Thinks 447

Gal Beckerman: “Saul Alinsky, the famed community organizer who wrote “Rules for Radicals,” had a useful metaphor: For a revolution to be successful, he argued, it has to follow the three-act structure of a play. The first act establishes the characters and the plot, the second act sharpens the conflict, and in the third act, “good and evil have their dramatic confrontation and resolution.” From women’s suffrage to the midcentury civil rights struggle, movements mastered this narrative, leaving a permanent mark on society. But by the early 1970s, Alinsky had started to worry that overeager revolutionaries were jumping straight to that third act — a losing proposition. Those first acts matter because that’s where activists hammer out ideology, define goals, set strategy and build lasting identity and solidarity. It’s also where the essential work of organizing occurs…The question is how to create the conditions those first two acts demand: the closeness and heat and passionate whispering.” FT: “In place of a “social contagion” model for the spread of ideas, Beckerman advocates the “intense heat of incubation”, as bold visions mature far from the limelight thanks to “embedded patience”. In this perspective, “going viral” tends to bring not triumph but disaster. So the virtual communities of first-wave cyber space appear here as a paradise now lost.”

Bill Waterson in 1990: “You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them. To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble. Reading those turgid philosophers here in these remote stone buildings may not get you a job, but if those books have forced you to ask yourself questions about what makes life truthful, purposeful, meaningful, and redeeming, you have the Swiss Army Knife of mental tools, and it’s going to come in handy all the time.” [via Atanu Dey]

Adam Kirsch about America’s history wars: “In debates about monuments, curricula and renaming, the facts of the past matter less than how we are supposed to feel about our country.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.