16 votes

Mentorship networks/software for Leftists?

Reading HackerNews and saw that some mentorship software launched: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20656223 and someone mentioned another software as a service that does mentorship: https://mentorloop.com/

Now I'm wondering where the mentorship for leftists and leftist organizing is.

And I'm wondering if anyone else feels like most of the good ideas that leftists have slowly trickle into businesses but in ways that can be controlled by executives/managers. Their "features" include these slogans:

Tools to Turn Human Resources into Superheroes

Don't let employees slip through the cracks
Stay on top of hundreds to thousands of mentoring interactions in a way that still feels personal. Check in on employee relationships, give them the right nudges they need.

What's your take? Is there a need for more mentorship and peer to peer training/collaboration amongst anarchists and communists? Is that realistic? Or is this something that we just need to be on the defense against and form our own networks outside these systems of control?

7 comments

  1. [6]
    reese
    Link
    Thought-provoking questions, but holy smokes there is a lot to unpack here. Answering for myself and nobody else, I don't want to be involved in a mentor relationship, or community, where the...

    Thought-provoking questions, but holy smokes there is a lot to unpack here.

    Answering for myself and nobody else, I don't want to be involved in a mentor relationship, or community, where the explicit goal is radicalization to the furthest reaches of an ideology. You said, "I'm wondering where the mentorship for leftists and leftist organizing [my emphasis] is." I'm uncomfortable with social interactions meant only for those under one banner, because that sort of exclusivity runs counter to the free exchange of ideas. Without that, I don't know if I'm closer to the truth when I receive praise, or if I'm circlejerking. Subjecting ourselves to a vacuum, we lose sight of what experience instigated our perspective to begin with, and we alienate everyone else, everyone else, even people who might agree with us for the most part, or who might have something to teach us. On that note, I have observed in ideologically homogeneous communities there is a tendency for self-destruction or conflict through splitting hairs and subsequent fragmentation into fractal-esque denominations of the One True Interpretation. There are an ungodly number of subreddits now that illustrate this point.

    Now, I am on board with organizing for collective action and causes, but nothing nebulous. The reason being is that, when you're engaging in the real world, surrounded by real people, your conviction will be tested by those who think differently from you. Now, obviously conviction does not correspond with correctness if history, distant and recent, has its say; however, at the very least, when you put yourself out there, you have to choose whether you will stomach other perspectives. If you choose to ignore them or pretend they don't exist, then that is on you, and I imagine it will take a toll on you in some way. But, for someone who says I refuse to engage in anything nebulous, I am being awfully nebulous. To the point, if you are a worker and the Man is keeping you down, you need to seriously consider joining a union, the more specific the better, especially if you are a skilled tradesperson (for most, that is how one becomes a skilled tradesperson, which does in fact involve mentorship). Maybe you are a business owner or entrepreneur, in which case you could unlock a legal and fiscal pathway to divvying ownership between your workers, flattening your organization. Want a certain political candidate to win? Volunteer for the campaign. These are causes that immediately come to mind, nothing particularly interesting. There are countless others and what you choose is a matter of your personal priorities.

    I should mention, because you're curious about the frame of social networks and software, that most causes piggyback on existing infrastructure as needed, whether it's hosting or GoFundMe or the notion of a 'group' on some shitty website like Facebook. I guess you might say Tildes is a cause in and of itself, being an open source and community-funded alternative to the inhuman and outright strange demands of venture capital. Yes it is invite-only, but being open source, anyone can fork the code to create their own community about anything they want (and I will suppress the interesting examples that come to mind right now). So I guess what I'm driving at is, if you desperately want a mentorship platform, then you might create one for its own sake. Then, permit self-organization with said platform. If you wish to realize idealistic principles in the design or behavior of that platform, then that is entirely up to you. So long as the platform is free and open, then you are appropriately subjecting your work to outside forces, meaning that your ideals will either pass or fail by some definition. This form of self-realization corresponds to ideals on the left, but isn't restrictive to it. All in all, I do not think I adequately answered your set of questions. I also want to mention that I'm not against somebody creating a website or service specifically for a lefty thing, but if you want longevity and good faith user engagement, then there are preexisting real-world examples that can shine a light on that.

    11 votes
    1. [5]
      tempestoftruth
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      No one is calling for that, I think it's clear that OP means mentorship as in, how do you get started organizing? how can I unionize my workplace? and that sort of thing, not political terrorism....

      radicalization to the furthest reaches of an ideology

      No one is calling for that, I think it's clear that OP means mentorship as in, how do you get started organizing? how can I unionize my workplace? and that sort of thing, not political terrorism.

      I'm uncomfortable with social interactions meant only for those under one banner, because that sort of exclusivity runs counter to the free exchange of ideas.

      Ah yes, the marketplace of ideas, where fascists are allowed to speak freely and incite violence and liberals stand idly by, covering their ears, repeating "free speech" over and over. I'm exaggerating, but people are allowed to have "safe spaces" or whatever you want to call them where they can talk about the specifics of implementation of their political ideology without having to deal with people who are either arguing in bad faith or just not willing to change their beliefs.

      If you choose to ignore them or pretend they don't exist, then that is on you, and I imagine it will take a toll on you in some way.

      It's not about ignoring them or pretending they don't exist, it's about changing hearts and minds to your point of view, in other words, local organizing.

      These are causes that immediately come to mind, nothing particularly interesting.

      The stuff you mention is incredibly interesting for leftists! In the United States, society actively makes it difficult for any of these things to happen. Unions have been weakened over the past few decades in the United States and workers co-ops are basically unheard of. These ideas are radical, at least in the current political climate. To be totally clear, what I'm saying is all the stuff you mentioned is leftist, except for the latter which could be leftist depending on the candidate you're volunteering for.

      13 votes
      1. [4]
        reese
        Link Parent
        Placing yourself in an ideological echo chamber is effectively equivalent to radicalization no matter the ideology in question. I do agree that the marketplace of ideas has limitations, and never...

        Placing yourself in an ideological echo chamber is effectively equivalent to radicalization no matter the ideology in question. I do agree that the marketplace of ideas has limitations, and never stated that it does not. Tildes handles this through moderation with the paradox of tolerance in mind. When I said those causes were not "particularly interesting," that isn't because they aren't—I meant that in the way that I didn't have more vibrant examples. You cherry-picked my comments without context, and misrepresented my views to form a narrative that I am not leftist enough, or something. I'm perplexed as to how what I said is all that drastically different from what you said in your comment. We both cited examples in labor and volunteering for political campaigns. Neither one of us seem to be fans of hierarchy. I suppose my example about splitting hairs may be accurate in this case.

        8 votes
        1. [3]
          tempestoftruth
          Link Parent
          To be transparent here, I responded in the way that I did because I felt like your response wasn't fair to the OP. They were asking about how to connect leftists to be able to talk and organize...

          You cherry-picked my comments without context, and misrepresented my views to form a narrative that I am not leftist enough, or something.

          To be transparent here, I responded in the way that I did because I felt like your response wasn't fair to the OP. They were asking about how to connect leftists to be able to talk and organize around leftist issues (read: unionize, get Bernie elected, organize locally, etc.) and you started talking about radicalization and echo chambers and hyperpartisanship, warding them away from trying to organize because they might turn into political extremists. That's not the case. The OP doesn't need any saving from the rabbit hole of polarization -- nothing in the OP suggests any of the things you addressed. It felt like you missed the point, like leftism must immediately be associated with radicalism and can't be taken seriously as a political ideology. Would you have said the same about polarization and radicalization if the OP came on here and said, "What about starting a group for Democrats to organize and plan political strategy?" even though that would technically be a liberal-left echo chamber? And you also implicitly suggest against organizing a platform to connect leftists because you think it won't be long-lasting, that people won't want to engage, to not even try it, essentially.

          I suppose my example about splitting hairs may be accurate in this case.

          I don't think this is true, I don't know how you identify politically, it seems to me that we probably have significant differences, but you're right that we share a few aspects of our politics in common, and we should focus on that. I want to say that I understand if you didn't mean to suggest any of what I suggested above, but unfortunately it still came across that way. Next time I should address that from the start instead of being snide.

          12 votes
          1. [2]
            reese
            Link Parent
            I understand what you're saying. No harm, no foul. Had I not launched into my salve for warding against ideologies in general, and instead built up to it, then I wouldn't come across such that I...

            I understand what you're saying. No harm, no foul. Had I not launched into my salve for warding against ideologies in general, and instead built up to it, then I wouldn't come across such that I am dissuading OP from doing whatever the heart desires. Verbally, I tend to benefit from intonation and the ability to read a room. I get the feeling, and not just from you, that much of my writing presents me as if I am super serious, when really I'm musing and, at worst, pontificating. I will work on that.

            For what it's worth, there is an underlying method to my madness as informed by my experience. When I was young, my family instilled me with beliefs, like anyone else. Many of those beliefs I continue to hold, but I had to replace the foundation underneath them. Upon critical consideration, I realized many of these beliefs could not be supported without circular logic. Worse, some of them were not falsifiable. In a strict sense I was ideologically aligned with the left. There was no epistemic basis for my beliefs. And maybe this is just a personal problem, but I found it difficult to reconcile my readymade ideals in a world rife with the unknown.

            I decided to turn down the emphasis on the importance of my beliefs, staying on the present task at hand, whatever it was. Mostly I focused on work and school. By doing that I was able to synthesize most of the same beliefs through reason, but not everything. College introduced me to logic, data, whitepapers, and meta-analysis, so that is where my foundations lie today, but I still have blind spots. Through math and the sciences, I learned that you really only need to memorize very little, if anything. Deriving the rest just requires directed thought, and so that philosophy is actually what propels my politics today. And because I'm a programmer, I prefer to work over the fine details again and again—I have a tendency to find bugs. I do think anecdotes like this one are powerful, and I've incorporated them into my value system because, well, I have to accept that I am a human being with feelings and experiences.

            At my core, I can no longer abide ideology for its own sake. Of course, one could associate left ideology with my beliefs, but that is not how I arrived at most of them. Karl Popper, the guy who introduced us to the paradox of tolerance, lectured on his conception of the three worlds. The third world, objective knowledge must be informed from the first, physicality, and second, mental processes. Left-only training and collaboration for its own sake skips much of the first world, and I think everyone knows that the second is not infallible. In terms of concepts, the left is a nebulous term, but political parties tend to be more prototypal. Scientific research, codified laws, and recorded history are exemplary, and so I would advise in favor of general education wherein these examples are learned, and stress against working backward from preconceptions. No doubt, OP may not find my comments helpful or particularly relatable. I interpreted the questions and responded accordingly, but others such as yourself may offer something more useful.

            5 votes
            1. tempestoftruth
              Link Parent
              Hey, thanks for being willing to talk about the reasons why you believe what you believe. I can totally understand why you'd want to warn someone away from hyperideology, seeing the ways you've...

              Hey, thanks for being willing to talk about the reasons why you believe what you believe. I can totally understand why you'd want to warn someone away from hyperideology, seeing the ways you've lived the experience of being unable to understand your reality through the ideological lens that had been provided to you. I also agree that it can be difficult to have these thoughtful and productive discussions online, given the lack of verbal social cues you mention. I read your post in one way and it wasn't the way you meant it to be read. I also think we may be operating on different defintions for some of the terms of this discussion, which is always a struggle in online discussion. As you say, "the left" and "leftism" is quite nebulous, possibly referring to progressive Warren-types, democratic socialists, or armed revolutionary anarchists, and everything in between.

              Although you're the first to introduce me to the "three worlds" concept and I'm not entirely sure I grasp it, I can agree with your intuition that leftists talking to leftists about only leftist things without going out into the real world and making encounters with people who aren't leftists skips over the world of the real and of real events; perhaps there's some of that reflected in my parent comment, about the importance of real-world organizing. I also want to say thanks for the discussion. I definitely learned something new, and that's what it's all about, right?

              3 votes
  2. tempestoftruth
    (edited )
    Link
    Hmm, this is really interesting! I want to start by saying thanks for posting. I think mentorship as a concept is vertical; there is a senior and a junior. It reflects the fundamental hierarchical...

    Hmm, this is really interesting! I want to start by saying thanks for posting.

    I think mentorship as a concept is vertical; there is a senior and a junior. It reflects the fundamental hierarchical structure of our society, mirroring the relationship between the boss and the worker, the student and the teacher [1]. If what you're thinking of, for example, is a "junior" leftist getting on a video call with a "senior" leftist to provide support and advice, I don't think that's what we should be aiming for. Mentors and mentees even in the capitalist context say it's a learning experience for both of them, so why adopt the language of an unbalanced power dynamic to talk about a relationship that goes both ways? I think the language of peer-to-peer collaboration is far more constructive. It redefines the social relations and reflects a decentralization towards the kind of society we want to build, the formation of social networks outside the systems of control that you mention. That's why we use the word "comrade", no? Another thought is that the mentor-mentee relationship is highly individual, whereas leftists will find their strength in groups.

    I would say that the learning and growing interactions you're saying we should have more of, where we share what we know and reach new conclusions from that perhaps in a dialectical manner, are only going to happen in person. The importance of real-world organizing cannot be stressed enough; we need to move past discussing the finer points of this or that philosopher's theory and start doing things (see ContraPoints' video on the left if you haven't!). There are already lots of groups that leftists can join, for example the DSA, local labor organizations, political campaigns trying to get leftists elected, and so on. This is where that valuable exchange can occur. There are areas where this infrastructure doesn't exist though, perhaps highly conservative rural areas where people of color don't get a chance to be heard or are afraid to speak up about their political beliefs. As someone from one of these areas and who suffered from it as a result, I would love a service to connect me to individuals in my area looking for leftist contacts to create a network, who after speaking with briefly online I could meet in person to start planning and organizing for a real-world impact. Or maybe I should just get out more.

    To wrap it up, I guess: the mentorship model isn't something leftists should try to emulate. We should try to organize both politically and personally in ways that reflects the fact that we are all equals, all comrades. By doing so, we can create real-world networks with real-world impact to challenge the existing power structures. I hope that was helpful and more than just rambling or re-hashing your own points!


    [1] I just want to take a second to plug reform pedagogy, a form of teaching which (to my understanding) was developed in Austria in the early 20th century during a time when social democrats and socialists dominated the political landscape. Among other things, it focused on student contributions to the classroom as opposed to rote memorization and test-taking, and had teacher and students sitting at the same floor level, as opposed to having the teacher lecturing above the students. Super interesting stuff!

    7 votes