Without conflict there is no progress or change. Discuss

Authors Avatar

Without conflict there is no progress or change

  • Intro – Saul Alinsky. Conflict produces change, and also a product of change
  • “Change means movement” – Alinsky’s life
  • “Conflict is the gadfly of thought” – Dewey says it is conflict that produces change
  • 1 – Change creates conflict. The Crucible and Modern revolutions
  • Salem conditions forced them together
  • Once it has become easier, there is a new enterprise for freedom
  • Two forces collide
  • Parallels contemporary scene – revolutions
  • 2 – Conflict can inspire change. The Proctor’s and Bali Nine
  • Proctor’s tiptoed around
  • Conflict doesn’t invite progress
  • As it intensifies they reassess values – reunites them
  • Bali nine leaders changed in jail
  • 3 – Conflict can cause change, but not progress – War on Terror
  • “Friction”
  • Descriptive opening
  • Racial intolerance – multiculturalism placed on trial
  • Public culture of surveillance

“Change means movement. Movement means friction”. These were the sentiments of Saul David Alinsky, a man well-placed to make such an observation. Alinsky first worked in prisons as a juvenile delinquency researcher. Then, starting in crime-ridden Chicago neighborhoods in the late 1930’s, he helped unions, churches and social groups unite, and win everything from jobs to streetlight to mere garbage collection. He would immerse himself in the neighborhood, listen to the troubles and needs of ordinary people, assess where power lay, and empower previously divided groups to seek common goals by standing up to government and corporate machines. It is for this reason that Time magazine once wrote that “American democracy is being altered by Alinsky’s ideas” and conservative author William Buckley remarked he was “very close to being an organizational genius”. Yet, his desire for change to the status quo, for better social cohesion, meant “friction” was inevitably produced. A conservative church journal once wrote, “it is impossible to follow both Jesus Christ and Saul Alinsky”, just as a government official, Hyman Bookbinder, labeled him “outrageously false [and] intemperate headline seeking”. In light of this, his own life is evidence of his belief that progress will induce conflict. John Dewey has a subtly different opinion though. He says, “Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us into observation and memory”. From his perspective, progress does not produce conflict, but rather conflict produces progress. Like the chicken and the egg saga, there is no definite answer. In any case, both are true. It remains evident, that where there is growth and development there is conflict. Likewise, where there is conflict there is change, but we cannot make the mistake of assuming this necessarily equates with progress.

Join now!

It is a concept mirrored in Arthur Miller’s allegorical play The Crucible. In the early founding years of the frontier town Salem, the threat from Indians and the alien environment compelled the inhabitants to unite “from top to bottom” in an “autocracy by consent”. However almost forty years on in 1692, the country had been largely tamed and the threat to citizens considerably reduced. In light of this, there was a new spirit of enterprise and movement for individual freedom which contrasted with the authoritarian values of the theocracy. Miller describes it as “two diametrically opposed absolutes”, and as ...

This is a preview of the whole essay