I was reminded this week, upon reading the vapid blatherings of Alexandria Occasional-Cortex, the freshman dunce of the House of Representatives, of an acrimonious exchange some years ago on the now-defunct Open Salon website. Ms. O-C Full Stop had opined that the Tea Party was racist, reactionary and funded by the Koch brothers. Yes, that old canard comes around yet once more. And I know that it is indeed a canard in the mouths of progressive fools because I was involved almost from the very beginning in a big-city local Tea Party chapter.
A little history to explain this:
I was contacted by a fellow blogger – also a military veteran – who had taken on the task of organizing fiscally-conservative constitutionalists. The prospect of the Obama deficit had appalled and horrified a growing number of people, who first connected through a Facebook group, and then, as the numbers grew, this fellow blogger thought of me. “Ah, ha! She was a broadcaster-Public Affairs type! She can do our news releases!” Assuming that this would involve maybe a small rally in a city park, with all of a couple of hundred people – I said yes, I would. And within a very short time, a matter of weeks – I found myself on the local Tea Party board, their official media representative, and helping to pass the hat for donations at our open meetings. Which were held in a local restaurant’s roomy back bar on Sunday afternoons, every two weeks – courtesy of the owners, who were Tea Party-sympathetic. (As were the owners of a good many local small and medium-sized businesses, as I would discover in the course of my stint.) Thanks to the interest generated by a certain member of the (then) conservative TV commentariat, the resulting rally turned out to be a huge event. And a rather jolly one, as it turned out, rather like the biggest, friendliest block party in the world. And yes – I worked the crowd, and interfaced with considerable media interest.
But the acrimonious Open Salon exchange fell along the same lines espoused by Ms. O-C Full Stop – that the various Tea Parties had been funded by an assortment of nefarious parties with deep money-bags. I argued vehemently against that, citing my own experience. No, nobody funded us, I said. We passed the hat. Our website and email subscriber list was hosted by a sympathizer for a token fee (not very much, IIRC – and my own websites are hosted for about $100 a year from a local provider.) Another volunteer created the site itself, yet another volunteer contributed some amazing artwork, yet another who had a small production business generated video and video spots for us … and so it went. Small and not so small donations of cash and kind from fellow small-government, fiscally-responsible strict constitutionalists, about which I could give chapter and verse. To no avail – the exchange finally ended by me being called stupid or a liar by my chief OS opponent, who had gotten quite hysterical at that point. Ah well – Open Salon. It had devolved into a stupid place, inhabited by the insane by the time I finally gave it the big kiss-off. Now it is no more, although the most deeply insane and stupid appear to have moved on to permanent roosts in that spittle-flecked tower of inanity which is Salon.
What I came away from this experience, and a good few others besides, is an understanding that functioning communities self-organize – from something like a massive Tea Party rally to the Cajun Navy responding to disastrous floods, to something as minor as a traffic accident where those were merely passing by turn out to rescue the trapped and render first aid and comfort until the official responders turn up. It’s not a strictly American thing, but because of our history, experiences, expectations and culture. It’s a thing in our social DNA. Communities – successful communities self-organize. It’s the dysfunctional ones which cannot – for whatever reason, mostly learned helplessness, or even an ingrained expectation that someone else will step forward and do the needful. Those are the communities which are the meat and playground of professional community organizers, and the presence of a funding money-bags, preferably one with very big money bags. Presumably that was the kind community that my Open Salon accuser was most familiar with. She just could not wrap her mind around the concept that self-organizing is a natural, spontaneous thing among a people who feel themselves to be free and in control of their lives. Discuss, as you wish, the topic of functional and dysfunctional communities, and what makes the difference between.
11 thoughts on “Self-Organizing Community”
I was involved in a Tea Party in Orange County, back in the days before I had given up on California.
Here is the one in Mission Viejo, a city of about 100,000. It was a peaceful day with a couple of politicians coming by to give speeches.
Here is one in Oceanside with photos taken by a friend,. They were honored by the appearance of a fake who seemed to want to create a disturbance,
Several myths were dispelled for those who choose to look. One, lots of young families. Two, very little “social conservative” presence. Mostly about taxes and spending.
She just could not wrap her mind around the concept that self-organizing is a natural, spontaneous thing among a people who feel themselves to be free and in control of their lives.
Because she’s never experienced such a thing. I blame helicopter parenting. I can’t imagine my parents ever considering organizing a “play date” for me when I was a child. We were much more antonymous than children today. We created sports teams, we built tree houses, we entertained ourselves and defended ourselves against other kids with little or no parental interference.
“She just could not wrap her mind around the concept that self-organizing is a natural, spontaneous thing among a people who feel themselves to be free and in control of their lives.”
A lot of leftists…not all….are *institutional people*, they have careers that are like school in that their roles and objectives are clearly defined by the larger structure. And many of them cannot imaging that there are other ways to achieve goals than the current institutions—public schools and social security being examples.
I have lived near what might be considered dysfunctional urban communities much of my life. If you get to know the people in those communities, you begin to realize that they already have a lot of commonalities with each other that you will not find in other, more functional communities. They are much more likely to have lived in the same place their entire lives, and thus have relatives and people they went to elementary and grade school with all around them. They potentially know personally or know of the vast majority of people for blocks around them. This is one of the reasons why the “No Snitching.” rule is in place in these communities when it comes to crime. No one wants to drop a dime on a third cousin or someone they sat next to in English class.
Organizing groups of people in communities like this is exceedingly difficult because there is ALREADY a loose social structure in place. The organizer had better be from the neighborhood, and they have to offer some immediate tangible incentives to do something that no one is being paid to do. People in these neighborhoods have already had outsiders come in “to help” them before, and saw nothing come of it because the outsiders mostly wanted them “to change”, and change is hard and what is in it FOR THEM?
One of the fights I regularly take on is the attitude that “the thin blue line is the only thing standing between us and chaos.” Because it stems from some of the exact same problems.
The difference between a community that self-organizes and one that doesn’t is most often (at least partly) due to the idea that “it’s someone else’s job.” It’s partly a “too busy” mindset, but (especially with policing) it’s also the mindset of a subject instead of a citizen.
One of the Peelian Principles (from Robert Peel, who established the first civilian police force in London) states, in part:
the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen
This principle applies to every part of life for a free citizen in a republic like ours.
The attitude of “that’s the government’s job” is part of the indoctrination received in school, along with just about every single media source. You see the extreme example among the SJZs, where they cry about some perceived injustice, then demand that someone with power DO something. The government has to take my money and do charity with it. The government (meaning at some high level, not the very local one) has to make education happen. The government has to catch criminals (and therefore have guns), not the common people.
You are much freer and will be much happier if you take the role of a free citizen in your community and make things happen.
Just for the record, economists and other suspicious personages call this “Emergent Order.”
Voluntary association, s’wonderful.
Exactly. It used to bug me when I’d hear police describe non-law enforcement as “citizens”. It struck me as unnecessarily decisive, as if they thought of themselves as a branch of an occupying military enforcing martial law on a vanquished foe. But then I wondered why they thought that way and eventually I came around to seeing their point. When the local politicians don’t have their back, when politicians scapegoat the police for high crime in dysfunctional neighborhoods, when—in the case of Chicago—politicians cooperate with criminal gangs in exchange for block votes, the police feel under siege. So the cops “go fetal”. It’s not pretty when that happens. The middle class flees and all that’s left are a few very rich and the very poor.
Not picking on Chicago. I can see the same thing starting to happen in Denver.
This is another example of the Democrats accusing the other side of something that they are in fact doing. They are the ones in the rent-a-mobs paid for by shell companies and shadow organizations. From labor unions to ACORN to Black Lives Matter, for years the Left play book has been to pay protesters to show up to demonstrations and stir up trouble. Not like we needed proof, but Project Veritas proved a few years ago they were paying goons to disrupt Trump rallies.
“It used to bug me when I’d hear police describe non-law enforcement as “citizens””
That doesn’t bother me, but when they say “civilians” it really does.
As others have said, to those who think the Tea Party movement was full of (fill in the typical stuff), I’ll bet not one of them ever attended a rally.
And, unlike others, they pick up their litter.
BTW there was an op-ed in the WSJ on how the Democratic party is eating its own and headed for disaster in 2020.
We shall see.
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