Activism does not rationally convince elites to change their policies. Nor does activism massage thei…

Activism does not rationally convince elites to change their policies. Nor does activism massage their hearts and lead to a moral transformation. Activism wins when it creates conditions within which elites making critical decisions feel they have no choice but to change their behavior. They change when they decide that to pursue their policies and otherwise ignore popular demands, with the risk that this will energize dissent, is a worse course of action for them than not doing so…. So, we need only ask, what type of movement raises social costs and threatens to be a continuing and growing problem for elites? Is it a movement that has a very narrow focus on a single war or a single policy? Is it a movement which will dissolve once that primary issue is no longer in the forefront? Or is it a movement which certainly focuses on the opposed policy — in this case war in Iraq — making it clear that continued pursuit of the war is enlarging the movement, but which also stretches and grows to address other dimensions of international relations and then of corporate and political power, thereby making clear that if the movement is produced by continued pursuit of the war, it will not just fade away with the war’s conclusion, and that once it is brought into being it will not only persist, but will function to obstruct and challenge state policies on diverse fronts held in even higher priority by elites than the war itself? To ask the question is to answer it. We need to continually reach out and enlarge the movement if its trajectory of development is to effectively raise costs for elites. But we also need to present clear evidence that the growing opposition is extending beyond the immediate issue to basic defining relations and institutions of society. This is what will cause elite constituencies served by Bush to think to themselves our war policy is threatening the fabric of our rule over society, it is disrupting our capacity to undertake business as usual, it is taking the next generation from us and making them our enemy, it is putting at risk things we hold even more dear than the war policy — our power and wealth — therefore, we must cease our support for war.

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