Which Activitists have brought about the most meaningful changes in society, why, & which activitists are most effective today?

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Which Activitists have brought about the most meaningful changes in society, why, & which activitists are most effective today?


Issues Pages: 

There has been, and there are presently, many activitists but some stand out from the crowd because as a result of their efforts they do help to effect meaningful change.

Courage, long term committment, credibility, creativity, ability to ridicule, entertaining are a few of the many characteristics required to be an effective activitst.


One good example that comes to mind is Ralph Nadar.



Here is a novel approach to protest which I appreciate. Is it effective?


For Spain’s banks, it’s always bad news when the dancers arrive As economic frustrations grow, Spaniards are getting creative — targetting banks in costume and with flamenco flash mobs.

SEVILLE, SPAIN—There’s a long lineup this morning at this local bank in southern Spain. An elderly lady stands at the front, sighing as she slowly fans herself with a pamphlet on savings accounts. Behind her, a mother and daughter loudly debate what to have for lunch. All of a sudden, the portly man in the back of the line breaks into song.

“To hold my own, I’ve had to pawn the parrot,” he wails in Spanish, “I’ve even had to sell my house.” A woman, dressed in black and wearing oversized black sunglasses, claps along. Seconds later, she bursts into a flamenco performance, timed perfectly to the beat of his song. Soon another seven dancers join in, heels clicking on the marble floor, filling the bank with sound.

Welcome to the latest way Spaniards are expressing their frustrations with the economic crisis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iop2b3oq1O0&list=UU6LVQXKnuvuBrZrJuDwsSzw

For exactly four minutes, this group will bring business in this bank to a halt. The customers’ confused expressions turn to smiles, some clapping along, occasionally even yelling out a hearty “bravo.” The bank’s manager rushes over to the performers, asking them politely to leave, while signalling his employees to call police.

Brainchild of an anti-capitalist collective known as Flo6x8, these seemingly spontaneously performances have been taking place at banks across southern Spain, as well as in Madrid and Barcelona. This morning the collective — which takes its name from a common flamenco rhythm — will perform in three banks, each exit carefully timed to avoid encounters with the police.

“Flamenco can be so forceful, so aggressive,” says one of the dancers who goes by the pseudonym La Niña Ninja, a play on the nickname for subprime loans. “It captures perfectly how we feel about the crisis. You can use it to express desperation, rage, pain and the desire to change things.”

Pseudonyms are necessary, says the group, because their actions flirt with the law. While it’s not illegal to stage a song-and-dance performance in a bank, they risk being charged with trespassing. And their insistence on recording and photographing each performance, despite protests from the bankers, could land them in court.

The performances have been a hit in crisis-wracked Spain, with the group’s videos earning more than a million views on YouTube and national media attention. Public anger against the banks is palpable, says La Niña Ninja, with many blaming irresponsible lending practices for fuelling the real estate bubble that collapsed in 2008.

As unemployment continues to soar, most banks have resisted public calls for leniency on those who fall behind on mortgage payments. Instead banks in Spain carried out an average of 115 evictions each day last year. When contacted, the banks targeted by Flo6x8 refused to comment.

As public anger intensifies, flamenco flash mobs are part of a wave of increasingly creative protests. From the activists who showered clients in confetti when they closed their accounts at a bank bailed out with public funds, to a day of action that saw Spaniards deposit their garbage in the doorways of banks across the country, activists across the country are now often adding a theatrical spin to their protests.

“Our imaginations are the most powerful weapon we have against established power,” says Luis Chamarro of the Platform for Mortgage Victims (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), a group founded four years ago to fight against property repossessions.

Costumes and clever chants have become a key part of the group’s activism, says Chamarro. “They command attention. And it gets people talking.”



This fabulous activist video has already recieved more than 1,100,000 hits since it was posted on youtube less than one month ago.

You go girls and boys! Smile



NorthReport wrote:
The bank’s manager rushes over to the performers, asking them politely to leave, while signalling his employees to call police.

Over the years actions undertaken by many peaceful activists have become more imaginative yet the reactions remain the same, essentially, "send more cops."


From my observations, the person that I am most aware of, who has been the most effective activist to actually effect change has been Ralph Nadar. And yes he went through a rough patch, particularly during the "Corvair is unsafe at any speed" era, which resulted in GM or whoever the manufacturer was, taking it off the market.  Ralph used his wits.

Brain not brawn will change the world and in my opinion to confront the police who mostly are fellow human beings just doing their job, but who have tremendous resources as well as the mainstream press on their side, is not very good odds.

I suppose I prefer better odds. Wink


Florence Nightingale

women from late 1800's to 1988

Canada specific  Henry Morgentaler, Judy Rebick, Tommy Douglas and Dawn Black (on a very personal note for my mom)

who's ralph nadar?

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

me ; )


Didn't know where to plunk this item, but this thread title seemed appropriate:

Today is the first anniversary of Aaron Swartz's suicide. Here is a link to a short, powerful video on the fight Aaron led in the US against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012 - with the empowering message that change is indeed possible.

"The Day We Fight Back" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ194S7KjRg&sns=tw

The video features excerpts from an upcoming documentary called "The Internet's Own Boy."


Ralph Nader slams GM's stance on 'hypothetical casualties'

Consumer advocate angered by companies that continue to put 'cost culture' ahead of 'safety culture'



Rachel Carson, the original. Although Ralph Nader has been incredible. Noam Chomsky was unparalleled in his ability to change the way people viewed the world. The people who actually do things are relatively anonymous compared to the ones with the big ideas. Although we have Tzeporah Berman. Paul Berman, and even Farley Mowat. Kind of too broad a question, really - are we talking environmental activists or legal activists or union activists or FN activiists? I've always had a weakness for Tecumseh...

Pogo Pogo's picture

Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther KIng Jr.  I am attracted to their silly notion that the new model has to include everyone including people you currently oppose.


I would just say the social aggregate in general instead of individual names, whereever it surfaces to contend with power.  Right now for example, the general population of Eastern Ukraine are influencing things in such a way that places their activities sharply at odds with the official decision makers in that country.


Clair Patterson with much corporate power against him by way of paid off scientists still managed to get lead removed from most products and gas. people should wake up from the dominator trance and see the reality big corps are still launching the same type of propaganda campaigns against those who want to protect peoples and the earth in other areas.

In his effort to ensure that lead was removed from gasoline (petroleum), Patterson fought against the lobbying power of the Ethyl Corporation (which employed Kehoe), against the legacy of Thomas Midgley — which included tetraethyllead and chlorofluorocarbons) — and against the lead additive industry as a whole. In A Short History of Nearly Everything, author Bill Bryson notes that following his criticism of the lead industry he was refused contracts with many research organizations, including the supposedly neutral United States Public Health Service. In 1971 he was excluded from aNational Research Council panel on atmospheric lead contamination, which was odd considering he was the foremost expert on the subject at that time.

Patterson's efforts ultimately led to the Environmental Protection Agency announcing in 1973 a reduction of 60-65% in phased steps, and ultimately the removal of lead from all standard, consumer, automotive gasoline in the United States by 1986. Lead levels within the blood of Americans are reported to have dropped by up to 80% by the late 1990s.

He then turned his attention to lead in food where similar experimental deficiencies had masked the increase. In one study he showed an increase in lead levels from 0.3 to 1400 nanograms per gram in certain canned fish compared with fresh, whilst the official laboratory had reported an increase of 400 to 700. He compared the lead, barium and calcium levels in 1600 year-old Peruvian skeletons and showed a 700- to 1200-fold increase in lead levels in modern human bones with no comparable changes in the others.

In 1978 he was appointed to an NRC panel which accepted many of the increases and the need for reductions but argued the need for more research. His opinions were expressed in a 78-page minority report which argued that control measures should start immediately, including gasoline, food containers, paint, glazes and water distribution systems. Thirty years later, most of these have been accepted and implemented in the United States and many other parts of the world.

his studies and finding are documentd in the Cosmos series in episode 7.