Building Power

We support communities and workers in creating collective action and organizing for participatory and accountable systems that ensure human rights and deepen democracy.

The concentration of economic, political and cultural power has greatly disempowered most people in our country. This oppressive concentration of power has solidified into systems that marginalize, exploit and exclude many communities and deprive everyone of the freedom to determine the conditions of their lives. Corporations, which have been given rights as if they were people, exercise power not only over the economy but also over the political process, cultural life, and increasingly over public and private space, while real people are left with little control. But power can shift, and resistance and a struggle for transformation of our society are fueling growing movements for change. 

To strengthen, grow and link emerging forms of resistance into broader movements for change, we must organize in a way that builds the power of people to exert true democratic control of our society. This requires enabling people most impacted by injustice to collectively spearhead change and creating participatory and accountable systems that ensure human rights and further deepen democracy. Only organized collective action can change systems towards sharing power in an accountable way, open to constant questioning and change.

NESRI envisions:

  • Building a culture of solidarity: Human rights enable people to see their individual struggles as systemic problems with common roots that can be addressed together, and connect people’s values to broader, unifying principles that can guide our efforts towards justice. We build power when we forge bonds with people sharing the same experiences, create bridges between different struggles, and establish pathways for collectively participating in institutional decision-making.
  • Developing collective action: We need collective action to build power, which requires communities to organize as well as to be aligned with one another across our struggles. To achieve this in a sustainable way, we can look to six key practices: building permanent organization, developing leaders, applying a value-based framework (e.g. human rights), communicating strategically, holding powerholders accountable, and actively creating an alignment of disparate social efforts.
  • Creating participatory and accountable systems:  Economic, political and social systems structure our lives and can often keep people disempowered. To change this, we must demand new systems of both private and public accountability to basic rights and standards for workers and communities; we must democratize the economy with more collective planning and decision-making grounded in human rights; and we must strengthen our political democracy from very basic voting rights to creating more participatory and direct democratic institutions. 


For more information on Building Power, please contact our ESR Committee.


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