Ben Bartosik

February 28, 2024

Reading an article on the role of civil disobedience as a form of activism and why it's not as counterintuitive as the moderates would have you believe. The article cites a social psychologist named Colin Davis, who noted,

"The existence of a radical flank... seems to increase support for more moderate factions of a social movement, by making these factions appear less radical."

This is then backed up with studies done on other social movements, including both the women's movement and the civil rights movement in the twentieth century. The general point seems to be that acts of civil disobedience have a long and necessary history in advancing causes that seem more obvious today.

I think the key takeaway here is a reminder that centrism alone cannot make progressive change. It requires the existence of a more extreme version in order to help shake it out of complacency. So while many — in fact the vast majority — will denounce acts of civil disobedience as damaging the cause or targeting the wrong people, the opposite is actually true.