Around the year 2030, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO 2 emissions by at least 50%.
"Over the next few days, the glow of the action faded. I became aware of a second feeling. It was close to a stomach-clenching worry. I feared it wasn't enough or that the action hadn't worked as well as we had hoped. I saw that nothing immediately changed afterwards, even though we felt so powerful.
I sat with two different feelings: the feeling of success and the worry that we didn't really make a change."
What's strategic here? How do my local actions add up to real changes? How do we move from one-time actions to a whole movement, where all kinds of people from all walks of life are joined together in common cause?
"Change does not happen just because an issue is important. People have to wage a struggle ... Movements win because they channel these feelings of urgency, anger, fear — and our sense of this being wrong — into a force for change."
Chapter 1: Movements
Hashbat then faced the question every movement faces over and over again: What next?
The youth took two paths quickly. The first was to create an organisational structure so they could make decisions and decide their goals. They also needed to choose tactics — the actions they thought would get them to their goal. They settled on a name — the Mongolian Democratic Union (MDU). They created a citizens' manifesto, with goals such as democratic elections in which any parties would be free to run.
The second decision was to switch tactics, and escalate. Doing the same tactics would become routine. They didn’t want to be routine — they wanted to make possible what wasn’t possible before. And they wanted tactics that would apply pressure on the government to give in to their demands.
They also knew they had to recruit allies. They reached out to a wide range of civil society groups. Five hundred workers at a nearby mine stopped work for one hour in solidarity. Monks joined and offered their support. Teachers went out on their own strikes.
Change was in the air. The pressure mounted on the government, which tried negotiations and offering weak compromises to stop the energy. But the youth — and now the other groups, too — refused to accept anything more than their core goals. This brought in more allies and opened up the space for more tactics. And they won.
Social Movements Are Like a Wave
There are lots of lessons on how social movements win in this story.
You win by using a range of tactics. You escalate so that you keep applying more force on your opposition. You win by ignoring the people who say you can’t win. You organise allies, you sacrifice, and you keep active.
"When we're in the middle of a movement, it can look chaotic and disorderly. Movements are not clean. They are messy. And when inside them, we are painfully aware of their shortcomings."