What’s efficient? What’s “effective”? What is hidden in these two terms? What does it mean for campaigning and designing resilience into systems? Two regular visitors to “Dwight Towers” have both written interesting things on these questions of late. Antonio Dias has long meditations on this that I can’t really do justice to, so I’ll just say – go read it. Dias uses systems-thinking to good effect, and links on to many other good thinkers (a good habit of his!).
Meanwhile, Chris “Activism is my rent” Johnston wrote a corking piece about the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, and in the comments section he quoted (with appropriate skepticism!!) comments by Jeff Shwartz, CEO of Timberland
“If Greenpeace wanted to start a dialogue with the footwear industry about how our supply chain might be hurting rain forests, I strongly feel that someone there should have picked up the phone. The organisation could have convened the industry’s CEOs to talk about these issues and craft a solution – and then held a press conference where it took credit for getting us to address the problem. There isn’t one executive in our industry who wouldn’t have wanted to be at that press conference. But phone calls and press conferences aren’t as sexy as an attack campaign and wouldn’t have riled up Greenpeace’s member base, which is part of what drives its revenue. So it came at us instead, leading us to waste a ton of energy fighting a gloopy mess rather than making meaningful progress.”
It would be most “efficient” to do elite lobbying. But that means your supporters don’t get a sense of victory-against-the-odds, and are less available next time, when you might actually NEED them to email their MP/Congressperson, phone their local store etc etc. If they’re not there in the “dissidence” ecosystem because it has been designed to be “more efficient”, then – long term – you’re stuffed. (Of course, we’re stuffed anyway, but DT is trying to pretend otherwise just now…)
Further suggested reading – Saul Alinksy, Harvey Milk.