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September 9, 2004

Are Protest Marches Useless?

Matt Taibbi of the NY Press didn't think much of the Anti-RNC protests. I won't say I totally agree, but he does offer a more compelling argument than Jeff Jarvis did.

Well, That Was Fun

...marching, as we have seen in the last few years, has been rendered basically useless. Before the war, Washington and New York saw the largest protests this country has seen since the 60s—and this not only did not stop the war, it didn't even motivate the opposition political party to nominate an antiwar candidate.

There was a time when mass protests were enough to cause Johnson to give up the Oval Office and cause Richard Nixon to spend his nights staring out his window in panic. No more. We have a different media now, different and more sophisticated law-enforcement techniques and, most importantly, a different brand of protestor.

Protests can now be ignored because our media has learned how to dismiss them, because our police know how to contain them, and because our leaders now know that once a protest is peacefully held and concluded, the protestors simply go home and sit on their asses until the next protest or the next election. They are not going to go home and bomb draft offices, take over campuses, riot in the streets. Instead, although there are many earnest, involved political activists among them, the majority will simply go back to their lives, surf the net and wait for the ballot. Which to our leaders means that, in most cases, if you allow a protest to happen… Nothing happens.

The people who run this country are not afraid of much when it comes to the population, but there are a few things that do worry them. They are afraid we will stop working, afraid we will stop buying, and afraid we will break things. Interruption of commerce and any rattling of the cage of profit—that is where this system is vulnerable. That means boycotts and strikes at the very least, and these things require vision, discipline and organization.

Posted by jsmooth995 at September 9, 2004 1:26 PM

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