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Yes, yes, yes, but with a quibble.

I actually believe the puppets makers/street marchers are noxious. They trivialize protests and when really substantive protests come along, they have no longer any effect.

Example : the anti-war protests in the US and UK in 2002 which were 1) massive and 2) had zero effects, in large parts because the idiots have poisoned that well long ago with their narcissistic street theater BS. The March on Washington of August 1963 would have no effect whatsoever if it were to happen today.

Protests should be very rare, only about really important matters, and they should be massive and brutal.

by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 30th, 2008 at 09:05:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
make aware the public of a problem, not change how people think about it. Of course the anti-war protests were useless in changing public opinion. Everybody knew there would be a war and it didn't lack awareness.
But there are other issues, which can profit enormously just from awareness.

I guess by the way there are a lot of people, who would oppose protesters and potentially their issues, just because they are "massive and brutal", as you write they should be. If you really can change something, like stopping a war or destructing a nuclear power plant, this can still work, but such protests won't be constructive.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 01:27:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Partially so.

But partially it is probably also due to the very simple fact that protests today are substantially more toothless than protests forty or fifty years ago. It used to be that when someone put a hundred thousand pairs of feet on the streets in the capital, it presaged a general strike, extensive blockades, large scale organised sabotage or some other suitably nasty reprisal if their demands were not met - or at least approached.

In other words, the Left used to have the Parliament of the Street with which to oppose the Right's control of the Parliament of the Dollar. Today, the Parliament of the Street has been left to disorganised anarchist rabble with more guts than sense and little in the way of political program or parliamentary representation [2], while the Parliament of the Dollar is still fully operational - and likely more so than back in the bad old days.

It has been postulated - and I think I tend to agree - that rapid and real progress is made not by revolution, but by the credible threat of it. Looking across the history of European democracy, the greatest democratic progress has been in the late 1840s, in the interbellum years and in the immediate aftermath of WWII. In all three cases, revolution was a very real possibility [1], with potentially extremely unpleasant consequences for the elites, were it to happen.

Sadly, though, the credible threat of revolution tends to work best when said revolution is happening to someone else at the time; and revolutions have a way of eating their children...

- Jake

[1] Respectively the Franco-German liberal revolts, the aftermath of the Russian revolution and the way the European communists had been boosted in public opinion by being the only faction to put up a more than half-hearted fight with the fascists during the War.

[2] But do note that they did get a new Ungdomshus.

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 03:55:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know how old you are, Jake, but a disorganised anarchist rabble with more guts than sense was the kind of thing that was said about the protests forty or fifty years ago that you consider were efficient.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 04:35:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True. But methinks you overlooked the qualifier with little in the way of political program. Not being old enough to remember it personally, I have my information second-hand at the best of times, but even if half the things I hear are post-facto rationalisations, there was a lot of political program back then.

Not so much with the present-day anarchists. They make a showing at the G8 summits, but not much more than that (and that's still a Hell of a lot more than can be said for the Serious lefties). But if you read their manifests, they specifically eschew political platforms as reactionary. Libertarians on the left.

Now, that's not to say that they couldn't be effective. The right has used right-wing libertarians to move the Overton Window quite effectively. But I don't see anything in their public statements (or their operational planning) that suggests that they are working along those lines.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 05:05:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This comment would be worth a diary.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Apr 1st, 2008 at 04:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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