Although this post could probably apply to everybody it is primarily aimed at political activists and revolutionaries. This is because political and revolutionary groups tend to have more drama than a Gamergate convention. If you’ve been involved in either type of group you’re probably aware of this firsthand.
For those of you involved in such groups how many times can you recall long, arduous debates over how the group should act? Usually these debates arise when a well-known and influential member of the group attempts to make everything about them. In their eyes the group isn’t an organization of individuals working towards a common goal but a tool to wield for their personal crusade. Because of the person’s influence and the basic desire of others to be nice nobody is usually willing to tell the bad actor to, “Sit your ass down and shut the fuck up.” Instead they patronize the idiot, give them time, and otherwise allow them to waste everybody’s time. More often than not the bad actor manages to get what they want because everybody else is too worried about looking bad amongst their fellows. Because of that, after the group goes along with the bad actor’s scheme, a lot of butthurt feelings arise that usually take the form of passive aggressive words spoken behind closed doors.
This post isn’t about stopping the bad actor, the only way to do that is to have members of your group who have a spine and aren’t worried about offending anybody’s delicate feelings, it’s about what to do afterwards. Let’s say you’re a member of a libertarian group that has been focused exclusively on getting the Federal Reserve shutdown. Things have been going well but then somebody shows up and tries to turn the group into Rand Paul’s personal action squad. Several members are sympathetic to Rand Paul and wouldn’t mind having access to some cash from the campaign. You are an actual libertarian through, you want no part in Rand Paul, and your only desire is to see the group continue doing what it has always been doing. After the dust settles the group has become another organ of the Rand Paul campaign. The question is, what do you do?
Traditionally the answer seems to involve a lot of passive aggressive comments, whining, and continued participation even if it’s slightly less enthusiastic participation. Let me be clear about one thing: that’s a really fucking stupid reaction.
Why do you want to participate in a group that isn’t pursuing your goals? Most people make the mistake of allowing a group to become part of their identity. They describe themselves as a Republican or a Democrat or a Libertarian. When they do that they set aside their interests whenever it’s necessary to remain in good standing with the group(s) they identify with. Humans are social creatures by nature so it’s not too surprise to see why this often becomes the case.
There is a better option though. If you’re a member of a group that no longer pursues your goals you can leave and either join a group more aligned with your interests or start your own group. I’ve done this numerous times and if I can do it, you can do it. I’ll use my participation in the Ron Paul campaign as an example. Back in my statist libertarian days I wanted to help Ron Paul spread his message. As a means to my ends I involved myself with the Republican Party by caucusing. I knew the party itself was the antithesis of individual freedom but that’s where Ron Paul was working so that’s where I worked. Not surprisingly the party shutdown Ron Paul harder than the Mongol Empire shutdown Baghdad. While a bunch of my fellow Ron Paul supporters continued to work with the Republican Party I, along with many others, left. We saw no reason to invest our precious time into a group that didn’t support our interests. After leaving the Republicans in our dust we gathered with other fellow travelers and became anarchists.
Who do you think came out ahead? I can confidently say it was us because those who remained in the Republican Party, for the most part, are still there and still seeing no fruits for their labors. Meanwhile those of us who left helped found an agorism festival that has been going on for three years. But the festival is merely a means that has helped our ends by instilling some entrepreneurial interest amongst agorists. I’m not saying our goals have been or will be realized but we’re certainly moving in a direction, which is more than I can say for those still involving themselves in a group that doesn’t share their interests.
So if you find yourself stuck in a group that no longer supports your values don’t be a passive aggressive bitch about it, leave. You only have a finite amount of time on this spinning rock that’s orbiting a giant fusion reactor so make the best of it.