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Mon Mar 7, 2016, 08:37 AM

Three Times When the World Broke Open -- and Two When It Might Again


from TomDispatch:



Three Times When the World Broke Open -- and Two When It Might Again
In Praise of Impractical Movements

By Mark Engler and Paul Engler


Bernie Sanders's insurgent presidential campaign has opened up a debate about how social change happens in our society. The official version of how progress is won -- currently voiced by mainstream pundits and members of a spooked Democratic Party establishment -- goes something like this: politics is a tricky business, gains coming through the work of pragmatic insiders who know how to maneuver within the system. In order to get things done, you have to play the game, be realistic, and accept the established limits of debate in Washington, D.C.

A recent article in the Atlantic summed up this perspective with the tagline, "At this polarized moment, it's incremental change or nothing." This view, however, leaves out a critical driver of social transformation. It fails to account for what might be the most important engine of progress: grassroots movements by citizens demanding change.

Social change is seldom either as incremental or predictable as many insiders suggest. Every once in a while, an outburst of resistance seems to break open a world of possibility, creating unforeseen opportunities for transformation. Indeed, according to that leading theorist of disruptive power, Frances Fox Piven, the “great moments of equalizing reform in American political history” -- securing labor rights, expanding the vote, or creating a social safety net -- have been directly related to surges of widespread defiance.

.....(snip).....

Civil Rights: An "Unwise and Untimely" Movement

In hindsight, it's easy enough for people today to imagine that progress on civil rights was preordained. But that's hardly how things looked as the 1960s began. Six years after the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling declared "separate educational facilities... inherently unequal," defiance of the law had become a badge of honor for officials throughout the South. White Citizens' Councils had come to dominate local politics in much of the region, and ever more vocally racist politicians were winning elections to Congress over more genteel (if still bigoted) Southern politicians of a previous generation.

Civil rights bills had passed in Washington, D.C., in 1957 and 1960, but only after they were watered down to homeopathic levels. Activists even debated whether to ask President Dwight Eisenhower to veto the first of those bills, and Thurgood Marshall deemed the second "not worth the paper it's written on." However inadequate those bills were, Eisenhower had expressed doubts that any further legislation would be enacted for at least a decade, possibly two. On taking office, President John Kennedy was hardly more hopeful and possibly even less enthusiastic when it came to taking action of any sort. As journalist Todd Purdum has noted, Kennedy “believed that strong civil rights legislation would be difficult if not impossible to pass, and that it could well jeopardize the rest of his legislative program.” ................(more)

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176111/tomgram%3A_engler%2C_the_transformative_power_of_democratic_uprisings/#more




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Reply Three Times When the World Broke Open -- and Two When It Might Again (Original post)
marmar Mar 2016 OP
bemildred Mar 2016 #1
WillyT Mar 2016 #2
Jefferson23 Mar 2016 #3

Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Mar 7, 2016, 09:03 AM

1. You better believe it. nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Mar 7, 2016, 04:46 PM

2. HUGE K & R !!! - THANK YOU !!!

 


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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Mar 7, 2016, 05:58 PM

3. Excellent, marmar..thank you. K&R

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