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The History of Radical Movements - Essay Example

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The purpose of this essay "The History of Radical Movements" is to examine the impact that radical components have had on political movements, and whether these movements have had any effect in achieving the movements stated aims. …
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The History of Radical Movements
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Download file to see previous pages Radical movements are essentially grassroots actions, often involving more direct intervention than there more authoritarian allies, and with the nature of this kind of action comes several questions on the nature of leadership and power within radical movements; whether these movements can be organized and planned, or whether they are essentially spontaneous and dependant upon individual participation, and how radical actions are depicted by the media, and then transplanted upon political movement as a whole. These questions will be studied through the perspectives of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the labor and union movements of the 1970's and 80's, and the anti-war/globalization movements of the late 90's and early 2000's. 

Civil Rights
The civil rights movement of the 1960's had a striking heritage in the campaigns of previous decades, including the radical actions of the 1930's (although the latter was rather taken over by the Communist Party, as in the Scottsboro Affair, due to lack of initiative by the NAACP). However, the previous campaigns had also left a deep split between the idea of strong leadership controlling the action, and the desire for collective control of the movement. The latter movement essentially believed that it was necessary for the oppressed to run their own lives, and this was the best method of obtaining freedom: "Including everyonemeant that the common assumption that poor people had to be led by their social betters was anathema" (Payne, chap 3). The mission of the Highlander Folk School was to teach people to develop themselves, not do their thinking for them. Even in white schools, this was a daring idea; but the real nature of the Highlander was radical civil disobedience. The school broke the segregation laws at the start, having an 'interracial philosophy'

This radicalisation not only extended to teaching and education, it also enrolled people as voters: a massively important move in the South, where very few black people were registered, and those involved in registering them were shot, injured, and frequently beaten up.
The importance of this movement lies in its origins; although the Highlander was one school, it funded grass-roots education systems, until nearly two hundred schools were operating on the Highlander system:
Highlander emphasised the need to have people taught by their equals, not superiors; it’s approach to politics was clearly bottom-up, as it placed importance upon black people registering to vote, and self-leadership, rather than being directed from above. The teaching style, concentrating upon the student’s own experience, combined with the self-leadership to mean that the students were asked “What they wanted to learn”, and lessons were prepared around this need. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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