Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The problem with social activism

Today a few posts came out detailing the lies of the "Kony 2012" campaign, which is supposedly attempting to help authorities capture Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army militant group. Unfortunately the campaign appears to merely be a money making scheme for the campaign organizers, and the 31 percent of funds they do put towards the cause is being given to a corrupt dictator's rape squads. Kony is an evil man, but campaign organizers are exploiting a genocide for personal profit.

This issue makes me miss Bill Easterly's Aid Watch blog.

In addition, this destructive campaign's popularity reminds me of the problems with the life cycle of social activists.

Here's what it should be: A person receives a rigorous education on a subject and observes a real problem in a related dimension. Our subject discovers a possible solution and after some hard work and serious research, embarks on a campaign to encourage other people to support our newly-appointed activist's mission.

If only life worked that way. Here's what really happens far too often:

A person listens to an activist, be it in person, in an essay or through a video, and copies that person's position. The listener/reader/viewer decides to get involved, takes in more information from established activists and spews it out to the public, unchanged, with no attempt to check its authenticity through outside sources. Other people witness this echo effect and the process begins anew.


  1. I share your concern - esp. since I'll probably just take your word for it lol.

    PS - I miss Bill too.

  2. I'm not saying that this Kony individual of Kony 2012 is an angel. But I don't think that all of the well-meaning people realize the deception at hand here. Remember the babies "thrown from incubators" story from the "nurse" (who turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador) used to sell the invasion of Iraq? After learning the background of this and following the money of who stands to benefit from this, all I can say is be prepared to send your 8 year old to a war under AFRICOM.

  3. I appreciate the accounting information, as I hadn't seen that elsewhere. What strikes me about the whole "Kony 2012" issue is just how little we hear about Mr. Kony's background and inspirations. He is a fundamentalist Christian and his group was created in part to fight Muammar Gaddafi's army to liberate Uganda. I am in no way surprised to hear that the campaign is designed to line the organizer's pockets as the proposed motivation for making the film campaign was altruism, which I did not find reliable.