Oceans of ink have been spilled on the fractured, infighting, self-destructive nature of the “left” in politics. In the old days organization with similar but competing groups was difficult. Consider the impossibility of getting various left groups to cooperatively fund a TV network. The power struggles over prime time slots and so forth would be immense. What would we devote our funding for investigative reporting on? Cops killing citizens, voting reform, corporate dirt? Impossible. However with the advent of the internet these issues are easy to resolve.
The most critical and important tool for achieving the best political results for the average citizen is a cooperative activist social media network. Using the US federal system as inspiration we can create a network that is fair and open and which does not require significant financial cost, thus preventing wealthier groups from gaining political power through the power of the purse.
The ideal basis for political organization is not 140 characters and DMs ala Twitter, nor is it profiles and news feeds ala Facebook. Its the good old fashioned internet discussion board. Discussion boards have a set of features extensive enough to enable truly effective organization. Firstly they can easily be decentralized. Unlike facebook and twitter which have a single verified/official indicated discussion boards have long supported various permissions and member groups complete with varied visual identifiers. They also support subsections with many levels of division.
There is also very tested and mature support for integration of more un-targeted social media platforms. Modern open source forums allow you to log in with your facebook or twitter or potentially even reddit credentials. This helps lower the bar for any public access sections of your discussion forums.
I’ll give an example of some potential member groups of a collective leftist forum. Say you have a number of pro-election reform groups, a number of civil rights groups, and a number of third parties. Maybe you have a selection of various unions and some healthcare or minimum wage advocates. You’d have an umbrella forum for each of these groups and then you could assign them each a set of sub forums. Using comprehensive forum permission systems they would each have the ability to moderate their own section of the forums at their discretion. Much like a federal government each constituent group would have a broad array of powers over their own area/membership. You’d probably want some sort of system to overrule this local administration on a broadly popular basis. For instance if their was a concern of racism and 70% of all voting members agreed, you could impose some moderation as a condition of membership. Ideally it would take a very high percentage majority to overrule local control. Maybe even 80% instead of 70%.
Another important value for having various group memberships and tiers of verification is private messaging. On Twitter you either have public DMs or follower only DMs. In a more structured environment you can have much more granular control. If your primary or only interest is voting reform, you could set your public DMs to only be accessible to people in voting reform related member groups. Meanwhile you could allow individuals to DM you based on a list or set anyone above some tier of authority access. For instance organization founding members or something.
When you control your own custom website its also possible to incorporate valuable features at your own discretion, you can enable RSS, you could have Twitter feeds and newsgroups and user groups defined by users.
Another critical aspect of being in control of your own infrastructure is flexibility. You can assign sub forums for particular political candidates and campaigns, you can have sub forums for say, developing open source organizing software and apps, and for doing various events. Facebook does have decent event options but the limit of Facebook is their insistence on having only one account and only using accounts with your real name. Having a custom events system is the better option.
Having a centralized location but not a centrally controlled system is very beneficial to organizing political coalitions. Superior technology based organization is the future of politics. Early adapters, as demonstrated not only by Sanders and Obama, but also by foreign politicians like Modi, have a substantial amount to gain. It is my sincere hope that my political side manages to take advantage of this. I’ll be writing some future posts about other innovative ways to use technology for organizing and events in the future.