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๐ŸŒฑ Elite Capture: How We Hack a Game Not Designed for Us

Part III: Strengthening Progressive Movements Against Co-optation

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

๐Ÿค“ Bite-Sized Knurd: By the time we are handed the video game controller, many choices have already been made for us. As elites limit our choices, we should reclaim our values and build collective action.

In Case You Missed It: Capturing Time & Attention. Tools That Limit Movement Building

921 Elite Capture Playing the Game

With wealth inequality officially worse than the Gilded Age, this era has come to be defined by elite capture.

Itโ€™s completely unsustainable for only 5% of the country to control 67% of the countryโ€™s wealth. I mean, 3 men hoard more wealth than half of the country! Thereโ€™s no way we can keep going like this.

So what do we do about it?

Our modern society is built on layers and layers of complexity that canโ€™t be changed with a flip of a switch. However, the country is waking up to the unfair game being played and calling for changes that will lead to a switch.

For movement building, I look at solving elite capture in two different realms: out in the world and within our own movements. Weโ€™ll dig into our movements next week, but firstโ€ฆ

A Game Not Designed for Us

By the time we even begin to make a choice, there have been hundreds of decisions already made for us. When buying coffee, you can pick between a Sumatra or a Kenyan roast, but you donโ€™t have unlimited choices.

The same concept is true in life. A lot of those decisions are being made by elites. When they own and run the rails (politics, media, finance, etc.), they make the rules. It can be recognized everywhere.

  • We donโ€™t have the option for universal healthcare, affordable childcare, or a progressive tax system because of dark money in politics.
  • I would rather travel via high-speed rail, but without a system in the U.S., my limited transportation choices are more dependent on fossil fuels.
  • Weโ€™re now forced to pick from a few mediocre streaming services to watch television.

My Choice โ†’ Our Choices

Itโ€™s important to remember that we have immense power when we use it collectively. We have the power of our decisions within the system.

โ€œThe elite can set the rules for how the environment responds to our actions. But they donโ€™t actually control, directly, what our actions are.โ€ -

Olรบfแบนฬmi O. Tรกรญwรฒ in Elite Capture

We might not be able to make substantially different choices like divesting from fossil fuels, but little choices add up. When the majority chooses differently, our actions speak loudly. Our collective pocketbooks have power. Our votes. Saying no is especially powerful. When we all collectively start flying less, demanding better public transportation, or buying electric, less oil needs to come out of the ground. Imagine all the little choices that each of us can make.

Reclaiming Our Values

When we canโ€™t make the choices weโ€™d like to make, it can compromise our values and feelings of worth.

So much of our society is designed for us to feel bad about ourselves. Capitalism functions best when we forget our worth. We regain our power when we reclaim our worth and reject unwarranted shame.

I do this by making small incremental choices that reclaim my values. I bring my coffee mug into Starbucks to get it refilled. Am I saving the world? No, definitely not, but it helps me live more aligned with my values. The more aligned I feel the more I can carry those values into my work and conversations. As we all show up more aligned with our values, we can hold up mirrors for others to grow. We grow and build solidarity with each interaction.

So why not remake the game?

One player at a time.

What little choices have you made or could you make to reclaim your values?

Resources for reclaiming ourselves:

  • Newsletter: A progressive economist who worked with presidents from Gerald Ford to Obama. He makes our unfair finance easy to understand.
  • We Can Do Hard Things Podcast: Glennon Doyleโ€™s podcast is an incredible entry point to unlearn the unhealthy beliefs our society has engrained in us. Glennon with her wife Abbey Wambach and sister, Amanda Doyle, are a delight each week.
  • Rest is Resistance: Come back to your body and give yourself permission to rest with Tricia Herseyโ€™s short manifesto. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook! Itโ€™s so soothing.

Join me at the Social Media Strategy Summit next week!

Social Media has been more turbulent and exciting over the last year than we have seen in a long time. Join 3 days of panels, training, strategy, and conversations to enhance your social media strategies. Perfect for non-profits, grassroots organizations, political campaigns, and activists.

  • When: September 26 to 28th (my sessionโ€™s on Thursday!)
  • Where: Online (sessions will be recorded)

Register and donโ€™t forget to use code โ€˜RootsofChange20โ€™ for 20% off!

๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ for activists & heart-first humans ๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿค‘ Economics & Capitalism๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿคนโ€โ™€๏ธ Social & Cultural๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ‘ท๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ Organizing & Movements

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support communicators, organizations, and activists ๐Ÿฅต to avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

Learn more about the Roots of Change Agency.