This is something that was written almost ten years ago. Just before 911, in fact.
EF! and the War of Attrition*
*Attrition (mil) tactic of exhausting an enemy before attacking decisively
Assuming we want EF! to get grow, we need to…
Stop people leaving: There’s a natural rate of attrition in any social movement. People get married, pregnant, or -yech- employed. Their beliefs change. They drop in and out and in and out. Shit happens. But just as the natural rate of extinction is being exceeded by anything from 100 to 10,000 times due to human stupidity, perhaps we’re losing more people than we might.
Burn out and despair are biggies, I’d guess. I reckon some forms can be dealt with.
Personality clashes/feuds. I sincerely believe that if the current ‘unrest’ grows and we become (part of) a serious threat, the State will encourage every kind of feud/split. They’d have a hard time co-opting our leaders. They won’t jail us/cancer us/accidentally-shoot-us unless they really really have to (they’re not squeamish; it’s just very inefficient.) In the US the FBI has been merrily forging letters, starting rumours etc. for decades. What have Her Majesty’s ‘umble servants been doing? What conflict resolution mechanisms do we have in place for internal hassles?
Biographical availability. As you get older, or after you break your leg running downstairs, you’re less willing/able to mix it with plods, or dash through fields of GM. How can we keep people with limited time from drifting off to the Green Party, permaculture or some other retirement home?
Sustaining our groups: 2 radical proposals mooted at recent Mancy discussion: be nice to each other & be realistic about what can get done.
Get people back: haunt permaculture conferences for burnt out activos. After the 60s, a lot of people went mainstream (apolitical or party politics) or New Age, not counting those drugged up, dead or in prison. Or worse, academia.)
See Langdon Winner “The Whale and the Reactor”
Recruit from overseas: Well, we have a throughput of interesting folk with whom we swap experiences and tactics, but I don’t see us raiding Majority World countries like the government does for nurses etc.!*
(*Actually, this 4-pronged strategy is one the Civil Service devised to deal with the “recruitment and retention” crisis for NHS nurses.)
Attract new people: What meeting is complete without the ritualistic plea(s) for us to escape the ghetto, become more accessible and provide an alternative to Globalise Resistance [2011: A late and unlamented SWP Front Group]?
Sorted public meetings; well-organised and energetic- an advert for anarchism, not for chaos.
Simple, non-scary things people can do to dip their toes in EF! water (without saying “leave this to the professionals, son”)
Regular events (no date change except for Judgment Day), or even a regular stall in a prominent place.
Keep doing the stuff- it’s fun, it looks cool (often), attractive.
Don’t try to ‘recruit’!!
Be aware of how you’re coming across, of how your input changes the dynamic of a meeting.
Avoid the jargon, and references to shared history. They exclude without meaning to. (See EF! A to Z)
Answer letters and emails promptly (the old and infirm and reliable could help out with office duties)
Keep promises- send that petition, hold that facilitation workshop, turn up to that appointment
I’m sure you can, dear reader, think of lots more ways
More of who, exactly? More for what?
Growth doesn’t equal development, but in this case a little bit of growth in numbers would help us. Many hands make light work of office duties, rotas, crop decontamination. But then again, might too many cooks spoil the Teapot broth?
A large influx of new folk disturbs any culture. Most of us love EF! because it feels something like an insurgency, different and, well, liberating. More people, especially pragmatists, might move us towards a Party, which would spoil the, erm, party. An (un?)spoken fear is that if EF! gets bigger, then it will get diluted, that the careerists and reformers will take over the asylum.
Another is that EF! would degenerate into a pressure group – FOE with dreadlocks and D-locks. What do we do best? Not door knocking. But how else get message across?
And there’s the danger of a support network for heroic activos? But at the moment, with low numbers, we have the tyranny of the committed, who are tyrannised by the amount of work they have to do.
For the especially paranoid: If EF! were bigger/better known, it might raise the costs of repression for the State, making them think twice (e.g. the Mexican Army and the Zapatistas).
Patrick Dixon, author of “Futurewise” (mostly breathless tosh) points out that a mere 3-4% of population can bring about culture shift. So I reckon, with good retention and better recruitment, EF! will grow over the next 40 years to the point where we institute global eco-anarcho revolution. Just as the waves lap quietly over our heads.