To successfully deal with today's systemic crises we need a collective societal search process to develop and put into practice alternatives to the current cultural and economic paradigm of growth and marketisation.
Building on these features of campaigning, discuss the idea that our activism often deals with the symptoms of problems but not with the root causes of inequality and environmental destruction.
Note: more information is available on root causes and acceleration in these references:
Interview with Hartmut Rosa about ‘social acceleration’ ↘ atimes.com
Discussion of patriarchy and how to tackle it (particularly focused on cultural change) ↘ organizingchange.org
Detailed breakdown of root cause analysis ↘ thwink.org
Suggest that there are different scales of change and influence. Short and long-term change, small-scale and large-scale, and that we can work at different scales simultaneously. This does not mean changing the world all at once but rather having a vision within which small changes can be part of a movement, or transition, towards wider shifts in society.
Explain that in order to work at these different levels, deeper root causes need to be tackled as well as symptoms (see root causes illustration) and discuss how symptoms are a reflection of deeper root causes. Beyond tackling symptoms, such as the river pollution, which ultimately is driven by the fast fashion phenomenon, we must work on building narratives and a vision to address the root causes of inequality and unsustainable living. Fast fashion is a profitable business model and a driver of acceleration, and had the campaign tackled the issue of fast fashion per se, rather than simply the consequences of toxic pollution, it would actually be much closer to working at the root cause level.
Introduce the idea that desynchronization is a central feature of how our society currently functions in an unsustainable way (see Key Concepts, pp22-25)
Show the last two slides about the Detox campaign and explore how the campaign could evolve towards tackling root causes (see slide)
Alternative visions/direction for society and activism. As part of a movement towards a Great Transition, it is up to all of us to reflect deeply and work on more holistic ways of conceptualising and communicating about systems change. Whilst we may all have a personal vision, we can also share our general aims, direction, and ways of getting there.
Invite participants to reflect on the following question and either a) personal reflection and/or draw their ideas on paper, or b) discuss in buzz groups
Invite participants to summarise their thoughts in a few key words or sentences on a sticky note and stick their thoughts, or their pictures, on a flipchart/on the wall.
If you have time, you can ask them to read their responses when they come up.
If you have limited time, you can have a pre-prepared flipchart with themes and people can fit their answers into those themes. You can then just read out a few of their answers.
After hearing the group’s responses, build on their vision by sharing the pillars of a new vision as described in the Re.imagining Activism Guide (see Key Concepts, pp26-31)
This is a good time to pause and summarise the key points from the session so far, highlighting that so far this session has focused on the why and the what of the Great Transition.
The next part of the session will focus on the HOW of thinking systemically to develop deeper activism strategies, organisational strategies, and personal strategies.
The vision: Root causes and desynchronization (p22-25)
Ultimately what drives acceleration and therefore dysynchronisation is capitalism's core element capital accumulation (interest and profit). These are the fundamental root causes underlying our global crises like climate change, poverty and inequality. Capitalism in its current form cannot live without growth and the pace of technological innovation is accelerating further and further. (p24)
Pillars of a new vision: Great Transition (pp26-31)