In this revealing interview, journalist Vincent Bevins discussed his newly released book If We Burn: The Mass Protest Decade and the Missing Revolution, based on his research of a wide range of social movements between 2010 and 2020. Beginning with an analysis of the “Yellow Vest” protests in France, the discussion focusses on the challenges, nuances, and lessons of building broad social movements—with particular lessons for the climate movement. Vincent highlights the transformative power of social media but also its limitations in fostering genuine, long-lasting change. He underscores the drawbacks of decentralized movements and ambiguous goals identifying potential pitfalls. Drawing from his on-the-ground experiences in Brazil, Vincent emphasizes the significance of recognizing the worldwide repercussions of local endeavors. He also stresses the need for activists to work with governments and state institutions rather than rejecting them, emphasizing that radical change does not necessarily always mean being anti-government.
Vincent Bevins is an award-winning journalist and correspondent. He covered Southeast Asia for the Washington Post, reporting from across the entire region and also served as the Brazil correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, also covering nearby parts of South America. He has written for are the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Economist, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, and more. His previous book is the Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade And The Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World.