Re: Darwin run amok--Robin's comments

From: Kathryn Aegis (
Date: Mon Jan 03 2000 - 21:22:15 MST

At 11:10 AM 1/3/2000 -0500, Robin wrote:
>If you march up the beach with the tide, did you move the water?
>What if you float down a river? It is very hard to tell how much
>"humans committed to change" have actually changed things. At any
>given time various people advocate all sorts of changes, and the
>people who advocated the changes that actually happened often try
>to take credit for them. But how much credit do they deserve?

I don't know about taking credit...Many historians say that the
history of the past 100 years is a history of the spread of freedom,
of civil rights. Civil rights historians contend that civil rights
don't just 'happen', that the changes are catalyzed by decision.

Women didn't just get granted the right to vote, they had to fight,
march, starve, get beaten. It was the death of one leading
suffragette and the impending death of another that brought about
that particular change. South Africans didn't just get 'granted'
their freedom, they had to fight and die for it. Gays still don't
have full respect, but they have more after making the decision to
come out of the closet and educate everyone else.

And so on. These aren't passive processes--they involve active
decisionmaking by individuals and groups.

>Powerful demographic, economic, and other forces induce all sorts
>of social changes, and there is a big demand for spokespersons
>to explain and justify these changes.

Speaking as a veteran of three activist movements (peace, women's,
disability) I can say that I've never seen anyone step forth to
speak out *after* the change took place....It usually takes the
courage of a few individuals and groups to speak out and spark
that process of change. It takes the decision of individuals
to conduct public and private education, to get others to understand
what they are fighting for. That's a lot of work, and it takes
some degree of training and ability.

>If there were a large pool of
>spokesperson-wannabes out there, seeking arguments which could make
>them famous, then the arguments might just regularly get made when
>the audience is ready to hear them.

Fame as a motivation? The nature of activism demands public
attention to your message, but that's a little different from
fameseeking. The risks alone would deter most fameseekers--many
activists survive threats and attempts at violence.

>I haven't yet read these books, and so I can't yet agree whether
>they do these things.

I'm going to bring you one to look at: 'It's a Jungle out there
Jane--Understanding the Male Animal'.

Kathryn Aegis

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