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Why Institutions Drive Change

HISTORICAL MEMORY is both a powerful and perilous thing. It can inspire you to emulate the great deeds of your forerunners. But it can also offer the balm of false comfort when what you really need is a stiff shot of reality.

U.S. leftists may have a particular weakness for romanticizing our predecessors. After all, most of our political victories have been fleeting and ambiguous, our heroes and heroines either little known (Wendell Phillips, Florence Kelley) or scrubbed of their radical thoughts and ambitions (Martin Luther King, Jr.) by the guardians of civil religion.

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