Letters to a Young Lawyer


"Where Would the World Be Without the Agitators? The great ideals wouldn't stand a chance. The radiant goals that conservatives hope to conserve were not and could not have been achieved by conservatives. As if the Confederacy abolished slavery. As if the eight-hour day, the minimum wage, social security, public funding for medical care and higher education, clean water, rainforest and species preservation were ideas dreamed up by corporations, politicians, and governments. As if the federal bureaucracy and pharmaceutical companies all by themselves, of their own good will, without benefit of a raging activist movement, put anti-AIDS drugs into the hands of millions of infected people. It's obvious when you think about it, but neglected in the conservatives' self-congratulations: without the disrupters, campaigners, and ideological pests, all the noble words would amount to nothing but blackboard dust. This is not to justify any activity undertaken in the name of activism. It is to state a plain historical truth: no noise, no improvement. Activism as such is not sufficient for improvement, but damned if it isn't necessary."

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 2001