"Broad coalitions are problematic in that groups are brought together in the name of noble ideals, but shared values and relationships between them are not concrete enough to flesh out the coalition's goals" said scott crow, sounds wise, I thought.

(From Black Flags and Windmills)

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Ngl, to me that sounds like someone who's a bit naive abt political organizing. Yeah, if your coalition is centered around noble ideals it's bound to fail, because there's no ideal on which a majority will agree. Which is why u build coalitions around accomplishing concrete goals, and don't worry about ideals. You can work with the Catholic church to get funding for low-income housing, for instance, but if you insist on shared ideals, every coalition mtg will turn into an argument.

@nicksellen And this, btw, is precisely the problem with a lot of left organizing efforts, imho.

@GuerillaOntologist also sounds wise!

Maybe it's hard distinguishing between "ideals" and "concrete goals". In the book scott crow is talking a lot about the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund coalition (PHRF), and I was wondering about the Make Poverty History coalition. Are these "ideals" or "concrete goals"?

I didn't get the impression that by "ideals" he meant ideology (which would seem tough in the way you describe), but things that might seem quite concrete at first glance (like the PHRF).

@nicksellen Without knowing the details it's hard to say much abt those particular coalitions, but if I had to guess, I would think it likely that the concrete goals those groups gathered around weren't concrete enough. I.e. everyone agrees that hurricane relief/poverty alleviation is good, but don't agree on the details of how to accomplish that. And if no agreements can be reached about the specifics, I'd say that's a sign that the group is overly "idealistic" and not "concrete" enough.

@GuerillaOntologist to my mind any coalition is an abstraction over the concrete actions of people, and it's a way to unite variations under an umbrella.

But if the umbrella is too big, the concrete actions might conflict, as scott describes, too small it can't hold enough to be useful.

So rather than the binary "concrete vs ideals", it's about careful calibration of the size to avoid the limitations of coalitions.

Perhaps each part remaining whole whilst contributing the bigger whole.

@nicksellen I think that's a pretty good way of thinking about things.

I've been involved with some failed coalitions that failed because some of the group insisted on expanding the umbrella to everything they desired (regardless of the rest of the group's desires); and some successful coalitions that stuck to one very specific thing and were able to get it done because that one thing remained our sole focus.

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