The Daily Beast interview with Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans
On its surface, New Power looks like a breathless book by two social media experts about how decentralized power is changing the world for the better. Occupy, MeToo, Black Lives Matter, the Ice Bucket Challenge, and even Oreo Cookies have shown, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms say, that New Power is people’s power, decentralized power, peer-generated power that can be channeled but not managed from on high. “It’s only a movement if it moves without you,” they say.
Reading the book, however, I found myself growing more pessimistic, conservative, elitist, and crotchety. After all, right-wing populist movements like the Leave campaign in Britain, the Tea Party and MAGA movements in the U.S., and many others utilize “New Power” too, often more effectively than their progressive or centrist opponents. The more I read of New Power, the more old and embittered I felt.
So I decided to ask them about that. Both are experts: Timms launched the Giving Tuesday campaign, which is now part of our holiday season calendar, and Heimans co-founded the online activism platform Avaaz andPurpose.org, which has built activist campaigns for Google, the ACLU, and the LGBT group All Out, among others. Their TED talk on “new power” has gotten over 1.25 million views and CNN called “new power” one of the “top ten ideas to change the world in 2015.”
Lucky for me, both are also in my own New York, Jewish, and (in Heimans’ case) gay orbits, so I decided to treat this interview like getting a round of drinks with these guys, playing devil’s advocate, and leaving the jokes in the final transcript. Here’s what went down.