[image links to a suggested un\structure.. w/suggested mechanism to ground that chaos]
questioning our grok-ability/obsession on what structure is/isn’t more than anything. mostly because it seems to be a major obsession/roadblock.. to us being us.
is it structure if it’s always changing.. always emerging/regenerating/renewing.
is it structure if we can’t seem to plan/map it out in advance.
is it structure if it appears structureless.
who decides all this.
i do believe we currently (because of our massive intoxication and perhaps just because of our massive numbers) need a mechanism (perhaps that’s our structure) to facilitate/encourage/embrace the uncertainty/chaos of 7 billion plus people.. living alive.
stigmergy seems the closest to an explanation of this un\structure.. rhizomatic ness.. never ending.. can jump in anywhere/anytime.. map w/in each person.
i think the reason we can’t believe in this.. why we call anything appearing structureless (and/or structured structurelessness) .. why we cry out for the sake of risking our lives toward running amok ness… is that we’ve never given ourselves the chance at this emergent/stigmergent/humane revolution of everyday life. we’ve never yet let go enough.
to me it’s about infinitesimal structures approaching the limit of structureless\ness and/or vice versa .. aka: ginorm/small ness
adding page because of 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. 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.” (Notice that word again. It comes from accountancy procedures.) It won’t in any sense be arbitrary. From a practical, activist perspective, this prescription is obviously ridiculous. It is far easier to limit the degree to which informal cliques can wield effective power by granting them no formal status at all, and therefore no legitimacy; whatever “formal accountability structures” it is imagined will contain the cliques-now-turned-committees can only be far less effective in this regard, not least because they end up legitimating and hence massively increasing the differential access to information which allows some in otherwise egalitarian groups to have greater power to begin with. … I well remember having an Occupy Wall Street-sponsored debate in Central Park (I’m sure it’s recorded somewhere) with Norman Finkelstein—a brilliant and altogether admirable activist, who had come of age with the Civil Rights Movement and still saw groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as his inspiration. At this debate, Finkelstein stated the matter outright. Maybe it’s true, he admitted, that the best way to keep such cliques from attaining too much power is to maintain a principle that they should not exist. But as long as such cliques are allowed to exist without being formally acknowledged and regulated, you’re maintaining a system that says it’s okay to be governed, even a tiny bit, from the shadows. It might not be that much of a practical problem. You might well be right that formally recognizing their existence might actually end up creating less overall freedom than leaving well enough alone. But in the final analysis, I just find the idea of being governed from the shadows, in any sense, distasteful. In such arguments, we are witnessing a direct clash between two different forms of”
Women had thoroughly accepted the idea of “structurelessness” without realizing the limitations of its uses. People would try to use the “structureless” group and the informal conference for purposes for which they were unsuitable out of a blind belief that no other means could possibly be anything but oppressive.
If the movement is to grow beyond these elementary stages of development, it will have to disabuse itself of some of its prejudices about organization and structure. There is nothing inherently bad about either of these. They can be and often are misused, but to reject them out of hand because they are misused is to deny ourselves the necessary tools to further development. We need to understand why “structurelessness” does not work.
...there is no such thing as a structureless group. …..Only if we refused to relate or interact on any basis whatsoever could we approximate structurelessness — and that is not the nature of a human group.
..structurelessness becomes a way of masking power, and within the women’s movement is usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful .. 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. 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.
For everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and to participate in its activities the structure must be explicit, not implicit. The rules of decision-making must be open and available to everyone, and this can happen only if they are formalized. This is not to say that formalization of a structure of a group will destroy the informal structure. It usually doesn’t. But it does hinder the informal structure from having predominant control and make available some means of attacking it if the people involved are not at least responsible to the needs of the group at large. “Structurelessness” is organizationally impossible. We cannot decide whether to have a structured or structureless group, only whether or not to have a formally structured one.
The press and the public do not know how to listen seriously to individual women as women; they want to know how the group feels. Only three techniques have ever been developed for establishing mass group opinion: the vote or referendum, the public opinion survey questionnaire, and the selection of group spokespeople at an appropriate meeting. The women’s liberation movement has used none of these to communicate with the public. Neither the movement as a whole nor most of the multitudinous groups within it have established a means of explaining their position on various issues. But the public is conditioned to look for spokespeople.
This has several negative consequences for both the movement and the women labeled “stars.” First, because the movement didn’t put them in the role of spokesperson, the movement cannot remove them. The press put them there and only the press can choose not to listen. The press will continue to look to “stars” as spokeswomen as long as it has no official alternatives to go to for authoritative statements from the movement.
Occasionally, the developed informal structure of the group coincides with an available need that the group can fill in such a way as to give the appearance that an Unstructured group “works.” …..four conditions found in such a group;
1) It is task oriented.
2) It is relatively small and homogeneous. …If everyone knows everyone else well enough to understand the nuances, these can be accommodated.
3) There is a high degree of communication. …This is only possible if the group is small and people practically live together for the most crucial phases of the task. Needless to say, the number of interactions necessary to involve everybody increases geometrically with the number of participants. This inevitably limits group participants to about five, or excludes some from some of the decisions. Successful groups can be as large as 10 or 15, but only when they are in fact composed of several smaller subgroups which perform specific parts of the task, and whose members overlap with each other so that knowledge of what the different subgroups are doing can be passed around easily.
unless this is what we use tech for.. unless that is what is now new/different..
4) There is a low degree of skill specialization. Not everyone has to be able to do everything, but everything must be able to be done by more than one person. Thus no one is indispensable. To a certain extent, people become interchangeable parts.
While these conditions can occur serendipitously in small groups, this is not possible in large ones. Consequently, because the larger movement in most cities is as unstructured as individual rap groups, it is not too much more effective than the separate groups at specific tasks. The informal structure is rarely together enough or in touch enough with the people to be able to operate effectively. So the movement generates much motion and few results. Unfortunately, the consequences of all this motion are not as innocuous as the results’ and their victim is the movement itself.
it hasn’t been possible in large ones.. in the past..
…Also, to function well the groups must usually pare themselves down to that informal group of friends who were running things in the first place. This excludes many women from participating. As long as the only way women can participate in the movement is through membership in a small group, the nongregarious are at a distinct disadvantage. As long as friendship groups are the main means of organizational activity, elitism becomes institutionalized.
again – only in the past.. now everyone can have a group/family like that.. no one left out. and groups can change.. daily … or whatever..
For those groups which cannot find a local project to which to devote themselves, the mere act of staying together becomes the reason for their staying together. When a group has no specific task (and consciousness raising is a task), the people in it turn their energies to controlling others in the group. This is not done so much out of a malicious desire to manipulate others (though sometimes it is) as out of a lack of anything better to do with their talents.
again… we can now go beyond this.. gershenfeld something else to do law.. for 7 billion plus people. everyday. as the day. so… finding a local project to devote self to… becomes irrelevant. following your whimsy is only course..
i do believe this is structure..stigmergy ness.. but none like we’ve ever practiced… with enough people.
Some women just “do their own thing.” This can lead to a great deal of individual creativity, much of which is useful for the movement, but it is not a viable alternative for most women and certainly does not foster a spirit of cooperative group effort. Other women drift out of the movement entirely because they don’t want to develop an individual project and they have found no way of discovering, joining, or starting group projects that interest them.
this is what’s changed.. individual project .. listening-to/following/trusting your whimsy.. finding your people.. all one dance.
These friendship networks are based upon their common nonfeminist politics rather than the characteristics discussed earlier, but operate in much the same way. Because these women share common values, ideas, and political orientations, they too become informal, unplanned, unselected, unresponsible elites — whether they intend to be so or not.
but this isn’t deep enough… ie: feeling free\er than before.. feeling lie you’re part of a bigger (but not deep enough) movement.. isn’t sustainable..
It is those groups which are in greatest need of structure that are often least capable of creating it. Their informal structures have not been too well formed and adherence to the ideology of “structurelessness” makes them reluctant to change tactics. The more Unstructured a group is, the more lacking it is in informal structures, and the more it adheres to an ideology of “structurelessness,” the more vulnerable it is to being taken over by a group of political comrades.
As long as the women’s liberation movement stays dedicated to a form of organization which stresses small, inactive discussion groups among friends, the worst problems of Unstructuredness will not be felt. But this style of organization has its limits; it is politically inefficacious, exclusive, and discriminatory against those women who are not or cannot be tied into the friendship networks. …… If the movement continues to keep power as diffuse as possible because it knows it cannot demand responsibility from those who have it, it does prevent any group or person from totally dominating. But it simultaneously insures that the movement is as ineffective as possible. Some middle ground between domination and ineffectiveness can and must be found.
PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRATIC STRUCTURING
Once the movement no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of “structurelessness,” it is free to develop those forms of organization best suited to its healthy functioning.
essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:
2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them.
3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible.
4) Rotation of tasks among individuals.
5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. ….Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one’s skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process.
6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible.
7) Equal access to resources needed by the group.
from 2013 – the anarchy project
Then there is the “no leaders” concept, which is not without its virtues. Without designated leaders, there are no individuals who can be targeted for arrest, smear campaigns or even assassination. The lack of leaders also forestalls the creation of overnight movement celebrities who, corrupted by publicity and power, may develop agendas at odds with the people they are supposed to represent. But an absence of leaders also causes an opacity that is confusing and needlessly off-putting to those outside of the in-group. If no one has any authority, then no one has any responsibility. As Jo Freeman’s feminist essay “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” pointed out long ago, a lack of structure can disguise cliques or individuals who have de facto control without any accountability.
2019 reprint of essay: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/09/tyranny-structurelessness-jo-freeman-consciousness-raising-women-liberation-feminism
Graeber anticipates these critiques, and he describes various ways to ameliorate the flaws and excesses of consensus decision-making for larger social groups such as “lottery systems…something vaguely like jury duty except non-compulsory, with some way of screening obsessives, cranks, and hollow earthers, but nonetheless allowing an equal chance of participation in great decisions to all who actually do wish to participate.” That sounds nice, but it’s far easier said than done. Graeber declares “it’s hard to imagine” that the abuses of such a system “could actually be worse than the mode of selection we use now.” One would think that anyone who’d studied even a little history would have little trouble imagining societies much worse.
David Weinberger – everything is misc et al