You can’t win if you only work with people like yourself

"Be different" by Vermin Inc. on flickr.comI’ve just finished Bury the Chains, an excellent history of the British abolitionist movement-I highly recommend it.

One of the themes of the book was the odd alliance between two of the movement’s leaders: William Wilberforce and John Clarkson.

John Clarkson was an organizer, and agitator, and a bit of a radical. He was inspired by the French revolution. He was not satisfied with the inequality of British society, for Clarkson the institution of slavery was the most offensive of the injustices.

Wilberforce was very different. In most ways he was conservative. As a wealthy man himself, he thought that society worked well (except for the problem of slavery), and he was repulsed by the French revolution and other examples of popular unrest.

Despite their political differences, Wilberforce and Clarkson needed each other.

Wilberforce alone would have not been able to mobilize popular pressure and galvanize the public against slavery.

Clarkson alone would not have been able to maneuver the House of Lords and actually get legislation passed to ban the slave trade.

Who are you working with who seems totally different from you? How can you find new allies for social transformation?

Leave a Reply