So You Want To Be A Changemaker
A User’s Manual for the newly initiated.
Have you felt it? The encroaching of the inflection?
Such is the crescendo of urgency; as the hum swallows the noise.
If you seek to resound change unto the world, it may be important to ask yourself what type of change-maker you are most suited to becoming.
Ergo, let’s go over some parameters that will help the novice change-maker decide their path, and the veteran do some reflection on theirs.
Every strategy of change-making essentially dances with one question: How one relates to power, and the powerful. To understand how to approach change-making, let’s first explore the range of answers:
Relation 1: Persuasion — This strategy seeks to change the minds of those in power. It orients the changemaker toward changing the will of those who direct the force of it. Such an orientation may be expressed through promoting policy, performance, art, or argumentation.
Relation 2: Transference — This is the approach of changing who is in power; transferring those currently in capture of the governing apparatus to those more charismatic, moral, qualified, or competent.
Relation 3: Reclamation — Similar to the previous path, with one important difference: rather than simply supporting a better representative for holding power, this strategy drives changemakers to become the ones in power; questing to win the reigns power for the interests of those they represent.
Relation 4: Transformation — The final strategy is distinct among the four. Unlike the others, it deviates from validating single individuals as sources for solution, instead seeking to transform the nature or dynamics of power itself. Changing it from how it is currently arranged, toward capturing it and spreading it democratically. This strategy abolishes representation in favour of those who would be represented by giving the citizenry direct sovereignty of their communities.
There are four basic archetypes of changemakers. Each represents a different role one takes in the actualization of specific objectives:
Role 1: Social Marketer — This role seeks to promote ideas that could dispense positive social change if enacted. It hones in on specific policies that may address a particular social issue. (E.g. Universal Basic Dividend).
Role 2: Community Organizer — This role orients around building a base in the community. It sources solutions from the community itself, doing Community-Based-Research (CBR), working to alleviate oppressive policies and their impacts over the long-term, and forming a network of Social-Capital to empower the community. (E.g. Non-profit work, Community Outreach, Volunteer networks, etc.)
Role 3: Activist — This change-maker is the inverse of the Community Organizer. Rather than build a base over a longer period, they choose to build momentum in the immediate. They do this by releasing a novel tactic into a community — rather than sourcing a solution from within the community — that rallies them to unleash the spirit of their galvanization toward collective liberation. The Activist orients directly around capturing power and disseminating it to expand the collective’s political power, expanding political freedom. (E.g. DiEM25, Extinction Rebellion, Occupy Wall Street, etc.)
Role 4: Mobilizer — The most inclusive and expansive role, the Mobilizer accomplishes the long-term goals of Community Organizing in the short-term, building a base or network of social-capital by generating momentum through the techniques of Activism.
If successful, the momentum of the tactic galvanizes the masses in a fashion that builds the long-term infrastructure for a revolutionary movement spontaneously, both changing power and its agenda, thus realizing the objectives of all four roles.
Imagine a movement that erupts unexpectedly, utilizing novel tactics to capture power and spread from country to country, giving the People direct democratic access to solve major global crises and mobilize a unifying creative vision. Its challenge that of crafting an explosion of realization itself. (A true Mobilization is yet to be realized…where might it choose to arrive?)
These classifications aforementioned can be delineated by a simple characteristic: temperament.
To help you decide which of these roles and strategies you are most suited to, a more specific question may be required — Are you willing to be dangerous, or not?
Each of the previous Roles carries its own aptitudes that require rumination. For example, Social Marketers and Community Organizers would be of a non-dangerous disposition as they mobilize around objectives that require long-term approaches; meanwhile, Activism and Mobilization likely call upon those who are willing to claim a more dangerous role and embrace the consequences of doing so for the sake of their greater objectives.
Considering this question will allow the change-maker to approach their complementary strategies and roles in the most authentic and effective way possible in order to actuate the greatest change toward their given vision.
Recipe for a Tactic — An Activist User’s Manual
Target: Problem — What issue are you trying to solve?
Objective: Solution — What is your solution? What demand are you looking to actualize?
Strategy: Power — How will you relate to power in enacting this solution?
Tactic: Victory — What Leverage-Point can you identify that will provide you with a way to achieve victory by targeting it? Where can you focus your efforts to have a disproportionate impact?
Example: Tactic — Security Default Strikes
From student-loans, to utility bills, to public housing, they are all “assets” to the world of Finance, pooled together in securities to be traded and speculated on. But what if they all defaulted, one by one, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, a strike by communities everywhere to explode these Asset-Backed-Securities and demand social change. Change which those communities then immediately provide to themselves as a movement using options trading; where financial bets placed preemptively are used by movement hubs to profit and directly reinvest that revenue into each community according to their needs.
Leverage-Point — Find the specific securities that pool utility bills or rent for each community; then, galvanize the community members to strike on paying those bills, systematically moving from one neighbourhood to the next, exploding financial securities en-masse. Exert pressure in this way to demand lower prices and community-based solutions. Additionally, shorting those securities prior to the campaign can provide the financial resources to continue the strike and provide support to community members. (This tactic combines tactics suggested by activists Micah White and Yanis Varoufakis.)
In this way, activists must both find a tactic that exerts pressure on those in power, while also targeting a leverage-point that ensures them victory. If the tactic can simultaneously build a large base of networked support along with an organizing infrastructure that can orient around capturing power, a Mobilization can be realized.
As paradigms of urgency burn through the definitions of the previous age, so do they shape the old into its new. It is by this that some are called to relieve the heat, while others endeavor to guide the formation.
If so you are called, ponder this decision carefully and claim the path most suited to you. What creative spirit might you unleash?
Here are some resources that further explore these topics:
— The End of Protest by Micah White
— The Social Contract by Jean-Jaques Rousseau
— Rules for Revolutionaries by Becky Bond and Zack Exley
— Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis
— Activist Graduate School by Micah White and Chiara Ricciardone