How radicalism can change you or why activism is the ultimate life hack

Mong Palatino

Excuse the dramatic appeal of the headline but I feel it’s necessary to emphasize the life-changing impact of the decision to become an activist. It’s also to quickly refute what activism is not: a deviant behavior that requires a corrective action, a dangerous addiction, a temporary lapse in judgment, a rebellious tendency among the young, and a political racketeering scheme.

One doesn’t become an activist by joining rallies in the same way a Catholic cannot demand deliverance by going to mass every Sunday. If activism is mere attendance in rallies, then every president of the Republic from Ferdinand Marcos to Noynoy Aquino can boast of being a former activist.

The essence of activism is commitment to the Cause which is openly manifested through persuasive political actions. But commitment is also silently expressed. What we often notice is the activist enacting his beliefs but not his personal struggles. The truth is that it takes some time before a person can truly affirm that he is ready to embrace the activist way of life. And often, he doesn’t immediately realize how activism has already redefined his perspective on almost everything in life.

Everything, from the insignificant to the essential. At first she thinks her changing worldview is part of growing up in an institution of learning. She welcomes this like a student equating the accumulation of facts with knowledge. Later, she realizes that her activist education is different from mainstream pedagogy. The first is focused on integrating theory with practice while the second fetishizes the world of ideas irrespective of what’s happening in the real world. The first involves a search and generation of useful ideas in aid of social transformation while the second preserves the dominant ideology in the name of Capital.

It is a non-stop learning and unlearning process, an individual undergoing political ‘conscientization’, a victim of the educational apparatus struggling to be free.

When his ideals no longer conform to popular opinion, and when his views are mocked because they appear subversive, he risks failing the standards of excellence and financial success as he stubbornly clings to his principles. But for him, this is petty loss compared to what he gained.

A new way of seeing things, a practical and progressive guide for better living, and an enriching experience in the social movement – all of this to advance the politics of liberation, the pursuit of truth and the building of a new future.

Yet she is accused of rejecting bourgeois morality in favor of utopia. She is told to be more realistic in her political outlook which means her quixotic struggle for social change must be tempered by redirecting it to everyday bread and butter issues. She can fight imperialism but only after she improved her personal circumstances. Like what politicians often argue, people must change first before they demand change in society.

He understands the concern as a sophisticated attack against activism. He insists that a person, especially an activist, is capable of being self-critical while clamoring for a new world. His participation in the politics of revolution already transforms him as an individual. Indeed, he is guilty of repeating big words such as patriotism, collectivism, and radicalism but it doesn’t mean he ignores vital issues concerning the self and family ties.

She asserts that the aims of activism may be broad but doable and necessary. The world is knowable, the world can be changed.

An activist has a long-term goal which inspires him to strategize in a comprehensive way. He has a concrete vision of what he intends to accomplish. He tests old and new ideas in the political battlefield. He knows his priorities, he has micro and macro tasks to perform, and his action reflects his taking side in the class struggle.

She is quite bewildered by the accusation that she only thinks of impersonal concepts such as classes and imperialist nations. Her political work may be a collective undertaking but it is also sustained by her sincere affections for persons and places that are dear to her. Her important realization is that love for others is best expressed by winning the political struggle for genuine change. Love for family motivates the activist and this family grows bigger as she develops closer ties with the basic masses. Love, solidarity, serving the people – multiple, distinct meanings but united by the politics of struggle.

An activist develops the lifelong passion for scientific learning (class analysis), the sharpening of the instinct to fight oppression, and trust in people power. He dedicates his life to the mass movement and there he explores new skills and attitudes that allow him to confront the unjust world with more confidence. He meets his fellow-travelers, fellow warriors, friends for life, and comrades. Together, they celebrate every small and big victory of the struggle. They see a glimpse of tomorrow through the people’s resistance. (

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator. Email:

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