You're More Powerful than You Think

You're More Powerful than You Think

A Citizen's Guide to Making Change Happen

Eric Liu

• Power creates monopolies, and is winner-take-all  You must change the game. • Power creates a story of why it’s legitimate  You must change the story. • Power is assumed to be finite and zero-sum  You must change the equation. These are the three imperatives of the practice of power. You change the game by interrupting the cycle of self-perpetuating, compounding power. This means being able to diagnose the game as it is. It means identifying just which rules are rigged to reinforce the power of those who have power and the privilege of those who get the unearned benefit of power. And it means relentlessly swarming the status quo with moves that disrupt the strategy of the status-quo powers. You change the story by rewriting the social contract of the situation. That requires more than decrying the current social contract; it requires envisioning and depicting an alternative. From there, you activate or “weaponize” your alternative story of the social contract—the new deal—by using it as the basis for all your organizing. And then you pick an emblematic battle that can be understood as a fable for your entire cause. You change the equation by creating power in positive-sum ways. First, you act exponentially by setting off contagions of attitude and action. Next, you design experiences of mutual aid and reciprocity that remind people of their inherent power and alert people not to give it away heedlessly. And finally, you perform power. You act it out, then change the theater of power by deploying the power of theater.

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