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The activism industry is composed of organizations and individuals who make a living from activism, involvement in action to bring about change. The number of organizations who employ people to perform this work is sufficiently large that Activism is now a job classification. Movements across the political spectrum can be described as activist in nature.

Many organizations whose primary activity is activism may be defined as being nonprofit organizations. Some are non-governmental organizations. Most activist organisations do no manufacturing of goods.

The specific activist tactic of influencing decisions made by government is called lobbying. Many groups have staff assigned to do lobbying. In the United States, lobbying is regulated by the federal government.[1]

Contents

Fields in the activism industry

Activism in capitalist societies

In capitalist societies, when civil liberties are present, full-time activists are employed on wages. Volunteer activists may support themselves by working full-time or part-time. Most governments encourage public support of non-profit organisations by granting some form of tax relief for donations to charitable organizations, sometimes including donations of time as well as money. Governments usually attempt to deny these benefits to activists by restricting the political activity of tax-exempt organisations. This can be controversial, because the borderline between political activity and educational or religious activity is not always clear.

Free societies rarely have explicit restrictions on political activism, although many forms of activism involve committing other crimes such as aggravated trespass.

Forced Activism

Powerful organisations, such as government bureaucracies and large corporations, often organize activism to promote their own interests, and sometimes coerce their employees and others to participate. However, where civil liberties exist, the penalty for failing to comply with forced activism is often unemployment, rather than imprisonment for political crimes, as is often the case in contemporary societies lacking in civil liberties. A number of techniques are commonly used:

  • Paid or obligatory attendance on work time at rallies. Often the size of the crowd is claimed to indicate support of policies. This technique was recently used by the Tasmanian logging industry in the 2004 Australian Federal election.
  • Promotion or continued employment being dependent upon voluntary attendance on holidays at certain functions or rallies.
  • Requests by government officials or corporate managers that a body of people support a public letter of support for a particular cause.
  • Requirements for students to undertake politically motivated employment during semester breaks.
  • Calling public meetings with the sole purpose of criticising an individual (who may be at the meeting) who is believed to hold unacceptable views. This technique of criticism / self-criticism at mass meetings was commonly used in the People's Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution.
  • Compulsory or heavily suggested financial or time contributions to causes or organizations. Peace loans in the Warsaw Pact countries in the 1950s operated on this basis. Similarly, some workplace charity drives in the West approach this level of compulsion.

Restrictions by governments can create what are state-controlled activism industries (just as some states control other industries), grant monopolies to organizations, or divert government resources to influence change.

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