Collective of collectives is a proposal by The Post Collective for Catalyst CIRCLUSION, the collective research of Te(n) cuidado on the role of care in the cultural sector and especially in the organization of cultural collectives and self-managed organizations. Through the motivation of understanding Catalyst CIRCLUSION itself as a collective of collectives, the words and diagrams that follow invite us to reflect on the consequences and challenges any collective may face when it forges close connections and affiliations with other collectives and other groups.
“You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
One pressing question that arose during our last meeting was to ask: why should we consider the idea of forming a collective of collectives? To answer such a question we must better understand the needs, the benefits but also difficulties that occur when any collective forges close connections and affiliations with other collectives and other groups.
Should not a fundamental rationale and function of any autonomous and proactive collective be to (Should not any collective?) share knowledge and resources with other similarly minded collectives, groups and individuals?
Qualities of interdependence, of solidarity and of sharing resources plays a central part in the building of the collective identity both in its singular form but also in terms of a collective of collectives. Principles of non-hierarchy, peer to peer co-operation and a capacity for mutual care are implicit factors to establishing relations between different collectives. But are these factors enough or are there other challenges and issues that need to be considered? It seems important that each collective in combining forces with other collectives is able to both maintain and expand its goals and identity beneficially and mutually.
If a collective cannot forge connections and affiliations with other collectives or other groups then does this inability reflect certain intrinsic problems and shortcomings to the collective itself?
And what happens when a collective becomes closed and secluded from other collectives? For a collective by its very nature and goals seems required to propagate an active and open sense of engagement with others and the world at large. Such openness and proactive engagement is part and parcel of the fundamental definition and characteristic of any collective as opposed to it being only like a private a club and group?
An active collective inevitably produces internal culture, habits, customs and norms that are reinforced but it’s practices, social confirmation and sense of belonging. “If my collective approves of it must mean it is acceptable”. Through collective practices numerous things can be banalised: good and harmful. So the exchange and fluidity may ensure that collective practices are held in check with the rest of the world.
The pandemic raised many questions about the individual’s relationship to the societal collective, the large public collective enforced and controlled from above. Both positive and negative consequences of collectivity in terms of a range of social and political areas were brought to the fore during this time. The Marxist geographer David Harvey believes that a central part of building a radically different world is in transforming one’s individual mental conceptions of that world. Such transformations according to Harvey must then lead to the mounting and implementing of collective responses to collective dilemmas. In light of all that was exposed within the recent crisis, is it not the responsibility (response-ability) of any autonomous and active collective today to seek to form a collective of collectives .
In asking these questions about what might be required to form a collective of collectives it’s important to be reminded of the fact that such endeavors must also include possibilities for accessing and celebrating rare and too often overlooked moments of beauty and joy.
For as the Feminist film theorist Kaja Silverman explains in the last lines of her book World Spectatorship: “Only as a collectivity can we be equal to the demand not only to find beauty in all of the world’s forms, but to sing forever and in a constantly new way the song of that beauty.”