Sunday, November 21, 2004
Just wanted to write in and express a bit of dismay that the anti-war movement isn’t being more agressive by having large scale demonstrations. While small actions are always good, the times require larger actions and demonstrations - but this is impossible to pull off without the support of the larger groups within the movement. The arguments used - to “support our troops”, to not alienate people, to my way of thinking don’t matter. All that we can really do is to protest - policies are certainly not going to change without it, and perhaps won’t change with it. But it’s like the quote says, we are better off when we are active and defend our beliefs. I want a large scale demonstration/march in Boston, and have contacted a few groups, but they don’t seem interested in getting it off the ground. And yes, there are other things that can be done, too, but I think psychologically it would be good to get lots of people together right now.Posted by Rich Griffin from Boston, Massachusetts on 11/22 at 02:47 AM
Psychologically, it might be good...but I seriously doubt that large protests have much of an impact beyond that (unless they are done on the scale of, say, what Bolivia is doing now: nationwide strikes to shut down business.)Posted by Mickey Z. from on 11/22 at 05:42 AM
I’m not old enough to remember and am only going on what I read and have seen in documentaries - the large scale demonstrations during the Vietnam war era. Were they effective? Most books say yes. You are probably correct: we most likely won’t be able to stop the atrocities, but we ought to try. It also creates solidarity within the movement and it gives us something pro-active to do. IF it’s ever enough people, it can frighten politicians into acting differently.Posted by Rich Griffin from Boston, Massachusetts on 11/22 at 09:02 AM
The problem with the big demonstrations is that the media and political spokesmen now know how to handle them. It’s too easy for them to single out select portions and paint the entire movement as idiotic. They also tend to get coopted by self-promoters. The potential for unchallegeable brutality discourages any but the toughest and the demonstrations, when following the law, tend to reinforce obedience to a bad system.
The future of direct action lies in smaller crowds reversing the rule of illegitimate authority temporarily. They need to be unpredictable and most of all, fun for the participants. Dissent gets boring for many people. Guerilla art and theatre are still viable.Posted by harry from on 11/22 at 10:15 AM
I remember very well right before this “war” the large scale protests all over the world; esp. in Spain - I’m convinced it made a difference, if not in Iraq, certainly in Spain. I’ve been involved with many smaller scale demonstrations over the years, and while it is impossible to quantify anything we do (we just never know who we will reach), larger numbers IMO is better. Why is there such reluctance to do anything at all by so many within this particular movement??Posted by Rich Griffin from Boston, Massachusetts on 11/22 at 12:05 PM
I think that reluctance is based on results...or lack thereof. Our commodity culture has effectively co-opted the concept of protest and we desperately need new ideas.Posted by Mickey Z. from on 11/22 at 01:00 PM
I can’t speak for any movement as a whole. The people I work with are doing plenty. My criticism of that one particular protest technique comes from experience.
Large protests are but one arrow in a quiver and are, as I said, now subject to deliberate distortion and coopting. Bearing witness and voicing rejection of crimes is ineffective by itself. There must also be building alternatives that people can see, challenging assumptions in ways that do not have responses ready to roll and putting an active stop, wherever possible, to business of the criminals. Large protests don’t inconvenience them.Posted by harry from on 11/22 at 01:07 PM
First, I’d be really interested in what others think is effective, that would not be as you say “coopted” - Second, I think we disagree on the WHY to do demos/protests; I see it as less important in the short run to get the results we might want, and more important for us - to build solidarity. Yet, if people aren’t willing to participate, what are they willing to do?? It does seem important to do SOMETHING, rather than nothing… and also, I do think it is impossible to quantify demos/protests -Posted by Rich Griffin from Boston, Massachusetts on 11/22 at 01:48 PM
I can only speak for myself, Rich. For that, you might wanna scroll down my blog for some of my thoughts on dissent. Besides that, I’m wide open to suggestion.Posted by Mickey Z. from on 11/22 at 02:27 PM
The things that stop governments in their tracks come from soft power. A large demonstration that ended with all participants refusing to go to work or spend money would be a great start. Wildcat strikes, informal and even among non-union members, would be even better. To ask permission for them is a mistake.
War Tax resistance, as detailed in the link below, is another option.
Even people who boast of creating their own reality have to yield to economic reality at some point.Posted by harry from on 11/22 at 07:09 PM