how to change it make a difference go on Leon what the [ __ ] is this about so this is a text by an organizer Joshua Asami who’s based in London and it’s a book that he’s written on the label or the imprint called murky books so I’m sure you’ve heard of stormzy essentially this is a book endorsed by stormzy this is stormzy’s guide on how to change the world how to make a difference I mean it’s not but the label murky murky books is stormzy’s label so he set up a label to kind of get books written by and for young black kids young people in general people in general and this book by Joshua assami is is part of that series it’s a really really cool book it’s an introduction to how to organize how to engage in activism how to understand the world and why it’s in need of activism and in need of social change that’s why I wanted to share it with you because I think it’s just a really brilliant introductory guide to all of those themes plus it even taught me someone who’s been an activist for like over 15 years it taught me loads of stuff as well about how to organize how to change it as the title says brilliant so what are the top three things that stuck out to you well it’s handy that you asked me the top three things because the book’s actually organized into three parts the first part is around education the second part is around organization and the third part is around agitation in terms of Education Josh talks about sorry I’m saying Josh because I know him he’s a mate of Mines Josh covers three areas it covers education firstly and he talks about his experience of school which really resonated with me as someone who like Josh faced the arbitrary power of teachers as I’m sure many of the people listening to this podcast would have done at some point because that’s the way that most British schools operate and indeed most schools globally you know you have the teacher’s disposition of authority if you dare to question them and their Authority then you’re a troublemaker if you’re a troublemaker that’s labeled as bad and just kind of flips on his head and he says look my experiences of being in school and of inverted commas making trouble of challenging Authority we’re actually really instructive because they were moments of me being engaged in like a political Awakening he says that some of the reasons that he asked questions of teachers wasn’t to be cheeky it wasn’t to be rude although he also admits that he was cheeky and rude as well at times but the reason he often asked questions was because he would wanted to know the answers he wanted to understand the world better and yet he also points out that one of the ways in which school is organized is to stop us from understanding the world better stop us from wanting to know more about how the world is organized and to discourage us from asking those critical questions so that mundane like process of a teacher saying don’t talk back to me you know don’t ask me that question that’s not just them stamping their Authority on you it’s also a way in which the society that we live in gets reproduced without a challenge so people get forced into being compliant being complacent not challenging not asking the hard questions and that’s not a natural state of affairs he points out that kids growing up are innately inquisitive they want to know and understand the world and through this process of Education that they get beaten down and beaten down right so following on that would you say that he’s addressing education as an institution for indoctrination does he speak on that and do you have any thoughts on that yeah absolutely you know he precisely talks about education in relation to what I mean he gets deep I don’t know how deep we want to get in our conversation one of the things I like about the book is that he has these little sort of text boxes where he goes into some Concepts in more depth he recommends further reading in the general text itself it’s very kind of readable it’s very light and you can kind of just follow it without knowing too much but for instance here on one of the pages he talks about ideology and he uses the concept of ideology that is the ideas and beliefs and symbols that help to persuade people that the way that things are is the way that they should be he talks about education’s role in that process of reproducing those ideas that ideology so yeah he does I’d say that’s a question he does do that and going back to how it relates to us to breathe to organizing and to activism how would you say that the text helps in understanding how to organize to change the world yeah I mean in tons of ways so in terms of Education he’s talking about the need to have our own education so the work that we’re doing here on campfire stories for instance is an example of that all the work that you guys do as the comms team is an example of that we are sharing understandings and analyzes of how the world is with people to help them to help re-educate them or not I mean we educate that’s a very bad conversation in terms of uh more like unlearned perhaps unlearn I like it yeah yeah that’s less loaded to unlearn a lot of the ideology about how the world is and to provide a different source of education and ideas I just remembered that in a previous podcast the one on D growth you spoke about the experience economy and how University and higher education is now also part of the experience economy which I find really interesting because you’re a professor or an ex-professor of a university so yeah how does that link back to your work and how do you actually now feel about University having had quite an intimate relationship with it that’s that’s such a weird way to put it but like yeah yeah and I mean universities were Snogging and no now we’re just friends in fact we’re not even friends we’re on like a separation no to Let’s dispatch dispense with that um relationship metform so he doesn’t really he talks a bit about universities in the book so he talks a bit about his dropping out of University so he dropped out I’d say he’s probably one of the most educated people I’ve come across and yet he didn’t complete the degree that he started at University and part of that is because yeah the way that universities are set up is similar they’re extensions of the education system that we talked about in relation to schools so they are very hierarchical they are institutions that we’ve inherited from a really oppressive way that Society has been organized so my experience of working universities has been that on one hand on the other hand though at times I’ve managed to find and create spaces where we can push back against those oppressive structures and as we speak right now University staff are on strike or at least there’s like a live active strike mandate and part of that is around the fact that the government has been trying to attack higher education which is part of this war on woke and it’s like anti-critical race Theory and it’s anti-gender Progressive politics and all of this and so the University is also a site of struggle it’s also a Battleground as our schools even if it might feel like the power’s stacked against the student or stacked against the work or stacked against the pupil but I remember some of my friends’s biggest politicizing moments were organizing School strikes against the Iraq Wars in spite of these institutions being really oppressive in the way that they’re structured there’s also opportunities for people to come together and resist them and organize collectively which is I guess the important thing yeah you’re saying that to someone who started off as a school Striker there you go you know for climate exactly like I that gave us that gave like older people like me such hope to see the Young Generation kind of yeah continuing with struggle and organization and and the only group in society was reacting with any measure of appropriate level of response to the coming crisis you know but I bet you got discipline for that did you um not very harshly because I I did it during a period of time that she was quite convenient it wasn’t this super transgressive thing yeah yeah it didn’t feel that deep so tell me about the second section of the book then yes so the second section of the book is organized he breaks it down to three subsections so he says you have to find your people so you have to find people who have had an educational Awakening or not necessarily even had an Awakening but people who are going to be aligned with you who share your interests you have to organize with them so that means you have to come up with a strategy of how you’re going to achieve the aims that you need to achieve and you need to get strong so you need to do that work of building the counter movements that are going to be able to challenge the oppressive structures that you’re coming up against and so there’s lots of different examples he draws on of movements from across time and space he talks about the Black Panthers who are big in the us he talks about examples from the suffragettes he talks about the colonial movements you know radical armed struggles against Colonial oppression loads of different kinds of collective action but these things they shared in common that they needed to get together with people who had the same interest as them and they needed to form a strategy so they need to have a sense of how they were going to achieve their aims and then they needed to get strong build their power and find a good way of organizing that strengthen their power he mentions the concept hegemony and I don’t want to get too much into content some theories but like this idea of basically just about power who has power and who doesn’t like that’s the most simplistic understanding of it and yeah the need to build a counterpower so that’s what organization’s for that’s why you don’t just try and do these things on your own right if you try and do it on your own it’s easy for those who have power to just squash you so Greta dunberg is an interesting example because she did just go out on her own initially but then she became a figurehead of a much bigger movement which involved like you said tons of people where then it became much harder like for them to Target you that would have been a lot more difficult than if you were just doing it on your own right yeah for sure and it became this socially acceptable thing to do you know where we had classrooms and teachers and children just coming along to these protests but moving on to the third section of the book on agitation what does this mean what does this look like and should we be doing it yeah so the first two educate and organize you need to understand the world and what’s wrong with it and you need to have a sense of how it might need to change and then you need to organize so you need to find people with whom you can change it and who you can help build your shared understanding alongside then once you’ve done that you have to agitate you have to take action essentially because nothing’s going to change without you and your your people who you’re organizing and struggle with unless you take action so he talks about getting protesting getting teaching and getting free I guess getting free is my ultimate goal we all want to be free we want to get rid of the powers that oppress us and and stop us from living free full lives I mean we’re often told that like the left or the movement doesn’t want you to be free whereas actually is we want people to be more free we can see that people aren’t free at the moment we want more freedom but anyway the point of agitation is that that’s how you get to Freedom you you have to take on and challenge power so you have to build that dual power the counterpower you have to build a big enough movement with enough people involved that you’re able to turn things around and push them in a New Direction so in terms of climate that’s obviously massively important because of the fact that things are on such a harmful trajectory impending doom as I like to say depending Doom yeah yeah yeah so upon reflection do you think this is a good guide for people who are asking themselves what to do about the state of the world I think this this is a really useful guide for people who are asking themselves what to do about the state of the world like I said it’s going to be especially useful for people who are just starting to think about these things or who maybe who haven’t even thought about them in this way before but for someone like me who I would consider myself to have been thinking about these things for a long time I got a lot from it as well and it’s just a useful refresher and there were lots of bits of information there that I hadn’t come across before examples that I thought oh yeah I haven’t thought about that before I haven’t known about that there are connections to things like culture so he makes connections to the work that rappers do or have done in popularizing critical ideas and he he sites lots of examples such as Tupac and Kano and little Sims more recently Tupac was like wasn’t his mama Black Panther all right yeah he’s on to was a member it was a black panther yeah so he had that I guess in his family but yeah no it’s back to your question like it is a really important book I think it’s very small it’s readable it’s affordable it’s concise it’s really well written to me because a young I don’t know I’m not still technically young am I but as a black man reading it it kind of resonated in terms of experiences of schooling Prejudice and so on but I think there’s tons of information in there that will resonate with everyone’s experience of just living in the world and being in the world and kind of just getting a sense that things could be better and that we need to try and understand how to make them better and he gives us like a load of kind of practical tips and guides based on tons of successful organizing experience I mean the guy’s been really active in lots of organizations that have had a huge impact black lives matter UK London’s renters Union just to name two and then tons of others but it’s also humble he’s not like a he’s not bragging about all he’s been involved in he’s just kind of sharing his experience and his wisdom and he doesn’t say this is the end of the journey he’s like this is a contribution to an ongoing struggle us with this podcast here we’re contributing to it as well and we’re just giving another little piece in the puzzle we have got to get free and the only way we can do that is with everyone getting involved so yeah I think it’s a really a really good book yeah and what tips and tactics took out to you I mean stuff like on how you find new sources of information how you kind of unlearn the harmful or like the really useless educational techniques that have been been forced upon us from a young age or stuff in there about how you build an organization that’s got strong foundations so that it can withstand the challenges that it’s going to face if it becomes successful specifically he gives examples of specific activities that you can do with an organization to help that organization vision and imagine what the future should look like so there’s lots of things like that that stood out to me it might be that we explore them in our how we get free series because that’s the whole point right that sounds like a good idea to me yeah so we’ll follow up on that Wicked class class and race and gender and uh [Laughter]

Getting Free

Episode 9 | Getting Free In this episode, we explore the themes of education, organisation, and agitation concerning Joshua Virasami’s thought-provoking book, “How to Change It,” where he offers a roadmap for how we can start to build a better, more just world. We’re joined by Leon, our Head of Research, who shares his insights on the barriers that prevent us from truly being free, the importance of community organising and activism, and how we can all play a role in creating a more just and free world. Tune in and discover how we can collectively challenge systems of oppression and seek liberation with these tools and strategies for getting free. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of “How to Change It” to deepen your understanding of these critical issues! #gettingfree #howtochangeit #makeadifference #education #organisation #agitation #activism #podcast #community #communityorganising #organising #cs #campfirestories #hwgf #howwegetfree #thewayitis #thewayitshouldbe #thewaywechangethings #definitions #breathe #breathebuilds