Presentations and Workshops Offered by Chris Dixon

Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements

(presentation: 2 hours with discussion)

Recent decades have seen the exciting convergence of anti-authoritarian radicalism and broader-based movements in the U.S. and Canada. From this convergence, a growing set of activists – from anti-poverty organizers in Toronto to prison abolitionists in Oakland, from occupy activists in New York to migrant justice organizers in Vancouver – are developing shared politics and practices. They are building “another politics,” to use a Zapatista expression. These efforts combine anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, anti-oppression politics with grassroots organizing among ordinary, non-activist people. Drawing on interviews with organizers across North America, this presentation will explore another politics and distill lessons for building effective, visionary movements.

For the Long Haul: Care, Intention, and Steadiness in Radical Organizing

(presentation: 1 ½-2 hours with discussion)

Radical activists and organizers across North America face many similar challenges as we work to build movements capable of transforming the world: How can we most productively manifest our values through our organizing? How can we move beyond self-selected activist circles? How can we avoid getting stuck in dead-end ways of doing things? How can we build structures that foster, rather than fracture, movements? And how can we link our day-to-day fights with longer-term visions? Drawing on interviews with experienced organizers across North America, this workshop will distill lessons for developing effective, visionary movements. It will also open a space to discuss the challenges we face and what we are learning together as we grapple with them.

Taking Ourselves Seriously: Developing Strategy for Social Transformation

(presentation or workshop: 2-3 hours with activities and discussion)

The question of strategy – how we might win in the near and long term as we struggle against domination, exploitation, and oppression – is pressing. As anti-authoritarians, however, we frequently face barriers to thinking and acting strategically. These include fixating on principles over plans, fetishizing specific tactics, and organizing in crisis modes. Drawing on interviews with organizers across North America, this presentation will discuss these barriers, and potential ways we can move past them toward developing effective approaches for the long haul of social transformation. Together, we will explore how to build movements in the world as it is – engaging with where and how people are struggling – while cultivating strategies toward the world that we want. This presentation will especially highlight strategic approaches based on fighting for non-reformist reforms and building dual power.

Let’s Talk about Leadership: Anti-Authoritarian Approaches to Taking Initiative and Building Capacities

(workshop: 2 ½-3 hours with activities and discussion)

Leadership is a big unresolved question for anarchism. As anti-authoritarians we have important criticisms of conventional kinds of top-down leadership. However, our rejection of leadership – and our silences about it – has created significant problems for our organizing, particularly concerning accountability and developing people’s capacities as effective organizers. This workshop will open up a space for a frank conversation about leaders and leadership in our movements. We will review important anarchist critiques of conventional top-down forms of leadership, and we will also discuss some of the problems with dispensing with leadership altogether or pretending that it doesn’t exist in our groups. Drawing on examples from grassroots groups all over North America, we will then look at some of the new approaches anti-authoritarian organizers are using for understanding, enacting, and building leadership. Together, we will explore how we can develop and are developing group-centered or anti-authoritarian leadership in our organizing efforts.

Strategy and Campaign-Planning

(workshop: 3 hours with activities and discussion)

Developing strategy – building effective plans of action to win what we want – is one of the biggest challenges for organizing. This workshop will offer tools to address this challenge, laying out a strategic organizing framework based in a campaign-planning model. This model focuses on bringing more and more people together on our side while undermining adversaries. It involves collective investigation of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in our context of struggle; a deliberate process of setting goals; an orientation toward tactical escalation; and regular practices of appreciation and evaluation. In this workshop, we will go through this model together, applying it to our current organizing work.

Relevant, Responsible, and Radical: A Workshop on Conducting Social Movement Research

(workshop: 3 hours with activities and discussion)

How can we conduct relevant and responsible research with social movements we care about? This workshop will create a collective space to explore practical answers to this question. Drawing on experiences with activist research involving in-depth interviews and long-term participation, this workshop will dig into real-world dilemmas around accountability and academic expectations. It will also offer take-away tools for crafting research questions and practices, maintaining humility and humor, setting goals beyond credentialing requirements, and making research processes useful for activists.