March 29, 2015
The Tasks of The People-Powered Movement for 2014
Posted on Jan 10, 2014
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
This piece first appeared at Popular Resistance.
In our last article, “Major Social Transformation Is a Lot Closer than You May Realize,” we defined where today’s social-political movement is within the eight stages of successful movements. We have passed the “Take-Off Stage” (Stage 4), gotten through the “Perception of Failure” (Stage 5) and are in the phase of “Building Majority Support” (Stage 6) which is the last stage before “Victory.” In this article we delve deeper into the tasks of the movement in this stage and apply those tasks to current issues faced today.
In this stage, which can take many years, the primary task of the people-powered social movement is to build national consensus through broad and deep grassroots organizing. The power holders are currently in a crisis management mode. They continue to defend their policies while shifting positions and taking countermeasures to undermine people power. During this stage public opinion is shifting, majorities oppose the current situation and are beginning to see that new alternative solutions must be put in place. People-powered activists are in a battle with the power holders for the hearts and minds of super-majorities of the people.
We ended our last article with a key point that we need to highlight here: our goal is to build a mass movement, which has the support of super-majorities of Americans and has mobilized up to 3.5% of the population. Therefore, the target of our protests is not the government or a corporation, the target is the people: to educate and mobilize them. We want to show that there is an effective movement speaking to the people’s concerns and putting forth views that they support. We protest the power holders to expose their actions but do not expect them to be capable of addressing our concerns adequately in this stage.
Build unity around the values of the movement
Square, Site wide
The foundation of the current phase is massive public education and building support in all segments of the population for the values of the movement. This is done through grassroots organizing involving constant outreach to friends, neighbors and family – the local community. In these conversations, people gain a greater understanding of how the problems of the present system affect them; how the present system violates their values and principles; and how it is in their own self-interest to do something about it.
This is happening now; one example is the low-wage worker movements. While workers and their allies participate in resistance actions like one-day walkouts or mass protests on key shopping days like the Black Friday’s protests at 1,500 Walmarts, members of the community are joining in solidarity. People are learning that when a corporation provides poverty-level pay to a worker, we all subsidize that policy through food stamps, Medicaid and housing subsidies. The Walton family and Walmart executives (as well as other poverty paying corporations) make massive profits because of worker-subsidies from all of us. And, paying workers an inadequate wage for their labor violates our values.
While these corporations continue to refuse to change their policies, even though they could afford to and would benefit from doing so, the power holders are responding as expected at this stage with inadequate solutions. The movement has forced 13 states to increase the minimum wage in 2014 which will affect 2.5 million people. This is not a complete victory because no state is putting in place a real living wage. And, in the one place that voted for the movement’s demand, a $15 per hour wage, it is being challenged in court. The struggle must continue. It is not acceptable for workers to still be poverty workers, though some will have less poverty.
Whenever we push to solve current problems, the movement should also put forward a vision of a paradigm shift. When it comes to workers, one shift is to make workers into owners and decision makers in worker-owned businesses, like cooperatives so they can share the wealth they help to create. More existing businesses are being converted to worker-owned businesses and there is a growing worker-cooperative movement. And it is important to link the problems of underpaid workers to the broader economic problem of the wealth divide and build support for the many solutions to that problem.
Exposing the myth and explaining the reality
An important task of the movement is to expose the difference between ‘official policies’ and ‘actual policies.’ That is, what the power holders say they are doing and what the policies actually do, which are often the complete opposite. Every government policy put forward by either of the two corporate-funded parties is designed to help their funders, not the people.
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