Ok you are sick of the capitalist system and the misery it reduces people to around the globe and you’ve joined REVOLUTION, the socialist youth movement. You’ve got some great ideas and want to discuss them with others, but you are in a town by yourself. What can you do?
This is a do-it-yourself guide on how to build a REVOLUTION group in your locality.
Being in a group of one is no fun and makes campaigning almost impossible, so it is a good idea to try and get other people involved as soon as possible. Talk to your mates and see what they think about being active and getting a group off the ground. If you can get two or three others, then you are off to a great start.
Luckily there are some REVOLUTION groups already established. From them you can get some help to start off: copies of the REVOLUTION magazine, ideas for leaflets, petitions and posters, plus ideas for campaigns and actions. If you need someone to help hold a meeting – let’s say on the situation in Palestine – you can get someone from a REVOLUTION group nearby to lend a hand.
The next thing to do is raise the profile of REVOLUTION. The best way to do this is to set up a stall and have regular meetings so people know where they can find you, how to get in touch and how to join in. Then you can move on to actions that will draw more people around REVOLUTION. But the important part about REVOLUTION is not just the actions but also the ideas behind them.
Leaflets, Posters, Petitions and a Newsletter
If you have never made a leaflet or poster, it can seem quite daunting but really you don’t need much creative talent to knock them together, especially if you have a computer! You don’t even need a fancy programme, Microsoft Word (or a similar program) will do. Or you can do it ransom note way by cutting and pasting letters from the newspaper. Or if you are creative, you could draw it yourself.
When you have a few people around you and have a few actions under your belt, you may want to embark on writing a few reports to put into a newsletter. This would let people know what you have been campaigning around in your area. Again you could draw upon REVOLUTION members from other areas to give you a hand.
Then you can go down to the corner store with a photocopy machine or the closest printers and run off a few copies.
Getting a portable table with copies of the paper, a petition or two and some leaflets on it is one of the best ways of engaging people and creating an audience for your politics. You can get chipboard paste tables from a D.I.Y. / Hardware shop; it doesn’t cost much but it is an essential investment. Get some red cloth as well to drape over the stall to make it stand out a bit. Setting up the stall in the high street of the town, on a college campus or near a school is the best way of getting people to come up who are interested. Get their names and details (Email, Phone number) on a petition and ask if they want to get involved or to receive emails about what’s happening in your area.
Stalls are the ‘foot work’ of building a group. It helps you meet new people and actually engage in political action. You might not think it but every stall you do is a new opportunity to grow and develop links within the town. A regular stall is a perfect place for people to get to know you and learn about your politics by buying the paper off you.
The leaflets that you have should have meeting details on (time, place, date, what the meeting is about). Pick a subject that is relevant or in the news, and invite people along to it. Have it in a community centre, the back of a pub, someone’s house, the park or wherever you can get! Invite a REVOLUTION speaker from another town for the first couple of meetings if you want to have someone help you out.
Make sure you get everyone details that come to the meeting by handing around a piece of paper during the meeting. REVOLUTION meetings are usually in two parts: the first half is political discussion and debate; the second half is planning action and getting organised for the next week: plan the stalls, weekly meetings, get together, postering/graffiti runs, demonstrations and whatever else is coming up. The second half is very important in getting people actively involved in the decision making.
Action is such a good way to get people involved. You can try a bit of street theatre, stunts, banner drops, etc. Something as simple as a ‘Boycott Israeli goods’ stall outside a supermarket, or a stickering run inside. Try to make as much noise as possible to attract people to the spectacle. You can go on a roving picket, or tour of shame of shops that sell goods made by sweatshop labour. Let people watching know what you are protesting about!
Look up a fabric shop in the yellow pages and get some cloth – could be any colour – and get some spray paint, normal house paint and some chalk. If you want a big banner get it 8 feet by 5 feet, make sure you ask the person in the shop to see what the length is like before you buy it. Spend a bit of time designing a good slogan, and then with the chalk and a tape measure work out the lettering spacing. If the chalk lettering goes wrong just wipe it off with a damp cloth. You could just spray paint it on, but this can be harder to see sometimes, though it does look good in an urban rebel sort of a way.
Before painting the banners lettering or pictures on remember to place newspaper underneath it, the paint often seeps through the cloth so make sure the newspapers absorb it before you permanently emblazon “Defeat Imperialism” on your kitchen floor. Though that can be kind of cool.
When you have a banner you can do what you want with it, hang it somewhere, put it on the stall, wrap the edges around poles and mach with it.
This is illegal. Apparently people prepared to take this risk generally do it as follows: it is possible to put up posters with details of a meeting coming up to try and get more people to it. A3 sized posters stand out. Making the image simple, and if the posters have a few words on them then it is a good idea to make them stand out. People often print the posters on A4 then blow it up on the photocopier later.
People who flypost get a small bucket and a big paint brush, a bottle of tap water, a packet of wall paper paste and a plastic bag to carry it all in.
Because flyposting is illegal and the cops and security can give you a hard time if they catch you doing it, flyposting teams have minimum three people in them: one to paste, one to stick up the posters, one or more to keep look out.
Most of Revos politics are on the website, so print it off and spend a bit of time reading it. If you have any more questions or want to discuss things in further detail, give us a call at the office and we can help out. Help from experienced activists is only a phone call away. If you need someone to come and help do a stall or a meeting then just let us know.
Set up an email account
This is useful to put on the website. Be careful with leaflets and posters about putting phone numbers on it. Because there are a lot of psychos out there, it is best not to put your home phone number on a leaflet. Better to only put your mobile phone number on if it is a pay as you go.
There are loads of free email services like gmail and they’re great to use as a pulic email address: get an email account like [email protected] [email protected] (put your town or city in). Send out emails every week, a short one with details of what you are doing coming up. You can also set up an egroup at (google) and add people to that. This can be useful for organising actions and debating issues during the week when you might not be able to meet up.
You can also go to www.o2.com or www.cbfsms.com (loads more too) and send free text messages from your computer. It’s a great way to keep in contact with people who leave mobile phone numbers for you.
Be careful though, it is a thin line between hassling people and following them up, so make sure you don’t cross it!
This is one of the harder sections of political activism, but unfortunately capitalism means we have to raise cash in order to overthrow it! Money pays for photocopying, hiring rooms, getting to demos, buying materials and about a hundred other things. Shortage of money can be a serious problem and it can be useful to set up a system of fundraising. Collector tins on stalls often encourage people to give donations. Getting people to pay 50p/#1 a meeting means you can collect quite every week. Beyond that is the hard work of putting on gigs, fundraising nights, social events and other stuff like that. If you know anyone in a band (or are in one yourself) then get them to play a gig for you and collect a few pounds on the door. If your REVOLUTION group is collecting quite a bit of cash then open a clubs/society’s bank account. Buy a small diary type book to keep track of all the papers and other things you sell so you can keep track of income/outgoing. Ask if someone wants to be in charge of the treasury (bet you got loads of takers.er.)
REVOLUTION is more than just a series of autonomous groupings – we all work together to achieve the same end. You’re not alone, Revo is a national and international organisation with groups across the world! Although geography divides us, our politics are what unites us. We debate and discuss our politics on the Revolution UK egroup and World Revolution egroup. We decide our policies in Britain at the Revolution conference, which we have once a year. All members are encouraged to come, submit resolutions and ideas, and take part in deciding what we stand for and what we do.
Our policies do determine what we do and don’t do to a degree. For example If a local REVOLUTION group takes part in a racist campaign against asylum seekers, then the national REVOLUTION groups will have something to say about it! More positively, our unity allows us to organise action across Britain – even internationally – making it as big and effective as possible: for example, look at the massive Feb 15th antiwar demo and the March school student walkouts. It means we can magnify our voice, so that when we argue for something in the movement that only Socialists will say but which is important, such as “Victory to the Intifada” Or “Smash the BNP” it makes much more of an impact. It forces more people to question the ideas they get from school or the telly.
So when you are thinking about what campaigns and issues you want to work on locally, find out what the rest of Revolution is doing. Support the group’s national and international campaigns (link to campaigns page), alongside whatever else you do locally – act locally, nationally, and globally. Take part in the debates and in the conference. Revolution belongs to its members, and everyone has an equal say.
This is a hard and complex one. Doing stalls and meetings can build the REVOLUTION group, but being involved in a campaign to try and change things can be a complicated political process. Campaigns can be a trial and error process, but don’t forget that REVOLUTION has a lot of experienced activists to offer advice and tips on the campaign. Ask for people’s advice on the egroup or call the office.
If you need any advice or require any help then email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to help out!