What is Symbiosis? Symbiosis is a network of organizers, grassroots institution-builders and activist-researchers dedicated to creating a free, democratic, and ecological society from the ground up. Our goal is to create a situation known as “dual power”: building popular power outside the governing institutions of our present system in order to challenge and displace those institutions with truly democratic ones of our own.
We are assembling a confederation of directly democratic community institutions across North America, to be launched at an in-person congress in Summer 2019.
What is the problem? We live in daunting times. Even as decisive, radical action to is needed to halt and reverse impending ecological devastation, the world’s ruling classes plow ahead, enriching themselves at our expense and preparing their fortresses to hold back the coming tides. It is ordinary people who face the worst consequences of the ecological crisis, and it is ordinary people who do not hold the reins of power.
This is the essence of the problems we face: a crisis of democracy.
When we organize, we can resist, but resistance is not governance. Even popularly elected governments disempower ordinary people by placing an elite political class above us to rule on our behalf.
We need a better approach, beyond the particular struggles to contain the excesses and brutalities of our present system, toward a coherent movement strategy that actually builds the system of tomorrow.
What is our strategy? Over the course of the past year, our organizations have come together as a network called Symbiosis, to help gather the vast ecosystem of solidarity economy projects and participatory democracy in communities across North America into a mass movement for revolutionary change.
By working together, our networks of community councils, popular assemblies, tenant unions, and other bodies of participatory democracy can begin to form a counterweight to the institutions presently governing our lives, organizing society in parallel to and against capitalism and the state.
This framework—of building popular power outside the governing institutions of our present system, to challenge and displace those institutions through truly democratic ones of our own—is called “dual power.”
It is our intention to connect these diverse forces as best we can in North America, to create the political space for us to define this movement, and to achieve far beyond what we are individually capable of.
Democracy, ecology, freedom, cooperation, the commons, self-determination, equality of all people: we do not merely fight to defend these values, but to enshrine them in our society’s institutions and governance.
What is the 2019 Congress? Each of our organizations have come together because we recognize that this is not a fight we can win at the local level alone. We need to escalate our strategy towards a strong network or confederation.
To this end, we plan to host an in-person gathering in the summer of 2019—a congress of the movement.
The goals of this congress are to:
1) Connect organizers, activists, and thinkers who share this vision of a pathway to a free society, to learn from one another and knit together our movement with new and strengthened relationships; 2) Deliberate as a gathering of movements through a participatory and democratic process, to determine the vision and structure of the organization we build together; and 3) Launch a continental network or confederation of local movements building dual power through radical democracy.
Where will my money go? Donations that are not tagged with a particular member organization’s name will go towards overall congress expenses, such as: travel expenses, with the priority of maximizing diversity of attendance and ensuring the participation of low-income people and people of color; renting space(s) for congress activities; food and lodging; production of materials and resources; and audio-visual expenses.