Why Activist Coaching? – A Declaration
In this time of accelerating and intersecting crises, against a backdrop in Western Europe of economic decline and financial(ised) chaos, many people are looking for new forms of personal and communal support. As the era pf business as usual draws to a close, both individuals and groups / teams in the not-for-profit sectors can benefit from a bespoke coaching service, attuned to their particular concerns.
Activist coaching helps proof you against (if you need that proofing) the pervasive grooming to above all be a consumer, - of products, lifestyles, financial services etc. This is an approach that subverts corporate and market-based ideologies, and supports "buylessness"* and full-on downsizing; it encourages and facilitates the restoration of mental space, the seedbed of creativity; and reconnects human nature with the natural world and wild nature. Users of activist coaching tend to be moving from being spectators, passive ingestors of the spectacle i.e. the organisation of appearances in everyday life via most media and TV, towards becoming "spect-actors"**, that is people who look for, act on and link personal and social change agendas.
Activist coaching is therefore an unabashedly countercultural initiative. By contrast most executive coaching , whether aware of it or not , is geared to the corporate positivist ideology of individual success, profit sectors (follow the money), glorification of competition and the imposition of auditable employment performance. An ideology is an unexamined belief system and coaching's assignment includes the examination of beliefs. Activist coaching is specifically available for change agents working for a different world, a society dancing to different tunes.
Environmental and community activists, and also actors, artists and holistic practitioners of many hues and shades, find support and inspiration here. This is coaching for those whose work, whether paid or voluntary, is primarily in the service of others, people with a focus beyond self-improvement and self-advancement. Activist coaching contributes to the continuance of the public service tradition, an attitude and orientation under threat from the predations of privatisation, the soul murder of neo-liberalism, and the false and dangerous premise of perpetual growth. Thus activist coaching resituates the work of coaching in a zone beyond the ken and reach of managers, marketeers and other corporate hacks committed to business as usual. Thereby it avoids their typically mind-numbing and misery-making preoccupations, - a charitable verdict if one is mindful of the bigger picture.
Two visionary French thinkers provide a theoretical frame for the praxis of activist coaching. The psychoanalyst , Felix Guattari, writes of the need to address in parallel The Three Ecologies, - the psyche, society and nature. The situationist, Guy Debord, refers to the tactic of detournement, meaning the redirection of the procedures of the capitalist spectacle (which includes coaching) for the undoing of spectacular capitalism.