In a message dated 4/5/00 8:53:28 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 

<< More importantly, the majority see in my modest person (and that of every
 academic) the thin edge of a big institutional wedge, are quite comfortable
 to be at the mercy of such authority, and don't even consider disagreeing
 with me.  They have what Fromm called 'a fear of freedom' - and they (well,
 not all of 'em) have more of it with every passing decade.  To generalise: 
 they don't like it when they have to choose between two authoritative
 sources; they don't like being left to find their own sources, they don't
 like making up their own research questions, and they don't like being left
 to their own devices in cyber-seminars.  I spend no little time in trying to
 cajole/seduce them into settling into a bit of such freedom, but I don't
 have long enough with most of them to get them to the point where
 naturalised power relationships are spontaneously interrogated for their

I have a similar problem, in a different capacity, which I would like to 
explore here.  Our Union's philosophy is on the role of an organizer is, 
literally, "To lead people into struggle and by this make them realize the 
source of their power comes only through collective action."  One side note, 
all of our staff are called organizers, so here I'm talking about what other 
Unions call Field Reps or "Business Agents" (an especially abhorrent term).  
Especially around contract negotiations, a lot of what we are supposed to do 
as chief spokespeople is lead people into a larger struggle, and make them 
realize what they are up against, how the combined power of the state and the 
ruling class is aligned against them.

A large part of my work is to force people into situations where they are 
forced to (collectively) make their own decisions, to accustom people to 
doing this and stop relying on others as the source of authority and power.  
The harsh reality, though, is that people don't *want* to make their own 
decisions, and continually rely on the staff of the Union to make the 
decisions.  A good deal of the internal tension I find in myself is in 
treading this Leninist line and placing myself in the vanguard, to coin a 
phrase, vs. telling people what to do.

It's clearly a part of human nature to take the easiest path and let someone 
do it all for you.  Our delegates complain about this all the time, how no 
one is involved, etc. and no one wants to take the necessary steps.  Plus, 
it's much easier for me to pick up the phone and yell at a human resources 
boss than it is to organize a petition, have the workers march on the boss to 
deliver it, etc.

We recently voted to reform our by-laws to put more power into the hands of 
the local chapters, using a carrot of a dues rebate if chapters do this, 
which should do some good.

I guess I'm not really sure what I'm asking for here in terms of a response.  
I suppose what I'd be interested in hearing about from anyone reading this, 
either here or in e-mail, is your response to this sort of description, from 
a Marxist viewpoint, obviously, of the role of a Union organizer.


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