What is a Peoples Movement Assembly?
A People’s Movement Assembly (PMA) is a gathering of people to:
- Collectively develop a political analysis of the current moment and the systemic root causes of our problems.
- Come up with visions of the world we want and to create plans toget there (consider short, medium, and long-term demands as appropriate).
- Create and coordinate related collective actions, campaigns, and strategic movement agendas (consider short, medium, and long-term actions and agendas if appropriate).
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
Historically, the term was associated with the capitalist production ‘assembly’ line and with religious congregations or school gatherings. Today, we are decolonizing the meaning of assembly – it is a gathering of people of the social movements seeking to practice power through participatory governance and to determine action plans for systemic change. The assembly is not the act of gathering people. The assembly represents the essence of the people who have gathered and the synthesis of their knowledge and commitments.
The Peoples Movement Assembly (PMA) process was inspired by the Social Movement Assembly launched at the World Social Forum in 2003 and was launched in the United States. at the first U.S. SOCIAL FORUM in 2007. The PMA process developed alongside numerous forums from 2006 to 2010. For more history click here.
THE ASSEMBLY IS A DECOLONIZING PROCESS
The assembly process is based on the theory of change that we can create processes that dismantle the colonial, neocolonial, and internal colonial system while at the same time creating the new society. Patriarchy, capitalist exploitation, oppression, and racism are all systems of colonial oppression and part of the present neoliberal globalization/capitalist system. At the heart of the assembly process is dismantling these institutions and replacing them with the peoples governance and liberated institutions.
The assembly, in essence and operationality, is a decolonizing process. The assembly is an ‘open space’ and an open door for people to come into the social movement and become active participants and players. The open space can be considered a jet propulsion that pulls-in all the social movements to the assembly and allows equal/equitable participation (without rank or hierarchy) in a horizontal and direct participatory democracy.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The assembly primarily brings all the voices and peoples together in a circular fashion, the circle, and pours out ‘all of the thinking’ of all the participants and puts it methodologically at the center of the table, to synthesize collectively, and collectively agree on it. It benchmarks the collective level of the thinking and works from the principle that we are more powerful thinkers and problem solvers together than we are separate.
The assembly collectively answers :
What is the problem(s)?
What are the solution(s)?
What are we going to do about it?
THE ASSEMBLY IS A PROCESS
The assembly is an organism of social movement organizations and people. It is not a network, not a coalition, not an alliance, and not a political party. It is a new formation. It is INCLUSIVE and not exclusive to one political line or ideology. It is a CONVERGENCE of forces and social movement organizations and people. The assembly, as an organism and process, is based on the pedagogy and facilitation methodology of COLLECTIVE critical thinking, and critical analysis, resulting in a SYNTHESIS (representing the sum organic total of all of the thinking). The social movement assembly results in ACTION.
The assembly results in immediate action steps and processes that connect the social movements and fronts of struggles. This means we come closer together by virtue of working through the assembly, working together. We get to know each other better, bringing about mutual-accountability, stronger relationships between people and organizations. The Assembly also brings awareness (shared knowledge) of the fronts of struggle on the ground and thus informs the social movement of the pulse of the mass movement. And finally it compels the assembly towards coordinated ACTION.
PMA EXAMPLE IN PRACTICE
The Southern Movement Assembly (SMA), for example, is a decolonizing theory of systemic social change. The SMA represents the assembly process in building mass movement in the U.S. South. The assembly process allows us to work beyond the boundaries of the organizations, while holding the autonomy, for the good of all.
The SMA is a CONVERGENCE of forces, people and organizations, it is an OPEN SPACE for involvement and participation, thus CROSS-POLLINATING the social movements, to think COLLECTIVELY, reach agreement based on SYNTHESIS that then results in ACTIONS that have major impact on the goal of systemic social change.
The SMA is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-regional, multi-generational, and multi-abilities. The SMA is multi-ideological while also creating synthesis for political direction. The SMA creates new knowledge, new analysis collectively and new strategies for effective action and systemic change towards liberation for all oppressed and exploited.