Ask A (Shitty) Activist #1: Does Reformism Work?

cropped-the_shitty_activist_logo1.jpgIn our first ever installment of “Ask A (Shitty) Activist,” we get right into the mix with a question from Life Loving Libertarian, who asks:

“What is your opinion of this article on why reformism does not work?”

He links to an article posted on The Last Bastille, written from an unapologetically libertarian perspective, explaining why reformism, or working within the system, doesn’t accomplish anything.

On The Shitty Activist blog, I’ve brought up many times how I believe the most effective activism seeks to transform (or replace) the system without being confined by its restrictions. I’ve discussed why I think it’s important for activists to be “unreasonable” and avoid the temptation to pull their punches in order to get grant funding from corporate foundations.

Suffice to say, The Shitty Activist believes reformism might have a role in society, but it’s often weak and self-limiting when conducted under the banner of activism.

Now, let’s address some of the points in the article, the first of which is a mention of the all too frequent lack of strategy in the activist world. The author wrote, “If there are no strategic goals, then what milestones could possibly ever be used to measure incrementally progressive successes?”

Unfortunately, it’s hard to disagree with that statement. While many activists are constantly reassessing their goals and finding ways to improve, sometimes even the best activists get caught up in what I call “feeling good over doing good.” That’s the phenomenon where long-term movement goals take a backseat to an activist’s craving for the heady feelings that come with an easy win or public approval, or the dirty high from complaining about what’s wrong instead of doing the hard and uncomfortable work of addressing root causes.

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