Background paper for the 2017 Prout Convention
When we look at possible progressive responses to the numerous threats facing us, it is important to adopt a pragmatic attitude if we are after real change. What we are facing is not a theoretical threat that can be dealt with in an academic manner, but threats that are serious enough to destroy civilisation and life on Earth as we know it.
Part of a pragmatic approach is to recognise our limitations. Prout activists do not yield absolute power in the world, and therefore it would be insufficient to propose an ideal Proutist solution to the problems unless we also come up with a plan on how this solution can realistically be implemented.
So what types of responses do we have at our disposal that are pragmatic, effective and have the possibility to promote real change?
Lobbying means to influence people in power to change their policies. A person of group of persons ruling a major country has some power to directly influence events and policies. We are not in that position, so an alternative strategy we need to consider is to try to influence those that have the power.
Generally lobbying is something that is done to government officials, but more generally it can also be done to influence any person or group of persons in positions of power, including non-governmental organisations, corporations, religious leaders, etc. It is also possible to do this through working with well-connected lobbying organisations such as Avaaz and Change.org.
There is also another type of indirect lobbying, by which one tries to influence people who personally know or by other means have the possibility to influence those in power.
Information and Awareness-raising
Another way of creating change is to inform and influence groups of normal people, to gradually change their consciousness and opinions. In democratic societies, the opinion of people matters, and if a sufficient number of people is concerned about something, then elected officials will have to take note.
Various ways this can be done are:
1. Spreading knowledge through
a. Talks and meetings
b. Social media
c. Publications including books, on line, in papers, magazines etc.
d. Personal contacts
2. Motivating people to get involved and work for change.
While the two approaches above are meant to change things in a big way over time, Direct Action aims to fix something that is already within our power to change. This generally means that instead of trying to solve a global problem, we try to solve a local one that is specific to a particular time and place.
This is not an alternative to the large scale changes, but a complement to it. It is also good to have local success stories as examples when you try to influence powerful people to change their policies.
Any concrete work solving a specific problem can fall under this category. Some examples:
1. Assimilation of local refugee families.
2. Assistance in women’s shelters.
3. Fight against human trafficking and exploitation.
4. Promotion of alternative energy, recycling, etc.
5. Master Units.
Once people have been motivated to work for change, whether on a local plane through direct action, or on a global scale, they need to be equipped. This requires some form of training. Some areas of training could be:
1. Training in specific skills
2. Leadership training
3. Community organising
4. Attitude changes, i.e. changing people’s perceptions and attitudes to tackling problems and creating change.
5. Anything else to assist and equip people to be effective agents for change.
Another way to bring about change would be to seek out progressive groups that are already doing concrete things to counter the various threats we face, and collaborate with them (whether on direct action, lobbying, training or awareness-raising). Ananda Margiis will never become the majority in the world, so we need to learn to join forces with other dedicated and moral people who have similar objectives as we do.
These approaches are not exhaustive, and there may be other effective ways to bring about progressive change, but they are good examples of the type of pragmatic approaches that are necessary for us to bring about positive changes in a proutistic direction.
The bottom line is this: It is not enough to know what the ideal solution to a problem is, but given the limited resources and power we have, we need to ask ourselves how we can get it implemented.