Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms, New Power: How power works in our hyper-connected world – and how to make it work for you, Sydney: Macmillan 2018.
ISBN 9781743540138; Available online from $25
Reviewed by Ted Witham
You would have to say that the Coalition Government is terrified of the progressive membership organisation GetUp! Not only are there more members of GetUp! than there are of the two main parties combined, but GetUp! has proven expert in using ‘New Power’ to advance specific agendas. Despite two attempts to pass legislation to clip GetUp’s power, the Government has not succeeded in destroying the organisation.
New Power reveals some of the thinking behind GetUp! and its international counterpart Avaaz. Heimans and Timms describe ways to mobilise a community using social media, how to spread ideas, raise funds, and gather participants for action. They use case-studies like Uber, Donald J. Trump, #MeToo and Reddit to show how people seeking change blend old power with new power to influence others.
Some like candidate Trump used new power to consolidate old power values. The TED organisation spreads ideas by mixing old and new power to retain quality control of TED talks and invite wider participation through TEDx talks. Through this blend of power, Pope Francis and Candidate Obama are ‘Crowd Leaders’ using new power techniques to further new power values. After his election, however, President Obama became more a ‘Cheerleader’ using the old power structures of the presidency to further new power values.
ISIS is a clever manipulator of new power techniques in the service of old power.
The authors of New Power, Australian Jeremy Heimans and Briton Henry Timms write from experience. Heimans, co-founder of GetUp, began that organisation in 2005, before smart-phones and the spread of social media, with the intention of harnessing the internet to spread progressive ideas and change Australia for the better. Timms is CEO and President of 92 Street Y, a ‘cultural and community center that creates programs and movements that foster learning and civil engagement’.
I read the 324-page book in a 48-hour period. The writing is engaging; the stories are fascinating. The implications for action, whether in leadership or in engagement with one’s community are clearly described.
Anyone interested in changing the world – bringing home the refugees from Nauru, stopping the environmental depredations of Adani, or just reminding your politician that you vote – will find good food for thought in New Power.