Can you change a system from the inside? It's a question that's come up a lot lately for me in several topics. I've been reading the articles of a local urban planner who's trying to change the government's approach from the inside but seems to be struggling against entrenched beliefs. His struggles and frustrations made me wonder if it was fruitless but he still seemed to have belief.
It also came up while playing Tales of Vesperia. In it two childhood friends chose different paths to fix a failing political system. One chose to join it to try and change it from the inside. The other left and chose to find his own way.
The question reminded me of an encounter several years ago.. I was approached at a hackathon by a local software developer interested in one of my projects. After some brief chat about where I saw the project going and I shared my aim for it to have an international audience he snidely replied that I was one of those who just wanted to leave. He went on to suggest that he thought too few people were interested in developing solutions for the local market. His rudeness aside it showed me a new perspective that I've seen others hold.
I've always believed that change from the inside is almost impossible without significant power. As a small cog in a machine, it can take you a lifetime to amass that power to create systemic change. But you can find power through your own means. Money gives you the power to influence systems outside your domain of expertise. Influence also gives you the power to sway opinions. With power like this, you can be an outsider and still create change through your own will.
I think it's a personal choice how you'd like to change any system. Some are suited to gradually moving stagnant organisations in new directions. Some are better at creating change through their own work. Your own skills and desires will determine which approach best suits you. The path someone takes to achieve change isn't important, what matters is the effectiveness of their actions. It's no use staying in a broken system and praying for change. But if you believe you have the ability to create change eventually then maybe it's the right approach.