Anarchists, in contrast [to groups that have vanguardist intentions], tend to refer to their strategy as “contaminationist.” The assumption is that direct action and direct democracy are infectious; almost anyone exposed to them is likely to be transformed by the experience.
David Graeber (Direct Action, An Ethnography)
Graeber’s a clever bloke but I think there’s a risk with over-focussing on this sort of attitude. There’s the problem that not everyone will encounter an action and it can be easily spun by the media or ignored completely. Vanguardism shouldn’t be ignored because it creates a focal point for the public which can clarify what it is that a movements all about and get people to the streets so that they can be subjected to the effects of “contaminationism”. Without this people just sit in front of their TV kids complaining about “students playing at anarchists” and so on.