Wednesday, October 2, 2019

In Distrust of Movements :: Analysis, Wendell Berry

Humans crave improvement, humans crave progress, and humans crave identity. For many, these cravings are satisfied within the ideas and actions behind social movements. According to, the definition of a social movement is, â€Å"a group of people with common ideology who try together to achieve certain general goals† (n.d.). Frequently, these social movements center around a singular issue. In his essay titled â€Å"In Distrust of Movements,† Wendell Berry (2000) refers to single-issue movements as â€Å"hopeless† (p.333). He writes, â€Å"I have had†¦ a number of useful conversations about the necessity of getting out of movements – even movements that have seemed necessary and dear to us – when they have lapsed into self righteousness†¦ as movements seem almost invariably to do† (p.331). Berry is incorrect in his belief that single-issue movements are ineffective and inevitably fail, and flagrantly disregards history in making such an assertion. Since the advent of the printing press, human communication has grown exponentially. The 20th century is certainly no exception to this trend as we have seen in the advent of radio, television, and the internet. The ease of communication allowed the voice of the masses to be readily heard, and has proved advantageous for social activists and the causes they championed. Such advantages did not go to waste as we have witnessed in movements like the civil rights movement or Fair Trade. Even today, we hear the cries of the â€Å"Occupy Wall Street† protestors. The truth is, progressive movements and their political pull are here to stay and contrary to Berry’s (2000) belief, those that grow around a â€Å"single issue† are just as successful as their multi-faceted counterparts. To give an example, the aforementioned Civil Rights Movement stands as a prominent specimen of a triumphant single-issue cause. Clear and precise, the goal of this cause was to grant African Americans the same legal rights allowed to any other American citizen. This effort ultimately led to such legislation as the American Civil Rights Act of 1964 (â€Å"The Civil Rights Movement,† n.d.), and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (â€Å"Fair Housing Laws,† n.d.). Berry (2000) asserts that one of the major faults in movements is that â€Å"They almost always fail to be radical enough, dealing finally in effects rather than causes† (p.331). What was the Civil Rights Movement though, but a solution to an â€Å"effect† rather than a cause?

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