Monday, December 19, 2011

The Art of Societal Change

The single most important thing a campaign for societal change must do is this: It must change itself.

"Be the change you want to see," in the words of Gandhi.

Sun Tzu addressed this in terms of war in a dozen different ways - the single most important thing one may draw from him is that, before defeating the enemy, you must first defeat yourself.

Campaigns which do not live up to their own standards, campaigns which -cannot- live up to their own standards - which is every progressive, socialist, and communistic movement - must ultimately fail.  This is not to say they cannot change government, that they cannot change society - but not in the ways they hope.  The hypocrisies necessary to these philosophies ensure they cannot change themselves, and hence cannot change society, in the manner they hope.  (See the percenters who refuse to give up their own globally exemplary wealth to feed the starving elsewhere, for example.)

The internet has given such campaigns immense power to communicate, to engage in the self-policing activities necessary to ensure that they live up to their own standards.  The "enemy" is basically irrelevant; this has been particularly apparent in the second amendment rights movement; gun control advocates have increasingly been pushed into irrelevancy.  It's important that the campaign has the facts on its side, but it is more important that it has done such a remarkable job pushing damaging elements to the periphery.

The most important thing for a modern campaign to do is precisely the activity of self-policing.  Scandals are fine if the campaign reacts appropriately to them; in the era of free information, scandal cannot be avoided, only dealt with.  The popular political parties, as campaigns, have been doing very bad jobs of dealing with their own scandals, which is a large part of their current state.

I routinely piss off the people on my side of the debate; I'm more likely to attack them than my enemies.  This is necessary, and it is necessary that a good movement be willing to rebuke and dismiss individuals in its membership, no matter how important they may seem.  Movements that cannot or will not do this will die.

Hitchens was willing to take to task his own.  He was a kindred spirit, if opposed in ideals, and represents a dying breed among his own.  I do not think the left will soon recover from his loss.


  1. So you're saying I should launch my 'conservatives being stupid' mission/series.
    With the caveat that I'm not sure my available tools strong enough to be cost-effective. But, assuming they are...?

  2. Provided you feel closely aligned with conservative ideology, yes. That's one of the most productive things you can be doing.

    It only really works if conservatives more broadly take up the same habit, though; you need the force to "defeat yourself." They seem much more inclined to self-policing than the left, however. (The right by and large is the right because it agrees on several broad issues; the left is the left because they agree on very specific issues. The left is composed of a weak alliance of only loosely aligned interests; I don't think they're capable of self-policing, because it would severely damage said alliances.)