Those who hold the view or conviction and hence dish out the advice that “it’s better to join and work to change a group, system or organisation from within, than from outside” ignore or are ignorant of the group internal dynamics.
No one joins a group, a system or organisation with the sole purpose and intention to change it from within, to change its internal dynamics, be it power and operational dynamics. This is because people join groups, systems or organisation as individuals, and therefore with [almost] no power or influence over the group, system or organisation.
People or some people, perhaps, may indeed, hold the belief that “it’s possible and therefore better to join and work to change a group, system or organisation from within, than from outside” and therefore, want and work hard to join a group, system or organisation harbouring the intention to effect change they desire rather from within – inside – the group or system, by influencing the group’s, system’s or organisation’s internal operational dynamics.
But, what happens once they join, is that they quickly realise and learn how hard, complicated and certainly, to a great extent, complex it is working within – inside – the group, system or organisational environment – navigating the internal dynamics. If they are brave enough and try to push for change, to effect any change that’s not sanctioned by the group, system or organisational internal dynamics, they are consciously and systematically frustrated.
So, foremost, for purposes of their sanity, they try to adjust to the internal workings and dynamics of a group, system or organisation. To keep around, they get or willingly accept to be co-opted and therefore their intention and/or initial mission subsequently compromised.
This is why it is difficult, almost impossible, to change a group, system or organisation from within, that is, by working from inside, and therefore why I believe the common advice that “it’s better to join and work to change a group, system or organisation from within, than from outside” is not only wrong but grossly misleading.
To change a group, system or organisation and its dynamics from within, as an individual, if that’s the intention, requires cooperation, coalition with/from other individuals within the group, system or organisation. Although this is operationally plausible, it also has the possibility of creating competing groups and interests within, hence making the desired change impossible to achieve but also possibly further fragmenting the group, system or organisation.
To change a group, system or organisation requires usurpation, where usurpation is the only possibility. If a group, system or organisation is usurped; it’s no longer change from within. It becomes change by imposition, do or die! So the “it’s better to join and work to change a group, system or organisation from within, than from outside” advice is or becomes rather, to borrow a distinguished mind’s phrase “redundant“
Effective change of an entrenched group and its interests and/or a deeply established system, organisation, has historically always been external, that is, from outside. The means vary, but the predominant and most effective means is always exerting force on pressure points of a group, system or organisation. It’s not always easy but not impossible either to find pressure points, weak points [weaknesses], especially in a well established group or system. But once found, the best strategy is to apply unrelenting force on such points, attack and weaken the weaknesses within, further.
However, it’s noteworthy to mention that every human group, system or organisation, inevitably has such pressure and hence vulnerable points. For, it is essentially a body of human bodies coalesced together for whatever objective[s]. If and when dealing with an established and strong group, system or organisation, it’s strategically and operationally wrong and a mistake of gargantuan proportions to attempt to attack and/or weaken its strongest points, that is, its strengths especially if you have and operate with limited resources.
To face and deal with strength requires strength, preferably equal or better – more strength – than the opponent’s existing strength. It requires more resources. Therefore, the best strategy and operation is to attack and weaken the existing weaknesses within the group, system or organisation.
My own strategic and operational advice and wisdom, contrary to “it’s better to join and work to change the group, system or organisation from within, than from outside“, is that, if you can’t change a group, system or organisation from outside; and if you must therefore, join a group, system or organisation, don’t delude yourself about “changing it from within”. Forget about that; it’s a fool’s errand!
Instead, complete submission to the group, system or organisation and its ethos, to the point of becoming fanatic, is the best strategy. You go in the whole hog and work with and for the group, system or organisation. It rewards immensely.