Large-scale social movements

Throughout history, large-scale social movements have been important in bringing lasting social change. This speaks to the importance of this cause, but tractability (or rather individual contribution) seems difficult to determine.




Michael Huemer calls activism “utopian”1:

This is a utopian solution. It is utopian because it requires changes in human nature without proposing a realistic mechanism to bring about those changes. The democratic failures that I have described are not a mysterious accident, nor are they the product of a few bad actors. They result from the operation of normal human selfishness within the incentive structure of a democratic state. It is not in individual citizens’ interests to keep tabs on their elected representatives. The behavior of citizens and elected representatives will not change unless either the incentive structure changes or people become much less selfish than they are.

While he acknowledges that activism has led to improvements in quality of life, he maintains the “utopian” notion of activism. Specifically, he does not see activism as “the solution to the constant, everyday malfeasance of government”.



  1. The Problem of Political Authority. §9.4.4.