Activism needs to organise better to be effective (#activism #tpv #thepeoplesvoice #bedroomtax)

activism1We have covered this subject before, but with the current state of the world we feel the need to reinforce that it is ESSENTIAL that activists organise much more effectively.

First of all, this is not a call to form mobs and do stupid things which will make the situation worse. This is a call for all of the fragmented groups to get together and formulate an effective and realistic strategy to combat the greed, social engineering, manipulation, and everything else that is destroying any kind of society based in humanity.

Most of the problems we face in society have one accessible root cause. Whether your ‘niche’ is the environment, welfare, or bin collections etc., all routes will go back to the same source of the problem.

Until activists break out of the ‘niche’ mind-set and start tackling the root (or as close to the root as possible) of the problem nothing of any significance will happen – and it certainly will not change society or the agenda of those in power.

We have seen numerous examples of very significant demonstrations which those in power treat as a thorn in the side for a week or so – and that is all that is achieved.

Diplomatic persuasion does not work when dealing with those in power because that is not what they relate to, and they view those actions and those involved in them as weak and pathetic, only to be placated and treated with distain.

The only way is by forcefully challenging and threatening something those responsible for the problem view as important – their cages need to be well and truly rattled. ‘Forcefully’ does not mean violent. They are prepared to meet violent dissidence and will do what they have to (or what they have already planned to do in such circumstances) to stamp out unrest and drive society further into a police state.

So what do we do to have an impact?

Organisation needs strong, disciplined, and fearless leaders and members who will not back down and who will remain dedicated and do what is necessary (and take the consequences) to reach the objective – or get as close to it as possible. All sounds very noble – but that is the only way change will happen.

This is one of the problems with ‘niche’ activism. It only concentrates on a very small area of a much bigger problem – albeit an important part. Small movements may make small changes for a short time if they are lucky, and the work involved is often disproportionate to the outcome. Limited resources and limited dedication are often the curse of small campaigns.

Activities such as demonstrations are not really effective or demonstrate the full support for a particular cause. They often attract the ‘occasional’ demonstrator, or those who go along because they think it will be fun – we often see this when students join demonstrations then forget all about the cause once they graduate and enter the corporate world. Often demonstrations do not represent the span of society who support the cause.

Getting the public’s practical support is also another difficult thing for the small or ‘niche’ activist organisation to achieve. While there may be far more agreement from the public that a cause is right and just, they may not feel ‘included’ or see it as their place to become directly involved in action or in providing practical support.

Part of this may be because there are so many smaller organisations looking for public support. This can become confusing and result in members of the public becoming overwhelmed by the bombardment – which causes confusion and makes them go back to the habitual behaviour of their own lives/world. Members of the public may agree with several or many causes, but simply do not have the time or resources to become involved in a meaningful way, perhaps thinking that the cause has enough supporters anyway, or has little chance of making any real difference.

An analogy could be a person coming to a crossroads. Instead of having one or two paths to continue their journey, they have twenty or thirty. Which way to go? The easiest option is to go back to where they came from because the choice has become too confusing, and if they do choose one there may be the fear that it is not the ‘right’ one.

We need to make causes inclusive rather than exclusive.

So how can we engage more people in causes that directly affect them, and which they can feel a real part of?

Some organisations and campaigns have an image of only been open to people of a certain ‘type’. This could be real or presumed depending on the amount of propaganda launched against the organisation.

An organisation which immediately springs to mind is CND. Even though they were (and are) campaigning for something which affects everyone, their image in the in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s in particular, was that of a ‘commie’ influenced left-wing organisation which was attempting to subvert democracy. This was perpetrated by government propaganda and misinformation about the organisation which the majority of the general public believed. Fortunately the situation changed for them over time and they have attracted a wider range of people.

Unfortunately image does matter when trying to appeal to the masses. Their first impression of an organisation may not be the cause itself, but the general perception of the organisation by the majority, which others will blindly believe and follow.

Charities often receive or don’t receive support based on their image, rather than their operation, politics, or dubious rate of donations which reached the front line. Recently we saw an example of this when there was some exposure in the mainstream press of the high salaries of some leaders in well-known charities. If a charity contains an emotive word such as ‘cancer’ the public tend to automatically think that the organisation is looking for cures or helping people with the disease.

Activism organisations can suffer from the same misrepresentation or perception.

When we talk about activism, the public may have a skewed view of the term. They may think of marches, demonstrations, riots, damage, and so on – all negative terms that have been reinforced by propaganda. They may not realise that activism involves taking any action that can challenge something that affects them and is aimed at bringing about change.

Activism is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as:

[mass noun]
the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change:

If a person is made aware that they can make a valuable contribution to bring about change by performing an action, they must have an easy route that initially requires little effort in their part. This is not necessarily because people can’t be bothered or are lazy, often it is because they don’t understand how their small contribution can bring about real change, or they have a fear of becoming involved in something they may perceive as ‘political’ which they think may have ramifications on their way of life, or make them targets of the authorities or employers etc.

So we need to make causes easy to understand, safe to engage in, and very easy for people to make a contribution to in some way.

Generally, small organisations that concentrate on ‘niche’ areas will have few resources and the image they project may be of limited appeal. For example, if an organisation is promoting the change of a very local issue, it is highly unlikely that people far away from the region will become involved and provide support – it may (seemingly) be of no interest to them.

Yet the core problem may be much deeper into the system than the local problem appears to be. Perhaps a local service is being closed because of government cuts. Although the campaign is concerned with keeping the service open or running, the real problem is the cut in resources to maintain it – which affects several chains of involvement before reaching the local level. It could be seen as a pyramid where the main or root cause is at the top and the effects are felt more and more at each larger level.

Targeting the local level may have some impact, but the impact will not address the core problem, and those being targeted by the campaign may be as much victims of the root cause as anyone else, and may be in a very limited position of making lasting change. It may also have the effect of making others in the region suffer because resources are directed to resolve the local campaign. So all it achieves is a shift of the problem from one area to another, immediately or over time.

If there were several groups within the region who had a common problem of something being affected by government cuts, they may be more effective by grouping together and sharing resources. It would also allow them to reach people in each other’s areas who will be willing to support them.  Although the number of initial supporters may remain the same, through presenting a singular front all organisations working under one umbrella create an illusion of a more established and wider supported cause. As the general public see the cause seemingly having more widespread support, they may be more willing to provide their support.

The campaign could be changed from concentrating on the closure of a few particular services, to the threat of closures all over the county – something which will appeal to more people.

Having wider support may enable them to target higher up the chain – in this example perhaps the county authorities – If their campaign is successful at this level then the effects will be enjoyed by a wider number of the county’s society, which will in turn mean more people will be willing to support the combined organisation if they engage in other campaigns, or want to pursue their campaign higher up the pyramid.

Provided the organisations are willing to be sensible and reasonable with each other, and approach the campaign from the perspective of the wider cause, there is no reason why they should not be more effective and reach their original objective.

The sharing of resources could become an issue if one organisation has more of a particular resource than another. But if the advantage of wider exposure of support is factored in, this should not be a major point because all groups involved in the collective action will benefit – and have a better chance of success.

This concept of cooperation under a single objective can be scaled up to whatever level is needed to be effective and enhance chances of success The organisation of the ‘collective’ must be such that any internal problems can be resolved quickly and not have a negative effect on the public image.

So that is the overall concept without much detail, and there will be those who are able to bring in concepts and ideas along similar lines which could fill in the details of how this could be achieved and improved.

Imagine if all of the campaigning organisations who are concerned with the effects of government cuts came together as one force – whether campaigning about the closure of a local childcare facility, the lack of drugs available through the health service, welfare cuts, and every other cause and campaign which wants to bring about change so we have a society based on humanity and not profit.

We wonder how many supporters that would be. It could run into millions of people all involved in a cause that could make the government do something instead of paying lip-service.

If some of these people were mobilised to make the lives of those responsible for the corruption and societal slavery as difficult as possible, that would be quite something.

We would suggest that those in the current governments of the world are about as high up the pyramid as most organised causes would reach at the moment.

If that is so then the governments – especially the head of government and his or her cronies – should be a prime target for action.

Although peace, love, and understanding are all very well, there are times when tactics have to get dirtier so they have an effect on the target. Reasoning and diplomacy will not work – but neither will violence.

The message has to be delivered in a way that the target understands and can relate to. Most members of a government (unless you are very, very, lucky) are at the very least narcissistic and at worst full blown psychopaths. They always will put their own interests first.

So what to do?

First, work out what your target relates to most. It may be that they relate to their perceived power, financial wealth, and being accepted by others in more powerful positions with more wealth – which they want to be part of.

It is highly unlikely that they have any need at all to be accepted or liked by the public at large, because they just don’t care or have any use for them in their objectives. The only time these kind of people will try and relate to the public is to maintain their own position – perhaps to get elected/re-elected.

They probably wouldn’t care about their own family and would probably kill their own children if they thought it would be advantageous to their political career – not an exaggeration by any means.

Now we have an idea of their motivating factors:

  • Perceived power
  • Financial wealth
  • Being accepted by their peers and those who they see as being more powerful than them

Many of them will already have considerable wealth – but there is never enough for them. The same is true of their perceived power – they can’t get enough of it.

Whether you like it or not – it MUST get personal. The kind of people you will be up against have surrounded themselves with shields of people to deflect any potential campaign against them, and rely on the gang mentality of government to spread any potential fallout.

Know what motivates your target and dissolve any benefit to them. If possible, legally devalue their assets. If they gain significant income from their business interests, look at ways to significantly devalue them.

Look at their activities and look for things that would devalue them in the eyes of their peers and associates. There is no point in devaluing them in the eyes of the public because they won’t care.

What they need to see is that there is more of a personal benefit to looking after the interests of the general public than not.

This may sound a little like a dirty tactic, but it is not. It is about connecting in the most effective way with those who can make the change happen, and in a way they understand.

This is where you need supporters who are dedicated to achieving the objective, and are strong enough to travel the rocky road to success. It is of no benefit to have supporters who come and go, or who see being involved just as something to do when they are bored. It takes committal.

Of course, the tactics used will depend on who your organisations target is, and it would be inappropriate to go into details here. But if you think about the objective no doubt there will be many cost effective ideas that will come to mind.

What you do not want to do is engage in any activity that is morally wrong or illegal. All this would achieve is alienating public support. In a way this is tough love. Sometimes you have to get tough for the sake of the greater good.

So to summarise for now:

  • Join with other organisations to change the root cause
  • Make sure your image and promotion appeals to the public and is inclusive
  • Think about WHO is primarily responsible and get personal
  • Make sure you have truly dedicated supporters

This is a general concept with a few ideas and we are not claiming that this is the way things MUST be done. But hopefully it will make you think about joining or collaborating with other organisations to make sure you have the best chance possible of support and making real and lasting change.

Follow @martynjsymons

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