A group of libertarian socialists' account of attempting to initiate community organising projects in a small town in Ontario in 1976.
We spent one year living in a small central Ontario community where, with a core of town residents, we attempted, on a minute scale, the 'revolutionary' project discussed below.
The town, with a population of 5,400, survives on the long established tourist industry based around the lakes on which the town is situated. A majority of its working people are employed directly in service and recreation jobs related to the tourist trade, most on a seasonal basis, (in hotels, resorts, motels, parks, stores, transportation, utilities). The average income in the town is only two-thirds of the Ontario average. Tourist industry salaries average about $3000 a year. There are a number of small industries in the town, many new, making wood products, plastic pipe products, and paper products. Wages are somewhat higher in manufacturing, averaging $5000-$6000. Casual labour and construction. is also a major source of income, complementing the seasonal service and tourist trade.
The town is controlled economically and politically by the business elements who benefit from the tourist industry, old established families who have founded the town (these families still own much land in the area, as well as some industry and enterprise), and the managers of the manufacturing plants who run the factories for the U.S. multi-nationals which own them. These class elements are economically, ideologically, and socially integrated and exert a hegemonic control over policies, economic development, social service, and official institutional and cultural life.
Waged and salaried working people make up 80% of the town's population. These working people share a long tradition of rural living, a strong belief in self-reliance, individualism, and native independence as well as a long history of collective inactivity and deference to a visible and paternal ruling power.
We wanted to discuss our activity in this town from a critical perspective to help us reflect on our experience and to offer it in the newsletter as a contribution to the debate on the development of the revolutionary process in an advanced capitalist society.
In this account we will try to do four things: first, to describe our revolutionary vision of what we were attempting to create in this political project; second, to describe how we attempted to attain this vision/goal; third, to critically evaluate the process; and fourth, to raise and comment on some general political questions that hopefully can be dealt with in future issues of the newsletter.
Why Were We There?
Our intent in the long run was to participate in the recreation of a popular working class culture and the raising of the socialist/class consciousness of the working people of the town. To do this we moved into the town and immersed ourselves in the local working class community, in its daily life and contradictions. We lived, worked, shopped, played, and socialized in the community -- the struggle of the people was our struggle. We realized that were not there to lead the workers anywhere but rather, to understand the needs of the working class area and begin to articulate and act upon the realization of such needs within the community.
We accepted Wilhelm Reich's definition of socialist (class) consciousness and it guided us in our struggle. Reich puts forth the following as a response to the question "what is class consciousness?":
"The class-consciousness of the masses is not a knowledge of the historical or economic laws that govern the existence of the human being, but
1. knowledge of one's own vital needs in all spheres;
2. knowledge of ways and possibilities of satisfying them;
3. knowledge of the obstacles that a social system based on private property puts in the way of their satisfaction;
4. knowledge of one's own inhibitions and fears that prevent one from clearly realizing one's needs and the obstacles to their satisfaction....
5. knowledge that mass unity makes an invincible force against the power of oppressors."
Reich further states that the revolutionary liberation from capitalism is the final act which will grow from the fully developed class consciousness of the masses once the revolutionary leadership has understood the working class in every aspect of their life.
We wanted to be part of the process of people becoming aware of what was happening to them politically, socially, economically and culturally, of developing a critique of everyday life. We wanted to help people take power over areas of their daily lives, areas where they themselves expressed a need (e.g. raising their children, information regarding their rights in a capitalist society), etc. We wanted to assist them -- and ourselves -- to understand obstacles, both systemic and personal, that prevent realization of basic needs. And finally, we wanted to help people collectively work out alternative ways of meeting their needs.
What We Wanted to Create (The vision)
We tried to do all this by creating a working class "territory" or Centre where workers could come together. This centre would be an ongoing physical presence in the community, a place where different kinds of working people could meet, organize, discuss, and socialize. The centre was eventually to be control by the workers of the area themselves through a council of elected representatives.
The centre was to involve itself with the social, economic, and political struggles of the community. By building upon workers' self-activity and through the initiation of alternatives and education-al processes, an attempt was to be made to develop collectivity in the working class neighbourhood and create an increasing sense of community, and a new communal desire and ability to struggle for control over everyday life in every way and in every relation.
The centre was also to be an attempt to overcome the fragmentation, privatization, and isolation of people from one another that is so characteristic of advanced capitalist society. It was to be a physical, social, intellectual, and emotional focus, a space where critical and revolutionary self activity among working people could take root and begin to grow. From this space revolutionary action could develop in their work, home, and community, through which workers could become capable of creating and struggling for a new vision of how to realize their interests and needs.
What We Did
We will now discuss the centre in relation to three central themes:
1. the extent to which its activities, services, and programs fostered our revolutionary vision of helping working class people take control over various aspects of their lives;
2. its strategic and relevant linkages with the daily life and struggles of working people and;
3. the legitimacy as an existing town institution which it was able to achieve in relation to the existing power structure and ruling sectors, and townspeople in general.
For fostering control, developing linkages, and creating and maintaining local legitimacy were in turn the short -range goals upon which the ultimate creation of this "working class territory" rested.
Community Centre Program:
1. Information centre
Initially the community centre ran three kinds of programs. The first was an Information Service run by centre staff with community volunteers, on a drop-in and telephone basis. The Information Service was launched publicly as a new service to all residents of the town. Its advent was in keeping with current government and civic support for such information agencies at the community level in Ontario. Its presence was thus grudglingly tolerated by local establishment and social service mandarins, for there was no other such service to be had in either the town or district. We ran the information service mostly with our own labour, and the help of some neighbourhood people for over eight months, and received about 750 calls or drop-in inquiries. Most people called us either looking for jobs or wanting help with U.I.C. claims. The landlord-tenant act and labour code violations, welfare claims, workmen's compensation, inquiries about decent housing, babysitting were the other things most asked about. Through the information service, we wanted to do three things: first, to provide information to individual working people about their rights and the benefits available to them. In many cases working people didn't know their legal rights or the proper procedure for getting benefits. Second, we wanted to advocate for people unable to get what was legally theirs. Such was the arbitrary nature of oppressive economic and political power in the town that even when they knew their rights, many working people (especially the young and the old, as well as women and the disabled, in short, those in the 'weakest' power positions) had great difficulty in getting them. Third, and most crucially, we wanted to foster autonomous self-help groups around problems. Such groups could be actively involved in analysing and attacking the root of their difficulties together, eg. senior citizens' groupings, tenants' groups, mothers for day care, etc.
Through the Information service, we made contact and became familiar with the problems of many working people. We were also able to help many of them on an individual basis to become more aware and capable of realizing their rights.
Further, the Information service gave us legitimacy -- we had a reason for operating in the community on a day to day basis. It even gave us a legitimate pretext for soliciting establishment funds for our centre.
However, the Information service proved to be far less valuable (central) in creating links with working people in the process of systematically and collectively challenging power relations. For the Information service largely failed to draw people into the centre to discuss their problems, and was equally unsuccessful in providing a stepping stone from an individual to a collective approach to their problems. The diversity of problems covered, the wide geographical area the service related to, the importance of anonymity in the running of such a service, and the reluctance of people to come in person to talk to strangers about personal problems were a number of factors which contributed to this.
The one exception to this was with a number of working class mothers wanting day care facilities for their children. Our of the initial information contact grew a series of meetings in the centre which led to the establishment of a play-school co-operative run by working class parents for their children. This project became our second area of program involvement in the centre, one which opened far more valuable possibilities of links, action, and control than the first.
2. The Playschool Co-operative
The Playschool rooted us in the working class community allowing us to become involved in a collective alternative to one aspect of the everyday lives of working class families. Through it we established day to day relations with working people around a non-work issue of great concern to them. It also opened up the possibility of working with them around other areas of their daily lives. Further, through the operation of the Playschool, we established a trust and a familiarity that opened up other possibilities. The parents' expressed need for day care was partially fulfilled through the creation of this autonomous alternative to the existing nursery school. However it was originally seen as a short range project which would eventually lead to the establishment of a municipal day care facility.
The Playschool lasted over eight months and involved about thirty working class families. It attempted to achieve three goals: 1. the establishment of liberatory child rearing practices, 2. the encouragement of liberating, humanizing relations between the parents and the children, and 3. the establishment of a collective, creative alternative to the existing facility which was too expensive and served a different population (class): the children of professionals (doctors, lawyers) and ruling elements of the town.
The Playschool was organized co-operatively. Both the mothers and the fathers helped set up and maintain the program through day to day staffing, fund raising, participating on committees, and through the standing working group and executive which came from their ranks. One of our collective was the coordinator to assist the parents in designing and implementing the program.
The Playschool began during the summer in a public school gym. Through the summer project the parents became involved to the point where they saw the need and importance of carrying on the project on a more permanent basis. The parents demanded and received the upstairs of the town Community Centre which had been standing vacant for years. The parents organized support from a number of city councilors, some people on the Recreation Committee, and a couple of teachers to aid them in securing the Community Centre. They assembled en masse in the Director's office and pressured him to allow them the use of the facility for a nominal rent.
The principles of the Playschool program were developed through an ongoing educational process (discussion circles) with the parents. The transformation of the traditional social relations between parents and children was the 'visionary' aim of the Playschool. The coordinator and the parents worked out a program which was continually discussed and re-evaluated. It was based on following humanistic and liberating principles, on developing independence and creative ability among children on fostering sharing, co-operation, mutual respect, and non-sexist practices, a flowering of a sense of self worth.
The Playschool did gain some legitimacy in the town. One reason for this was that the participating parents included many long-time citizens of the town. Also, the existing nursery school wanted support in an appeal to the provincial government for a municipal day care facility. They saw the new Playschool as added proof of the need for day care. So they reluctantly supported the parents in their endeavour in exchange for their support in their government bid. Also, a few teachers in the high school contributed to our legitimacy by bringing the children into their classrooms to work on projects beside their high school students.
The Playschool gave people a sense of power over a part of their lives that had formerly been beyond their control. Both husbands and wives were involved in the Playschool process at some level, and it became an important experience for them. Through it they saw that collective action provided them with an alternative and a new sense of the possible for themselves, each other, their children, and the community.
3. Critical Education Circles
After the Information Centre and the Co-operative Playschool had been underway for a number of months, we organized a third program, regular weekly educational circles at the Centre. We saw this educational program as growing out of the first two, and in turn, deepening involvement and struggle in them; while at the same time opening up the possibility of transforming the very nature of the Centre itself.
The idea behind the critical education circles for both men and women was to provide a regular discussion context, where groups of working people could come together to begin to critically reflect on the nature of their lives, relations, beliefs and problems in a dialogue with other working people (i.e. with people who had objectively and in many ways subjectively the same experiences of life as members of a structurally subordinated class.) The learning process of the circle was based on the educational methodology of Paulo Friere and discussion content was informed by a locally specified Marxian analysis of power relations in the region at various levels from the political and economic to the realm of the personal. We were continually attempting to develop and reapply this analysis, from the time of our entering the town, in all aspects of the centre's activity. In short, then, we saw this kind of educational process as a vital dimension of all our work, i.e. as a way to transform what was initially as issue or project orientation among working people involved, into an understanding of the need for and a commitment to the collective self creation of a new and combatative working class community and culture.
Two groups functioned over ten sessions at the centre: the first with local working women from the surrounding neighbourhood. (Contact with the 13 women in the circle came from our previous work in the information service and the playschool). Discussion in the women's educational circle centred around family life in a general sense. Themes talked about included liberating principles and philosophies of child rearing (similar to those being established in the Playschool); relations between them and their husbands (questions of equality, sexism, economic support, etc.); emotions and the personal (fears, hopes, desires); and social questions (advertising, consumption, T.V., soap operas, and the role of the schools.) At the end of the first educational circle, the women decided to meet again in the new year to further discuss and try out new methods of dealing with their children day by day. Secondly, ideas developed in the circle began to filter into and reinforce the Playschool program through women who were involved in both. The women also agreed that they would like to meet with the men to discuss marital and personal relations together, in a first beginning attempt to solve some of the conflicts that were being brought out.
The second educational circle was conducted with a group of 11 working class men. Through the operation of the two centre programs we developed a friendly, informal relation with families touched by or involved in these projects. We were invited into their homes and came to share our leisure time with them regularly. So when it came time to organize the sessions, we went around to each home and personally explained what we wanted to do and asked people if they were interested. In most cases the men were willing to give the group discussions a try. Though we advertised in the town newspaper as well, all eleven participants came from this personal contact.
The men's critical education circle was then, in a sense, something new, for though we had worked with some of the men in the Playschool, this was the first attempt to bring them and other male workers from the town together in their own right, on a regular basis.
The topics for discussion over the ten weeks came from our own perceptions of what we saw and heard as key issues and problems affecting the day to day lives or workers in the town, and from the weekly suggestions of the group itself. We discussed such matters as the class, economic and political structure of power in the area; the nature of their work (feelings about bosses, frustration with authority, young vs. older workers, satisfaction derived or denied through manual labour, etc.); quality of community life (relations to friends and neighbours); changing family and personal life (relations with their wives and children); and general social issues (media, consumption, credit, advertising, welfare, inflation, big government).
Throughout the circle meetings there was a tension between a need to understand a particular situation/problem and a need to take action in a concrete and immediate way. The discussion circle originally stressed the former, but towards the second half of the sessions, as the process of group formation took place, concrete alternative forms of action for the group were placed on the agenda for preliminary discussion. The possibility of setting up a workers' community organization, a working group to co-ordinate the organizing of unorganized plants, putting out a newsletter, as well as setting up various alternative co-op ventures alongside the Playschool, such as a credit union or food co-op were all discussed.
However, it must be pointed out that our intention for this first critical discussion sequence was not to produce direct and immediate action. We wanted to stimulate a critical analysis by these working men of their everyday lives which would lead to the formation of a group having a collective understanding of the conditions they were submerged in as well as a common resolve to initiate alternative action which had a chance of seriously challenging the oppressive status quo in key areas. Previous experience in community organizing made us wary of immediate action around issues as a firm basis for building this kind of strong, sustained and organized working class presence and self-activity on a community level.
In its own right, the discussion circle was successful in providing an informal social basis for the creation of trust and solidarity among these men, something clearly lacking at the outset. Economic, social, and cultural differences between workers in the group (between skilled and unskilled, low and higher income earners, local, town, and new arrivals, and young and old workers) provided a real and formidable barrier against the likelihood of collective solidarity in action developing among them. Over the course of the sessions, primarily through what was usually animated and heated group discussion but also through beer and shuffleboard at the tavern after the meetings, and a number of parties in each others' homes, a sense of solidarity, common purpose, and commitment began to emerge.
The men's own evaluation of the process in the group can best attest to the progress made in it. For in their own estimation the circle had permitted them:
1. to break down the isolation between them which had led them to personalize responsibility for their situation and remain passive while at the same time faulting other working class people for not doing something to change things. They could now see that their problems were the same as other workers' and that the blame for them lay with the people who ran the town against them.
2. They also said their awareness of the nature of the forces against them and the reason for their situation economically and politically, locally and nationally, had been increased by the circle discussions and debates and, finally,
3. They felt they had found a group of men whom they could trust enough to act with to change things.
At the end of the sessions, plans were made to meet again after the new year to continue the process. Further, the men wanted to have occasional joint meetings with the women's circle to discuss common problems (the question of family responsibility as a block to militant social action, problems of how to talk to their wives about their feelings, etc.) Finally, group support was thrown behind the Playschool and a collective offer was extended to help on anything that needed work, eg., building more furniture and equipment, fixing up the centre, etc.
At this point, after a year of activity, the centre had to close. We must now evaluate its development. Unable to secure even a LIP or OFY grant from local authorities and running out of personal funds, we were unable to open the centre in January. We spent the fall fighting bill collectors and, with the threat of a court order over our heads, the collective broke apart and the centre program fragmented, then stopped under this continuous financial pressure. As well, pressure from ruling elements of the town extended from financial veto on government grants and community donations to continually trying to foil or discredit our projects in any possible (letters of support suddenly withdrawn, wild rumours about our personal lives, etc.) The experience of one year however, led us to a number of strong realizations about the work we were attempting.
In a positive sense the project and process we initiated with working people in the town allowed us to affirm through our own experience, the possibility of working class men and women coming together in order to: grapple with the social relations of everyday life in which they had previously been submerged; expand their understanding of the socio-economic structures which oppressed them; realize a growing sense of working class community out of a social world of isolation and division; and finally, to collectively struggle for control over their lives.
It was the emergence of this kind of potential for community and combatative self activity among the working people we knew, concretely shown in the manner outlined above, and in many other ways not mentioned, that was the significant political lesson learned from the project.
In a negative sense, our experience showed us the difficulty and slowness of. the task of fostering revolutionary consciousness and popular alternative culture among ourselves and working people. It showed how much time, energy, and resources were necessary and the deep level of personal commitment required for the task in any community.
For our own part, our estimation of what economic basis would materialize for the project was naive (government grants, local community funds, etc.) and our commitment, although sincere and not consciously short-term, lacked the kind of realistic resolve which only the experience itself has provided in hindsight.
In short, then, what the experience has taught us is that to work toward the creation of a working class territory or space in the way we still envision requires a degree of rootedness in the community and a level of financial independence which can best, and perhaps only, be provided through a collective decision by a grouping of political activists to live and work politically in one area, on a permanent basis. The creation of such a space then can proceed upon steady personal incomes and pooled resources derived therefrom, and out of a mutually binding commitment.
Further, our experience has shown us that without this kind of permanent stake in the creation of such a space for everyone concerned (toward the liberation of 'activists' as much as working class residents!) the risk of becoming either opportunistic (getting out when the going gets rough) or paternalistic (helping the workers with their oppression) is more than formidable despite the best intentions of the activists. And finally, though we do not believe that the lessons of the struggles won, the new understandings reached, and the experience in self activity gained were lost to the people we worked with; it still remains true that the closing of the centre ran the risk of increasing an already apparent working class cynicism about the possibility of meaningful social change. Political activists must be aware of this cynicism, put it in its proper perspective, but most of all originate a 'politics of hope' which will overcome it not reinforce it.
This year of activity allows us, we feel, to make some observations on a number of questions central to the issue of revolution and revolutionary process in Canada today.
Questions which we will try to comment on from our experience to open for discussion are as follows:
1. How do libertarian political activists intervene in the daily lives of working people?
2. How do such activists, once they have become rooted in this daily life, prevent reformism and co-optation from turning their efforts against them?
3. How do they maintain and sustain the level of struggle from its initiation over an extended period of time (like a lifetime)?
4. How do local struggles, once initiated, become integrated with and linked to a wider revolutionary movement?
The question of how to intervene to begin with must be answered in the light of a prior question -- intervention for what purpose? Our answer to the prior question must be "intervention for the purpose of taking part in the transformation of the totality of people's lives" -- for it is this life in all its aspects which is integrated within the capitalist structures of domination, and which is lived, despite the conditions which may stunt and limit it, for its own sake and as a unity by working class people.
To the derivative question "how to intervene?" the following answer can be given: By political activists collectively entering and positioning themselves in an ongoing way within the everyday lives of working people, alongside them as co-combatants in a struggle to 'change life' in the process of transforming capitalist society.
It is to this end that the notion of a territory or space has been presented as a setting where a new combatative working class self activity and critical culture could develop in opposition to the influence of the capitalist integration of daily life. From this space such self activity and critical culture could develop and extend into all areas of the terrain of daily life, into the home, the workplace, and the neighbourhood; and address both work and non-work issues in their full variety.
Our work outlined above at least pointed in this direction. Our centre provided a base, a space, where people could socialize and make friends across working class sector lines and begin to critically reflect on the nature of their experience, relations, beliefs, and problems. It was a place where, further, they could begin to get involved in collective self-help alternatives for themselves and their children; learning co-operation and gaining through the struggles they became involved in the confidence and experience necessary to increasingly exert control over their lives.
In short, the direction that the centre aspired to move in was toward the creation of such a space within which a sustained and organized working class presence in the town might have been forged; one capable of initiating an ever wider wave of hegemonic and militant oppositional action in any and all areas where their interests were denied at the local level.
Such a notion of a territory is not confined to the storefront centre we were involved in, but can refer to any space; the house of activists in an area, a community centre, a student residence building, or a union hall and eventually perhaps extended to whole streets, blocks, and neighbourhoods. For the tern refers to any physical area where the libertarian analysis and strategy of direct action outlined in this article is being carried out.
Let us turn to the second question, the problem of reformism and co-optation. Briefly, there are a number of ways in which this approach to direct action at the community level does differ from more conventional and well-known approaches to community organizing and as such does attempt to take into consideration and deal with the danger of co-optation in a more comprehensive and realistic manner.
1. First, the territory notion of community organizing differs in intent from liberal and certain left ideas of community organizing. The latter concentrates on organizing people primarily around issues or the provision of alternative services; the former, from the outset aims at becoming permanently integrated in the struggle to build a new way of life with working people. In the former orientation, struggle around issues and the creation of alternatives become steps upon which a new self activity, a heightened class and self-consciousness, and a new way of life based on socialist and human principles can develop in its own right.
2. In order for this kind of purpose to be realized, such a strategy of community intervention must be based on an in-depth class analysis of an area and the relation of class forces within it, i.e. an analysis which includes an understanding of the structures of control at every level of life and the limits to possibility such structures represent. Thanks to Marjalena Repo's well-known critique of the type of community organizing which was carried on without the benefit of such analysis, such an understanding of class forces need not be a lack in such community work but the basis of it. In so doing, we can proceed to overcome the contradiction between class analysis and community organizing, which Repo originally posed but which too many people have since reified and taken as a permanent barrier to organizing working people in a revolutionary way around non-work issues where they are living.
3. Armed with such an ongoing class analysis, a collective of activists in this setting must not only bring with them a good array of organizing skills but a real ability to relate to people on the basis of a working understanding and an action critique of existing capitalist social relations of all and every form within the bounds of a common everyday life. These relations include those of working class parents to their children; men to women; women to men; in and out of the family setting; sectors of the working class to other sectors; working people to authority whether of a class, economic, judicial, governmental, or social nature; working people to the 'educated' and to 'intellectual authority' including here ourselves as 'left educators'; in short, the relations in and through which authoritarianism, sexism, racism, status differentiation, deference, and inadequacy serve to cement the power and hegemony of capitalism in the lives of working people on a day to day basis.
4. Further, a group of activists must be prepared to move from such a political understanding and action critique ability. And they must move through a strategy which allows working people in a community to collectively work out and develop alternative forms of relating, thinking, acting, and being which are best suited to their own needs and culture (way of life).
5. In order to sustain such an ongoing action critique and a self creation of alternative forms of living, a critical education component, based on working people collectively reflecting on their daily experience of life under capitalism must be built into the inner workings of the direct action process. Such a critical education process, informal, yet effective once developed, can provide an ongoing means for working people to grasp the roots of their oppression however felt and experienced. It also can provide maximum opportunity for them to gain a working insight into the significant limits and ways beyond the various forms of immediate action they may become involved in as they struggle on a local level to realize their interests.
To summarize, in the town in which we worked; it was the relation between each of these five aspects of a libertarian strategy, worked out in many cases only partially and unclearly at the time, and their constant overlapping and reinforcing of a general progressive direction, which gave our approach its fullness and unique quality in meeting the dangers of co-operation. Through dialogue and debate, through socializing and sharing of leisure time, through common work projects and tasks, through the struggle around key issues, through helping each other out in hard times and sharing the good; an organic process tool: place which made the struggle for the lot of us less a question of a particular issue or an immediate demand and more one of the need to collectively strive to build a new and better way of life.
As to the question of sustaining struggle, we feel the development of the revolutionary process can only proceed if the blossoming of the revolutionary self-activity of working people as a cultural reality is at its heart. If this view of revolutionary process in Canada is in any way correct, then revolution will be an organic process renewing itself through the collective effort, imagination, and struggle of thousands and thousands of people. The self sustaining capacity of this revolutionary process, then, we see as integral to its daily operation. In short, in the process by which people fight for, build, and ever increasingly live revolution in their lives.
The human energy released through the realization of the collective human potential of working people must provide the self sustaining capacity of any revolution, as the struggle for a new socialist way of life intensifies. We glimpsed traces of this new energy and the possibility it can hold in the work we did in our centre. It is nothing more than the energy of new-found hope, imagination, friendship, creative power, and community, which a collective struggle to control one's own life can unleash out of a world of isolation, loneliness, cynicism, and despair.
As for the final question of the links and co-ordination of local struggles with a larger revolutionary movement, space does not permit much else than the stating of the question for discussion in future issues. However, we see the logical development of the notion of the working class space outlined above in the direction indicated by people like Schecter, Milner, and Roussopoulos of Our Generation; towards the emergence of forms of local neighbourhood control, the gaining of socialist hegemony over the public terrain of municipal politics, and the linking of local territories with larger regional struggles and coordinating structures.
Published in Volume 1, Number 1 of The Red Menace, February 1976.
Taken from web archived version of The Red Menace