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LIEN, May 25, 2006

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... are no direct practical links between the public debate and government action. ... of politics because politics appear to be unresponsive to the public debate. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: LIEN, May 25, 2006


1
LIEN, May 25, 2006
  • Working locally to
  • end energy poverty
  • Michael Shapcott, Senior Fellow
  • Wellesley Institute

2
The point is. . . CHANGE!
  • The philosophers have only interpreted the world,
    in various ways the point, however, is to change
    it.
  • Karl Marx
  • Theses on Feuerbach

3
Change is about power. . .
  • Our nettlesome task is to discover how to
    organize our strength into compelling power so
    that the government cannot elude our demands. We
    must develop, from strength, a situation in which
    the government finds it wise and prudent to
    collaborate with us. It would be the height of
    naiveté to wait passively until the
    administration has somehow been infused with such
    blessings of goodwill that it implored us for our
    programs. . .
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Where Do We Go From Here Chaos or Community

4
. . .and organization
  • We must frankly acknowledge that in past years
    our creativity and imagination were not employed
    in learning how to develop power. . . Stumbling
    and groping through the wilderness must be
    replaced by a planned, organized and orderly
    march. . . We have to build far-flung,
    workmanlike and experienced organizations. . .
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Where Do We Go From Here Chaos or Community

5
Life is full of struggles. . .
6
Conjunctural analysis…
  • or Naming the Moment is one process to help
    groups do political analysis for action
  • to see (research)
  • to judge (education)
  • to act (action)

7
A dynamic process
research
action
education
8
Start where people really are
  • People experience deprivation and oppression
    within a concrete setting, not at the end product
    of large and abstract processes, and it is the
    concrete experience that molds their discontent
    into specific grievances against specific
    targets.
  • Frances Fox Piven, Richard A. Cloward
  • Poor Peoples Movements, Why They Succeed, How
    They Fail

9
Tenants and slumlords. . .
  • Tenants experience the leaking ceilings and cold
    radiators, and they recognize the landlord. They
    do not recognize the banking, real estate and
    construction systems. No small wonder, therefore,
    that when the poor rebel they so often rebel
    against the overseer of the poor, or the
    slumlord. . . and not against the banks or the
    governing elite to whom the overseer, the
    slumlord, and the merchant also defer.
  • Frances Fox Piven, Richard A. Cloward
  • Poor Peoples Movements, Why They Succeed, How
    They Fail

10
STEP ONE To see. . .
  • Naming the issues / struggles
  • Assessing forces / naming actors
  • Identifying goals / solutions

11
Interaction between sectors
Private market
State
Civil society
Households
12
STEP TWO To judge. . .
  • Disseminating information / knowledge
  • Identifying the contradictions
  • Finding the free space

13
STEP THREE To act. . .
  • Identifying possible actions
  • economic actions, demonstrations, disruptions,
    political campaigns, media work
  • Taking action / strategies
  • Getting organized / creating structures

14
Staying awake to social change
  • One of the great liabilities of history is that
    all too many people fail to remain awake through
    great periods of social change. . . . today our
    very survival depends on our ability to stay
    awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant
    and to face the challenge of change.
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Where Do We Go From Here Chaos or Community

15
Engaging the democratic process
  • Reform tends to come when reformers join the
    democratic process. . . NGO work is fascinating.
    It is good work. But the structures being used
    are corporatist. And we live, throughout the
    West, in democracies that is, in places in which
    changes are made through the democratic process.
    In a curious way, the very success of those NGOs
    most devoted to the public good actually
    undermines the democratic process -- the actual
    guarantor of the public good -- because it
    doesn't feed into it.
  • John Ralston Saul, Balwin-Lafontaine Lectures

16
Activists in peoples chamber
  • So long as an NGO - which could be defined as a
    corporation of social reformers - remains outside
    the democratic system, it has no real political
    levers. Its activists are not there, in the
    people's chamber, to clarify the cause. And there
    is no practical link between the problem they are
    devoted to - no matter how obvious the problem -
    and the real action required to deal with it. PR
    victories - which NGOs so often win - cannot be
    converted automatically into law. Nor should they
    be. Again, we live in democracies.
  • John Ralston Saul, Balwin-Lafontaine Lectures

17
Practical links
  • But the result is that there are no direct
    practical links between the public debate and
    government action. The public becomes discouraged
    about the effectiveness of politics because
    politics appear to be unresponsive to the public
    debate. And because of their disconnection from
    the formal political process, the corporations of
    social reformers begin to look naive.
  • John Ralston Saul, Balwin-Lafontaine Lectures

18
Getting on the inside. . .
  • In other words, so long as a good cause remains
    on the outside, it may actually give comfort to
    those who oppose it. A cause really only makes
    ethical, utilitarian and social sense when it and
    its proponents are integrated into the democratic
    process.
  • John Ralston Saul, Balwin-Lafontaine Lectures

19
Cosmology of social change
  • Grand unified theory of political relativity
    housing theorem

20
Sir Isaac Newton, 1643 - 1727
  • Every object in a state of uniform motion tends
    to remain in that state of motion unless an
    external force is applied to it.
  •  
  • The relationship between an object's mass m, its
    acceleration a, and the applied force F is F
    ma.
  •  
  • For every action there is an equal and opposite
    reaction.

21
Newtonian political physics - 2006
  • Governments tend to do nothing unless they are
    compelled to do something. However, once action
    starts, it is easier to keep going.
  • The combination of political pressure plus
    external circumstances forces governments to take
    action.
  • As we become more successful, opposing forces
    will mobilize.

22
Line of progress never straight
  • The line of progress is never straight. For a
    period a movement may follow a straight line and
    then it encounters obstacles and the path bends.
    It is like curving around a mountain when you are
    approaching a city. Often it feels as though you
    were moving backward, and you lose sight of your
    goal but in fact you are moving ahead, and soon
    you will see the city again, closer by.
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Where Do We Go From Here Chaos or Community

23
The value of confrontation
  • A final victory is an accumulation of many
    short-term encounters. To lightly dismiss a
    success because it does not usher in a complete
    order of justice is to fail to comprehend the
    process of achieving full victory. It
    underestimates the value of confrontation and
    dissolves the confidence born of a partial
    victory by which new efforts are powered.
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Where Do We Go From Here Chaos or Community

24
In your local community…
  • Identify group(s) that are already working on
    energy poverty issues
  • If you cannot identify any groups, then CREATE
    one! Engage
  • environmentalists, anti-poverty and housing
    groups, social justice coalitions, labour
    councils, unions, legal clinics, tenant
    organizations, faith communities

25
At the Ontario level…
  • Low Income Energy Network
  • Zee Bhanji, Coordinator
  • Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN)
  • c/o Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
  • 425 Adelaide St. West, 5th floor
  • Toronto, ON, M5V 3C1
  • Tel. (416) 597-5855 ext. 5167
  • Fax (416) 597-5821
  • Web www.lowincomeenergy.ca
  • E-mail bhanjiz_at_lao.on.ca
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