"Some years ago, in a speech to clients in the cattle industry,
Ron Duchin, senior vice-president of the PR firm Mongoven, Biscoe
and Duchin (which probably represents a quarter of the largest
corporations), outlined his firm's basic divide-and-conquer strategy
for defeating any social change movement. Activists, he explained,
fall into three basic categories: radicals, idealists, and realists.
The first step in his strategy is to isolate and marginalize the
radicals. They're the ones who see the inherent structural problems
that need remedying if indeed a particular change is to occur. To
isolate them, PR firms will try to create a perception in the public
mind that people advocating fundamental solutions are terrorists,
extremists, fear mongers, outsiders, communists, or whatever.
After marginalizing the radicals, the PR firm then identifies and
"educates" the idealists - concerned and sympathetic members of the
public - by convincing them that the changes adovacted by the
radicals would hurt people. The goal is to sour the idealists on the
idea of working with the radicals, and instead get them working with
Realists, according to Duchin, are people who want reform but don't
really want to upset the status quo; big public-interest organizations
that rely on foundation grants and corporate contributions are a prime
example. With the correct handling, Duchin says, realists can be
counted on to cut a deal with industry that can be touted as a
"win-win" solution, but that is actually an industry victory."