Many highly political people scoff at the idea of changing the system from within, but the alternative to that strategy is . . . what? My dictionary (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language) defines "revolution," as follows: 1. "Orbital motion about a point . . . " 2. An assertedly momentous change in any situation . . . " 3. A sudden political overthrow brought about from within a given system . . . " So that's like (1) the revolution of the wheels of your bicycle, (2) a revolution like the "computer revolution" or the "industrial revolution", and, (3) political revolution that is what self-styled "revolutionaries" claim to be making or promoting. But look at the phrase, "brought about from within a given system," and realize that, by definition, REVOLUTION IS BROUGHT ABOUT FROM WITHIN THE SYSTEM. This has been discussed by the eminent Russian neo-Marxist, Aleksandr Buzgalin, as a primary contradiction of the global peace-and-justice movement --- namely, that as we strive to create communities and networks to replace the existing system with something very different from the existing institutions, we are all the time constrained to act and live within the confines of the existing institutions.
This dilemma --- in Hegelian or Marxist terms, a "contradiction" --- is well brought out in the movie MEN WITH GUNS (Spanish with English subtitles). The protagonist, a medical doctor and professor, goes into the mountains to try to track down whatever happened to the "barefoot medics" that he trained and sent out to the people years before. In the end, he suffers from shock as his illusions about the country-side are destroyed by seeing close-up how the country-side is being destroyed by the militaristic infrastructure of his own culture. The doctor finally pursues, with a small rag-tag band gathered on his wanderings, the illusory ecosocialist village where people live in harmony with the earth under the radar of the militaristic infrastructure and in a community where basics are shared by all. Maybe he even finds that illusive village. You have to watch the movie and form your own opinion.
Among the dirty words thrown by "revolutionaries" at anyone who doesn't agree with their current favorite idea about how to move forward toward "THE REVOLUTION" are "liberal" and "reformist". The word "liberal" has been so deformed by the American "Right" that it has almost lost all meaning while "reformist" simply means someone who advocates reform --- but there we reach an interesting result from the dictionary. It all comes down to the word "revolution" in a political context, because "liberal" is defined as seeking "non-revolutionary progress and reform" while "reform" is defined as "A movement that attempts to institute improved social and political conditions without revolutionary change." Following Immanuel Wallerstein's idea of "systemic social movement" as distinguished from other social movements, we can say that the "revolutionaries" envision something that when you get there, you won't be able to recognize where it was that you started from, whereas the "liberals" want to look around and see they are still in the same old town where they were born. Which one is the illusion or delusion, which is the reality? Anyway you look at it, we ALL work within the system. Well, except maybe for the super-rich who can afford to snap their fingers and materialize any illusion or delusion they may have. Otherwise, you can test this out by embarking on a path of immediately transforming your own life, and then either you work covertly within the system like everybody else or you work within the system from inside the mental health community/establishment.
So which are you? I won't insult you by suggesting that you might be a Democrat or a Green, because I know that's a touchy subject, but are you a "revolutionary"? And --- be honest now --- do you work within the system or don't you?