The Evolution of Activism

A couple of years ago I wrote:

Activist: A person who believes so strongly that a problem needs to be remedied that she dedicates substantial time to "¦ getting other people to fix the problem.   It used to be that activists sought voluntary help for their pet problem, and thus retained some semblance of honor.  However, our self-styled elite became frustrated at some point in the past that despite their Ivy League masters degrees in sociology, other people did not seem to respect their ideas nor were they particularly interested in the activist's pet issues.  So activists sought out the double shortcut of spending their time not solving the problem themselves, and not convincing other people to help, but convincing the government it should compel others to fix the supposed problem.  This fascism of good intentions usually consists of government taking money from the populace to throw at the activist's issue, but can also take the form of government-compelled labor and/or government limitations on choice.

So now, we have the next step -- advocating that others spend their time convincing government to use compulsion to solve some imagined problem.  Kevin Drum urges:

The only real way to address climate change is to make broad changes to laws and incentives.  It puts everyone on a level playing field, it gives everyone a framework for making their own choices, and it gives us a fighting chance of making the deep cuts we need to.  So listen to Tidwell: "Don't spend an hour changing your light bulbs. Don't take a day to caulk your windows. Instead, pick up a phone, open a laptop, or travel to a U.S. Senate office near you and turn the tables: 'What are the 10 green statutes you're working on to save the planet, Senator?'"

Jackboots seem to be "in" this season.

Postscript: In the language of mathematics (I mentioned before I am in the middle of Goedel-Escher-Bach) if actually aiding someone is "helping," then I guess organizing people to help is meta helping, and lobbying government to force other people to help is meta meta helping and so advocating on your blog that people should lobby the government to force other people to help is meta meta meta helping.  Must really warm Drum's heart to be so directly connected with helping people.

  • Not Sure

    "So activists sought out the double shortcut of spending their time not solving the problem themselves, and not convincing other people to help, but convincing the government it should compel others to fix the supposed problem."

    It's worse than this, even. As long as you claim to be "raising awareness", you can make the problems worse, and it's still all good.

  • roger the shrubber

    so we had it wrong all these years. leni riefenstahl, the good dr. goebbels, 'pravda'.....they weren't pumping out *propaganda*! they were merely activists trying to "make broad changes to laws and incentives"! it's been true forever, and it's still true now: scratch a liberal, wound a fascist. i wonder if they'd blithely accept a description of kristallnacht or a klan lynching party as 'community activism'. although doing so would fit perfectly into their smug, self-satisfied definition of activism, i rather suspect they'd reject the notion out of hand. to quote the well-dressed 'architect' of the 'matrix': "which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed and the anomaly is revealed": one set of standards for *them*, another, MUCH more stringent set of standards for US. hell, they're so confident in their mastery of us, they don't even try to hide it anymore. it's like climategate: they *know* we know, and their response is not to just merely ignore & refuse to report it, (14 days & counting - no mention on the major "news" networks yet!), but to double down on even-scarier AGW boogeyman stories. it's not lying. it's not blatant political bias. it's not propaganda: it's activism!

    i'd love to see a study comparing the issuance of 20th century presidential executive orders vis-a-vis republicans vs. democrats. right off the top of my head, since i'm familiar with the clinton staffer (rahm emanuel?) quote: "stroke of the pen, law of the land. cool!", i'd make the democrats -230 favorites.

  • Jim Collins

    Anybody remember the television show Quincy? The first few years it was pretty good and then it went to crap. The reason that it went to crap was that it became nothing more than a vehicle for activists. Instead of chasing murderers and other criminals, it was which corporation can we hang something on this week? Everything from infant car seats to Ford truck gas tank explosions were on that show.

  • Elliot

    All you need to do is consult your well worn copy of Rules for Radicals. There you will be reminded to make your opponents obey their own rules while you need not obey any at all.

    E

  • http://www.gmsplace.com/ John Moore

    So by combating this change are you anti-meta-meta...

    Oh, forget it :-)

  • O Bloody Hell

    > Postscript: In the language of mathematics...

    Rather than math/semantics, you should instead go for physics --

    The first derivative of acceleration is called "jerk"

    I nominate the second derivative of "help" be called "asshole".

    :D