Do structure, planning and punctuality inhibit collective creativity? As anti-romantics, we don’t think so. Having worked in corporate, and educational sectors of the capitalist economy we know that organizational skills are essential in spite of the fundamentally disorganized nature of capitalism.
Unlike many of the people in Occupy, we are not anarchists. We don’t believe the heat of a revolution will transform people into revolutionaries who spontaneously know how to build 21st century socialism. We think that a breakdown of institutions, whether capitalism or the state, will create anxiety in people, not creativity. This is one reason why structure, vision and clear strategies are the midwives of collective creativity.
For us, the alternative to rigid, vertical structures, which ignore group input and feedback, is not simply to have flat organizations that have ambiguous structures. Because of our background working within mainstream institutions, we believe that in order to outsmart capitalists we must have a foundation in basic speaking, organizational and group dynamic skills. We think that people running meetings need to have rhetorical skills and know how to set limits and anticipate next steps. We need to be skilled in facilitating meetings. These meetings work best when they have prioritized agendas, start on time, end on time, respect the time of others and recognize that most everyone has to work hard just to stay even. Any socialist organization that has the audacity to propose building a new world, while not being able to operate with the skills expected to live in this world, lacks credibility in our eyes.
We think that the utilization of hierarchies, which are flexible, open to group feedback and sometimes consist of rotating members, is the only way serious work can get done. Having a clearly articulated vision along with a step-by-step procedure of what worker self-management looks like is the only hope against a decaying capitalist system.
In addition, we need a transition plan for developing 21st century socialism. This is the best, practical way people will be attracted to what we have to say and do, as well as why they will remain and build a movement with us. If we cannot answer a simple working class question about what we would build in the place of capitalism and how we would get there, we will never draw anyone who is down-to-earth, practical and skeptical.
We do not make a separation between the structure of our organization and the world we want to create. We hope to embody that world in our practice. To quote the great anarchist, Buenaventura Durruti:
“We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry the new world in our hearts. That world is growing this very minute.”