Radical organizing seems pretty hyper-concentrated in cities, so I was wondering if anyone on here has experience organizing in rural areas? What unique challenges are there to it and how do you approach it?
Thanks to everyone who responded so far, following on from this: What are some ways city-folk can build solidarity with rural movements? What does solidarity between urban and rural movements often look like?
@GreenandBlack harder to convince people in an isolated community that the social consequences of organizing are worth it. Idk how to address this but like not ignoring or downplaying the consequences that can come with going against your community can go along Way. I think theres a tendency to be like “it’ll be fine” but there’s a good chance it won’t be, depending on the cause.
@GreenandBlack also radical organizing can be way more effective in rural areas cause the impact on local politics can be HUGE with way smaller numbers so like. That’s cool :)
An oil company was going to start looking at drilling off the Welsh coast very recently, but then a number of Welsh XR groups began organising protests frantically (they had two weeks of notice), and got in touch with Greenpeace, and they managed to make the oil company pull out because of the threat they posed. They didn't ever actively protest, the noise around the potential drilling they created was enough. For more general meetings, I believe Wales has a high proportion of strong left wing folks, and people meet in others' houses and organise small scale protests and activities. It works well enough for them.
@GreenandBlack it’s something I think about A LOT but I don’t have any real experience. The Neighbor Barrier is hard to get past.
@GreenandBlack ...Yes. As Bowlich said, rural North America is telemediated now, highly propagandized. And not just white folks. Rural self sufficiency traditions (good) have curdled into reactionary capitalistic individualism (bad).
I can say that arguing from ideas as a blank slate or from the local language works much better. No one is going to read Marx. It’s just not on. But presenting collective strategies to fight exploitation with local meetings works. >
@GreenandBlack It helps to find the well respected yokels who get around the community but don’t often protest things. Get a few of them to speak up, and it can thaw the ice for others. Suddenly campaigns can get launched. A major issue in rural places is that logistically you’ve a *much* diminished pool of daily drivers. The people who show up when the ire has cooled down will be left to carry any orgs forward, and they should know they will be nearly alone most of the time. >
@GreenandBlack Rural organizing requires being oblique. Coming in “looking lefty” isn’t a great idea. Reading elites as “city slickers” can work. Getting local institutions on one’s side, being mindful of not feeding petty rivalries, is tricky but important. That means, welfare office volunteer cliques, community centre cliques, the Grange, miners, churches. Say “amen”, pass the ammunition, and expect to be surprised to who will sign up for fighting the man with a canny bit of bluewashing.
@GreenandBlack I'm lucky to have a reasonably progressive Farmer's Union chapter, so that's a good starting point. otherwise just going to potlucks and doing mutual aid is pretty acceptable to most folks, tho they might not use that term. many of them know the good that unions can do but have just been beat down by the last few decades.
Form of rural organizing I've seen:
- a group of friends that each invite their other friends when something is up
- all go to the only punk bar in a 50 mile radius
- formed sort of like a union: identifying potential sympathizers and having quiet conversations until they're big enough to go public
- the local injustice is so big that almost everyone is pissed off
I haven't seen anonymous radical organizing, but it might well have been invisible to me because I wasn't in it.
@GreenandBlack A concrete thing is... buy a bus. A big part of why unions in the American West were able to organize well is because they had bsues they would loan out to each other and be able to bring thousands of workers into a town of a couple thousand total.
@GreenandBlack One thing that I think might be good, simply because my town vetoed it so thoroughly and without any real consideration, is a services market similar to the farmers market, for the cityfolk to participate in that part of the economy beyond as consumers.
(Set up a booth for barbering, nails, tax consult, etc, in the space next to the farmers market, starting after and ending after the farmers market.)
Don't know if that's what you are looking for, but here some farmers (mostly eco* farmers) are selling parts of their harvest directly at their farms. Buying there would support them because you cut the middlemen and you would get in contact.
* Not sure if this is the correct english term, I'm speaking of farmers who produce with no/few pesticides, treat animals better, etc. German Biobauern
@GreenandBlack Sad I missed the original thread, though I'm new to trying to organize in rural communities, one thing I've already noticed is how different each community views it's history and in particular it's history with/of labour movements. So each place requires a local approach and a local focus lead by folks who, if not from there, live there and have made themselves a part of the community.
No organizing built from outside can compete with locals, and imo it won't last if you try.
> Many of these communities embrace modern conservatism because it sells them the narrative of "returning to when things were good" (ie. when people could afford groceries), and there's an interestig paradox in how this is often marketed using the terminology of traditional labour movements - which built most of these communities and which haven't been forgotten.
@GreenandBlack So the right will sell tax breaks for the rich, massive land scales, exploititive working environments, and ecological devastation by calling it labour rights, worker rights, and a rural worker's movement - one setup to counter the "liberal big business" elites (even as they continue to cement capital and power in the hands of massive corporations/the irvings(here), and extract more and more from rural communities).
@GreenandBlack > So learning about the history of these communities and the labour movements in their pasts can be key to dispelling the reactionary narrative, and it can give you an "in" using the same stories and tools the right-wing politicians have already gotten them familiar with.
> At the same time, these folks often have a strong sense of community and collective ethos - they may just not recognize it that way. So arguments for collectivism that recognize the collective work and community they are already doing/already have are powerful, and collective arguments using the language of individual benefit can make quick progress.
@GreenandBlack > So far I have the feeling that change and progress can be very very quick. I have already had a ton of success in helping to build a small-but-growing group of locals interesting in radical politics and in particular ecological defence, and with the right spark it could quickly hit critical mass - and it may! But it could also blow up in my face, especially as a semi-outsider.
> So my advice to folks from urban centres, is to use active listening, learn about the specific community you are talking to, and work with those already taking action. Most of these communities would not still be here without folks working to keep them alive - find them, and let them lead. Your role is to educate and provide resources, it should rarely be to lead.
> You also must be able to travel. You will need to reach people further afield and other communities. I'm thinking of scrounging up a van for a mutual aid org (focused on providing food in the winter), but bigger vehicles for bigger resources are probably a great idea. Post where you'll be on social media, and go help people :).
@GreenandBlack > ALSO COOL RURAL ACAB BONUS:
Nobody except for the very very rich (and they all are hardly here) trust the fucking cops. Centring the police's role in maintaining capital and social inequity can be a quick way to find common ground. They likely already understand this, and they likely already hate them for it.
@BunnyHearted thankyou so much for the response! best of luck with your future endeavors, a mutual aid org sounds exciting :D
@GreenandBlack oh no worries! This thread made me so happy, and I am so excited to read other responses too. I bet there's a lot us rural anarcho-gays could learn from each-other too :).
Honestly a MA org is sorely needed out here, people are having a hard time, and staying fed and warm alone is often unaffordable. I do little bits when I can, but I'm trying to get a small group together for late fall/winter to do a ton of baking and just. Go give people bread & tea & maybe bread-zines :D.
@GreenandBlack One of the best types of support would be to help with protests. The only successful and semi-successful protests in rural areas happen when there are a lot of people. If it's just a few locals, they can always be ignored or arrested.
@GreenandBlack if they're relatively far from police presence, then it may be easier for prominent activists to be assassinated or killed.
Political assassinations of activists do happen in South Africa, but I'm not sure how correlated they are with rurality -- just a thought that it could happen that way. I think that some people involved in stopping mineral extraction in KZN or EC get death threats and maybe a few people got killed? I'll have to check up on that one though
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