Is there a point in trying to change the world?

Yôḥānān

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
3,888
Portugal
In his Common Sense Thomas Paine criticized the Quakers for their lack of support to the American revolution, because, if memory is not failling, and someone please correct it if it is wrong, Quakers believed something in the lines that authority is divinely instituted and so there is no point in interfering. And many Christians shared this view which strikes in contradiction with Pericles' famous statement at the funeral oration "We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all."
But who is right? The militant political activism of the Athenians described by Pericles did not prevent their city from falling into tyranny and their democracy it seems had been in part a gift from the Spartans. Neither did the republican movements who overtake Europe at the beginning of the 20th century prevent the worse kind of tyranies to emerge from the collapse of the said republics, if anything they precipitated and inspired those regimes. And they were not a matter of full support by the population as they were either the product of revolutions by an armed minority or democratic ellected governments but also by a minority of people where part of the voters were not real supporters but looked more like being desperate with the situation. Which is basically to say that situations like this look beyond the ability of either one person or a majority of the population to prevent them. So we have places where democracies ecloded naturaly, others where they could not be mantained and others that could not be made one even at gun point. But even when a good leader or a pleasant constitution is installed hasn't its decline been inevitable with all the lucid analysts unable to change its course?
To add to this there is the issue of how people sometimes try to change others with wrong ideas and good intentions that seem to be right but don't work and even have the opposite effect, or ideas that are good but only apropriate to a certain kind of people, and there are also the good ideas that are corrupted and distorted and turned into tyrannical evil ideas. No one reading the gospels could ever come to the conclusion that killing people for the simple fact they worshiped Jesus slightly differently or even killing people at all for religious reasons was intended.
And this of course could be extrapolated too all other issues.
When one is confronted with this should one not by every means renounce to interfere in the world and believe even if it is not true like the Stoics did that destiny cannot be changed and in that peace of mind turn to the inside instead of the outside. And be like those Orthodox monasteries who kept their living despite of all the outside turmoil of invasions and political changes?
 
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Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
I do not accept 'the great man' theory of history. I would therefore say that for one person, alone, to try to change the world is a waste of time. However, perhaps not so much if the individual becomes part of something greater than him/herself..

I do not have a simple theory of social change, proposing instead that social change is constant and usually too small a change to be noticed, or if noticed, misunderstood.. That the causes any momentus event are rarely, if ever, as simple as they might seem. That the factors leading to noticeable change are far too complex to analyse in any meaningful way.

I don't present this as fact, but as one way of looking at history.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
I hate to stereotype, but Hitler may be an example of one man who changed much of the world. Granted he had assistance, but he was the man. Maybe the bigger question is can one man change the world for an indefinite time period? Those who have come close are typically charismatic, and the changes usually go with them to the grave.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
I hate to stereotype, but Hitler may be an example of one man who changed much of the world. Granted he had assistance, but he was the man. Maybe the bigger question is can one man change the world for an indefinite time period? Those who have come close are typically charismatic, and the changes usually go with them to the grave.
I hate to stereotype, but Hitler may be an example of one man who changed much of the world. Granted he had assistance, but he was the man. Maybe the bigger question is can one man change the world for an indefinite time period? Those who have come close are typically charismatic, and the changes usually go with them to the grave.

Hitler was not a causal agent from my perspective. He took advantage of the circumstances in Germany at that time. He could not have come to power at a time of prosperity. Together withHitler, the other Nazi thugs took power and abused it. The German people were also complicit; they elected the Nazi and supported them once they took total control of the country.,

Hitler was a text book example of 'a liminal figure'.IE a person /great man thrown up by circumstances. Other Liminal figures include Churchill,, Stalin, Gandhi

The theory of Liminality is simply another model for looking t history, especially individual historical individuals.


Link below to a paper on Liminal figures.

(PDF) Of Evil and Other Figures of the Liminal
 
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Lord Oda Nobunaga

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
5,650
Ontario, Canada
Most people don't even know what changing the world means. It is about as vague as statement as can be made. Usually I find that people who want to do this are dumb ideologues or bottom of the barrel individuals who want to exercise power, or crave admiration.
Whatever the case changing the world can't really be done, it is not sufficient to simply make everyone fall in line, you need to convince them and make them firm believers in your vision and you need to give them results. You can't change the world without changing people, otherwise they will push back and drown you like a tidal wave.
 
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Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
Most people don't even know what changing the world means. It is about as vague as statement as can be made. Usually I find that people who want to do this are dumb ideologues or bottom of the barrel individuals who want to exercise power, or crave admiration.
Whatever the case changing the world can't really be done, it is not sufficient to simply make everyone fall in line, you need to convince them and make them firm believers in your vision and you need to give them results. You can't change the world without changing people, otherwise they will push back and drown you like a tidal wave.
People hate change. That's why in democratic societies reform governments don't tend to last. People like order and predictability. This becomes more obvious people age Pretty much like that with me, plus of course I have what consider a perfectly reasonable contempt for politicians asa species.

In my observation, people tend not to change. If they do, change tends to be sudden. That's one reason I've not been able to take Fabianism seriously.

Revolutions and movements do tend change things; usually fomented by a bourgeoisie which considers itself hard done . They succeed because the revolutionaries con the hoi polio into supporting them. I'm thinking of three specific revolutions; the American in 1776, the French in 1789 and the Russian in 1917

Social Movements such as say Feminism, Civil Rights and the Black Power movement of the !960's can have mixed results, depending on their power base; it needs to begin with bourgeoisie intellectuals. The hop polio couldn't organise a chook *raffle in a pub.

*Chook; Aust. slang for Chicken.
 
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Lord Oda Nobunaga

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
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Ontario, Canada
People hate change. That's why in democratic societies reform governments don't tend to last. People like order and predictability. This becomes more obvious people age Pretty much like that with me, plus of course I have what consider a perfectly reasonable contempt for politicians asa species.
Agreed.

In my observation, people tend not to change. If they do, change tends to be sudden. That's one reason I've not been able to take Fabianism seriously.
People do not change, their way is intrinsic to them. People who change drastically have been affected drastically on a physical/mental level. Usually change only comes with age for this reason, or from a life altering experience.

Revolutions and movements do tend change things; usually fomented by a bourgeoisie which considers itself hard done . They succeed because the revolutionaries con the hoi polio into supporting them. I'm thinking of three specific revolutions; the American in 1776, the French in 1789 and the Russian in 1917
True. The Revolution is never permanent because most people do not believe fanatically in the Revolution and become disillusioned. Unless everyone can be convinced whole heartedly then actual change cannot be achieved. Usually this is also completely subject to reality and material concerns. So either due to embracing reality or pragmatic means of keeping everyone on board the platform is changed to appeal to these concerns and opinions.

Social Movements such as say Feminism, Civil Rights and the Black Power movement of the !960's can have mixed results, depending on their power base; it needs to begin with bourgeoisie intellectuals. The hop polio couldn't organise a chook *raffle in a pub.
Yes the herd falls in line when the leaders fall in line, this is also a correct way to look at it. But in the long term everyone has to accept the new ideas, mostly following the few who believe fervently, or being tricked into believing.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
But in the long term everyone has to accept the new ideas, mostly following the few who believe fervently, or being tricked into believing.



Sad but true. Here in Oz, if you need to access government services, such as say pensions or unemployment payments, life is made extremely difficult for you if you do not have access to a computer.

Tricking people into believing the most appalling drivel has been turned into an art form by all of the organised religions.

Laws can force us to change our behaviour, but laws cannot force changes in beliefs and feelings, at least not on command. But people CAN be manipulated easily
enough if the manipulating party controls all information. Admittedly a bit harder since the IT revolution.

If you have not read them, I recommend 1984, by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

I've just been re reading the last couple of posts. It's occurred to me that an uncharitable person might call us cynical. I prefer realist and misanthrope. :)
 
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Lord Oda Nobunaga

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
5,650
Ontario, Canada
I have read 1984. Am familiar with Brave New World but have not read it.
People ask if the future will be like 1984 or Brave New World, but I would say that it would be like both. The society of Brave New World within the political system of 1984.

To truly cause a change one needs to understand reality. A Cynic could do this if he had a desire to gain power and like a pied piper get the masses to follow in their plans.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,635
Las Vegas, NV USA
Is there a point in trying to change the world?

It depends on what in the world you're trying to change. Inventors have made the most profound changes in the lives of ordinary people and did it mostly without asking anyone. If you don't drive an automobile, fly on airplanes, use the internet, and get all your information from newspapers, then maybe all you need is a telephone, canned goods and/or refrigeration. Maybe a radio too. Nature provided the world of our Stone Age ancestors with everything they needed. They had no need to change the world. Why did they?
 
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