When it comes to political and social activism, there is certainly a great deal of confusion. What comes to mind immediately are probably the demonstrations in the streets, the protests, such as that of the yellow vests in France, which can lead to violence and clashes.
Activism in its most general sense immediately takes on a negative meaning: however much one may agree with certain protests, it is difficult to tolerate certain means.
Machiavelli said that the end justifies the means, but today not everyone agrees with such strong statement.
And modern activism starts precisely from this assumption: to protest in order to improve society, not to make it worse.
First of all, it is very important to understand what is meant by social activism. You can be an activist in many ways, all peaceful. An activist tries to spread his ideas with peaceful methods that make communication and dissemination of information their strong point. For example, those who are committed to the environment or animals usually do nothing but organize demonstrations to explain why they think a certain thing is wrong. The same applies to civil rights activists, such as women’s, minority or homosexual rights activists – it’s about letting others know what they don’t know. Very often, in fact, the rejection of something happens only for lack of knowledge, not for real opposition of thought.
Different Types of Activism
There are many types of activism. Here are some of those that are considered most effective and above all not subversive:
- Student activism, which is necessary to make young people part of the future;
- Non-violence, i.e. movements of disobedience that never result in violent actions;
- Boycott, that is the refusal to buy products that violate the precepts in which activists believe. This system is widely used when it comes to animal rights and environmental protection.
It is therefore easier to understand why social activism is a fundamental element of a modern and functional democracy. From the bottom, i.e what is sometimes just called the “folk”, come the real demands for innovation. It is through social activism that the oppressed find a voice, who can look for a way to see their rights protected. Without “healthy” social activism, the very foundations of democracy – confrontation and dialogue – would be missing. For this reason, it should be the responsibility of all of us to keep social activism always active and in step with the times.