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When those who want to bring about political, social, or economic change, activism is the tool used to rigorously promote, block impede, or demonstrate. It is a singular focus on an issue perceived as needing acute attention.


A politician may run on a campaign to remove a multi-decade incumbent who showing signs of corruption calling for transparency and change. A historically disenfranchised group may advocate for civil rights and refuse to comply with policies and norms that impede those rights. Independent truckers may block traffic if a new fuel tax will impede their economic rights to earn a living.


At the heart of activism is a challenge to prevailing authority that is allocating a right from one group, to another. The best way to negotiate with this is the reason, data, and cost/benefit analysis that is understandable. This must be lead by an empathic statement, something that is personal and tangible and validates the positive parts of the prevailing community targeted for change. Targeting the affecting community may create energy around an issue, but may lead to extremism and balkanization. This may backfire in extremism and cause a reaction by the prevailing community targeted for change to become equally polarized and extreme. This may result in deadlock or violence. The convinced (sometimes called the "base") is not the community needing change or persuasion. Imposing an extremely emphatic view and not listening to the other side will not bring change. The opposition will be alienated and perceive demands for extreme empathy (see Empathy or Empathic Statement) as manipulation and egoism by loud and uncompromising voices. Extreme binary views in complex situations may be a form of borderline personality disorder.

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