This is the blog of Kelly Jennings, science fiction writer.
You have a point. And I have been at my share of protests where the crowds did not follow the letter of the permit (if there was a permit, even)_. But there's also this: the MOST successful protests are the ones that intimidate by their sheer numbers, not their temporary disruption of the lives of people who may not have any power at all. What shows in the picture is a small number of people blocking a highway. Their numbers are not impressive, only their passion. And the people they are blocking are not office holders or corporations or media moguls -- they are just people on their way home from work. And, as your social worker friend pointed out, they represent a threat to the safety of others who may be equally powerless.The protests that have had a big impact have been the ones that were carefully planned, with accountability and discipline, where the message and the goals were clear. I'm thinking the 1963 civil rights march in Washington DC, the Women's March in early 2019, the Immigration Reform marches in 2008-9-10. Some of the anti-war marches in the early '70's. Marches in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in the mid-'70's. Of course not every protest can be that big, disciplined, and that successful, but the principles of being clear on who you want to inconvenience and how you will maximize participation, still hold. Another good example: the march in the Philippines that brought down the Marcos government in the early '80's. The drama of throngs of young people breaking all the rules to express their anger is unbdoubted, and can be attention getting in a way that creates openings for actual policy change movements. But its effectiveness wears off, and we have to be ready to pivot to longer term strategies.
I think you submitted this comment to the wrong post.I don't disagree that large numbers of protesters is also effective. But protests that disrupt business as usual are also important. The point, as I say in the post below, is to make the maintenance of the status quo untenable. There are many ways effective to do that.The "what about ambulances?" is a red herring. The one time an ambulance ran up against protesters blocking the highway, the protesters let it through (unsurprisingly).
Post a Comment