jo freeman

jo freeman.png

adding page while adding page on interpretive labor from David Graeber‘s revolution in reverse.. esp curious in regard to Jo.. if we not only misread her.. but also that all of us misunderstood/stand our capabilities… for a mech simple enough for all of us to get past the…. the whole binary thinking.. ie: male-female/interpretation/timing-of-imagination ness.. perhaps that was our interpretation (ie: obsession w consensus).. but we were missing that it was..

..more a consensus of 7 billion people with their gut.. not 7 bill people with each other..

the daily gut check being the true north.. rather than some political mech for decision making.. to get us all to waggle/consent on an idea..

imagine if we (as formal mech over transparency)


first intro’d to Jo via David Graeber‘s insight/share of Jo Freeman’s the tyranny of structurelessness in his (utopia of rules) bureaucracy (and while re reading David W and NN Taleb)

As activists sometimes put it: in most circumstances, if you bring together a crowd of people, that crowd will, as a group, behave less intelligently, and less creatively, than any single member of the crowd is likely to do if on their own. Activist decision-making process is, instead, designed to make that crowd smarter and more imaginative than any individual participant. It is indeed possible to do this, but it takes a lot of work. And the larger the group, the more formal mechanisms have to be put in place.

i’m thinking this is formal enough to go as large as we want w/o compromising our most important energy source: the energy of 7bn alive people – a ginorm/small formal mech put in place for 7bn people from the get go

bot ist art ist entire cleanerest

The single most important essay in this whole activist tradition is called “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,”170 written in the 1970s by Jo Freeman, about organizational crises that occurred in early feminist consciousness-raising circles when those groups began to attain a certain size. Freeman observed that such groups always started out with a kind of rough-and-ready anarchism, an assumption that there was no need for any formal, parliamentary rules-of-order type mechanisms at all. People would just sit down in a sisterly manner and work things out. And this was, indeed, what happened at first. However, as soon as the groups grew to over, say, twenty people, informal cliques invariably began to emerge, and small groups of friends or allies began controlling information, setting agendas, and wielding power in all sorts of subtle ways. Freeman proposed a number of different formal mechanisms that might be employed to counteract this effect, but for present purposes, the specifics don’t really matter. Suffice it to say that what is now referred to as “formal consensus process” largely emerges from the crisis Freeman described, and the debate her intervention set off. What I do want to bring attention to is that almost everyone who is not emerging from an explicitly anti-authoritarian position—and no insignificant number even of those who are—..

completely misread Freeman’s essay, and interpret it not as a plea for formal mechanisms to ensure equality, but as a plea for more transparent hierarchy.

..Leninists are notorious for this sort of thing, but Liberals are just as bad. I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve had about this. They always go exactly the same way. First, Freeman’s argument about the formation of cliques and invisible power structures is taken as an argument that any group of over twenty people will always have to have cliques, power structures, and people in authority. The next step is to insist that if you want to minimize the power of such cliques, or any deleterious effects those power structures might have, the only way to do so is to institutionalize them: to take the de facto cabal and turn them into a central committee(or, since that term now has a bad history, usually they say a coordinating committee, or a steering committee, or something of that sort.) One needs to get power out of the shadows—to formalize the process, make up rules, hold elections, specify exactly what the cabal is allowed to do and what it’s not. In this way, at least, power will be made transparent and “accountable.”

so perhaps formal ish mech.. (that Jo and/or others haven’t yet seen).. would be one that’s simple enough for all of us.. one that focuses on self talk as data… so that the small can remain ginorm small no matter how many people.. even beyond 7 bill..

ie: redefine decision making.. disengage from consensus

freeman structure law .. ?.. ness

perhaps mech simple enough wasn’t yet imagined… to fit in mind/rationale/practicality of interpretive labor…. but now it is… now we can… which means we don’t have to continue compromising/misunderstanding/misconceiving.. smaller-size/intent issues because of larger-size/agenda issues

more formal versions on same principles … always compromise all of us ness
has to reain… antifragile/stigmergic/rhizomatic/et-al



find/follow Jo:

wikipedia small

Jo Freeman (born August 26, 1945) is an American feminist, political scientist, writer and attorney. As a student at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1960s, she became active in organizations working for civil liberties and the civil rights movement. She went on to do voter registration and community organization in Alabama and Mississippi and was an early organizer of the women’s liberation movement. She authored several classic feminist articles as well as important papers on social movements and political parties. She has also written extensively about women, particularly on law and public policy toward women and women in mainstream politics.


As a result of her publications, Freeman was invited to speak at many other colleges and universities, mostly in the Midwest. She spent the summers of 1970 and 1971 hitchhiking through Europe distributing feminist literature. Her lecture at the University of Oslo in 1970 is credited for sparking its first new feminist group.The literature she distributed was also a boon to feminists in the Netherlands.

Although Freeman had not been active in Democratic Party politics since leaving California in 1965 (except for a brief stint on Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 Presidential campaign), she ran for delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention in order to put Shirley Chisholm’s name on the ballot. She came in ninth out of 24 candidates in Chicago’s first district and attended the convention as an alternate with the Chicago Challenge Delegation that unseated Mayor Daley’s hand-picked slate. She later worked on California Senator Alan Cranston’s 1984 Presidential campaign and became active in Democratic Party politics in Brooklyn, New York.

Freeman wrote four classic feminist papers under her movement name “Joreen”, which analyzed her experiences in the women’s liberation movement. The most widely known is The Tyranny of Structurelessness, which argued there is no such thing as a structureless group; power is simply disguised and hidden when structure is unacknowledged. All groups and organizations need clear lines of responsibility for democratic accountability, a notion that underlies the theory of democratic structuring.

Her 1969 BITCH Manifesto is considered an early example of language reclamation by a social movement, as well as a celebration of non-traditional gender roles. A third article, Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood, illuminated an aspect of the women’s movement that many participants experienced but few wanted to discuss openly. The 51 Percent Minority Group: A Statistical Essay appeared in the 1970 anthology Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From The Women’s Liberation Movement, edited by Robin Morgan.

Freeman’s 1973 dissertation analyzed the two branches of the women’s movement, arguing that they were separated more by generation and experience than by ideology. What she called the “younger branch” was started by women with experience in civil rights, anti-war, and New Left student activism. The “older branch” was founded by women who had been members of or worked with the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and related state Commissions. The latter branch gave rise to such organizations as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL). The resulting book, The Politics of Women’s Liberation, was published in 1975 and won the APSA’s prize for the best scholarly work on women in politics.


reading of bitch manifesto – written by Joreen 1969.. read by Antionette Aurell

I discovered feminist and political scientist, Jo Freeman’s, B.I.T.C.H. Manifesto sometime in the early 2000 and was deeply resonating with what she had written back in 1969. I had a vision of myself reading the manifesto in the desert and so I got in touch with Jo and received permission to do that. In 2013 I finally manifested that vision in Las Dunas de Taroa in La Guajira, Colombia where I executed and filmed my reading of the B.I.T.C.H. Manifesto, on my birthday.

7 min – our society has defined our humanity as male and female as something other..females could only be human by living vicariously through male.. they want to be both female and human… a woman’s reality must come through relationship to a man… perpetual children .. always under guidance of another…

8 min – living testimony that women’s oppression doesn’t have to be.. and that such raises doubts about the validity of the whole social system.. not taken seriously.. dismissed as a deviant..

9 min – challenges other women to forsake security of their chains.. neigher men/woman can face reality of a bitch.. she’s ..dangerous.. makes face corrupt reality of self.. so they label her as freak..

11 min – all bitches refused conformity…. few people confronted the root of their dislike..

16 min – on difference of those forced to become isolates


nov 2018 by @noamcohen – silicon valley tyranny of structurelessness

The women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s was rebuilding the world in a consciously different way: no designated leaders and no rules on what you could say and when you could say it. Yet Freeman wondered if getting rid of rules and leaders was actually making feminism more open and fair. “I am very analytical, which, frankly, inside the movement was not appreciated,” she recalled over breakfast at a coffee shop near her home

After a hard think, she concluded that, if anything, the lack of structure made the situation worse: Elite women who went to the right schools and knew the right people held power and outsiders had no viable way of challenging them. She decided to write an essay summing up her thoughts. “As long as the structure of the group is informal, the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is limited to those who know the rules,” she wrote in the piece, published in Ms. magazine in 1973. “Those who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion,or suffer from paranoid delusions that something is happening of which they are not quite aware.”

so get rid of rules

More than 40 years later, Freeman’s essay, “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,” continues to reverberate, especially in Silicon Valley, where it is deployed by a wide range of critics to disprove widely held beliefs about the internet as a force of personal empowerment, whether in work, leisure, or politics.

FREEMAN IS AN unlikely internet guru. She is 73 and has never given a Ted talk; she doesn’t host a podcast. She speaks in specifics, not generalities, and her fashion—blue corduroy jacket, turtleneck sweater, and jeans—is more throwback academic than forward-thinking disruptor. A self-described “guerrilla scholar,” Freeman has published 11 books of political history without the benefit of any academic affiliation or support. But she does have something in common with many of the biggest proponents of today’s tech-led free-for-all: When Freeman was a student at UC Berkeley, she too wanted to save the world.This was a long-ago time, before apps and internet platforms, so she had to content herself with the civil rights, antiwar, and women’s rights movements.

As political organizations became more radical during the 1960s, Freeman told me, she would think back to the first organization she joined while on campus—the Young Democrats. They may have lacked the passion of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, which Freeman also joined, but they were able to get things done by having clear leaders and clear rules of governance.

imagining everyone a leader (because today we can hear each voice – ie: tech as it could be..) .. and so the rules could be 3 and 30 from 2 convers as infra

“At the Young Democrats, I watched men—there weren’t any women chairs—chair meetings using Robert’s Rules of Order and get through an agenda in three hours that would have taken the Free Speech Movement three days.”

ugh to robert’s rules of order – for one.. it doesn’t even address the issue that most of the decisions/discussions/whatevers that we feel we have to have meetings/order about today.. are really irrelevant to alive human beings..  we need to let go of that hard won order ness and get back to the natural structure (meadows undisturbed ecosystem).. that lets us all dance.. at once.. everyday..

what the world needs most is the energy of 7bn alive people

In the early days of the internet, she says, “it was highly inventive, it was highly spontaneous, but we’re past that. As long as you reject the idea that any organization is bad you are never going to have the discussion about the best organization for whatever it is you are trying to do.”


via David Wengrow

David Wengrow (@davidwengrow) tweeted at 6:08 AM on Sat, May 25, 2019:
.@BritishAcademy_ asked me to write a “provocation” about social cohesion. Think I’ll tackle the assumption that human societies become less cohesive/more coercive as they grow in scale. Archaeology has different stories to tell, of egalitarian cities, indigenous republics . . .

jo freeman and structurelessness ness.. et al


2019 – reprint of essay: