In a fascinating new piece that looks at how corporations use claims of “social responsibility” to fend off activists and government regulation, Corporate Crime Reporter editor Russell Mokhiber mentions a strategy put forward by Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchin (MBD), a PR company that specializes in providing intel on activists to corporate clients, to divide and conquer activist groups.
MBD believes that activists fall into four distinct categories: radicals, opportunists, idealists, and realists. MBD outlines a three-step strategy: isolate the radicals, cultivate the idealists and educate them into becoming realists, then co-opt the realists into agreeing with industry.
I have never heard of this strategy (which is fleshed out in a little more depth here), or the company, but find both very interesting. What do you know about this group, and what do you think of their strategy? Have you seen any of these approaches used against your work or activist groups that you’re involved in? In the meantime, I will see if I can track down an actual copy of this strategy and post it.
The British climate movement’s ‘Big One’ brought out record numbers, but ran into a wall of silence. XR’s new strategy could turn this setback into a new lease on life.
Many are celebrating the recent convictions against the Proud Boys, but they will only strengthen the state’s ability to target the left.
A new book explores how Miss Major has persevered over six inspiring decades on the frontlines of the queer and trans liberation movement.
Read this pdf in Tobacco Control:
Here’s a quote from the article:
Ron Duchin graduated from the US Army War
College, and served as special assistant to the Secretary
of Defence and director of public affairs for
the Veterans of ForeignWars (VFW) before joining
Pagan International and then MBD. In 1991 he
gave a speech to the US National Cattlemen’s
Association describing how MBD works to divide
and conquer activist movements. Duchin explained
that activists fall into four categories:
radicals, opportunists, idealists and realists, and
that a three-step strategy was needed to bring
them down. First, you isolate the radicals: those
who want to change the system and promote
social justice. Second, you carefully ‘cultivate’ the
idealists: those who are altruistic, don’t stand to
gain from their activism, and are not as extreme in
their methods and objectives as the radicals. You
do this by gently persuading them that their advocacy
has negative consequences for some groups,
thus transforming them into realists. Finally, you
co-opt the realists (the pragmatic incrementalists
willing to work within the system) into compromise.
“The realists should always receive the highest
priority in any strategy dealing with a public
policy issue . . . If your industry can successfully
bring about these relationships, the credibility of
the radicals will be lost and opportunists can be
counted on to share in the final policy solution.”1
Opportunists, those who are motivated by power,
success, or a sense of their own celebrity, will be
satisfied merely by a sense of partial victory.
Title: Blue Smoke, Mirrors, and Designer Science
How the Public Relations Industry Compromises Democracy
shorter version of this article appeared in Skeptic magazine, Vol 7, No. 1, 1999