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Chomsky on effective advocacy

The following is an excellent interview with Prof. Noam Chomsky. The second question (beginning at 6:09) is actually about advocating anarchism (and a free and just society), but the meat of the discussion is about effective advocacy. I'd say about 50% of the discussion is directly relevant to our movement, and to some of the discussions found here. Some interesting bits (heavily edited)
If you want to be effective, you have to make a distinction between proposals and advocacy... Advocacy requires having more than just a proposal. It means having a goal (the proposal), but also sketching out a path from here to there, and the path from here to there almost invariably requires small steps. I requires recognition of social and economic reality as it exists, and ideas about how to build the institutions of the future within the existing society, and how to modify the existing society. That means steps have to be taken to accommodate reality... Take Freedom (in England) one of the oldest Anarchist journals. If you read its pages, most of it is concerned with mild, reformist tactics. that's not a criticism . It should be... ... Insistence on purity of proposal simply isolates you from effectiveness in advocism, and reaching your own goals. It leads to sectarianism and narrowness and lack of solidarity and purpose that's always been a kind of pathology of marginal forces.

I don't think this needs much comment, but I would like to make one point about the relevance of these thoughts to our movement. I often encounter comments advocating revolutionary methods, frustration with slowness of change, frustration with an unwillingness of others in the movement to be more radical, etc.

If we look at the history of the drug war, we have seen more progress and positive change in the last few years than in the previous 70. That's hugely significant, and it's grounds for optimism. That optimism should fuel our effort, and encourage us to continue with our efforts for small, incremental changes, until we achieve our final goals. As we approach our goals debates of further goals will become more pressing, and can be resolved at that time. At that point some strife and contention becomes valid, and can be valuable. In the meantime, the direction to go is clear, and there need be little to no conflict about how to proceed.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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