Organising the LAG Internationals – Discussion paper for our Hermsdorf meeting

This paper is the result of a brainstorm between Tyler and Phil

button_europaeische linke-revolutionType of meeting

At the moment we have different sorts of meetings – monthly AG meetings, extra Stammtische with people who are in town, public meetings for a wider audience (often in German), but its all a bit higgledy-piggledy, with each format trying to cover all bases.

Do we want to consider any of the following?

  • Where possible, the monthly meetings should result in an action. This can be preparation for an action (eg meetings on women’s rights shortly before the Women’s Day demo), or in some of us writing a position paper (eg what is our position / are our different positions on the US elections).
    We should aim that most of our core members try to come regularly to this meeting.
  • We can cover current events with a Stammtisch-type meeting, including a speaker from outside (eg someone visiting Berlin) or a local expert (eg as we did with the HDP speaker for out Stammtisch about the Turkish coup).
    We should try to get a significant number of people to these meetings who are mainly interested in the specific subject.
  • We consider organising reading circles, where a group of us talk more intensively about specific subjects or texts. Here we should talk to Julia about her experiences organising Jacobin reading groups at her school.
    These meetings should largely be attended by the same people for a longer period of time.

It may well be, that such a strict division doesn’t work in practise, but may be helpful when we thinking exactly why we organise meetings – for whom and with which expectations.

We have 3 basic aims – to have more people presenting meetings in an atmosphere where they feel comfortable, for more of our meetings to have practical consequences and for people to be able to choose the type of meeting that best suits what they’re looking for (rather than trying to do everything  in the same meeting)

Format of our monthly meetings

There is an extra issue about the format of meetings. Most meetings take at most 2 hours (after this, people will start to get restless), possibly followed by more informal talks in the pub afterwards. Do we want the whole 2 hours to cover one theme? What about adding the following:

  • Introductory round, with brief explanation what is going on in each of our countries
  • Introductory round, with focus on one or two countries? (which someone prepares)
  • 5-10 minute summary of what’s happened in German politics in the past month
  • Reports from campaigns where our members are active

The key here is balance. We have time to cover more than one subject, but don’t want to try and fit 20 different themes in one short meeting. If we plan in advance and send out an agenda, people with limited time can plan to come late / leave early if necessary and still be at the discussion most important to them.

Recording our meetings

For the last 3 meetings, we’ve had people contacting us asking if we could somehow record the meeting. We have occasionally filmed big meetings, but new technology should mean that we can film or at least tape many more meetings than we do.

On top of this, a written report can let people know what they’ve missed. It can also add to our Web presence. Similarly, we can ask the speaker if we can put their notes (or other related articles) online.

The first step towards this would be having someone taking minutes of each meeting (this doesn’t have to be the same people every time).

Devolving responsibility

At the moment, the group is very top-heavy, with decisions being only taken by a small number of people. This has resulted in the same people being responsible for everything, which is not good for them, nor is it for the group. We should think of finding ways in which smaller working groups can take responsibility for different aspects of our work.

This can have many forms:

  • Geographical responsibility (eg bringing the Spanish comrades together). This happens already, but the networking tends to take place outside the group
  • Thematic responsibility (eg bringing the people together who are working on abortion rights)
  • A mixture of geographical and thematic (eg a group of people to work on a short-term project around the US election)
  • Responsibilities for the group (eg a Web team, team responsible for new members etc)

Exactly how this works may differ from group to group, but in principle each group would be empowered to make decisions, write articles/pamphlets, and bring the relevant discussion into the larger group. They could also organise meetings which cover their particular subject.

Something that we really haven’t spent much time thinking about is our presence on facebook on the Internet. If we do start some half-autonomous working groups, maybe they could have some sort of facebook/Internet presence (this is something we can think through when we’ve got a bit further).

Continuity

The other side of different people specializing on different issues is finding the issues and actions which bring us all together. At the moment we have a tendency of treating all demos (for example) as equal, so that meeting up is often random (and in the case of the massive TTIP demo nearly impossible).

We should move towards identifying a fewer number of demos (and other actions) which we want to attend as a group. This means setting up a meeting place and time, and marching together behind one of our banners. It may also mean organising a meeting before the demo, where we communally make new banners or placards.

In order to do this we need to have some sort of sense in the group, which are the key issues which interest all of us (or at least most of us) and where it makes sense making an effort to come together. These key issues may change over time, so we need a way of reviewing our decisions

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