Showing posts from June, 2019

Allies on the Inside

I was delighted to read Kwame Anthony Appiah's opinion piece in The New York Times, Stonewall and the Myth of Self-Deliverance. He raises a point that I have been making privately for a while: social movements need allies on the inside.

If you're willing to seize the reins of power by force, maybe you don't. You simply forcibly remove those who oppress you, and voilĂ ! You're done. Except, of course, it's not that easy. Violent revolution involves collateral damage—including both direct victims of that violence and unforeseen consequences, such as abuses of power, should it succeed. It also requires substantial moral and physical support from a public that may be unwilling to sacrifice whatever comforts it now enjoys (including peace!) for a hypothetical future gain—a support that may be particularly hard to get when that gain is one that directly benefits only a subset of that public.

Most modern social movements, at least in the Western world, are not looking to f…