Turning the Tide Taster Sheet


taking effective

The tactics we might use in a campaign - for example, leafletting, letters to the government and the press, public meetings, demonstrations, Non-Violent Direct Action - are based on assumptions about how change happens. Most of them are intended either directly to persuade the government (or another elite which 'has' power) to change course, or to stir up public opinion so that the government is pressured into making a change. After a preliminary step of identifying who the elite is (it's not always obvious), the different ways that change can be made to happen can be summarised as:

Persuade the eliteletters, delegations, information-giving
Coerce the eliteboycotts, demonstrations, non-cooperation
Replace the elitevote another party in, dubious as people in power tend to fall into the structures and patterns of behaviour that they inherit
Become the eliteget elected, palace coup, but there is always the danger of being co-opted
Ignore the elitedirect action, just do whatever it is for yourselves, Gandhi's 'constructive programme' of making village India self- reliant and self-governing
Abolish the eliterevolution, restructuring society to disperse the power

How deep a change?

When we embark upon action to bring about social, political or economic change, we need to know how deep a change we are seeking - the more it requires people to change their deeply held beliefs and attitudes, or to change their behaviour, the more difficult it will be.

The change may be quite small and simple things like lead-free petrol: life goes on just the same but people put lead-free in their cars.

Requires: 1) people to believe that lead does harm (education) - does not require them to take painful action or change their worldviews in any major way

2) public pressure on politicians to counter the car lobby (letter-writing, lobbying, demos, visibility for the campaign) - not too threatening to the car manufacturers

in order: 3) to get government legislation or fiscal action (dialogue with government and civil servants) - some cost to the government in lost revenue - but they get brownie points for being green