I've been excited for this one. John Perkins, a respected member of the international banking community, wrote a great book called "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" covering his job of trying to convince third world countries to take on huge loans with enormous debt.
He's starting off by asking how we create a revolution: how we upset the power in the banking industry that's been created in post-World-War-II America.
Here's the questions he asks:
1. Do we truly want change?
2. Do we have a unifying principle that allows us to justify that change without invoking biases on other people?
3. Do we have reason to expect that we can achieve that change?
4. How are we all going to do this?
Summarizing his answers:
1. Do we truly want change?
Less than 5% of the world's population consumes 25% of the world's resources, and creates 30% of the pollution. That leads to only one conclusion: our system is a failure, and cannot be a model for the world. It is a non-viable model that cannot lead. So we must change it. Period.
2. What is our unifying principle that allows us to justify change?
The way our system works: economic hitmen->jackals->military.
We need to commit ourselves to creating a stable, sustainable, peaceful world for everyone, everywhere. Not just our country. That is the only way our children will have a stable, peaceful world.
3. Do we have cause to be optimistic to expect that change? Can we change the world?
Yes. We need to ask ourselves "who is the emperor"? Right now, it's a "corporatocracy". We are the customers and the employees. They count on us, and we have a good success record of changing them when we choose to apply pressure.
He also makes the important point that he's NEVER met an evil CEO. They all want to create a better world, but they are trapped in the expectations of our economy. I'm glad Mr. Perkins pointed this out. There's so much "Corporations are Satan's-spawn," talk here, I was starting to go a little cross-eyed.
4. How do we bring about change?
Mr. Perkins tells the story of a fight between Rainforest Action Network vs. Mitsubishi. The fight got ugly, but they got an agreement signed at the end of it. Then he met the head of both organizations at a conference and found them both hanging out in the hot tub. The Mitsubishi CEO thanked the Rainforest guy because he wanted to do it, but didn't dare ask their managers, because they feared for their jobs. The CEO thanked the Rainforest guy because he forced him to do the right thing.
Moral of the story: organized efforts can persuade corporations to change their ways. Find the organization that draws out your passion, and get out and support it.
At the end of the day, things like "not buying bottled water" are band-aids. We must change the underlying model for how we live. Examine your life and figure out what steps you can take to get there.