The Entangled Activist: Learning to Recognise the Master’s Tools
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“I’d been an activist for years. I’d marched, protested, blocked the road, been arrested. I’d exposed how banks and tax havens fuel corruption, poverty and environmental destruction.
I’d launched a campaign that rewrote the laws on secret company ownership in dozens of countries. My research had contributed to the cluster munitions ban and a treaty to control the arms trade. But despite these efforts, my discomfort about activism was growing.
Was I part of the problem too?” The Entangled Activist is the story of how activism is entangled in the problems it seeks to solve, told by a hard-hitting campaigner who through personal experience — as well as extensively researched psycho-social enquiry — comes to look at activism very differently. After years of thinking that her task was to ‘get the bastards,’ campaigner, writer and reporter Anthea Lawson came to see that activism often emerges from the same troubles it is trying to fix, and that its demons, including hypocrisy, saviourism, burnout and treating other people badly, can be a gateway to understanding the depth of what really needs to change. Drawing on her own experience, critical analysis and interviews with leading activists, Lawson looks under the surface of our attempts to change the world to offer a timely and eye-opening vision for transformative work.
By considering how unexamined shadows and assumptions get in the way of well-intentioned activist goals, and how those at the forefront of sociopolitical change are often caught up in the very systems and ideologies they seek to change, Lawson dismantles hierarchies that have shaped the field for too long. The Entangled Activist is a profound call to acknowledge our entanglement with the world. To those who are worried about the state of things but are skeptical of ‘activism’, it offers possibilities for action that go beyond righteousness and reactivity.
And to activists who so want to help, it mindfully unearths a different starting place, one where transforming ourselves is unwaveringly part of transforming the world.