Do Social Movements Need an Extreme Edge?

Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 09:43 pm
or challenged
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Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 09:53 pm
What about the extreme of today - The Federalist Parties, SCOTUS, DeLay, GWB in the forfront. Corporate corruption being tolerated - a kinda of lassez faire, don't talk don't tell atmosphere. I remember three years ago I would say outrageous things that are going to happen and Repubs would say - don't be silly, that wouldn't happen. Now look where we are, at the gateways of Fascism! Don't think that is a major social change, get ready.
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Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2003 01:56 am
Re: Do Social Movements Need an Extreme Edge?
sozobe wrote:
Do you think an extreme edge is necessary to effect change? Or that the movement that is calm and reasonable at all times is the one that will have greater success?

Realistically, a social movement cannot achieve any major change without lots of media coverage that gets people's attention in the short run. Trouble is, important social changes tend to happen in the long run, and the kind of tactics that get you attention in the short run tend to ruin the mainstream's trust in your cause in the long run. Take environmentalists for example: The Club of Rome's confident 1970 prediction that the world would run out of oil by 1995 certainly got people's attention at the time, but all the happy SUV driving that's still possible in 2003 has reduced trust in their message to a hard core of True Believers today.

Another problem is that the people with the extreme edge that get the media attention often shape the perception of the whole movement in unfavorable ways. Take gay adoptions for example. The gay couples I personally know are nice and down-to-earth people, and I'd have no problem at all with seeing them adopt babies. But the whip-swinging leather & metal transvestites that magically attract TV cameras at Christopher Street day parades? Call me a bigot if you want, but I do feel slightly uncomfortable about seing them adopt babies. Assuming my reflexes here are fairly common, I conclude that the minority of "extreme edge" gays may be much more effective in raising the question of gay adoptions, but they also make it harder for the mainstream to answer it in the movement's favor. Again, the extreme edge people turn out to be an asset in the short run, but a liability in the long run.

Do I know any better way how a movement might advance its cause? I'm afraid I don't.

-- Thomas
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Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2003 02:20 am
Bookmarking. I'll be bavk...
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Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2003 02:44 am
Just some almost random thoughts.

I think the more entrenched and embued with affect a societal belief/structure is, the more it is seen as the natural order of things, the more extreme must be the antithesis for the belief system to be rocked - and the more any changes won must be enshrined in law to hold them against inevitable backlash, and to win even the appearance of change, before any general inner change occurs in the population.

Of course, such extremity, as lots of people have commented, creates extreme backlash - as we are seeing now in a number of social and political arenas.

My sense is that the social movements do need to maintain something of an extreme edge - bearing in mind that what seems extreme to one observer will seem invisible to another - otherwise I fear that backlash will leave us back where we started, as we all settle back into a sort of:"Thank god THAT'S sorted, now all those black people, feminists, poor people, homosexual people etc will settle down and stop being such a pain in the bum, and stop making me angry/guilty/outraged/confused/lost/scared/useless/bad etc!"

What I think is moot is how extreme to be and what manner of extreme is most effective, how much honey vs how much vinegar, if you will - how much perturbation in the system is necessary to stop it turning back over, in its sleep, to occupy its old position, as systems have a tendency to do, and without it becoming an implacable enemy - and once again noting that one person's honey is another person's vinegar.

If I had the recipe for the perfect marinade, I would give it here - but, as a very vinegary bugger, I am told, (I don't see it, myself, LOL) on certain issues (some of you may be able to guess which) I know I do not have it.
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Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2003 07:59 am
(God - that made no sense, did it, and now I am hungry forChinese food, what's more....sigh..)
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Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2003 08:01 am
Ha! Made sense to me.

Thomas, good to see you here -- I made explicit mention of your stance re: environmentalists in a long post I made last night that was just too meandering, so didn't post.

Good stuff, all. Back with more later.
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Algis Kemezys
Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2003 08:05 am
I think the edge becomes blurred over time. It might start out with a dynamic soul or two or .... but after the rough stuff , time has a resolving affect within it's parameters that allows most things to manifest them selves in a gradual nature IDEALLY.On the other side, this planet has seen many natural catastrophic events that changed the face of the climate so taking that into account, things will change.

It also seems that I have stumbled onto something while in Crete. This planet seems to under go periods where life in it's present state can change rapidly , lets say over 100 years into a totally different life form. This planet might have a mechanism built into itself that allows species to adapte to a drastic climate change or what have you.

Whatever, this is only a hypothesis of mine, but it seemed to have last taken place with the Atlantians. Our DNA is the ultimate formula. Lets say one day we are playing around with our DNA and we find out we are slowly turning into reptiles. And it happens, everyone turns into reptiles, They look pretty much the same but they are now just cold blooded. Of coarse, whoever reads this is normal. Meaning they still have warm blood and are a true living mammal. But the numbers are about 50/50. Sometimes it happens in marrages. Husband reptile wife normal mammal.
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Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2003 09:12 am
What did Algis say, 'bout DNA; anyone?

Extremism varies depending upon the source;
Most causes having extreme elements are emotional in nature (isn't everything!).
Emotional reaction to an idea, invariably is more volatile than a considered intellectual reaction, but then, who wants to rally behind some well thought out reasonable compromise giving metered equality to those deserving it over an agreed upon period of time? Not I, ses I! Twisted Evil

So, as it is with politicians, the old "any publicity is good publicity (just make sure they spell my name right)" leads the way, and clever leaders of many "causes" use the media to manipulate the public into paying attention to their needs, even if somewhat disturbed by their methods; sober consideration of the facts will always lead to ignoring the extremes on both sides.
Does the "public soberly consider anything? - different ballgame! Rolling Eyes

The basic difference is with worthwhile causes, there is a core of leadership who are intelligent beings, and who, when faced with endangering inocent bystanders or equivalent, will shift gears from emotional abandon, to intelectual reality, and reel in the more boisterous of their supporters before irreversible damage has been done, allowing the "cause" to bask in the harsh glare of publicity, and lobbying diligently behind the scenes.

In other cases, where real harm is considered appropriate, the emotional fringe has taken over, and the mob is no better than terrorists, who's twisted logic clamours for murder to protect the rights of their group to live in peace; some logic!
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