideas?

A series on populism and hegemony may sound nerdy, esoteric, and less-than-fully-practical for on-the-ground organizers, campaigners, and advocates for social justice (my intended audience), but I believe that understanding the patterns and processes of these two related concepts is key to effective long-term political struggle.  

In this series I’m digging in and attempting to work out some useful frameworks. I’m a student, not an expert, on these subjects &#151 and I’d love for other folks to weigh in on these ideas.

This is the landing page for the series.  You can bookmark it and check back for new posts, which I’ll be linking to from this page.

  1. Anatomy of Political Identity
  2. Marx’s error
  3. Bonding & Bridging
  4. Long lefty laundry lists
  5. Wisconsin: How Populism Works

Wisconsin: How Populism Works | Populism & Hegemony pt.5

This is the fifth post in a series.

Teachers, students, firefighters, police officers, veterans, farmers, and even Green Bay Packers players, visibly aligned and defiantly mobilized together in Wisconsin last month, conveyed something very important and powerful. Okay, duh. That’s obvious. If we could orchestrate that kind of line-up all the time, we would, of course. But you can’t just pull that out of a hat.

I concluded Marx’s error saying that “we have some very powerful, very contemporary examples of … populist alignments.”  By which I especially meant Wisconsin.

What are the ingredients of this so-called populism? And how did it come about?

Wisconsin: people are organized = politicians have spines

Hats off to the good people of Wisconsin who are standing up.  I’ve been glued to the screen and tweeting about it all day.

It’s great to see some courage from progressive Democratic office holders.  It’s a good reminder for all of us who are working for social justice – that we on “the outside” are the source of courage for allies (and potential allies) on “the inside.”  As my friend Zack Hershman posted this afternoon: “people are organized = politicians have spines.”  Our task is always to build and leverage grassroots people power that is strong enough to counter the formidable power of our very resourced opponents.

Right does not equal might.  It’s great that the teachers and public workers and their allies in Wisconsin have truth and justice on their side, but I’m pretty happy that they’re also packing a punch, aren’t you?

What are you reading about what’s going down in Wisconsin?

Orienting New Members & Volunteers to a Local Group

Three Tips for Plugging People In

Bringing in new members or volunteers is essential to any local group that wants to grow in size and capacity. However, attracting or recruiting new people to your group is only the first step. Getting them to stick around can be a much bigger challenge! The good news is that there are tried and true methods you can use to plug new members and volunteers into tasks and roles that will build their investment and leadership in the group, and will increase what your group is capable of achieving.

Click thumbnail image on left to download this post as a PDF worksheet.

Wisconsin | Lost & found: a hegemonic progressive narrative

[vimeo 20089255 w=400 h=225]

Every once in a long while something comes along that inspires progressives all across the country – all at once – and that has the power to reach beyond the boundaries of our progressive circles, to break out of the cognitive boxes we’ve been placed in, and to associate fresh meanings with old labels, such as: organized labor, unions, workers’ rights, collective bargaining.

These once powerful terms and labels have been systematically slandered (negatively branded) for decades – so that too much of the public has become inoculated against them – but in Wisconsin there’s an opening to make these concepts powerful again to a new generation.

Wisconsin: people are organized = politicians have spines

Hats off to the good people of Wisconsin who are standing up.  I’ve been glued to the screen and tweeting about it all day.

It’s great to see some courage from progressive Democratic office holders.  It’s a good reminder for all of us who are working for social justice – that we on “the outside” are the source of courage for allies (and potential allies) on “the inside.”  As my friend Zack Hershman posted this afternoon: “people are organized = politicians have spines.”  Our task is always to build and leverage grassroots people power that is strong enough to counter the formidable power of our very resourced opponents.

Right might.  It’s great that the teachers and public workers and their allies in Wisconsin have truth and justice on their side, but I’m pretty happy that they’re also packing a punch, aren’t you?

What are you reading about what’s going down in Wisconsin?