With the Oscars fast approaching, one documentary How to Survive a Plague is a likely winner (though may lose out to my second favorite documentary of the year Searching for Sugar Man). How to Survive a Plague is, as I described in my earlier review, an emotionally redolent account of ACT UP’s mobilization to move the U.S. government and the pharmaceuticals industry to bring life-extending AIDS drugs from the labs to market and into bodies. Josh Barro makes the case that the reason why ACT UP succeeded is because they made concrete demands, which echoes the argument Ethan Kapstein and I make in our forthcoming book on global AIDS treatment advocacy, AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations, available this fall from Cambridge University Press.
Among our main contentions is that movements need to unite around a common “ask” and that divided movements tend to dissipate their efforts and influence (for a couple of chapters from the book, go here. Comments most welcome!). Barro’s comments struck a chord and he drew some parallels with the relative failure of the Occupy Wall Street movement: