To help me think through my recent experiences working in collectives, I read "The Tyranny of Structurelessness" by Jo Freeman, an essay first printed in 1970 in the US and which has since been circulated widely in feminist and anarchist communities. Freeman argues that "unstructured" groups (groups which "have not been deliberately structured in a particular manner" but in which informal, covert structures nevertheless emerge) reproduce broader power relations, resulting in the dis-authorization of women and of racialized people (as well as members of other oppressed groups) in their ranks. Freeman also argues that "unstructured" groups tend to be politically impotent. Instead of perpetuating the myth of structurelessness (and thereby reproducing oppression), Freeman claims that groups should explicitly structure themselves, according to seven principles of "democratic structuring": delegation (of authority or responsibility for tasks); responsibility to other members; wide distribution of power and authority to members (to prevent monopolies of power); rotation of tasks among members; allocation of tasks along rational criteria (e.g., interest, responsibility, skills); diffusion of information among all members as frequently as possible; and equal access to resources (equipment and skills). You can download free pdf copies of Freeman's essay at Struggle (link on sidebar).


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