** The problem **
Everybody wants to improve the world but we are all divided. Some are interested in global warming, farming practices, modern slavery, mass extinction, abuse of political power, inequality of wealth, inequality of rights, etc, etc … even though most people agree that these are all very important and need addressing. Most people will even agree on what steps need to be taken.
But nobody has the energy, time or money to be active, or even interested in everything.
So we each pick a campaign. We are divided into small groups with little power.
** The idea **
Even when there is a large group of activists focused on one issue, we always disagree about the details (because there are always many small contentious choices) so we again become divided.
The business interests which oppose us are united and organised. Then nearly always win. We need to be more like them.
** The solution **
I propose an activist group with no particular cause. Its work will be divided into one-year campaigns, and the cause will be decided by vote at the start of each year. If you believe in any of the relevant causes (there can be dozens) you should join.
Each one-year campaign can be more successful than those of any specialist activist groups, because of the number of people involved. It will be large, and better funded, have more experience, have more diverse people and connections than and special interest group could have.
One the year’s cause is decided by vote, the organisation decides the details. The members are expected to support both, neglecting their personal activist interests and preferred methods. They get only the satisfaction of achieving somebody else’s goals, and to wait another year for their turn.
This works on the assumption that most people agree on most activist causes. The die-hard anti-meat or anti-wheat, anti-car or anti-bicycle, pro-springfield or pro-shelbyville, this organisation will not serve them. Only issues with a broad consensus of support will ever become campaigns.
** The conclusion **
There are many resourceful and energetic people working in activism. If they can all be persuaded to work together on one thing at a time, backed by the combined numbers and power of all their supporters, they can achieve all their individual goals much faster.
By having a strong, united activist movement to match that of businesses, we the people can gain control over our world, and take it back from them.
** The details **
A typical campaign could be about caged hens, UBI, restoring forests, zero hours contracts, pesticides, influence-trading in politics, anything important enough to mobilise the most effective activists, and with very broad societal support.
The methods could include boycotts, street protests, writing to local politicians, media interviews, meetings with key political/industrial figures. All the usual stuff.
…But this time, instead of these people being blasted with one million different things, getting pressured different ways … they are getting plasted about one thing, constantly, for a year.
They will budge.
An example of how the organisation could be structured:
Those who have been members more than one year get more voting power. Those who donate money get more voting power (I suggest a threshold of 1% of the average salary). The idea is to encourage people to join even in years where the campaign is not interesting, and remain members for many years after their campaign is finished. The number of votes per person should be capped too, so that every member’s vote is important. There is a balance to be struck here.
Run on campaigns are possible, if this year’s campaign is making progress but more work is needed to reach the objective. The members will decide.
Maybe members must register with their special interest. When it becomes a campaign, their voting rights are reduced. This will stop the same campaign winning every year.
So if you really have no interest in this year’s issue then don’t go to the protests, but keep paying your fees. I think most people will go anyway though if all their peers have voted that this is the most important thing of all.
These things might also be important to you, like they are important for everyone. If the campaigns achieved real progress on all those issues, year after year, you’d still be very happy about that.
If you register as predominantly a human rights advocate, each year no human rights issue is selected your voting rights increase. If you stick with it (and especially if you keep paying your dues) then your voting power will eventually increase until your cause is selected.
Unless your cause is really niche. Then it will never be selected by the vote. But that’s a feature not a bug. It’s hard to know if your cause has real support, and it’s important to know that. The media projects an image of society uniformly believing one thing - everyone who disagrees is a radical. Knowing what has real broad support already, stopping politicians from pretending that nobody is on your side, is half the battle.