How can a group of people bring about a fundamental shift in society? Can we analyse civil movements with mathematical metrics to improve the efficiency of strategies and the definition of goals?
The occupation in Melbourne is still in its Early Adaptor stage, although it seems to resonate enough with a potentially ‘critical’ mass that can bring things to a tipping point. Allow me to set out some hypothetical numbers while forgetting about ideological bullshit. Melbourne has roughly 4 million citizens, which means if 5% of the population constitute a ‘critical mass’, it would take 200.000 Melbournians to liberate this city from its oppressors (if the same thing happens globally).
200.000 sounds like a lot, it’s probably more than the ‘alternative’ parties count as members in whole Australia. But occupy isn’t a political party, it’s more like a life style choice. So metrics from other areas of life might better reflect such a number can be achieved or not. For simplicity’s sake and inspired by sometimes shaky optimism, I assume that theoretically 200,000 could be convinced to commit their alliance to the idea of leaderless, consensual direct democracy.
Between now and 200,000 Melbourne occupiers lies the growth of the movement. Growth happens cyclical, linear or exponential. Although most systems and structures based on exponential growth constitute a big part of the problem, a phase of exponential growth is required to save this planet before the greedy few have wrecked it entirely.
Time for some calculations. Let’s take 100 people, committed to contribute to the growth of the movement. The goal for each of them is to find a single ally per week. Even for people with a daytime job this sounds like an achievable target. In a linear model, it takes 2,000 weeks (roughly 38 years) to get our magical 200,000 together. A job for a lifetime, a Sisyphus task. Farewell, Mother Earth, will be late for your rescue as we got sidetracked supporting the system of destruction.
Now let’s bring some magic in, exponential growth. Our 100 people win allies, not consumers or subscribers, and show their alliance by doing the same. After a week there will 200 ‘members’, after two weeks 400, and so on. Now guess how many weeks it’ll take with this growth rate to get to 200,000. Don’t peer ahead and spoil your fun. I happily distract you for a while – isn’t distraction the real opium for the masses, be it sport, politics, porn, drugs, drama and media?
Already after two months the barrier to 10,000 allies is broken, and the numbers will jump within the next month (after 12 weeks) over the 200,000 mark. Even with only 10 people as starting point it would take a mere 19 weeks to grow to a number where even a 10% mobilisation rate would exceed the size of most rallyes that took place in recent history in Melbourne.
While this might sound like a pyramide scheme, there’s an essential difference. In a flat hierarchy, everybody is allowed to take their share from the gains of the operation. The idea of property, especially of land, contradicts the common interest, especially in highly populated world. And alliance (or membership) wouldn’t necessarily mean membership fees (do we really need money on an abundant planet?).
Before we can agree how to heal the planet and to evolve mankind the system of madness needs to be stopped. Dr. ABC, first of all, remove the danger. 200,000 people in Melbourne’s streets would certainly bring many things to a stop, and initiate a wave of civil disobedience that potentially brings back justice into society.