Understanding Why We Take To The Streets

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NorthReport
Understanding Why We Take To The Streets

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NorthReport

Understanding Why We Take To The Streets

It has been a remarkable year for public demonstrations. More than 1 million people filled Parisian streets on Sunday, a show of unity after last week’s terror attacks in France. In August, protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, after an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was fatally shot by a police officer.

And in New York in September, tens of thousands turned out for the People’s Climate March, one of the largest environmental marches in history. Dana R. Fisher, a sociologist, was there seeking answers to basic questions: Why do individual citizens engage in the democratic process, and how do protests come together?

Fisher is the subject of “Political Action,” directed by Jamie Schutz. It’s the second film in “The Collectors,” a series of 10 short documentaries from FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films about the passionate people who collect data.

 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

The authors of the article forgot to mention all the mass rallies in July and August against Israel's assault on Gaza. One of the marches in London was reported as having a million people, and others there were in the tens and hundreds of thousands. Plus there were large demos of tens and hundreds of thousands in other major world cities as well. Though given that the article is from fiethirtyeight.com, it doesn't really surprise me that they didn't mention these demos, even if it does bother me.

As to why we take to the streets, I think there's three main reasons:

1) To express our anger at something
2) To try and change public opinion on an issue
3) To try and change government policy on an issue

NDPP

Tariq Ali: The Time is Right For a Palace Revolution  -  by Chris Hedges

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41146.htm

"Our corporate masters do not intend to release their death grip without a brutal fight..."

It's definitely time to take to the streets. And make them our streets. Permanently.

Pondering

NDPP wrote:

Tariq Ali: The Time is Right For a Palace Revolution  -  by Chris Hedges

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41146.htm

"Our corporate masters do not intend to release their death grip without a brutal fight..."

It's definitely time to take to the streets. And make them our streets. Permanently.

Great thread, great article.

You can’t understand the emergence of Syriza without understanding the Second World War, the role of the partisans, the role of the Communist Party that organized the partisans and how at one point 75 percent of the country was controlled by these partisans.

While that may be true, and it may be instructive, it's not necessary to understand the emergence of Syriza because conditions in North America are so different.

“I was sympathetic to the Occupy movement, but not to the business of not having any demands,” he said. “They should have had a charter demanding a free health service, an end to the pharmaceuticals and insurance companies’ control of the health service, a free education at every level for all Americans.

I think it would have been too soon for that and they should have focused on exposing the oligarchs and demanding government transparency in the spending of taxpayer funds.

Ali said that the failure on the part of citizens to build mass movements to dismantle wholesale surveillance in the wake of the revelations by Edward Snowden was an example of our collective self-delusion and our complicity in our own oppression. The cult of the self, a product of neoliberal corporate propaganda, infects every aspect of society and culture and leads to paralysis.

Occupy did show that people are ready to listen.

lagatta

Oh dear, pondering, not the bloody reactionary concept of "American exceptionalism". Especially not when you are living in Québec, where people took to the streets in 2012, where there were demos for Gaza every single day during the Israeli assault, when there are calls for taking to the streets against austerity, proclaimed by the Libs who are now up to their eyes in the shitstorm surrounding BOTH superhospitals.We have a hell of a lot to learn from Syriza and Podemos, and also struggles in the Americas.

It is never too soon to demand free health care, or free education for that matter, and to expose the oligarchs that are conniving to deny such basic human rights to the citizens of the most powerful and (in some senses) the richest country in the world. (I mean overall, not by relative median income).

Pondering

I am responding to comments in the Anarchy 101 thread because I was about to take it too far off topic. I was going to start a new thread but I think it works into this conversation quite well. http://rabble.ca/comment/1489944#comment-1489944 , post 123.

Pondering wrote:

Slumberjack wrote:

Pondering wrote:

Slumberjack wrote:
I have been leaning for some time toward the notion that the idea of an empowered working class negating or transforming a system that the working class itself depends on for it's success is defunct, as it likely always was. 

That seems so defeatist and dismissive of the potential that resides in us all.

What 'potential' are you referring to aside from being imbedded within capitalist production processes, with it's fatal effects on the environment?

The arrogance inherent in your words leaves me a bit stunned.

Slumberjack wrote:
Shouldn't it indicate that in my asking a question based on your statement not to be dismissive of 'potential,' that whatever so called knowledge you think I have, or are trying to position me with as if to place me atop of some arrogant mountain of knowledge, that it is after all less than complete considering that I'm the one seeking an answer, which I would have to assume you're in possession of, and not me?  More specifically though, how does your example of the piano player apply to this discussion, or to the thread in general?  Or is that more arrogance on my part to even ask?

The reason I was stunned is that I don't see you as particularly arrogant (although you do have a mountain of knowledge) but your words do suggest that the "working class" are not capable of "seeing the light" so to speak (because they are dependent on capitalism?) but so are we all.

My example of the piano player was to show that the people we least expect to produce beauty or teach us anything do have the capacity to understand and to do far more than they are given credit. 

(as in take to the streets in overwhelming numbers)

I have to look up stuff over and over and over again to participate in conversations here. I've probably looked up neoliberalism 10 times or more. Marxism, Leninism, at this moment I have no clue what those words mean other than some vague connection to socialism and communism both of which I only understand at the most rudimentary level. I know very little history. I am probably more or less as informed as most "working-class" people.

I have a bit of an inferiority complex, a defensiveness that may interfere with my understanding of what people are trying to communicate to me.

I do think that I have an understanding of how regular people can be reached, how the tide can be turned, but that I don't have the words or properly organized means of explaining myself to convince anyone of it or generate the kind of support that would be needed to make it happen. That's frustrating, but how foolishly arrogant am I to think I have answers that activists who have been studying and organizing for decades don't?

Take Lagatta for example. Compared to her knowledge and understanding of social justice both current and historical I am barely a toddler. I don't think I ever did or ever will have her capacity for absorbing and remembering, not just understanding, information and integrating it into discussion nor her dedication and energy.

But everyone doesn't have to be a Lagatta to be valuable. As they say, "it takes all kinds" and "out of the mouths of babes". 

The wealthy and powerful were afraid of the masses getting the vote because they imagined that they would be overthrown. That the poor would logically vote someone in that would overthrow them. It didn't happen, but that doesn't mean it never will. There is a first time for everything.

Occupy and the Quebec student movement proved there are people ready to take to the streets. A sense of injustice is growing. The faster it does the more people will be willing to take to the streets, but they need to be motivated by a single goal.

One key to the environmental movement's success in generating opposition to pipelines is that they focused on educating people on the direct and immediate threat to their well-being both physical and economic. People who feel threatened will fight to the bitter end.

Pondering

lagatta wrote:
Oh dear, pondering, not the bloody reactionary concept of "American exceptionalism". Especially not when you are living in Québec, where people took to the streets in 2012, where there were demos for Gaza every single day during the Israeli assault, when there are calls for taking to the streets against austerity, proclaimed by the Libs who are now up to their eyes in the shitstorm surrounding BOTH superhospitals.We have a hell of a lot to learn from Syriza and Podemos, and also struggles in the Americas.

No not that. The suggestion was that we had to know how it developed from the time of WWII. We can learn from their struggles but America has not reached the point of Greece and Spain so if we want to get massive numbers of people to take to the streets before economic collapse we will have to find another means of motivating people.

I think the biggest lessons we have from Syriza and Podemos is that they speak the truth, they unite people regardless of political persuasion, they focused on the big money movers to establish that Greeks had been robbed.

lagatta wrote:
It is never too soon to demand free health care, or free education for that matter, and to expose the oligarchs that are conniving to deny such basic human rights to the citizens of the most powerful and (in some senses) the richest country in the world. (I mean overall, not by relative median income).

I agree we are the richest country in the world if only because we have 25% of the world's fresh water (which we are currently giving away).

It is too soon to demand free health care and education because those are only two needs of many. Indigenous people see their plight as more urgent. Environmentalists see climate change as the over-riding issue. Common knowledge among the masses is that we can't afford it all so everyone has to settle. Because of that trying to sell free university or even free trade schools is seen as unrealistic therefore extreme.

I think exposing the oligarchs should be our number one priority. It's the only way to achieve all other goals without exception. As long as oligarchs continue taking a huge piece of the pie there simply isn't enough left over for everyone else. We end up having needs pitted against one another, health care or education? Heavy taxes for infrastructure or P3s? All false choices, but the public believes it to be factual truth, that the money has to come out of their pockets personally to pay for everything.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Austerity sparks student mobilization on a quiet Manitoba campus

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Kaitlyn Gibson and Ian McDonald. Both are undergraduate students at the University of Manitoba, as well as organizers in the campus' new Student Action Network, an organization that is at the centre of the fightback against administration attempts to make major cuts....

http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/talking-radical-radio/2015/03/austerity-...

Slumberjack

Pondering wrote:
your words do suggest that the "working class" are not capable of "seeing the light" so to speak (because they are dependent on capitalism?) but so are we all.

It doesn't necessarily have to be a form of blasphemy to question what a working class embedded within the capitalist production processes might be capable of.  We have the entire 20th century in which to pick through the highs and lows in that regard.

Quote:
My example of the piano player was to show that the people we least expect to produce beauty or teach us anything do have the capacity to understand and to do far more than they are given credit. 

We've been taught to have lower expectations of anything that doesn't conform to what the ideal citizen should be within a capitalist state.  It's probably why we're so surprised when someone is able to do something that hasn't been formally provided for or put into being by the system.  It's uniqueness in a world of 'mall-like universalism' and preconfigured roles that often strikes us as being special.

Quote:
I know very little history. I have a bit of an inferiority complex.

Knowledge of the present should suffice, which is why the multitude of links pertaining to current events that people post can be instructive..  Me, I like Jacques Rancière's take on knowledge.  Who the fuck is Jacques Rancière you might ask?

Quote:
But everyone doesn't have to be a Lagatta to be valuable.

Indeed. :)

NDPP

hey SB thanks for the intro to the delightful Jacques R!

lagatta

Odd, that site doesn't have an è on hand to spell Rancière properly... Imagine it never occurred to Jacotot to learn Flemish, eh?

I really don't like the somewhat macho and pseudo "street" writing in that piece, but I'll be asking the philosophically inclined what they think of Rancière. By the way, not all Marxists took a dim view of Mai '68. It did precipitate some long overdue breaks with the French CP, followed by the Prague spring events.

I am probably taking to the streets later today, but it is a tad ritualistic, for the 8th of March. Protests against the Couillard government austerity measures and their impact on women, and women of "diverse origins".

Slumberjack

lagatta wrote:
I really don't like the somewhat macho and pseudo "street" writing in that piece,

There may be something being said in that in the form of a critique about preconceptioon, whether it's being done on purpose or not, that pertains to the issue of settings, status, styles of discourse, and the types of people who are best suited to the sutiation being examined.  Social commentary in the style of the writing itself.  One of Rancière's main concerns has been Aesthetics and so it's possible.

Pondering

Slumberjack wrote:
It doesn't necessarily have to be a form of blasphemy to question what a working class embedded within the capitalist production processes might be capable of.  We have the entire 20th century in which to pick through the highs and lows in that regard.
Quote:

But that only means there has been a failure to trigger revolt, not that they won't revolt.

Slumberjack wrote:
Knowledge of the present should suffice, which is why the multitude of links pertaining to current events that people post can be instructive..  Me, I like Jacques Rancière's take on knowledge.  Who the fuck is Jacques Rancière you might ask?

I like him very much  but in truth I like the "street" language of the guy explaining him. 

He argues that everyone in the Western tradition, from Plato to Marx, wants to become a philosopher king to shovel Truth into the mouths of the blind ignorant masses.

I sense that from a lot of intellectuals.

 

Slumberjack

Philosophy is like the leadership succession of the old Soviet Union, in that, the latest who have been given the authority to speak use that ability to promptly denounce what came before.  As for shovelling truth, much depends on what is being said.