Reformer Fallacy, The

The fallacy that the best reformers are driven by a burning desire to reform.

In fact, the person who sees himself as a fearless reformer is more likely to be driven by a desire to destroy, to simplify, and to ignore the pleas of the people who know the subject and are affected by the changes. The true reformer, in contrast, is a person who starts from a position of detachment and from no particular desire for change; instead, he is alert to the needs of circumstance, and may be able to push reform through with greater insight, precision and energy—and with more support—than he would be able to bring if he came to the task with the baggage of a prior commitment.

The big reformist movements of the modern era have been turned into acts of destruction by the Reformer Fallacy. The successful reforms—for instance, those of the great reforming Archbishops of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus (602-690) and Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), and of Florence Nightingale (1820–1910)—have started from a period in which the person is far from clear about the way forward, and is alert to fresh thinking about it. Fortunately, they did not have to take part in television debates in advance to set out precisely what they were going to do.


Related entries:

Pharisee, Ideology, High Ground, Utopia, Reflection, Encounter.

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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