These are some things I've learned from my own experience, talking to others and reading about the experiences of many political groups of the radical left that I'd like to share with members of Solidarity Winnipeg. I'm not suggesting them as "Ten Commandments" (and I'm not auditioning for the role of Moses)!
1. A political organization needs all members to understand its common politics and purpose in order to be able to function coherently. This shared understanding also gives a political organization a framework for discussing and debating differences. Without this, a group will fragment.
2. The more minimal a group's shared politics are, the more important activity is for holding a political organization together (Solidarity Winnipeg has a very minimal basis of unity).
3. If a political organization says that social struggle is key to changing society, its members need to practice what they preach. Belonging to a radical political organization shouldn't be an alternative to being active in organizations that actually mobilize and organize wide layers of people in collective action for change (unions, groups based in communities or on campuses). The weaker such movement-building organizing is (it's been very weak in Winnipeg for many years), the more important it is to consciously try to get involved in what's happening.
4. A political organization whose activity is democratically-organized and in which members are accountable to the group will make better decisions, be better able to learn from mistakes, and be generally smarter and stronger.
5. The less a group asks of members, the less commitment it's likely to get from them (so far SW hasn't required anything from members).
6. Political education for members matters. It's inevitable that members will have different kinds and levels of political knowledge, skills and experience. Consciously trying to foster members' political development will make a group more effective. Political development will also make a group more democratic, since more members will feel able to develop proposals and take part in discussions. The goal should be a "leader-full" organization (a term I learned from reading about Black Lives Matter organizing in the US), not a leaderless one.
7. One of the most crucial things for radicals to try to understand is the context that they're working in. The political context of Winnipeg today isn't the same as Winnipeg in 1919 or even 1996. It's also not the same as Toronto or Montreal today (Alan Sears's book The Next New Left: A History of the Future offers valuable analysis of the political environment today and how it's different from past eras).
8. It's important to evaluate decisions in order to learn from them. Mistakes are inevitable but learning from them isn't.
9. It's really important to foster a group culture that's welcoming to new people and in which people treat each other with respect even when they disagree. But working together as members of a political organization shouldn't be confused with being friends. A political group should unite people who agree with its politics and want to work together for common goals whether or not they know or like each other personally. Some members will become friends too. But if a political group is a group of friends it can quickly become a clique that isn't welcoming to others.
10. Having clear positive expectations about how members should conduct themselves and procedures for how to respond to allegations of unacceptable behaviour gives a political organization a way to handle problems that will inevitably arise. After all, those of us committed to radical change are products of a messed-up society, just like everyone else.
 I've always liked this line from the US socialist Eugene Debs: "Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. He has not come; he never will come. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again."
Articles on this "Archive"/blog format page are also found on the Writings page.