Listening to the Radicals: US History's Lessons on Compromise and the 'Politically Impossible'
It's not politically possible...The Republicans in Congress will block it... We need a bipartisan agreement...The health care industry is too powerful...There's no reason we have to do it all now...Let's wait until the economy's out of recession...The public won't support it...The "public option" is better than nothing...We have to compromise...
Such have been the reasons given in recent months, by liberal politicians and their supporters, for refusing to push for single-payer health care. Single payer, as many knowledgeable doctors, economists, and other analysts have pointed out, would save around $400 billion a year, would cover everyone in the US, and has long enjoyed the support of 55-65 percent of the US public . But President Obama, in his widely-acclaimed September 9 speech to Congress, summed up liberal politicians' basic qualm with single payer: it "would represent a radical shift" from the current system . As most ordinary people in this country would agree, a radically unjust and corrupt system requires a radical shift. Yet Obama and fellow Democrats have endlessly preached to these same people about the need to compromise and to support something that's "politically possible."
The notion that a policy supported by nearly two-thirds of the US public is "politically impossible" seems rather paradoxical. Many liberal commentators have pointed to the demagogy of right-wing pundits, Congressional Republicans, and the health insurance industry as the key obstacle blocking genuine health care reform. Some observers, though fewer in number, have also pointed to both parties' strong financial ties to private health insurers and pharmaceutical companies as the major reason why most Democrats oppose single payer . (For a more general analysis of US politics that sheds much light on the current debate, see Thomas Ferguson's classic study Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems .)
But in addition to reaffirming most politicians' subservience to corporate power, the current health care debate raises important questions for all those who realize that some pretty radical changes are needed if we hope to someday live in a society where all have a genuine voice in their government and where human needs, not corporate profits, determine government policies—questions that are especially crucial for those who want to take personal and collective action to help their society move down that path: How can the radical changes that most of us will agree are necessary best be achieved? What is the proper role of radical rhetoric, analysis, and activism in this process? Does radicalism scare off potential supporters, as many liberals argue? Must radicals necessarily "compromise" in order to be effective? When is political compromise necessary and advisable, and when does it ultimately slow down a struggle?
The issue at the core of the ongoing health care debate—whether quality health care is a fundamental human right or a commodity contingent upon personal wealth and corporate profits—is a current-day echo of other human rights debates of the past two and a half centuries. During this time span humanity has progressed to the point where few would now openly contend that some people are natural slaves, that women shouldn't be able to vote, that imperialism is the divine right of powerful nations, or that targeting civilians with military force is a legitimate means of waging war—all of which were more or less openly accepted by large segments of US society as recently as the late nineteenth century. Most of the concepts codified in landmark documents like the 13th-15th amendments, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter, and the Geneva Conventions originated as very radical ideas. In fact, there are few rights today cherished as fundamental which were not dismissed as preposterous by the ruling elites, and as naïve or impossible by most sympathetic observers, when they were first proposed. Like the canaries long used in coal mines to warn miners of toxic fumes, the "radicals" themselves have usually sounded the alarm bells for humanity long before the conservatives, liberals, and apathetic bystanders have fully acknowledged the insanity and injustice of the existing order . A few examples from US history illustrate this pattern.
Less than a century prior to the UN's passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, African American slavery was tacitly accepted by most Northern whites, even those of more liberal inclinations. But while most white liberals urged restraint and argued that rapid emancipation was politically impossible, a few refused to heed such calls. Former slave and leading abolitionist Frederick Douglass fiercely criticized "[t]hose who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation," saying that they "want crops without plowing up the ground," and "the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters" . Another former slave, Harriet Tubman, famously helped over 70 slaves escape to freedom, defying both the US Constitution and the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act which most Northern liberals had accepted. Many slaves themselves, such as Nat Turner in 1831, launched violent revolts against their masters. A few white collaborators likewise spurned the willingness to "compromise" that they observed in most of the white Northerners of the time. Newspaper publisher William Lloyd Garrison publicly burned the Constitution, calling it "a covenant with death" for its legalization of slavery . John Brown launched a violent attack on the Harpers Ferry federal arsenal that resulted in his capture and execution.
Such agitators were widely regarded as reckless extremists by most Northern reformers, but their efforts paid off. Nat Turner's revolt compelled the Virginia legislature to take up the debate over abolition. As one contemporary observer said of Garrison, "He will shake our nation to its center, but he will shake slavery out of it." Brown's 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry helped make the question of abolition unavoidable; in Douglass's words, "Until this blow was struck, the prospect for freedom was dim, shadowy, and uncertain." The reformers had been scared of alienating mainstream public opinion, but the radicals understood "that only powerful surges of words and feelings could move white people from their complacency about the slave question." By 1860, rather than being scared off, millions of casual observers had been galvanized against the evil of slavery .
Most prominent intellectuals, politicians, and commentators rallied behind the United States' takeover of Cuba, the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam in the late 1890s. Anti-imperialist criticisms were present, but isolated; they came mainly from a handful of disillusioned intellectuals like Mark Twain and William James and from radical labor leaders (as well as from racist anti-annexationists afraid of "tainting" the US with Latin American or Asian peoples). Twain's novel The Mysterious Stranger revolved around a seductive character named Satan who captivated his human audience and toward the end of the story candidly marveled at the ease with which the powerful few could manipulate the "sheep" into supporting aggressive warfare . James was even more blunt, and unafraid of offending tender ears: "God damn the U.S. for its vile conduct in the Philippine Isles." Prominent anarchist Emma Goldman later said "that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of the American capitalists" . One would be hard-pressed to locate much disagreement with this assessment of the Spanish-American War among today's academic historians, a group that still for the most part prides itself on its moderation and aversion to activist scholarship.
Only the radicals opposed the US entry into World War I, a brutal and unnecessary war that killed or maimed tens of millions of people and did nothing to advance the causes of democracy and justice (and indeed, helped set in motion the rise of Fascism in Europe). Just a year after the war ended, in 1919, Woodrow Wilson would nonchalantly admit that "[t]his was a commercial and industrial war. This was not a political war." But as labor historian Philip Foner points out, "For uttering this truth before and during the war as part of the fight for peace, thousands of Americans had been arrested and imprisoned as subversive, as foreign agents, and as unpatriotic" . Emma Goldman and Socialist leader Eugene Debs, for example, denounced the war as being "waged for conquest and plunder" and both served substantial prison terms for daring to speak out . Wilson the "Progressive" had thrust the nation into the war, in the standard fashion, with lofty talk about the need to defend democracy, and millions of liberals had followed his lead; even many prominent labor and civil rights leaders supported the war and called on their constituencies to "close ranks" . History once again judged the radicals to have been right: historian Howard Zinn observes that "[t]he rhetoric of the socialists, that it was an 'imperialist war,' now seems moderate and hardly arguable" .
Many of the radicals who opposed World War I also vocally demanded an end to wage slavery in US industries, insisting on the rights of workers to organize unions, earn decent wages, and work in a safe and healthy atmosphere, and on an end to child labor and inordinate working hours. These rights, today almost universally recognized as fundamental, were the result of six decades of working-class agitation in the form of strikes, sit-downs, and other tactics viewed as unruly and disruptive by most liberal observers at the time. Even union leaders were often opposed to the wildcat strikes and defiant posture of the rank and file, as sociologists Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward show in their classic study of lower-class protest . But it was the unorganized mass defiance of workers and the unemployed that forced the most progressive features of the New Deal upon the Democrats in Washington. The 1935 Wagner Act establishing the right to unionization had found little support in Congress when introduced in early 1934; it took massive strikes in the auto, textile, and other industries in 1934-35 to compel Congress and FDR to back it . Liberals, especially Democratic politicians, were always extremely reluctant to upset the business elite. Lance Selfa, in his recent history of the Democratic Party, notes that "[e]ven in the New Deal's halcyon days, Democratic programs fell far short of working-class demands or welfare policies in other advanced capitalist countries" .
Around the same time, when Fascists were threatening to overthrow the Republican government in Spain and further open the door to the spread of Fascism in Europe, several thousand US volunteers joined the Abraham Lincoln brigades and traveled to Spain to help defend the government with arms in hand. Their government, meanwhile, issued a "neutrality" declaration that denied aid to the Spanish government and helped facilitate the Fascist takeover. The ensuing history is well-known. Less well-known is the fact that instead of being lauded for their bravery and foresight in helping alert the world to the dangers of Fascism, the surviving US radicals were later labeled "premature anti-Fascists" by their government and constantly harassed by the FBI in the postwar period.
The importance of radical direct action to the successes of the Civil Rights Movement is perhaps more widely recognized. While Northern Democrats, sympathetic white liberals, and middle-class black leaders counseled patience and legislative lobbying, young black people in the South and a few white allies staged sit-ins, boycotts, and Freedom Rides to help force the issue . Without the willingness to engage in bold acts in direct defiance of segregation and racism, the movement would have been much slower to garner broad public sympathy and push through the legislative gains of the mid-1960s.
Those who opposed the Vietnam War prior to the late 1960s, including many black activists, were likewise regarded with contempt by mainstream commentators. SNCC in January 1966 became the first major civil rights group to condemn the war, despite being chastised by more moderate civil rights groups . Later, even such highly-regarded figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., were denounced by liberal analysts for opposing US policy in Vietnam. When King in April 1967 publicly spoke out against the war, Life magazine denounced his "demagogic slander," saying that King's critiques "sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The liberal Washington Post condescendingly lamented that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people" . The same commentators would eventually come to view the war as a "mistake" or "failure of judgment," but not as "fundamentally wrong and immoral" as 70 percent of the US public did . The public's changed consciousness would make itself apparent in the following decades, to the point that US policymakers could no longer launch a major unprovoked military intervention without a massive public outcry—the February 2003 worldwide actions against the Iraq invasion, the largest protests in world history, being a key example. Without the principled criticisms of thousands of radical antiwar activists, alongside sustained direct action that included GI refusals to fight, draft-card burnings, and mass civil disobedience, that momentous shift in public consciousness would never have occurred.
The largest organized protest movement of the post-Vietnam era in the US was partially a reflection of that changed consciousness. During the 1980s tens of thousands of religious and secular activists joined together to oppose US crimes in Central America. The bold actions of the Central America peace movement in many ways harkened back to earlier struggles. The Sanctuary movement, one part of the broader movement, became informally known as "the new Underground Railroad" for its clandestine sheltering of Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees who were being denied legal entry into the US . And, in a gesture almost as dramatic as that of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades, thousands of US citizens traveled to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua—in the last country, physically putting their bodies in the way of a potential US invasion. Although their mark on public consciousness was not as great as the antiwar activists of the Vietnam era, the radicals who had firmly opposed US aggression from the start were likewise vindicated by subsequent history, in this case by the 1986 World Court decision condemning the US for the "unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua .
This pattern has held in other contemporary struggles, too. The 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, in which a working-class and multiracial crowd of gay and transgendered bar-goers rioted in response to a violent police raid on a well-known gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York, injected life into a gay rights movement previously led by respectable, upper-class white homosexuals. The US movement against South African apartheid spurned gradual or compromise solutions, launching a massive boycott and divestment campaign that helped deprive the racist South African regime of resources. The massive 1999 civil disobedience in protest of the World Trade Organization—the "Battle of Seattle"—helped force the problems of neoliberal, top-down globalization under the magnifying glass. In all cases, mainstream responses ranged from the overtly hostile (e.g., the Reagan administration's designation of Nelson Mandela as a leading terrorist) to a variety of liberal, gradualist, or assimilationist approaches. Most liberal observers, even if they sympathized with the cause, were what legendary organizer Saul Alinsky called the "Do-Nothings," or those who "profess a commitment to social change for ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity, and then abstain from and discourage all effective action for change." While the reformers and Do-Nothings emphasized caution and gradual change, the so-called extremists realized that "[o]nly in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict" .
As these examples suggest, the so-called left-wing radicals have often been the greatest civilizing force in US society. Not only have many ideas once considered radical or naive since seeped into the mainstream, but the use of radical demands and tactics has usually been crucial to that process of political and cultural change by forcing the nation to focus on the injustices in its midst. Politicians, liberal intellectuals, and well-wishing "Do-Nothings" have always lagged behind. The latter groups have pleaded with their more radical counterparts for caution, restraint, and compromise, for the same general reasons suggested at the beginning of this essay. In the absence of consciously radical grassroots demands and pressure, public debates remain confined to the realm of what is deemed possible in the short run, and positive changes come much slower or not at all.
When is Compromise Necessary?
Though the necessity of making radical demands on the system seems clear from the historical examples above, compromises are sometimes necessary in the real world. There is no definitive general resolution to the issue of when and over what issues political compromise is appropriate and advantageous. But there are some situations in which political compromise is inappropriate, foolish, and morally unacceptable: first, when dealing with questions of fundamental human rights like access to physical freedom, adequate food, water, housing, health care, and others contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Second, even in situations where some amount of compromise is unavoidable in order to achieve a greater goal or forestall a greater evil, it makes no sense to compromise at the beginning of a debate or struggle. Doing so voluntarily limits the possible outcome to one that appeases the slaveowners, the war criminals, the health insurance companies, and other parasites . As sociologist David Meyer observes, "people don't generally take to the streets looking for smaller reforms, but often it's only by askingn for more that they get anything" .
Most of the Democrats now in Congress have failed on both counts: not only have they compromised on the basic human right to health care, but they did so before even getting to the negotiating table. Debate has been limited to whether or not the reform bill will include a "public option" that, while modestly extending coverage, would nonetheless prioritize the interests of the health insurance companies and pharmaceuticals. As a recent analysis in Business Week argued, regardless of the outcome of the current debate "the health insurers have already won" . By compromising with the industries that prey off the sicknesses and injuries of ordinary people, the Democrats have helped stabilize a system that is fundamentally corrupt and parasitic. As Ralph Nader said recently, "You do not cut deals with the system that needs to be replaced" .
This compromise was avoidable, had Democratic politicians wished to avoid it. Radical social transformation by its very nature tends to incur a fierce backlash from one or more sectors of the traditional elite; the best way to neutralize that backlash is through massive grassroots mobilization and a thorough reorientation of social policy to favor the majority rather than the elite minority. The conscious radicalization of the Cuban Revolution in the years 1959-61 consolidated the popular support for the government that would be decisive in fending off foreign aggression in the years that followed . Obama and the Democrats, by contrast, have deliberately chosen not to mobilize the mass grassroots base that elected them, perhaps for fear that such a movement might become too independent of Democratic Party control. Obama and his allies have bent over backwards to appease and preserve the private health care industry while trying to reassure their popular base with talk of a public option. If Obama decided to aggressively challenge the power of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries while mobilizing his grassroots supporters in favor of the single-payer system that most of them favor, that system would cease to be politically impossible. As Obama may well learn, "harmony ideology" leaders who try to please both greedy elites and the suffering majority often end up earning the distrust of both . In other words, rejecting the morality of the majority on health care may also redound to the political disadvantage of the Democrats . The Democrats' defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections—due in no small part to the Clintons' refusal to push "Medicare for All" rather than the tepid "compromise" bill offered—is a recent example of this general phenomenon.
Obama and the Democrats deserve a great deal of the blame, but it should come as no surprise that the rich, insulated politicians in Washington—who, incidentally, enjoy their own single-payer health care system—find it so easy to ignore the plight of the 20,000 effectively murdered each year for lack of health insurance, or the tens of millions who undergo constant sacrifice just to pay their medical bills . Each of us also has a choice to make about what we demand of our politicians. As Howard Zinn has long argued, if the job of the politician sometimes makes compromises unavoidable, the job of the activist does not . Failing to criticize—and to criticize vocally and actively—those politicians who compromise on crucial issues like universal health care amounts to complicity in their inaction. In the words of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, "If people demand nothing, that is precisely what they will get" . Human history has few iron laws, but this one comes close.
Postscript, for the Already-Convinced: A Few Necessary Caveats
For those convinced of the general validity of the preceding argument, a few quick caveats are necessary. Taking comfort in the fact that those professing radical ideas or demanding radical changes are scorned by their surrounding societies during their lifetimes is not without its risks. First, this same general rule has also been invoked for purposes more insidious than the ones described above. This notion can be extremely dangerous in the hands of those individuals, rather common in Washington and among the elite in most societies, who view themselves as divinely-ordained crusaders and who therefore require no approval from anyone for their actions. For those who consciously identify as radical leftists, there is a risk of falling into the same dogmatic and insular self-righteousness characteristic of most of the Right and some of the Left, or of developing the same leaders-and-masses mentality that characterized the Leninist vanguard parties of the twentieth century. There is a fine line between non-conformity and disdain for others' viewpoints; completely insulating oneself from all criticisms is never acceptable.
Radicalism should not be adopted for its own sake, or out of some romantic idealization of things radical, but because it usually constitutes the most morally tenable and politically effective response to existing problems. An egotistical self-satisfaction with one's identity as a "radical" who completely disdains all societal norms can be equally dangerous. An effective radical, as Saul Alinsky knew, is one who not only remains ever-faithful to the expressed needs of the oppressed but who also places the collective well-being over personal ego: "If the real radical finds that having long hair sets up psychological barriers to communication and organization, he cuts his hair" .
By the same token, radical demands and tactics are not inherently justifiable. Radical ideas must be presented logically, coherently, and in a culturally-attuned way that attracts the broad swaths of the public who value basic rights and justice for all human beings; the failure to do so will alienate potential supporters. Successful radicals have usually appealed to the positive values shared, at least in the abstract, by most ordinary people in the societies around them. And in fact, radical proposals usually do not constitute drastic departures from public morality, but merely extensions of that morality to neglected spheres or situations. The fact that "radical" demands at their core often coincide with public opinion—as in the case of single-payer health care—should be loudly proclaimed and made obvious at every step in the struggle .
Radical tactics must likewise be chosen carefully. The notion that direct action or civil disobedience inevitably scares people away from the movement is a fallacy; direct action, if done conscientiously, often attracts more people than it alienates, and the relative reluctance of the current antiwar movement to employ such tactics is probably one reason why it has failed to garner more widespread participation and thus remained quite weak politically . But although few major struggles have been won without employing some form of direct action, the specific nature of that action requires careful deliberation in the same way that the crafting of the public message and rhetoric does. Smashing the windows of the local Starbucks or staging a loud public protest in the university library during finals week may get people's attention and satisfy personal egos, but such actions usually hurt the cause. In the same way, dismissing phone calls and letter-writing as too traditional can be detrimental; most successful campaigns have combined direct action with these less confrontational, legislative tactics.
In sum, demands can be radical without alienating the majority of the public that shares progressive values, and tactics can be dramatic, attention-grabbing, and even chaos-inducing without frightening the working and middle classes. We must be open to radicalism, but not in a rigid or unthinking manner. For a much more detailed and eloquent version of this basic argument, made by an activist with far more organizing experience and accomplishments than myself, interested readers can consult Alinsky's 1971 classic Rules for Radicals.
 On the cost efficiency of single payer see the slew of studies, from 1991 through 2008, collected on the website of Physicians for a National Health Program. On public opinion see the sampling of polls collected on the website of the Western PA Coalition for Single-Payer Health Care. See also the many useful articles collected on the website of Physicians for a National Health Program. Many politicians, including prominent liberals, nonetheless disingenuously claim that "the public is either opposed to or of very, very passionate mixed minds about" proposals for government health care (Senator Joe Lieberman, quoted in Douglass K. Daniel, "Lieberman Says Many Health Care Changes Can Wait," AP, August 23, 2009. Lieberman here was presumably referring only to the "public option" idea, which stops far short of single payer; polls routinely show over 75-percent support for at least a public option [see Sam Stein, "New Poll: 77 Percent Support ‘Choice' of Public Option," Huffington Post, August 20, 2009]).
 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, "Remarks by the President to a Joint Session of Congress on Health Care," September 9, 2009.
 For example, superb recent reportage on Democracy Now! has drawn attention to the fact that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, is the leading Congressional recipient of donations from the health care industry. The Baucus story was originally done by Mike Dennison for the Montana Standard. See Dennison's interview in "Report: Senator Max Baucus Received More Campaign Money from Health and Insurance Industry Interests than Any Other Member of Congress," Democracy Now! June 16, 2009.
 (University of Chicago Press, 1995). Health industry campaign finance records are available in aggregate form for election cycles from 1990 to 2010 on the OpenSecrets.org website, under "Health: Long-Term Contribution Trends."
 My use of this metaphor should not be confused with the way Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres use it in their book, The Miner's Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2003).
 Douglass, speech in Canandaigua, New York, on "West India Emancipation," August 3, 1857.
 Quoted in a classic essay by Howard Zinn, to whom my present argument owes much of its inspiration and logic: "Abolitionists, Freedom Riders, and the Tactics of Agitation," reprinted in The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1997), 114 (essay originally published in 1965).
 Ibid., 115, 124-27. Last quote is Zinn's.
 (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1916), 128-29.
 James and Goldman quoted in Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, revised and updated edition (New York: HarperPerennial, 1995 ), 307, 314.
 Philip Sheldon Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Vol. VII: Labor and World War I, 1914-1918 (New York: International Publishers, 1987), 2.
 Debs quoted in Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 358.
 W.E.B. Du Bois famously issued the call to "forget our special grievances and close ranks with our fellow white citizens and the allied nations that are fighting for democracy," meeting with an "overwhelmingly negative" response from most of the black community but approval from the mainstream culture. Du Bois's reasons for "compromising" in this case were complex, and he does not belong in the same category as most liberals, but the example does fit within the general pattern I have been describing. See Mark Braley, "The Sweetness of His Strength: Du Bois, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Black Soldier," in W.E.B. Du Bois and Race: Essays Celebrating the Centennial Publication of The Souls of Black Folk, eds. Chester J. Fontenot, Jr. and Mary Alice Morgan with Sarah Gardner (Macon, GA: Mercer UP, 2001), 99 (quote) and 97-121 more generally. On prominent labor leaders' support for the war, despite opposition within many trade unions, see Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Vol. VII.
 Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 350.
 Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail (New York: Vintage, 1979 ), 96-175.
 Ibid., 132.
 Lance Selfa, The Democrats: A Critical History (Chicago: Haymarket, 2008), 58.
 On the radicalism of the most well-known nonviolent militant group in the South, see Howard Zinn, SNCC: The New Abolitionists (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964).
 On the conflict within the Civil Rights Movement over the Vietnam War see Simon Hall, "The Response of the Moderate Wing of the Civil Rights Movement to the War in Vietnam," The Historical Journal 46, no. 3 (2003): 669-701.
 Both quoted in an insightful analysis by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, "The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV," Media Beat, January 4, 1995.
 On the limits of post facto liberal critiques of the Vietnam War and their strong echoes in recent critiques of the Iraq War see my April 2008 blogs here and here, and Noam Chomsky, "We Own the World," Z Media Institute speech, revised version (June 2007), where the figure of 70 percent is quoted.
 See Renny Golden and Michael McConnell, Sanctuary: The New Underground Railroad (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1986).
 International Court of Justice, "Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America): Merits, Judgment of 27 June 1986," page 128, paragraph 251;on the movement itself see Christian Smith, Resisting Reagan: The U.S. Central America Peace Movement (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1996).
 Both quotes from Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (New York: Vintage Books, 1989 ), 20-21.
 On this point see Zinn, "Abolitionists, Freedom Riders, and the Tactics of Agitation," 124-25.
 Meyer's section in Stephen J. Dubner, "How Much Do Protests Matter? A Freakonomics Quorum," New York Times (online), August 20, 2009. It's worth commenting how extraordinarily rare it is for the Times to publish anything by scholars like Meyer, Howard Zinn, or the others featured in this online forum.
 Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein, "The Health Insurers Have Already Won," Business Week (August 9, 2009). See also Chad Terhune interviewed in "Business Week: ‘The Health Insurers Have Already Won,'" Democracy Now! August 17, 2009; Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, "Why Obama's Public Option Is Defective, and Why We Need Single-Payer,"The Progressive (online), July 22, 2009.
 "‘You Do Not Cut Deals with the System that Has to Be Replaced': Ralph Nader on Secret White House Agreements with the Drug Industry," Democracy Now! August 14, 2009.
 This is one theme in Louis A. Pérez, Jr., Cuba: Between Reform & Revolution, second edition (New York: Oxford UP, 1995 ), chapter 12.
 These points are implicit in the above interview with Nader, who observes that Obama "is not a transforming leader. He is a harmony ideology person. He's a concessionary person. He wants any bill with the label ‘health insurance reform' on it."
 Though seldom pointed out, a massive shift of government resources from the military to sectors like health care, education, and mass transit would also have a huge economic benefit, since social spending creates far more jobs than military expenditures: see the Congressional Budget Office estimates in "Why We Overfeed the Sacred Cow," Defense Monitor 25, no. 2 (February 1996): 1-7. For the same conclusion and a clear explanation as to why social spending is more economically advantageous see Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier, "The Wages of Peace," The Nation (March 31, 2008).
 See, for example, "Are We Politicians or Citizens?" The Progressive (May 2007).
 Mumia Abu-Jamal, "Beyond Politics," ZNet commentary, August 9, 2008.
 Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, xix.
 In this sense today's radicals enjoy a significant advantage over the abolitionists of the 1830s, who had to confront a public that generally supported African slavery.
 See my Z blog, "The US Antiwar Movement: Toward a Critical Self-Assessment," February 23, 2009.