(DRAFT) In this post, I explore how #blocking hinders positive social change in horizontal projects. By #blocking, I mean various tactics: ignoring core issues, prioritizing everyday agendas to obscure systemic problems, and using significant issues to distract from necessary changes.

Understanding Outcome-Driven Horizontal Projects

Outcome-driven horizontal projects, such as Climate Camp, face sustainability challenges. A notable issue is the strong resistance to process change—this resistance, or #blocking, makes necessary changes harder, leading to vertical structures and eventual ossification. This results in rigid, non-functional structures incapable of adapting, ultimately breaking under pressure and failing to achieve horizontal processes.

Psychological Roots of #Blocking

At the core of #blocking is a psychological fear of losing perceived certainty, where individuals cling to a misguided sense of certainty and autonomy. I refer to this phenomenon as “#stupidindividualism,” to overcome this, we need to circumvent this “stupid individualism.”

Comparing Intentional Communities and Online Projects

Rainbow Gatherings manage to circumvent this #stupidindividualism by creating environments of enforced scarcity. In these intentional communities, participants are moved into a world where normal options are unavailable, necessitating change. The path of #Stupidindividualism becomes too dysfunctional to impede progress.

In contrast, online media projects like #visionontv lack this scarcity, allowing “stupid individualism” to thrive unchecked. This results in participants self-defining and dismissing critical points without engagement, perpetuating the issues.

Trust Networks as a Solution

“Trust networks” are essential in overcoming “stupid individualism.” With this understanding, I view the Climate Camp process more sympathetically. The “process people,” criticized for ossification, suffered alongside the wider camp. This issue reoccurs, and those pushing empty agendas are less to blame than the unaddressed systemic problems.

The Metaphor of Strings and Mannequins

It’s crucial to avoid personalizing the responsibility for this problem. Viewing ourselves as mannequins dancing to barely visible strings highlights the systemic nature of the issue. The circle we dance in isn’t right—we need a new circle with different strings, some more visible, to start a new dance.

Participants often feel tangled by the strings, trying to unravel them to create a new circle. It’s the strings, not the messengers, that block progress. Assistance in untangling and resetting the strings is needed—perhaps the messenger is trying to help. Try not to shoot.

Reflection and Call to Action

In this post, I attempt to untangle a string, acknowledging that the Climate Camp process wasn’t as bad as I once thought. What string will you untangle? Avoiding “stupid individualism” is crucial, yet we increasingly become ensnared by it on all sides.

The danger lies in discussing parallel things and thinking along parallel, divergent lines. “Stupid individualism” is strong and active—the more we struggle, the more entangled we become, diminishing hope for a new dance. Dance, as a metaphor for process, and strings, as a metaphor for the human sense of belonging necessary for societal cohesion, illustrate this struggle.


Does this end well? Historically, it hasn’t, but approaching the problem from different angles might yield different results this time. Therefore, I avoid personal responsibility, seeing us as mannequins dancing in a circle, twitching to barely visible strings. The current circle isn’t right—we need a new circle with different strings, some more visible, and to start a new dance.

The role of #blocking in horizontal projects

Published Date 12/16/11 6:00 PM

Mannequins dancing to barely visible strings (DRAFT)

This is an attempt to understand how blocking is used to stop/slow positive social change. By #blocking I mean many things, refusing to address core issues, pushing everyday agenda’s to hide more systematic issues, and confusingly using big issues to distracts and fog everyday needed changes.

Outcome-driven horizontal projects are hard to sustain. I understand #climatecamp process #ossification better now – there is a strong blocking to process change – the continuing pushing of the needed change is blocked thus the change gets harder (more vertical) until it ossifies and becomes non-functional strong enough to break the block (thus breaking the horizontal process it is trying to achieve). End up with a broken structure that cannot move or change.

So the issue is “blocking” which largely is a psychological fear of losing non-existent certainty – ie. the false consciousness (cf Marx) of capitalism – Thus the moniker “#stupidindividualism”. The root out of this is to work a way round this “stupid individualism”.

Rainbow Gatherings manage this – by forcing scarcity, in #visionontv we don’t have this option, in Rainbow you are moved into a world where all the normal options are simply are not there – thus change HAS TO HAPPEN – it’s an intentional community. “Stupid individualism” simply becomes too dysfunctional in this situation to stop change. This is at the heart of rainbow process. In our situation, on the internet, in media there is no scarcity, so “stupid individualism” reigns supreme and unstoppable.

An issue is that many people will self-define what I am saying at this point – BUT will not engage with it – The writer is being a “stupid individual” and this would be the case if the writer was not actively engaged in a real social project.

“Trust networks” are the solution to “stupid individualism”. With this understanding, I have a more sympathetic view of climatecamp process. The derided “process people” suffered from ossification as much as the wider camp. And I am arguing that this is a re-occurring issue, so the individual who were left pushing an empty agenda are less at fault than the systematic issues that they haven’t addressed.

It’s important NOT to take personal responsibility for this, as the is a dead end block in using this as a solution to this problem. Maybe more useful to seeing us as mannequins dancing in a circle, twitching to barely visible strings. And the circle we are in – is not the right one. We need a new circle with some different strings (some of them more visible) and to start a new dance.

The blocks: what participants feel are the tangling of strings, the process they are trying to unravel so as to make a new circle to dance in. We are all attached to strings, so get untangling. It’s the strings, NOT the messenger, that stops you. Help is needed trying to untangle and re-set some strings, perhaps the messenger is trying to help? Try not to shoot

In this post, I attempt to untangle a string (#climatecamp process wasn’t as bad as I thought it was). Which string are you going to untangle? “Stupid individualism” is the trap we have to avoid, but we are getting more and more snared in it – on all sides.

The danger is that we are talking about parallel things and more tragically – thinking along parallel divergent lines – “stupid individualism” is strong and kicking and the more we kick, the more entangle we become – leaving little hope of a new dance – by the way dance is a metaphor for process and strings are a metaphor for the very human senses of belonging that we need for society to hold together.

Does it end well, I wonder – it never has in the past, but one can keep coming at a problem from different angles. Maybe this time it might. Thus, am NOT taking any personal responsibility – just seeing us as mannequins dancing in a circle twitching to barely visible strings. And the circle we are in – is not the right one. We need a new circle with some different strings (some of them more visible) and start a new dance.