Grassroots vs Astroturf
by Emma Holisterwww.artmargin.com July 26, 2006
The following is a brilliant article that looks at aspects of one of the most controversial topics in grassroots activism: the conspiracies between the human rights grassroots associations and the big industry and government groups they oppose.
I am occasionally accused of being a trouble maker because I denounce the 'Controlled Opposition Groups' (COGs) in our midst. These are activist associations / groups that have strong ties to industry and big government, that pose as true grassroots organisations, 'helping the people, for the people, by the people', but who are leading their often well intentioned members off the cliff and into oblivion with political actions that are doomed to failure and with false statements that create confusion and conflict amongst the true grassroots organisations. These doomed actions and false statements have to be denounced by true grassroots groups, who are then accused of 'creating conflict in our political movement'. We have our fingers rapped, and are told off for not realising that we are all 'on the same side', that we shouldn't be critisising and fighting eachother, because that's how the enemy will win, through the divide and conquer strategy. This 'scoulding' can go so far as to take the form of repeated threats, abusive harrassment, lawsuits and even death threats.
However, if we let the Controlled Opposition Groups do their dirty work, without publicly denouncing them, they gain immense power, because of their government and industry contacts, and often become more popular and famous than the true grassroots organisations who are making real differences in the world of activism and legislation to protect our human rights.
Controlled Opposition Groups play on emotion, on personal friendships, on power. Once a group or well known activist individual or association chairman / woman has been taken in by a COG, often it is quite simply pride alone, or need for money, that stops them from admitting they've backed a lame horse and are leading their thousands of well intentioned members astray, with actions and statements that destroy the true activist groups and protect the big industry they are claiming to oppose.
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