It’s a phrase I just made up.

Some notes off the top of my head.

Groups work in a context. Often groups work in more than one context. For my purposes here, when a group works in this workplace, that set of relationships, etc, that’s a specific context. The sum of specific contexts is the total context. I call it ‘operational context’ to refer to small-scale factors a group takes into account in its work. This is different from large scale conjunctural factors like the economic meltdown. The economic meltdown is part of everyone’s lives so it touches all operational contexts in some way. I’m not being clear but my point is that operational contexts and goals and actions within them as I understand are specifiable enough that they can be clearly stated with regard to practice. Enough on that.

Groups that have multiple specific contexts have to balance those contexts. When there are tensions between actions across different specific contexts, that’s what I call a contradiction in the total operational context. I can think of two basic types. One is a matter of resources. To some extent, group resources are finite. Resources devoted to one specific context are not available to go to another. Another contradiction is a matter of liabilities that travel. A group may choose to do something in one specific context which results in a difficulty that has to be dealt with in another context. Groups have to balance priorities across specific contexts as part of navigating their total operational context. They may also set goals that are group-specific: build the group in some way, for example. In all of this there are a range of possible priorities and approaches.

Final thought for now. I find Elbaum and FRSO very convincing on what they call “miniaturized leninism.” I eventually would like to compare this with insurrectionist writings on what they call “organizations of synthesis.” For now, it seems to me that one of the core principles I’m interested in within organizing is one of amplification. Amplification means getting more bang for the buck. What’s already happening? How can more be made of it? In specific contexts, groups can try to amplify what’s going on. Across contexts, groups can try to make more of specific developments, and they can try to make more of their own amplification capacity. This has an uneasy relationship with clarity and with prescription. Often people aren’t really sure what they’re doing or why. Moving toward clarity is valuable and can help with amplification but it doesn’t always help. Likewise with prescription -what we want to see happen is often something we will reach in a roundabout manner rather than a direct manner.

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