Relationships and social Capital
Having political capital allows you to get things done. Yet it is only possible to have political capital if you have first invested in building a solid foundation of social capital. Interestingly, although many people have this base of social capital, not many develop it into the sort of influence that only political capital can achieve.
In this short article, I will explore how these ideas work together and then move swiftly onto sharing some thoughts on how you can bolster your social capital and develop it into the much more valuable political capital.
At its simplest level, social capital is the quantity and quality of your relationships. The potential usefulness of your social capital depends very much on who these relationships are with.
You will be right to think that the most important aspect of this is the quality; however, before you can have quality, you have to have quantity. For instance, if you have ten friends rather than one, you are much more likely to be able to find a best friend within that group — you have more to choose from. Once you achieve some quantity, you can then start working on the quality.
For most people, quality refers to the reciprocal nature of trust and sharing between the people in the relationship. As you network, so you build friendships, loyalties and mutual support. For some, such as public figures or senior executives, it is necessary to consider the one-way quality relationships as well because it becomes impossible to have reciprocal relationships with the entire population (I’ll cover this aspect in another article).
Again, keeping it simple, political capital is the amount of goodwill and support available within your relationships. The value of your political capital will be determined by the power and influence of those who bestow you with their goodwill and support, and their potential to assist you in moving forward your goals. There is little point in having lots of goodwill from people who are not in a position to help. You need to be loved by the right people.
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As revolutionary social anarchists living in North America, we wrote this letter to initiate conversation and debate among fellow anti-authoritarians, hopefully leading to new ways of thinking about how to organize and make decisions as a movement.
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