Power structures are in serious flux. The best window I’ve seen into this new world is a book called “New Power,” by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms.
Heimans is C.E.O. of Purpose, which supports social movements around the world. Timms is executive director at New York’s 92nd Street Y, a 144-year-old institution; he also helped create Giving Tuesday, a classic new power movement.
Timms thought that after the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there should be a day to give back. The normal thing would have been to put the 92nd Street Y logo on the effort and organize charities and other organizations around a consortium. Instead, he and his team established the meme Giving Tuesday, created a web page and some tools for people who wanted to organize, and they let the crowd take over.
David Lindsay: Excellent op-ed David Brooks, thank you for your research and synthesis. You are gifted at these tasks. As to many of the other critical commentdistas, most of what they say is true, they just don’t address what your wrote about. You wrote, “Successful movements create what Marilynn Brewer calls “optimal distinctiveness” … The concepts binding these movements are clear, emotional and concrete and have an implied communal narrative (MeToo).
But the successful organizations also feature some structural innovation. They tend to have very low barriers to entry — no dues, no loyalty pledge up front. But they have ways to incentivize members up the participation ladder, offering premiums for super-participants who adapt, organize and share.”
I have enjoyed participating in such cheerful, energized and successful movements. The Contra and Traditional Square Dance movement is like this. We have our organizations, like the Country Dance & Song Society, but power is diffused, and many local leaders share leadership and knowledge.
I recently returned to Aikido, and moved from the Federation style dojo to the Birankai school. It is interesting to see how the strict, old school, authoritarian, Japanese Hombu model of running a martial arts school is softening and democratizing outside of Japan.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com