What is an Assembly?
An assembly is a gathering of people. Historically it has been associated first with the capitalist production ‘assembly’ line and with religious congregations or gatherings. Today, assembly as we are defining (decolonizing the meaning of assembly) it is a gathering of people of the social movements seeking systemic social change. The assembly is not the act of gathering people itself. The assembly represents the essence of the people who gathered.
The Peoples Movement Assembly (PMA), the Social Movement Assembly (SoMA) and the Southern Movement Assembly (SMA) are all interchangeably the same as far as the assembly process. The evolutionary process of the assembly process started with the landing the SOCIAL FORUM and developed alongside numerous forums from 2006 to 2010.
The SMA represents the assembly process in building mass movement in the South. The assembly process allows us to work with mass movement building: organizing beyond the boundaries of the organizations, while holding the autonomy, for the good of all.
The bet is on the theory of change based on ‘mass social movement,’ because it represents the objective social need in this moment of post-modern neo-liberal globalizing of mass society. Globalization has brought down old boundaries and borders, and re-arranged them in the new order (new colonization), i.e., free trade.
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/equity participation (without rank or hierarchy) in a horizontal and direct participatory democracy.
The assembly process is based on the theory of change that you can have a process that dismantles the colonial, neocolonial, and internal colonial system while at the same time creating the new society. Patriarchy, Capitalist exploitation, national 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 it with the peoples alternative government and institutions.
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 in purpose answers collectively, What is the problem(s)?, What are the solution(s)? and What are we going to do about it?; yielding coordinated action for greater impact and systemic social change.
The assembly is an organism of social movement organizations and people, 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 steps and processes of INTEGRATION of 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, and it brings awareness (shared knowledge) of the fronts of struggle on the ground, thus informs the social movement of the pulse of the mass movement. And finally it compels the assembly towards coordinated ACTION.
The Southern Movement Assembly (SMA), for example, is a decolonizing and therefore a liberationist theory of systemic social change. The SMA is a CONVERGENCE of forces, people and organizations, it is an OPEN SPACE for involvement and participation, thus INTEGRATING the social movements, to think COLLECTIVELY and then reach agreement based on SYNTHESIS, that results in ACTIONS that have major impact on the goal of systemic social change.
The SMA practices, decolonizing pedagogies and methodologies, for example: discussions are circular and horizontal not vertical and hierarchical; shared knowledge is cumulative not linear; public and not private; and plans result in change. The assembly is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-regional, multi-generational, multi-abilities, and these practices results in undoing colonial divides and structures of thinking (coloniality). 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.
The SMA goal is to CREATE a new IMAGINATION for what the new South, or new Global South, should look like and be. The SMA believes in dismantling the old systems of oppression while creating the new institutions and culture, resulting in new systems of equity/equality and liberation. Another World is Possible, and another South is in the making. Where the South goes, so goes the Nation.