- Here is the link if you want to comment on the draft itself.
Draft Social Justice Statement
- the draft statement itself
- the invitation to give feedback
SoFA Social Justice Statement Proposal
(consented to by the Social Justice Helping Circle June 16, 2021)
SoFA dreams of a world where people are organized to meet (their ?)needs by sharing power. In order to realize that vision, our mission is to make resources for learning and implementing sociocracy accessible to everyone.
SoFA’s Stance on Social Justice
Sociocracy for All is for everything that supports our capacity and freedom to to add engage as equals in meeting our individual and collective needs. We aim to bring sociocracy to the world because sociocracy establishes power with and creates the conditions where power within can flourish. This is in contrast to governance based on power over, such as tyranny of the majority by win-lose democracy or tyranny of the minority by poorly defined consensus processes. Sociocracy is an approach to governance where everyone’s voice matters.
Sociocracy for All objects to all systems of oppression resulting from power over. This includes militarism, imperialism, colonialism, extractive capitalism, classism, racism, sexism and every kind of system of oppression that is based on the idea that one kind of people is inherently worth more than another kind.
Sociocracy for All is for a just world in which power with results in everyone having what they need to thrive. We seek to work with others who share our vision of a world based on cooperation among equals in support of contributing to everyone’s needs and the well-being of the planet.
Sociocracy for All recognizes that the capacity to practice power with comes from individual capacity for power within. Even within a sociocratic organization, we are not the same. We all have our history and contexts that contributed to privileging or diminishing our voices. To bring equity to our voices, Sociocracy For All commits to the ongoing learning and development of all our members towards their full potential.
The Gifts and Challenges of Sociocracy in Relationship to Social Justice
The gifts: How is sociocracy non-oppressive?
Sociocracy provides a framework for shared power in organizational settings. It allows us to relate as equals by giving everyone a voice. It can help reconfigure power by distributing it more horizontally, and also healing our relationship to it by giving us a different experience with it.
The Challenges: How is sociocracy not emancipatory enough?
There’s an important difference between sociocracy’s potential for being non-oppressive and it actually functioning as actively anti-oppressive or emancipatory. Sociocracy faces these challenges in reaching its full liberatory potential:
It’s typically not framed as anti-oppressive.
- An organization may want to manage themselves sociocratically for efficiency purposes, but have no strong intentions of using sociocracy as a tool for transformation. Shared power may be part of their governance structure, but not really a part of their vision, mission, aims, and everyday operations. In order for sociocracy to serve as a liberation tool, its use must be intentional.
- Even if it is framed as such, it’s a challenge.
- We have a long, hurtful relationship with power. We have a lot of familiarity with the harmful patterns we want to transform. It’s easy to fall back into them because they’re so well known to us. If we want to break those patterns and learn more harmonious ones, we need to practice shared power and the skills necessary for it. In order to change we need intentioned rehearsal and repetition, as well as compassion for ourselves and each other in that learning path.
- Even with well-intentioned practice and commitment to change, sociocracy is one piece of a much bigger puzzle.
- Sociocracy is a governance system designed for particular organizations that want to practice shared power among members. The organizational aspect of our lives is just one dimension of our complex reality. The most harmful systems of oppression tend to manifest themselves transversally; at individual, interpersonal, and systemic levels. Focusing only on the organizational dimension leaves out the societal context that our organizations are set in. Thus, sociocracy should be complemented with additional strategies that are aimed at changing society as a whole.
Conclusion: In the long run, sociocracy as a practice can contribute to healing our relationship with power. In the short run, we all have work to do to ensure that every voice matters.
In light of this social justice statement, what does SoFA commit to do?
We commit to “walking our talk” by:
Externally: Distributing sociocracy and shared power where it’s most needed:
- Making sociocracy affordable and accessible with diverse strategies such as sliding scales, replicable materials, creative commons license, translations, etc.
- Intentionally prioritize our allies: working with and for people and organizations that are focused on the redistribution of power, particularly those currently most negatively impacted by systems of oppression
Internally: Cultivating our ability to share power among members
Including a liberation perspective in Membership Circle’s program of member development
Addressing potential barriers that would discourage anyone from fully participating as members
Centering the quality of connection among our members as our source of creativity and power with/power within
Supporting members to address and transcend internalized oppression
Asking for help: looking beyond our organization for support and challenge in strengthening our social justice commitment
We commit to “talking our walk” by:
Externally: Framing sociocracy practice and training as a tool for liberation
- Inviting and creating more content on sociocracy and its relationship to power/social change
- Giving clear, visible and bold voice to our social justice philosophy and approach
Internally: Making power an issue to address and explore
- Addressing power dynamics in circles, such as noticing who’s in the room or whose voices were not heard, as specific agenda items
- Hosting member gatherings to continue reflecting on our relations to power (study groups, workshops, conferences, caucus spaces, etc.)
- Evaluating and measuring SoFA’s impact towards accomplishing our vision of shared power, being compassionately self-critical
Next Steps consented to by the SJHC:
- Jerry and Deborah bring the statement to General Circle (our parent circle) as proposal for consent.
- Request the document be discussed and implications for their domains be considered in Mission circle, General Circle and the four department circles.
- Invite people to contribute particularly to the forums that address social justice.
- Jerry will convene the SJHC to meet again in 6 months to evaluate the impact of our work.
- If the General Circle makes changes, the SJHC will review the changes via email and decide if it needs a meeting of the SJHC to formulate a response.
Here is the invitation to give feedback:
Moved by the Black Lives Matter movement and discussions that took place in several SoFA Circles, the General Circle initiated a Helping Circle to draft a statement on social justice for SoFA. The Helping Circle worked hard for several months and what is below is the result of our work.
The General Circle’s reaction to the whole statement was positive. The General Circle decided to share the whole document with all SoFA members and invite all to join in discussion and exploration before the General Circle revises/consents to the document. Once the General Circle has consented to a draft it will be passed on to the our Mission Circle. It is the Mission Circle that has the final say on this document. (Note: three of the members of the Helping Circle also sit on the Mission Circle). The General Circle will meet again on July 6. We do not want the feedback process to drag on for a long time.
The General Circle explored its reactions to Part 1.There were a number of questions about language.
- Ease of understanding the language - don’t want to have to look things up in a dictionary
- How easy is it to translate? Phrases that have meaning in the US may not translate easily (power over, power with, power within)
- Tone and naming things like extractive capitalism. On the one hand if we are not specific, we weaken our stance. On the other hand we want to invite those “in the system” to explore, not to push them away. It may be hard to relate to anti-statements when they are part of the world that we live in and are attached to.
- In the first sentence, do we talk about equity or equality?
Please, write your thoughts now. To the questions above or to anything that arises for you in reading all three parts. Remember that we are doing this in the spirit of joint exploration, not right and wrong debate. So take care in how you write to your colleagues.