FAQ

Everything you ever wanted to know about the New Hampshire Socialist Coalition.

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NHSC Mission

The New Hampshire Socialist Coalition was founded upon three broad objectives that serve as guide and purpose for all our operations:

Welcome Home

The NHSC is intended to offer an open political home for Granite State (and northern Massachusetts) socialists who are unsure which existing party is the best fit, along with those who do not wish to formally join a political party or tendency. Many of us actually do belong to one or more existing socialist organizations, but we do not believe party membership is a requirement for joining the fight for a better world after the death of capitalism. Independent socialists working with the NHSC will not be pressured to join any organization. We encourage vigorous and constant political debate that may, at times, involve the positions of one group versus those of another (we are leftists, after all), and we understand that parties will distribute their own literature as a standard practice – but the partisans among us will not be permitted to reduce NHSC meetings or initiatives to craven opportunities for recruitment.

The New Hampshire Socialist Coalition does not collect dues payments.

Find What’s Missing

Despite the heartening facts regarding sheer amount of amazing radical work that’s being done all over the place – including New Hampshire – by a very small number of very committed radical organizers and activists, existing parties and groups can’t possibly be everywhere all the time, covering all bases, and aside from the issues that fall into the “progressive” bucket, we can’t count on the liberals to pick up our slack.

The NHSC is itself, of course, another small group, and one whose ranks include several of the same people already working under other banners. We are not so arrogant as to believe ourselves capable of plugging the gaps. But the fact that we are not subject to priorities established by a central national party body, coupled with our unique model for initiative engagement (more on this below), allows us a greater degree of objectivity with which to identify areas of political need, along with the flexibility to execute on addressing those needs.

What we collectively identify is likely to vary widely – from new rural outreach programs to radical service projects that directly assist the poor and oppressed, from independent podcast production to a strategic engagement of local media designed to develop best practices to pass along to all our partners. We aim to take the lead on identifying promising electoral opportunities for socialists, putting the call out to all the parties in search of a viable candidate and, if possible, fielding one from our own ranks. There is much to be done, and these are but a few possible examples of the ways in which we seek to deploy our resources in the areas of greatest need.

Neutral Turf, Network Hub

Since the election of Donald Trump, there have been some positive signs when it comes to cooperation – or at least basic communication – between the different socialist parties and tendencies. We seek to encourage, facilitate, and ultimately systematize this communication throughout New England by serving as a neutral, non-competitive venue through which all of the groups might form a network in good faith and with reduced suspicion.

If the radical left can communicate among its many parts, those parts can slowly learn to cooperate; if the radical left can foster even loose cooperation among its many parts, those parts can eventually learn to collaborate. We don’t – and won’t – always agree. But we do have a lot of work to do right now, and most of it is comprised of basic things we actually do agree on. The NHSC seeks to be an active part of that process. Our collective victory and perhaps even survival depends on it.

NHSC Structure

Our Approach

At the New Hampshire Socialist Coalition, we all pitch in together to ensure the success of our larger group projects – but we also encourage each individual member and smaller working groups to pursue activities that best align with their skills, passions, and even ideology. In fact, we actively provide an organizational mechanism to make it easy for everyone.

We do not generally operate via command or fiat, and though we are extremely serious about our work, mission, and the abolition of capitalism, we do not wish to make our lives and our collective struggle more difficult than they already are by fostering an unpleasant atmosphere at any of our meetings and events, or by permitting ourselves to treat one another with hostility, impatience, or unkindness along the way. We believe political work in general, and socialism itself in particular, must come accompanied with a smile.

Accordingly, we operate at all times under a vigilant awareness and understanding of the individual human needs, limitations, challenges, and sources of stress that exist for every one of us all the time. It’s not just that we’re all human, because on top of all that, we too are the victims of the exploitation, alienation, and injustices large and small inherent to capitalism. Many of us want to believe ourselves immune to fatigue, despair, burnout, and related ailments, but nobody is. That’s why there’s never any shame or feeling bad for hitting the skids and finding oneself unable to complete a task or make an event. All we need from one another is the commitment to communicate our struggles and shortfalls with one another so that others with greater capacity can pick up the slack if necessary. By banning all guilt and hostility from these inevitable situations, we aim to make this communication process painless and routine. Never feel bad.

Who’s in charge here?

Funny you should ask. Though we explicitly do not reject all forms of organizational hierarchy, and though we are explicitly not proponents of consensus-based decision making, we do not (at this time) possess a formal leadership body, nor have we established any permanent titles or offices or ranks.

That said, we do anticipate that as we grow in size, capability, and also complexity, the need will arise to identify designated and elected roles for administrative responsibility. (Of course, these future roles will be structured in such a way as to confer no privilege, status, or favor to those who hold them. These roles will be undertaken as a service to the organization as a whole and will in practice gain those elected little more than a larger task list and a smaller pool of free time.) Thus far, however, we have had no difficulty coming to agreement on priorities, while necessary tasks are communicated to the group and accomplished by volunteers with the capacity to do so.

Even upon the adoption of formal administrative constructs, it is our hope to retain the spirit of our present participation-based model. As our organization is oriented around concrete action, it is sensible for those actively engaged (and ultimately seasoned) in a particular lane of work to assume a level of de facto responsibility over it. This sort of participation-based stewardship ensures all are supported in the work they do and none are appointed to take charge of matters with which they have had no involvement.

A Two-Category Model for Coalition Activity

In the near future, we aim to establish a long-term, multi-year strategic roadmap for organizational and operational growth and the advance of the NHSC mission, across all three of our established main objectives. To execute on this roadmap as a group while still remaining true to our commitment to individual and factional initiative, we apply a peculiar two-category system to every proposed activity.

Major Initiatives

This category encompasses all projects, programs, and one-off events that have the support (and require the participation) of all able members of the group. Major Initiatives are considered official New Hampshire Socialist Coalition activities and should possess a direct and identifiable connection to one or more of the organization’s main objectives.

In some cases, certain permanent internal processes can be considered Major Initiatives; for example, one of our established routine tasks involves regular, often individually assigned, contact between members of our organization and members of as many organizations in the region as possible. That’s not something anybody should ever be pulling an all-nighter to work on, but because it does require the participation of everyone in the group in order to be successful, and because it’s tied directly to our commitment to foster inter-organizational relations, it falls into this category.

Minor Initiatives

This category, accordingly, represents all of the other activities conducted by NHSC and/or its members with official NHSC approval. This means if there’s a socialist activity you are interested in pursuing, even if you’re the only one interested in doing so, you’re able to do so with the endorsement of the Coalition, report your progress in official meetings, and rely on some measure of assistance and guidance from the group.

In other instances, Minor Initiatives will simply be common sub-tasks that carry a group-wide concern but do not require the participation of the full group. For example, if the group identifies a need for media production, a small group of individuals who are inclined toward these efforts will assume the responsibility as a Minor Initiative.

In rare cases, it is not inconceivable that a member may announce their intention to pursue a Minor Initiative that runs counter to socialist principles and/or the mission and scope of the NHSC. If the group as a whole is in agreement with this assessment, the proposed Minor Initiative may be formally rejected by the NHSC. In the event of a formal rejection, the individual in question is of course free to pursue the desired action independently without any sort of reprisal (we don’t really do reprisals), but they may not represent themselves as acting on behalf of the Coalition or the action as approved by it.

Decision-Making

How do we make decisions?

At this time, there are three acknowledged circumstances in which the two-category activity model is not in itself sufficient to determine the way forward. In these instances only, formal voting will be conducted.

To certify a proposal as a Major Initiative requires a two-thirds majority of voting membership.

If there appears to be broad verbal agreement, barring the objections of any voting member, a simple voice vote may be taken to certify a Major Initiative.

To formally reject a proposed Minor Initiative requires a two-thirds majority of voting membership.

Due to the severity of a formal rejection, a full roll-call vote should be conducted as a matter of policy.

To block a candidate from NHSC membership or to expel a voting NHSC member requires a three-quarters majority of voting membership.

As with formal rejection, this vote should be conducted formally as a roll call.

When voting is required, the primary vote shall be taken at an in-person meeting, with an ancillary “absentee ballot” conducted on the next virtual meeting conference call to follow the vote. Unless the results of the initial vote are mathematically impossible to overturn on the conference call, no results shall be considered final until after the absentee ballot vote.

Meetings

As an action-oriented coalition, we do not ever wish to become meeting-heavy in a burdensome way. If ever any of us is faced with the decision whether to make a meeting or make an actual event, we should always feel encouraged to skip the meeting. That said, few things are of higher importance than strategy, planning, and communication – plus it’s actually good for us to spend a little time together in person, believe it or not. So far, our meetings have been enjoyable affairs, and we aim to keep it that way.

As Light a Burden as Possible

Full group meetings should be held more than once very two weeks only under unusual circumstances. On the other end of the scale, NHSC will hold a full group meeting no less than once per month.

Accommodating Geographic Diversity – Virtual Meetings

Most of our initial crew of Coalition organizers live in and around the expected central-NH population centers of Nashua and Manchester. Accordingly, our meetings have largely rotated back and forth between these two cities. That said, this is a Coalition that aims to be true to its name, with a truly state-wide presence. To accommodate the full participation and inclusion of those who live elsewhere, we will be offering Virtual Meeting conference calls within a maximum of seven days of the in-person meeting and within the same calendar week as the in-person meeting whenever possible. Virtual Meetings will be open to any interested parties who reside in a different region from that in which the meeting was held or those who may reside in the same region but are restricted by work or family schedules. (Others who do not meet this criteria are welcome to join the Virtual Meetings, but will not receive attendance credit for doing so.)

Virtual Meetings will be hosted by at least one NHSC member who had been present at the initial meeting, and will include a full overview of the initial meeting’s agenda and minutes. A full discussion on all items will be offered, and supplementary minutes will be taken.

Expanding Meeting Rotation Territory

Whenever four or more interested organizers reside in a single region outside Manchester-Nashua, plans shall be drawn for conducting in-person meetings in that region on a regular basis, the frequency of which shall be determined by the total number of interested attendees. For example, at this time, we have already received the expressed interest of more than four individuals in Southwestern New Hampshire. Accordingly, we have already agreed to begin hosting every fourth NHSC meeting in the Keene area. During the week when a Keene meeting is conducted, the Virtual Meeting will then be opened up to include those in the Manchester-Nashua area.

Should we grow to numbers that support a substantial base of organizers in multiple regions, we will consider reconfiguring our model to include locally-operating branches, along with a process by which these separate branches are required to report initiative activity, progress, and long-term planning together with all other branches to ensure a consistent and cohesive Coalition operation statewide.

Scheduling Process

At each meeting, we shall settle on a probable date and location for the next meeting, which should be scheduled no less than two weeks in the future. Upon the posting of the Meeting Minutes, an event page shall be created for the next meeting, followed by attempts to schedule the corresponding Virtual Meeting.

How can I join?

For starters, just show up.

The NHSC does not collect dues from its members. We do not require a prospective member to score above a certain level on a 50-question ideology quiz. (The only ideological requirement we can feasibly be said to hold is a commitment to the utter destruction of capitalism and not merely its reform.) We do not need you to sign over legal parental rights to your firstborn child or favorite pet. We’re not asking for a whole lot, actually. As has been mentioned elsewhere, this is a multi-tendency Coalition based in work and action. Want to do work and take action toward the end goal of successful working class struggle and abolition of capitalism? Great. Our meetings, both standard and virtual, are scheduled publicly. Show up.

So what’s a member, then?

In the NH Socialist Coalition, a member is an organizer with the right to vote and the right to initiate Minor Initiatives. Those without the right to vote are still welcome at meetings – and that includes the right to participate in discussion, ask as many questions as is necessary, and raise any objection within reason – and absolutely encouraged to participate in any NHSC initiative, major or minor.

What’s the trick to being allowed to vote?

Show up. Seriously. Our flexible, participation-based model extends to voting membership itself. Here’s how it works:

Anyone who attends three (3) consecutive activities (which must include at least one (1) meeting) or five (5) nonconsecutive activities (which must include at least one (1) meeting)  within a four-month period has earned the right to vote. As a formality, the qualification of a new member shall be presented to the full membership at the very next meeting, to ensure none move to veto the new membership, in which case arguments will be heard and a roll call vote conducted to determine if the required 3/4 majority can be attained.

For those who qualify for Virtual Meeting attendance some or all of the time, we have a slightly modified membership schedule:

Anyone who attends four (4) consecutive Virtual Meetings and during that same period of time attended two (2) in-person activities or five (5) non-consecutive Virtual Meetings plus three (3) in-person activities during a four-month period has earned the right to vote. The same formal process to confirm that no objections to this prospective membership exists will be conducted here.

Are exceptions granted for special circumstances?

Sure. Though no specific cases have yet been identified, it is entirely possible that an individual may be considered to have earned voting membership despite a technical failure to meet the established criteria. Such an exception can be approved with a two-thirds majority of voting members.

Is this a blood in, blood out kind of thing?

Not really – although perhaps that’s a model we should consider in the future. If at any point you wish to formally resign, you may do so freely. You will immediately lose voting privileges but will still be welcome at NHSC meetings and events, and, in the event that you change your mind, you may regain your voting status at any time by meeting the new member criteria.

Total inactivity for a period of four (4) months will result in automatic loss of voting status. Attendance at just one single event, activity, or meeting during that time period is sufficient for the retention of voting rights, but if one demonstrates oneself to be following merely the law’s letter by showing up only just barely often enough to retain rights, it is possible that one’s membership status may be brought up for review. An expulsion vote (requiring a three-fourths majority) may be conducted on the grounds that one’s violation of the law’s spirit indicates a misguided commitment to formal membership as an end unto itself, instead of a commitment based in solidarity, struggle, and action. And we are, if it is not yet clear, an action-based Coalition.

Should a member be experiencing a personal hardship, illness, crisis, etc. that keeps that member from participation for an extended period of time, a hardship exemption shall be granted upon reasonable request, no vote required.

OK, what the hell is up with all the space pictures?

Uh, excuse me…since when does anyone need a reason to like space pictures?

Actually, though, the real answer to this question is less random than you might expect.

Yes, the space theme was adopted in part out of a desire to make this operation fun and to make our imagery both reflect that spirit of fun and be a part of it.

But these images of an advanced, space-traveling society – most of which are from actual Soviet-era posters – are also intended to represent a very serious point, one with undertones equally somber as they are hopeful. It’s quite simple, really: if capitalism is allowed to continue, the human species will not survive long enough to develop the technology to travel among the stars. We’ll snuff ourselves out, right here on this planet. Under capitalism, forget about space. Forget about human achievement and advance – it’s all downhill from here.

On the other hand, these triumphant depictions of egalitarian space travelers are there to remind us of the rapturous hope inherent to a better world under socialism. This is precisely the promise made by the revolutionary overthrow of our present system, the boundless possibility available to all of us if we can just get it together and shake off these chains.

So it’s not just a joke. The world of Full Space Communism, with its total equality and justice, its prioritization of humans and their enjoyment of life and fullness of potential, its freedom from exploitation and oppression and fear and want and environmental suicide – that’s precisely the world we’re fighting for when we engage in this thankless, draining, often depressing work week after week.

These images of space represent the very idea that gives us our hope. We hope you come to feel that, too.

So when you think of communism, think less of tanks and concrete block housing; instead, think of limitless possibility for all people, think of riding a cool-ass spaceship through hyperspace and onward, as free and beautiful as the stars themselves.