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Hand Signals ….. April 29, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

Found this in a bunch of Far Left Material I have. Hand Signals for use in Meetings.



1. EWI - April 29, 2020

I see several vital hand signals missing 😎

Liked by 2 people

2. Aonrud ⚘ - April 29, 2020

I like the anticopyright. Missed opportunity for the WTFPL license though 🙂


3. GearóidGaillimh - April 29, 2020

I remember going to left-wing student meetings in NUIG in the early 2010s and being bemused by the jazz hands thing. Took me a while to realise it signified agreement. There was a degree of ridicule in the press when various SUs in the UK adopted the same thing.

Liked by 1 person

4. alanmyler - April 29, 2020

I’m having flashbacks of that DSA national convention last year in the States…

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - April 29, 2020

That was the first thing that came into my mind too. Gearóid’s anecdote above is fascinating. I hadn’t realised the jazz hands thing was going as early as that. Can’t help but agree with Fear Ug below. There’s something very showy about it.


GearóidGaillimh - April 30, 2020

I think it was WSM members and similarly minded people who were using it. I don’t remember seeing the rest of the ones above at all.


WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2020

Interesting – and was it more widely used than WSM members? I get the intent and it’s sincere but it still feels unnecessary – another layering on top of conventions people know well.


Aonrud ⚘ - April 30, 2020

I remember people talking about the hand-waving thing after the Gleneagles G8. I think it was particularly the anarchists.

As someone not entirely sympathetic put it: “You should see anarchists making decisions”!

Liked by 2 people

Ned Corcaigh - April 30, 2020

The revolution is going to look like this.


rockroots - April 30, 2020

Jazz hands were de rigeur at the Occupy Dame Street camp, around 2011. To be fair, with the traffic and pedestrian noise there made it sense if you wanted to hear the speakers. There was a significant overlap in membership between Occupy and the WSM, I think it’s fair to say.


GearóidGaillimh - April 30, 2020

Not exclusively the WSM but was associated with ‘non-hierarchical’ organising – I witnessed it at Free Education for Everyone meetings which was an organisation influenced by that kind of politics. I was indifferent towards it myself.

Liked by 1 person

5. roddy - April 29, 2020

In the early 70s our double decker school bus passed an army camp every morning .The Brits would be lined up in their yard doing morning drill which was visible from the bus top deck.Everybody would rush to the top deck and give them hand signals of a single and double digit nature.This went on for months until an officer stopped the bus and reprimanded us severely in a clipped upperclass accent ,telling us he was informing our “headmaster.” We never knew if he did or not because it was never mentioned in school and the only result was the next day ,the bus windows were opened to allow the shouting of the worst insulting swear language in our armoury to complement the “hand signals”.

Liked by 1 person

6. Fear Ug - April 29, 2020

While everyone is important at a meeting I’ve always regarded this type of stuff as more about self importance.

After 2 million odd years of people.cimmunciating it’s not necessary to introduce a sign language solely for the club.

Liked by 2 people

7. Sam - April 30, 2020

From my experience of anarchist meetings in Dublin in the mid to late 2000s, the only hand signals used were:

1) Raise your hand so the chairperson of the meeting can make a note that you want to make a point. Makes complete sense to me and was used often. It prevented people from talking over each other.

2) The technical point T symbol. In my experience, this was utilised by people to jump the queue and make a short, concise point that would aid the discussion e.g. John says “the revolution is going to take place on Saturday at 10am” and Sarah would use the technical point symbol to jump in and say “It was actually agreed at the last meeting that it was a 9am start for the revolution”. In most cases it was used correctly and was of benefit. From the guide in the original post, my experience of ‘technical point’ matches more the description of the ‘direct response’ symbol but I don’t remember people using that one.

3) The Jazz hand (‘I agree’ or that ‘sounds good’) symbols was used quite a bit too. Visually it did look the most ‘odd’ and I think people would associate it more of the hippyish side of things. But I do think it was useful at times. e.g. if Damien makes an argument and people agree with the points he’s making, it meant that those three people could do the jazz hand symbol. Instead of the three of them putting up their hand, to join a queue of people who wanted to make a contribution and then to just say “I agree with Damien’s point”. The Jazz hand symbols were utilised, I think, so people could see visually that there was agreement and it let the meeting flow better without a multitude of short stops. As I’m sure everyone in Left groups has experienced, there was always a few people (often lovely but liked the sound of their own voice too much) who always felt that they had to join any conversation in order just to say “I agree with what Damien has just said”. I think the idea of the Jazz hands was to cut that out as much as possible. That same person would often then make the identical point as Damien but in his own words! A few people in a room like that and a meeting could take twice as long as it would need to!

I never experienced anyone using hand signals for ‘Language’, ‘I’m confused’ or ‘slow down’. The speak up symbol would make sense in any meeting context and I suppose the ‘slow down’ would too if there were international comrades at a meeting who didn’t have great English. As I said, the idea of the ‘technical point’ signal was used instead of ‘direct response’ but had the same meaning.

Liked by 1 person

Ned Corcaigh - April 30, 2020

Not a great fan of the jazz hands gesture. They always look a bit Al Jolson to me.

Liked by 1 person

Sam - April 30, 2020

Can’t disagree with you there. They looked terrible. But I’d probably argue, for the sake of being devils advocate, that their creation by design was to make a meeting more productive in terms of cutting out interruptions.

Liked by 1 person

8. soundmigration - April 30, 2020

Yeah I found them really useful, especially if you are dealing with organising meetings of groups of a size bigger than 20. In certain contexts, especially international meetings they worked well as noted by Sam. Part of the rationale was also time.

Think is important to note that these tools worked alongside others, things, such as a commitment to participation and overcoming the age-old problem of people repeating what has been said just so they feel they ‘participated’, or basically often they liked the sound of their own voices. (Cruel but true you’ll agree)

I don’t think anybody thought things ‘looked’ good, but that on its own would be odd way to approach assessing any methods used to assist decision making and discussion. Id say I looked pretty stupid going by old photos, regardless of what my hands were doing, but thats a whole other thing 🙂

I think part of the ridicule is mostly reframed micro sectarianism and people fear of looking stupid through the not uncommon sense of vulnerability around unfamiliarity. But I’ve never come across anyone who has participated and been involved in running large scale meeting who thinks they are stupid as a thing in themselves.

Its also true that just like traditional left means of chairing and minute taking they can be abused by people, but I’d say Sam doesn’t have to play devil’s advocate, at all, they have worked well in many different settings.

Liked by 1 person

Ned Corcaigh - April 30, 2020

I’m sure they have. Pardon the levity, you find your amusement where you can this weather.


9. Colm B - April 30, 2020

I also experienced some of this hand-signal stuff in meetings in the 00s, mostly anarchist/social movement influenced . The intention was generally good – to contribute to make meetings more open but I don’t think that they made much of a difference as opposed to just having a well-structured, democratically run, meeting where everyone is encouraged to contribute and domination by anyone is discouraged.

I do have a problem though with the left adopting language or structures that unnecessarily alienate people. I strongly in favour of participatory language, methods and structures but not with ‘non-hierarchical methods which are actually exclusionary i.e. ones that have the effect of strengthening a sub-culture of the left, ones which alienate people instead of including them. It goes without saying that I also oppose the traditional “bunch of old-guys at a top-table handing handing down the party line” as well.

Anyway, here’s a pertinent article I came across a few years ago about what the writer calls essential and non-essential weirdness, worth a read:


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