SJBAYLOC: THEORY OF CHANGE FOR THE U.S. SOCIAL FORUM
Proposed by Human Agenda
Activists involved in the U.S. Social Forum cannot expect to replace the existing exploitation, speculation, discrimination, and corruption of our existing economic, political and social system unless we have a theory of change.
Key elements of that theory of change include the following:
1. Fight Oppression and Build Movements. We need to fight against the existing oppression at all levels. If we
don’t fight for reforms and only seek to “overthrow the system”, we will be isolated warriors for change. In the longer run, we
need to build a powerful movement of movements connected to a common vision. An alternative built upon our values
will grow, develop, and succeed once we have reached a critical mass of grassroots efforts connected to a clear vision
through cross-movement solidarity. This movement of movements of conscious organized individuals is critical.
2. Clarify and Champion a Clear Vision based on a Revolution of Values. We need an ecohumanist
vision that identifies and meets sustainable planetary and human needs, allowing both the planet and human beings to
flourish. The vision needs values: Democracy, Equality, Cooperation, Kindness, and Sustainability (DECKS). These values
do not exist in the dominant economic, political, social, ideological, and cultural institutions of our nation, like our electoral
system, banks, and large corporations.
3. Build Alternative Ecohumanist Structures and Institutions, Brick by Brick. New economic,
political, and social structures and institutions need to incorporate these DECKS values. The struggle for structural change by
creating value-based institutions and models via cooperatives, public banks, commons, the state sector, non-profits, small
businesses, land trusts, deep democracy, cultural freedom, etc. is critical for a new society. Specific new forms need to be
developed to meet specific human and planetary needs. If we don’t spend significant time and energy on alternatives that
incorporate DECKS values for each human and planetary need, our existing system and existing institutions self-perpetuate.
4. Transform Thyself. We cannot un-do oppression and create new institutions if we ourselves are oppressive in our
relations with others as we build a new society or if we continue to consume economically, politically, and ideologically from
the powers that be. We must be the change we want to see by incorporating our values into our daily actions. This includes
conscious, optimal, solidarity consumption from DECKS-valued institutions; the transformation of the daily institutions we
participate in to incorporate DECKS values; the building of new such value-based institutions; and caring for ourselves and our
loved ones so that we do not burn out. We need to be active on the levels of structural change, needed reforms, and
individual transformation, simultaneously. Organizing our personal lives, our struggles against oppression, and the
alternatives to our existing system require super-human efforts. We are all Super!
5. Fight for Political Power—and Keep It! A viable non-violent struggle for change ultimately calls for an electoral
vehicle in the democratic fight for political power that incorporates our values. Built upon the movement of movements,
creating trust over time, let us not avoid but rather consistently build the foundations of that electoral option. Once We the
People gain power, make sure it is democratically exercised based on DECKS values to keep it.
The above ideas are summarized from the Vision PMA and the Constitutional PMA of the San Jose U.S. Social Forum held in San Jose, California on October 5, 2014 and January 31, 2015. Contact Richard Hobbs, moderator of the Cooperative Economics Working Group of the USSF at firstname.lastname@example.org to give your opinion on a theory of change.
@ USSF Theory of Change