Below please see the draft of our Points of Unity, put together by the Public Education working group. Use this forum to discuss the points and suggest any changes between now and our next assembly, at which time the Public Education working group will present a new draft and we’ll vote as a group on whether to adopt it.
Northeast Tennessee People’s Movement
Points of Unity
1. Principles of Solidarity
We are committed to collective liberation of all people. We believe that exploitation and oppression do not allow anyone to be a full human being, whether they materially benefit or suffer under unjust systems. We struggle against exploitation and oppression, including wealth inequality, environmental devastation, war, racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, xenophobia, ageism, and other forms of oppression, whether within our society or within ourselves.
We stand in solidarity with the struggles of the exploited and oppressed worldwide, including the labor movement, the environmental movement, movements against war, and movements for the freedom and equality of women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. We believe that all of our struggles for a just world are intimately connected and that we should act in solidarity to avoid isolation and to build greater collective power.
We draw upon the historical role of movements as catalysts for broader social change, as we come together to build a voice of and for the 99%. We support the self-organization of working-class and oppressed people to fight for social justice in the form of grassroots organizations such as unions, worker centers, and other organizations that share our principles or common goals.
Our society faces historic levels of wealth inequality. In response, we seek to strengthen and extend the commons as a means of promoting broadly shared prosperity and building an effective voice for ordinary people in society. We draw inspiration from and seek to educate about the history of the labor movement and of all oppressed peoples and groups in organizing for freedom and equality.
2. Principles of Organization
We strive to act democratically. We believe we have an important role to play as organizers in developing the organizing ability of ourselves and other people in our communities.
We reject the leadership of organizations and people who opportunistically seek to take advantage of popular movements for personal or professional gain and believe that we all must be accountable to the community, in whose interest and under whose direction we work.
We encourage a rigorous internal political dialogue, which strengthens our strategic analysis and effectiveness. We aim to support one another in a spirit of respect for difference, shared purpose, and hope. As a group, we seek to educate ourselves and others by providing a forum of open debate and discussion on the issues facing our world.
Individual members of the group agree to respect the democratically made decisions of the group in matters affecting the group.
We support activity that is in keeping with our principles and common goals, including people’s assemblies, grassroots organizing, electoral politics, cultural work, mass demonstrations, and direct action.
This group is organized as a broad network, and participation is open to all people who support the purpose of the group and abide by its norms, as outlined in these Points of Unity.
I know the list cannot possibly be exhaustive, but can we please add either “ciscentrism” or “cissexism?” It seems timely, educational, and empowering. Personally I would prefer “ciscentrism.”
I like “ciscentrism.”
Nat also had a section she wanted to see added—I’m totally spacing now on what she called it. If she doesn’t have a chance to post it here, I’ll ask her what it was.
Hi! Yeah, I wanted to bring the St. Paul Principles into the mix. These were created during the anti-globilization movement of the early aughts to prevent infighting & encourage a respect for a diversity of tactics. I find them essential.
St Paul Principles
1. our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the
plans of other groups.
2. the actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of
time or space.
3. any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any
public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.
4. we oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance,
infiltration, disruption and violence. we agree not to assist law enforcement
actions against activists and others.
Ha. I was close. I kept thinking “St. Vincent? St. Vincent de Paul?”
Adding “ciscentrism” makes sense to me.
I have some questions about the language Nat proposed.
On point 1: Can you explain what is meant by “diversity of tactics”? I may have some idea of what people mean by it, but it would probably be helpful and generally educational, especially for people who may be newer to the movement, to say what that term is about.
What does point 2 mean? Is NETN People’s Movement being asked to sign off on tactics that individuals choose, even though those tactics “will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space”? In other words, my question is, if individuals are organizing separate actions, what exactly is being requested of NETN People’s Movement in regard to those actions?
On point 3: While it is healthy to address problems internally before bringing them to the general public, the language, “any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement” seems extremely far-reaching. Do we not want to foster public debate (conducted, of course, in a comradely fashion)? Are we, then, being asked not to debate certain tactics? I think I maybe get the spirit of this, but I feel that it needs to be clarified.
On point 4: What does it mean to say we will not assist law enforcement against “others”? While I would agree with most of what point 4 says (and while it would be good to educate the group about things like snitch-jacketing), the language as it stands seems to suggest we would be agreeing not to assist law enforcement against anyone, including fascists. Perhaps clarifying the language would help. This point also brings up a difficult but necessary topic: What recourse do people have who may experience sexual violence from others involved in the movement? We should definitely develop a sexual harassment policy for NETN People’s Movement, but before we incorporate specific language regarding how people in the movement are supposed to relate to the repressive apparatus of the state, it seems like we kind of owe it to ourselves to discuss that out a bit.
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