This book took me to a lot of different places, but in the end, I’m not sure where I’ve been. The author gets tremendous credit for doing thorough research on different uprisings and protest movements, detailing the strategy and comparing the different approaches. As a reader, I am more likely to read some of the other sources listed than to use the details provided to change the world in some way. I’m not sure I would recommend this to someone as a guide to starting change.
While the organizing part has some strategy behind it, my sense is it goes the way the leader(s) are comfortable with, and is dictated at least in part by the defined target issue. Leaders choosing a broad or narrow target set the tone to a large degree in how to pursue it. Very similar to business problem solving methodologies. The organizing strategies impact the actions taken, and I see the actions taken as being the success or failure of the uprising. For example, if boycotting businesses is the action that causes the most pain for the target, an organization set up to maximize those efforts is more likely to be successful.
Being in a business program, in a Capitalist country, I see business boycotting as the single most powerful tool in use today in changing the world, but the issue has to be one with a business connection. Marches seem to draw attention, and maybe some disruption for the day, but I don’t see where they change the course of events. Particularly with our government, factions seem to take the path that the people don’t actually know what’s good for them and ignore the message. Candidates from both parties have learned election strategy is more important than popular votes, leaving actual representation of the people to local officials at best.
Do uprisings still matter? I see less and less power in the hands of the people. The people’s power seems to be purchasing power, and little else. Awareness of issues is important, but I don’t see the impact on improving the issues. Many people have started the discussion that we may have taken steps backward on gender, race, and religious issues with our current President. Certainly awareness was communicated on the campaign trail of his biases. Whether he is successful overall in his agenda, he does send messages (no Twitter pun intended) making biases against those groups more acceptable than ever. Will we as a country take his lead and make it acceptable for all of us to make the same biased comments and policies he does in our work and social lives? For me this is a much more important question.
More protests and more quickly organized protests have taken place this years than with any new President. Will these protests have an impact? I haven’t seen it yet. The implementation of his ideas and policies continues unobstructed except by his own party, who aren’t the protesters as far as I can see.
Effective uprisings in the U.S. need to focus on business impacts. At some those pressures are too great to ignore, even for government.