I write and argue about a philosophy of empowerment. So I must be doing something right because people are starting to ask regularly what the heck I mean by that term; aren’t I just finding a new way of professing my liberal or progressive inclinations?
No, I’m not. Empowerment is a force for change that presumes that the systems we rely on are themselves grounded in engaging, supporting and opening the ways and means of action into the systems we use — and thus a method for ensuring that all social systems carry within themselves the avenues to challenges. They are approaches that fix problems while they help us and help us help each other.
If we have a system … for good, for bad; for social responsibility, for profit … it needs to carry within itself all that is required to empower its users to find solutions to issues or concerns related to its area or focus. Housing empowerment doesn’t give people houses; it enables our system of housing making and using to sustain avenues so all get houses. And most often that involves parterning with the largest force for collective protection we have, government.
Sorry libertarians! Starving or shrinking the beast isn’t empowering in most cases because it is used as an excuse to cut away the protections government offers to capitalism and consumerism — tactics that are seldom empowering (though interactive technology may be changing this game if we play it out right!).
Is it possible for there to be liberal and conservative forms of empowerment? Sure, I guess; though honestly in this time of fast-acting progress, conservative empowerment doesn’t make a lot of sense. But I’m open to reconsidering this if someone can convince me of the error of my ways.
If not, when I speak of EMPOWERMENT, I speak of systems that carry within them the ways and means (the actions and the resources) to fix the problems and engage those who are part of that very process. If we get this one right, then we don’t have to worry about what is radical and what is right. Good ideas will simply work.