Today, a couple links on apocalypse preparation, the Black Panthers, and local organizing models.
Kristen Tyler, a 36-year-old Portland resident who works as the director of recruiting for a software company, has spent the last decade learning how to be an effective prepper. If a major disaster happens — in her city, her country, or the world — Tyler wants to have everything she’d need to survive on her own. Contrary to popular belief, not all preppers are religious folks preparing for an apocalyptic doomsday. In actuality, they are worshipers of organization and intense planning, who, instead of trusting in a higher power (including the higher power of government), put their faith in self-reliance, survival skills, and stockpiles — and many of them are women.
For an example of survival as a communal practice, I’m reading about the Black Panthers, whose local organizing model involved “policing the police” and establishing Free Breakfast Programs for kids.
The Black Panthers’ central guiding principle was an “undying love for the people.” The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, otherwise known as the Black Panther Party (BPP), was established in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The two leading revolutionary men created the national organization as a way to collectively combat white oppression. After constantly seeing black people suffer from the torturous practices of police officers around the nation, Newton and Seale helped to form the pioneering black liberation group to help build community and confront corrupt systems of power.
One model I’ve found really helping in framing local organizing by and for people of color, queer and trans people, disabled people, immigrants, and workers is “dual power.”
Dual Power institutions come in two flavors: alternative institutions and counter-institutions. Capitalism and the government often meet people’s needs very badly. However, we don’t yet have something better. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, capitalism is crooked but it’s the only game in town. Dual Power is about giving people a second option. The two kinds of Dual Power institutions do this from different (but complementary) angles. Alternative institutions meet a need directly. Counter-institutions challenge capitalism’s way of doing things. Alternative institutions start making a system that’s just, while counter-institutions work against one that’s unjust.
So, for example, a worker-owned cooperative business is an alternative institution. Everybody has to make a living, and cooperatives satisfy that need in a participatory-democratic way. Conversely, a labor union is a counter-institution. It increases its members’ control over their jobs, but it doesn’t actually create new workplaces. Instead, it limits the power that managers and business owners have.
What are you reading this week?