Monday, April 19, 2010

Radicalizing Reformers and Their Movements

Reform does not seek to undermine or dissolve previous institutions, or values, while revolution is a "new way" of being in the world. The "tea parties" were correlated to the civil rights movement today on a program I was listening to. Is this the case?

The Civil Rights movement was a social/political movement that valued the institutions of our society, but the leaders of the civil rights movement sought change in the cultural mores concerning African Americans. This was a movement of Reform, according to Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in passive resistance, petitioning government, public demonstrations, and public discourse. Many that have sought to follow in his footsteps have been revolutionary, not reformist in their practice. This is usually the case with any 'mover or shaker" in society. The leader becomes radicalized. This has transpired with all political, religious and cultural leaders that have had major impact on society.

Revolutionary images appeal to "ideals" that the movement won. These "ideals" become internalized in a people's consciousness and create a factor of identification. The radicalization of the civil rights movement was seen especially in the 1960's, when the Black Panthers became the "standard representation" of "Black Power". This was not Martin Luther King, Jr.'s representation. His was based on character, their movement was based on power.

History tends to not just radicalize "ideals", but also create the environment for politicizing what was useful for social change at a particular time. The politicalization of movements are dangerous because of the emotionally driven identification factors, that can end up being an environment that creates power politics.

Revolution should never be embraced by those who value our institutions. But, those that radicalize their own "ideals" and de-value the checks and balances in our form of government are bent on revolution of their own kind. This is when the "tea parties" are a reactionary response that represents "ideals", institutions, and our form of government that have become de-valued and politicized for the purpose of "change", without accountability. Government without accountability is non-representative and is what our Founders understood to be tyrannical.

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