Jul 2009 17


History is full of celebrated people; heroes who have taken up causes and fought for ideals against all odds – Be it in an artistic endeavour, or cultural,  or religious or political realm to mention a few. Martyrs like Che Guevara have paid the ultimate price in violent struggles and other leaders have sought to break off from conventional society with their followers to create dystopias instead of new ideal societies.  There is definitely merit in sticking with what one believes in; having your own personal Samurai code and possessing unwavering morality beliefs/principles that you will never retract to preserve your integrity…

Never though? There is something to be said for compromising in order to achieve one’s goals.  A poignant example of this is the proverbial concession of having to water down or alter one’s principles; ideologies etc in order to take a message to the masses or agree concessions with former nemesis for peace.  Is that selling out?  It happens all too often that people who make those compromises to further their cause or achieve a particular laudable goal are stereotyped as being sell outs. I’ve even heard of Nelson Mandela being referred to as a “sell-out” for the compromises agreed to to bring an end to apartheid.

Compromise” need not be a dirty word but to many passionate activists (dare I say extremists) it is as it connotes settling for less. Not every compromise is a bad compromise although some undoubtedly are. The problem comes from the fact that conditions of oppression, poverty and social struggle create emotional distress and scars that feed into extremism and therefore it is no surprise that compromises can be regarded positively as solutions to problems or negatively (as settling for less than the ideal and forgiving wrong-doing).  This first person review from 1962 of the above-featured debate between Malcom X and Bayard Rustin further examines the ability of emotions to cloud judgement.  (It is however worth noting that Malcom X did change his position with regards to his views on race). To quote the words of Bayard RustinIn protest there must never be any compromise; In politics there is always compromise” To use a more popular phrase – there are many ways to skin a cat.  Does the end justify the means?  What is in a compromise.


  1. […] dramatically change the lives of the island’s 3,000 inhabitants, consequently, perhaps a compromise is needed to ensure that some of the economic benefits are shared between the two […]

  2. […] interview with RussiaToday he appears as an articulate activist instead of an angry rapper whose uncompromising passion can easily be interpreted as intimidating aggression. His musical anthology thus far is […]

  3. […] mere two weeks after Obama had won the election. Moreover, political will is always susceptible to compromise so that policy change is often slow to manifest successful results in reality. After all the US and […]

  4. […] of ideas those in power. Those familiar with their music might regard this as an uncharacteristic compromise or concession.  In the interview they urge engagement in the political process and express themselves with […]

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