Come Hell or High Water: A Handbook on Collective Process Gone Awry
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Come Hell or High Water: A Handbook on Collective Process Gone Awry

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  41 ratings  ·  17 reviews

Come Hell or High Water: A Handbook on Collective Process Gone Awry helps individuals navigate the world of egalitarian, directly democratic groups. From their experiences working with egalitarian and anarchist organizations, Delfina Vannucci and Richard Singer offer a street-level view of how social relationships and power work. Lessons are learned and hindsight is 20/20,...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by AK Press (first published 2009)
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Apr 28, 2010 Tinea rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those secure in knwoledge of collective process who want some other thoughts
Recommended to Tinea by: gah! so many people who haven't read it yet!
A few chapters of this book were very useful. The authors focus entirely on sharing decision making power within collectives, and on that topic, have some important comments. I appreciated their insistence on egalitarian decision making regardless of collective members' differing abilities, pressing time conflicts (like jobs, childcare), and knowledge bases. They deconstructed the meritocracy that builds into a lot of collectively organized projects, wherein a few members know how everything wor...more
Great topic, good organization of the material, amusing little cartoons highlighting different sections of the text. Discussion is a bit shallow in places, but this book is a pretty good intro to the frustrations of collective processes, at least in current usage in the US. (Extra points for the handy pocket size!)
Overall this is a pretty solid handbook. It explained a lot of the negative behaviors I have seen in activist scenes and collectives and their interconnectedness, as well as how to possibly deal with these problems.

But I was troubled by what was said about race, gender, and other marginalized group identifications. The authors seem to imply that being accused of an "ism" is on par or worse than being the victim of oppression. For example, the authors say that often accusations of sexism and rac...more
I was tickled recently to find climate camp spent five days trying to reach a consensus over whether to disband. Along with an overdrawn practice to the point of tedium, consensus has hand signals that work in tandem with the process that are, has someone put it, ‘alienating culty s**t’. So after a little grating I was pleased to discover this book was not about consensus but rather the methodology behind egalitarian decision making, democratic and otherwise.

Some people have complained about the...more
I was really disappointed with this book. It's waaay waaay too negative and comes off like a long rant against something bad that happened to the authors. It really comes off as black and white, where there is good collective members with no hidden intentions and just purity of heart and power-hungry bad collective members.

It also basically just says that everyone's got to deal with each other, and if there's a single person that is driving everyone else crazy, then they have to suck it up and d...more
I thought this book was awesome. It's a very practical intro. I'm not sure what all the other reviewers were expecting. It's pretty clear that it's about collective processes when they break down - it's right in the title! Without having spent overwhelming amounts of time inside collectives, I'd still say I've personally experienced every example covered in the book. It's probably more interesting to those who've been in collectives for a while. It might be a bit meaningless/weird to folks who h...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
I started this a while ago and set it down. I would have probably been eager to finish it 7+ years ago when I lived in Chicago or Boston and collective, consensus process was brand new. After reading half the book, things get repetitive. This small book is all about bad process, how to recognize it, and perhaps do something about it. Great for folks new to collective/consensus process and certainly interesting for veterans of collective process, but it would have been nice if they had changed ta...more
Reading this was a mixed pleasure: on one hand, it completely confirmed that the collective I worked at was Le Forked Up and if anyone ever asks why I quit activism, I'll just give them this book instead of going off on a blood pressure enhancing rant; on the other hand it depressed the fork out of me, and has made me realise that I'm not willing to do this activisty group process thing any time soon. In which "any time soon" most likely means "ever again".

I did love the size, the layout, the pa...more
Though this is meant to be "a handbook on collective process gone awry," I think it comes across as unnecessarily negative and sometimes condescending. Reading it is like reading a tiring, book-long list of things to watch out for, with little discussion on how these problems might be overcome. Maybe the authors realized this, because the last section (which is two pages long) is called "There's Hope."
I really wanted to give it 2.5 stars. It had useful info about where collectives go terribly wrong. But often it came across like a bitching session or payback for one of the authors being pariahs in a collective. And, in trying to point out the problems that can occur when a group overcompensates for historical privilege, they came across like people who pay too little attention to it.
While the book seems to focus only on the negative aspects of collectives and intentional communities, I found it very helpful for putting a collective back on track when our processes and community went completely awry. It walks through ways to ensure that all voices are heard and ways that conflicts can be brought to the surface and resolved so that the collective can move beyond conflict.
Not bad at all. I wish this book would circulate more widely; perhaps if it had greater influence, anarchists would stop approaching one another with less fairness than the state approaches most "criminals" with, and start treating one another in ways our ethics demand of us.

I do wish the book had covered more thoroughly examples of GOOD collective process, though.
Maybe I'm just burnt-out on radicalism, but I found this book so boring that I couldn't get more than halfway through, and I only got that far because I was at work and had nothing better to do. I will echo other people's concerns about this book, as I found that it seems to come from a sorta privileged, do-or-don't, justice-system-reminiscent place. Bad scene.
A mess of a book about the profoundly messy corners of collective process. If nothing else, useful to disabuse anyone of fantasies that their collective will be easy to organize, govern, or even maintain happy relations within.
tessa maria lalonde
Jan 16, 2011 tessa maria lalonde marked it as to-read
I actually haven't read or heard anything remarkable about this book, but if I had an afternoon, i'd like ro read parts of it at the very least and hopefully get some insights about some of my ish with collectiveprocess.
I needed more examples on tactics that worked. I had high hopes but a lot of the stuff just seemed unrealistic.
Nov 22, 2011 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily by: NYC 2010 anarchist book fair
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