Herding Cats: Keep the Train Moving

I’ve previously talked about how to motivate libertarians to activism and how to foster relationships to organize a truly powerful community. Now, I’m going to tell you how to keep your movement from crumbling. Here’s how to keep your activist train moving.

1: Find ways of saying thanks

Everyone needs to get paid. Nonprofits and community efforts pay few to none with money, but any organizer worth their salt will recognize the necessity of compensating their activists in one way or another. Because these are volunteers that will be helping you mainly because they believe in the cause, instead think of it as saying “thank you.” Sometimes this is as simple as verbal thanks from you, but it can include a written card, public recognition, a special gift, official titles and responsibilities, and so on. Just make sure you provide some kind of reward mechanism to keep your activists wanting to come back.

2: Maintain a sense of purpose

Humans respond to a sense of struggle against an enemy in defense of their own tribe. Though you might have a non-confrontational mission, remember to keep it framed as fighting for a cause with high stakes and some resistance to overcome. People will help you once or a few times, but without a continuing sense of mission they will fall away. Keep every action tied into the greater narrative of your titanic struggle of good versus evil.

3: Cycle activists to avoid burnout

Though you might have the most happy, hardworking, determined bunch of rabble-rousers out there, you will need to rotate around the workload from time to time. Even the greatest activist will get burned out eventually, either from physical/mental exhaustion, boredom, financial reasons, or a toll on their work/life balance. Have at least three contacts for every one role, so if something comes up for one and another has been relied on too much you still have someone to carry the torch. This means you’ll have to over-recruit for what you need, and occasionally hold back your most energized activists slightly in order to involve others. It’s a lot of work, but few things are worse than building incredible momentum and then having it collapse before your eyes.

4: Keep pushing forward

Alright, so you’ve thanked all your activists, kept them deep in your greater purpose, and made sure none get too burned out. Guess what though, your operation can still stagnate. Why? Lack of forward momentum. Simple maintenance of a task is what jobs are for. Activism thrives on energy, something you can’t maintain by keeping a basic task covered. Keep building, climbing, achieving, outdoing yourselves. A revolution without momentum disbands.

5: Maintain recent personal contact with as many activists as possible

If you’ve done your job and hustled as an activist organizer, your friends should reach far beyond people with whom you’re able to maintain regular contact. That doesn’t, however, mean you shouldn’t make trying a priority. Don’t forget about your loyal liberty warriors on the geographical fringes of your operation. The leader must visit the frontlines regularly, and you can use this opportunity to see if any problems have been cropping up, encourage/energize your activists, and draw from knowledge outside of your centralized bubble. In fact, unless you’re absolutely tied down to one spot for your regular organizing, try to constantly move around your area of influence so you can keep contact as fresh as possible with all activists.

Follow these principles and your merry band of activists will continue on, growing all the time. A movement that doesn’t fizzle is a powerful thing indeed.

This is the third part of a three-article series on organizing activism. Read the first one here and the second one here.

Getting Your Freedom On Someplace Else

The author currently lives in Chile and admins the group Run Like Hell on Facebook.

My first trip to a really foreign country was in 1993 to the Bahamas. When I arrived my hosts drove to a store, bought a case of beer, opened it up, and started drinking while driving the van. They assured me it was ok, and we drove to a nearby town where we parked in front of a hardware store. When I asked them what I should do with my beer, they just said to bring it in, along with my lit cigarette. So I did. And when we walked in there was a line of people waiting at the counter, all drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. That was when I knew that the US had been like that, once upon a time, and that I liked it better that way.

Why should you consider traveling? The standard fool’s response to anyone who questions anything they don’t like about the US is “You should just move to Somalia!” or North Korea, or somewhere equally bad. You’ll never hear anyone one say “If you don’t like it here, move to Monaco!” or “If you don’t like it here, move to Malta!” Do they secretly suspect the truth, that maybe you ARE more free in other countries? [Read more…]

Herding Cats: It’s All About Relationships

This subject will be covered during the talk “Herding Cats: How to Organize a Liberty Activist Army” at Liberty Forum in Manchester, New Hampshire. Event details are here.

So few movements get off the ground because of a lack of volunteer activism. To get anything done you need to put in hours of work multiplied by the number of people you have involved. Companies make this work by making money and then paying employees as they expand. Nonprofits use a similar model by asking big donors for funding, and then using that to pay their own employees, but their growth is limited because such organizations don’t inherently make money.

To really make a difference you need a vibrant grassroots movement of volunteers, and in order to build one you need to be a superior community organizer. But how can you make that work? How do you get good at getting lots of people to work very hard for free? In two words: building relationships.

[Read more…]

US Forces Killed About 50 Civillians, 25 Taliban in “Self-Defense”

An internal investigation has cleared US troops of wrongdoing in a battle last November that killed dozens of Taliban assailants and possibly twice as many civilians.

During an operation in the village of Boz in the Kunduz province, American and Afghan forces entered the village and were fired upon by Taliban forces from houses reportedly filled with civilians. Airstrikes were called in, and the battle resulted in about two-dozen Taliban casualties, and between 33 (US-reported figure) and 50 (local officials’ estimate) civilian deaths. Following the raid, residents carried over a dozen corpses towards the office of a local governor to protest the deaths. [Read more…]

How to Herd Cats: Organizing Libertarian Activism

This subject will be covered during the talk “Herding Cats: How to Organize a Liberty Activist Army” at Liberty Forum in Manchester, New Hampshire. Event details are here.

Leading libertarians can be like herding cats. They’re solitary, stubborn individualists who do precisely what they want and nothing else, and therefore take directions poorly. Leading an organized and efficient liberty activist army is supposed to be next to impossible.

Yet it can be done, and done well, just as cats can be effectively herded. The Moscow Cats Theatre bases its entire act around getting house cats to perform tricks. Director Dmitry Kuklachyov explained that the key to training cats is that you can’t force them to do anything, but instead must nurture what they already want to do:

“You can’t force a cat. My job is to see the specialty, the spark that is inside it and develop that. You see, I already can see that this one can roll a little barrel”

The same goes for libertarians. Here’s how to get the staunchest of individualists to go along with your activism:

[Read more…]

One Aspect of UK Politics America Should Adopt

Vince Perfetto is an American liberty activist travelling abroad. He shares his insights gained from experiencing other cultures at VincePerfetto.com

If America imported this one particular thing from the UK, it would change presidential politics forever. I’m certainly not one to care who the current American Ceasar is or who the next one will be. Although I proudly supported and voted for Dr. Paul in the 2012 primary, I haven’t voted in the general election for president since 2008, and I don’t plan on ever voting for any federal politician again for the rest of my life. The less attention we all pay to Washington DC, the better.

Even though I won’t be bothered to check a box next to the lesser of two evils to elect the new Narcissist-in-Chief, I have to admit, while living in the UK for the past couple of months, there’s one feature that I really wish the United States would import from their former rulers, if only for its entertainment value: Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQs). Members of Parliament (“MPs”, similar to Congressman in the US) get to ask the Prime Minister (“PM”, similar to the US president) questions for at least 30 minutes every Wednesday that Parliament is in session. [Read more…]