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General News    H3'ed 9/8/21

It takes a Connectedly Conscious Village to Storm the Barricades

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A Review of Rob Kall's book "The Bottom-Up Revolution"

It takes a Connectedly Conscious Village to Storm the Barricades

No one would argue that we do not live in challenging times, or that organizing to advance democratic ideals through effective political redress, has ever been a more daunting challenge.

I cut my political teeth demonstrating at the San Francisco Cow Palace against Barry Goldwater in 1964. On the way to the tarmac to meet him, my uncle and I fashioned a cardboard sign from nearby debris and a magic marker that simply said "AUH2O is a Bigoted Bircher!"

In that Mecca of organizing for my era, we were wading alone through a sea of foaming at the mouth Goldwater supporters at the SF International airport.

Even across the bay, in nearby Berkeley, then the hotbed of political action, organizing remained in its infancy. Today, political organizing remains stalled.

On any given night then, there were no less than a dozen activists groups available to lay down a marker to advance committed action. In those pre-internet days, it was action first, think and organize later. And, although Goldwater lost to LBJ, our inverted priorities turned out to be a colossal mistake from which we never completely recovered.

Fast toward sixty years later, deep into the internet age, and we find that at least on the democratic side, we are still herding cats.

However, in this tutorial for internet age organizing, Rob Kall and his team (which by no coincident includes the brilliant Robert Steele) tells us how it should be done. And as a result, 60 years on, organizational help is finally on the way.

This ambidextrous intellect has organized the tools that have made him famous across several disciplines and has put them all together into a useful toolbox that he calls "connection consciousness." Connection consciousness is the one idea that forces us to come to grips with the fact that the internet has not just changed our brain cells, but has reorganized life as we know it.

Kall makes a virtue out of what once was a biological necessity, by returning us back to our natural organizational roots: organizing for survival through the bottom-up rules of nature.

Here in an intellectual tour de force, mobilized and ready for action on the political as well as other social and organizational battlefields, we begin to re-understand why bottom-up thinking and organizing has distinct advantages over its organizational counterpart, top-down thinking and organizing. We also learn why and when it can make the most sense to combine the two.

Kall takes things in logical order. First he culls relevant literature for the best ideas, interviews the authors of those ideas, and then deploys them to build an air-tight intellectual framework that includes a new vocabulary suitable for the new combined enterprise of bottom-up and top-down internet "connection consciousness."

That in itself is enough for a five star book. However, this is only the beginning. The reader will discover that there is a lot more - all condensed into bite-sized readable chunks.

He tells us how change is made; what it does to those in power; how to affect big changes; and when small change is enough; the merits and demerits of each modality of organizing; how systems thinking is the perfect companion of, and complement to, connection consciousness and bottom-up methods; how we moved from an information ecosystem to a connection ecosystem; and most of all how to weaponize connection conscious power.

It is easy to forget in the heat of battle, that structure and order are paramount even in horizontal organizations, even in organizing the mind to fight or flee. Like the internet itself, connection consciousness utilizes the structure of networks of millions of like-minded people to storm the barricades.

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Retired Foreign Service Officer and past Manager of Political and Military Affairs at the US Department of State. For a brief time an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Denver and the University of Washington at (more...)
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