Strategy for social change

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Strategy for social change

Here's a start on some online musings concerning getting from where we are now to a world that most of us could aspire to.

Brief version

Simply put, strategizing involves 3 components:

What do we want?
What's happening now? What has happened in the past? Why are things the way they are?
How do we get from Analysis to Vision? What potential resources and allies can we access? What impediments/opponents do we face? How can we strengthen/build our resources? What tactics are most appropriate for each step in the strategy? ...

The other key component is learning by doing. Analysis and critical evaluation needs to be built into the implementation of the adaptive strategy.

Some observations and questions

We are in an information-saturated world. Simply providing more information about an issue is unlikely to have a significant impact.

For many people, the problem isn't lack of awareness, but the sense of powerless and perceived inability to do anything significant about the issue. Hence the importance of developing and communicating a credible strategy.

Fundamental change requires gut-level contact: ie inspiration, imagination, and aspiration for a better world.

Why do some individual tragedies get so much media attention (eg the latest family drowning, murder,...) while the ongoing large-scale tragedies (hunger and poverty, civilian victims of war,...) get comparatively little attention?

A fantasy: I've dreamed of using a large-scale Star Trek style transporter to have all the poor and rich of our world switch places for one month and then be switched back.

Why is there such a discrepancy between the risk-weighted net costs and the policy responses to such issues as air quality, climate change, biodiversity, transport and energy systems?

How do we build a constructive dialogue on a societal level concerning issues that do not fit the black and white dissection favoured by media and that are beyond the 4 year time horizon of our political system?

Relatedly, as a scientist, it is bloody frustrating that rational policy choices for addressing global issues such as climate change are being hindered by ideology. Eg, carbon taxes are seen by most economists as the most cost effective policy tool for reducing carbon emissions, but they are adamantly attacked by many political parties, especially those parties that claim the most market-driven policy orientation. How do we deal with collective stupidity?

What are the ethical/conceptual/cultural "fault lines" that divide our society? In other words, why can two litterate intelligent people take opposing views with respect to social and environmental issues? How can these fault lines be reduced by improving communication, clarifying assumptions, and finding mutually acceptible solutions?

Some online resources

To keep this current, here are seach phrase recommendations for Googling: "strategy for social change", "popular education", "creative conflict resolution", "participatory democracy", "social marketing", "strategic planning", "rules for radicals", and "new politics". If you don't want to search, here's a start:

Znet Vision and Strategy pages
The bastion of radical theory and analysis.
Grassroots Policy Project
Some excellent online articles concerning: Power and Organizing, Power and Ideology, Movement Organizing and Policy Reform, Strategy for Social Change.
Activist Handbook
Tip, Tactics, and Tidbits for protest-oriented organizing.
13 Tips for Activists
To avoid self-defeating tendencies among "radicals."

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