Social reformers must often make difficult political decisions as they define an ideology of change, and the strategies and tactics to be implemented on its behalf. As Peter Gay observes, “A democratic Socialist movement that attempts to transform a capitalist into a Socialist order is necessarily faced with the choice between two incompatibles—principles and power.” An emphasis on the purity of principles may help to sustain the identity of the movement. But it may also expose the movement to repression by governments that have as their policy the control of dissent, and insistence on society's conformity to the central value system they seek to protect. On the other hand, accommodation with the established order—however justifiable it may be as a means of working for social change from within the existing institutions of society—runs the risk of exposing reform movements to the danger of cooptation and absorption by that order, particularly if the reform movements are weak to begin with or if the pressures upon them to sacrifice their principles for the national good become irresistible.

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