About a month ago I did a training which was basically an introduction to social action. As part of this training I wrote up a scenario about alien invasion which I gave out to prompt discussion about social action strategy, tactics, and the process of organizing. I was very happy with how this worked, and want to share the scenario.
Here it is:
After a long protracted struggle, aliens from outer space have conquered the Earth. In ___ (insert country where this training is happening) they have not changed the basic governmental structure. However, they have established a society where the majority of people are paid less than what is necessary to survive; although most do survive through activity in the informal economy and/or through debt (which is largely owned by aliens; who now control the financial industry). Many humans are also imprisoned, and the legal system (both the courts and the police) tend to primarily protect alien interests. The highest offices of authority are held almost exclusively by aliens while a lower strata of authority is maintained by humans, most of whom have come to emphatically endorse alien rule. Elections and voting still exist, although people must always choose between very pro-alien candidates. The aliens also do not need this planet and are willing to push the Earth’s resources to their capacity in order to produce valuable goods in the overall alien empire. As a result, climate change and energy scarcity have intensified. Schools and the media largely portray alien rule as normal and natural, and the majority of humans accept this perspective. While there are pockets of rebellion, most feel powerless to change things. Many people say “that’s just the way it is,” when discussing perceived unfairness in their world. However many people do wish for change, and they occasionally gather for this purpose. You are a group of people gathering for change [Note, for this sentence I actually named the group I was working with in my original write-up, but you can insert whatever group you want here]. How might you direct your energy towards a better world?
The overt purpose of this scenario was to spark a discussion on strategy, tactics, and organizing. The scenario also had a covert purpose of sparking social analysis. It fulfilled both purposes better than I expected; with participants enthusiastically throwing out their ideas and very quickly realizing that the scenario actually described the world we already live in.
Feel free to use the scenario if you like. If you do, realize that people will probably ask questions about things that are not stated in the scenario. My answers reflected my understanding of the world we currently live in (with aliens basically replacing the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people). Also, I treated the aliens as though they had both good and bad traits and were not all of one mind, even though they all did benefit (in some way) from the exploitation of humanity as a whole. One of the pitfalls I see in this scenario is that it can dehumanize, which I would try to avoid. But I think overall this is a very nice tool for sparking our social action imagination while deepening our analysis.