Mass Movements

Mass movements have always been a part of human history, whether they are political, social, or religious in nature. They have the power to transform societies, overthrow governments, and bring about change. However, the base of a mass movement is often composed of frustrated individuals, and this can have significant consequences for the movement’s goals and actions.

A movement that is composed of frustrated people is likely to be attracted to impossible, frustrating goals. This is because these goals tap into the underlying sense of discontent and frustration that motivates people to join the movement in the first place. In a sense, the more impossible and frustrating the goal, the more it resonates with the base of the movement. This creates a competitive dynamic where movements that offer more impossible and frustrating goals are likely to outcompete those that offer more practical and achievable goals.

I would also argue that the type of actions that a successful movement uses are often meaningless, repetitive, and aimed at solidifying identity without achieving anything else. This is because the true goal of the movement is not to achieve a particular outcome, but rather to provide a sense of identity and purpose to its base. The more the movement can solidify its identity, the more it can recruit from the biggest pool possible.

However, we could go further and argue that the very best movements are those that frustrate a whole lot of outsiders, too, whether by actively interfering or at least convincing them that the things they find meaningful are really meaningless. This is because the more the movement can create a sense of conflict and tension with outsiders, the more it can solidify its own identity and purpose. In a sense, the movement defines itself by what it opposes, rather than what it supports.

While this analysis of mass movements may seem cynical or pessimistic, it does offer some important insights into the dynamics of social change. Movements that are based on frustration and a sense of identity are often more resilient and enduring than those that are based on specific goals or outcomes. However, this resilience comes at a cost, as it can lead to movements that are more interested in creating conflict and tension than in achieving practical results.

Ultimately, the challenge for any mass movement is to balance the competing demands of identity, frustration, and practical results. The most successful movements are those that can find a way to harness the energy and passion of their base while also pursuing practical goals that can create real change. This requires a delicate balancing act, but it is one that is essential for any movement that wants to make a lasting impact on society.

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