A lot of people commented to me on my recent list I made of “Meaningless things people do” and told me that they disagreed with #12 (That “Protests were ineffective and changed nothing”)
Many cited the protests in the 60’s for African American rights.Gay rights and The Vietnam War protests as 3 examples where people protesting DID make a difference.
Others told me that “You meet so many like minded people at a protest” and that alone “Made it a worthy thing to do.”
True, but my point was”Are the protests generally effective in achieving the goal of the protest?”
My answer to that would be, almost in every case NO—-and here’s why:
First, I must admit that in some cases in the past (And possibly in regards to Iceland protests against the bankers, to cite one recent example) that protests/protest movements might have raised the consciousness of an entire nation and/or helped speed up a change in policy that was coming already.(Equal rights for Blacks ,women and Gays come to mind)
But those are exceptions, and exceptions prove the rule.
In fact,I would say that especially in recent times, protests have been completely ineffective at making change—not only because the methods used don’t effect them financially in any way(singing,chanting,waving signs etc)but because those in power now know how to marginalize the protests/make them look “Violent” or “Extreme.”
They do this by infiltrating the groups with “Agent provocateurs.”
(Agent Provocateurs=People who pretend to be “Part of the movement”, but in fact work for the FBI/The police.)
This program to make protests ineffective was started in the 60’s and was known as “Cointel pro”
Here’s how it works:
The “provocateurs” become violent at the protest(Throwing things at windows,over turning cars etc) They often wear masks and the police ALLOW them to do what they do
(They are told to leave them alone and in many cases these “provocateurs work WITH or in the police department!)
This way the media can “get footage” of “the protesters being crazy”.
Then, once the media has the footage they need, the police go in and arrest the PEACEFUL protesters, often using violent methods like Tear gas,batons etc This is ALSO caught on tape/and is justified on TV because hey—–“The police had to step in and stop the violence”
So what is the result of most of the protests in recent times?
Well—“Joe Six Pack” and his wife see the footage on Tv of people in masks knocking things over/blocking traffic etc and thinks:
“Wow, these protesters are a bunch of kooks.
Others who have to drive in the area of protest and who are delayed in their travels feel nothing but annoyance.
Then you have the business owners who are in the area of the protest. They tend to bear the brunt of the violence, and the loss of business, so THEY end up resenting the protesters!
Also,a lot of genuine protesters end up in jail,injured, and all without achieving anything other than irritating many in the area where the protest is held, and being made to appear like lunatics in the media.
Oh, and nothing changes in terms of what they are protesting.
I’ll give you one example where protests are claimed to have “Had an effect” but in actuality did nothing: The Vietnam War.
Many people like to claim that “We brought an end to an unjust war” with the protests against it, but these people are absolutely wrong.
The reason is that the whole purpose of the Vietnam war was not “to roll back communism”—it was to pressure China to open their country to western markets ANd more importantly to allow western corporations to use Chinese labor.
In a word, the Vietnam War made outsourcing to China possible.
It was a war fought so that companies like Walmart (and many many others) could get out of the USA(Which had been pushing for more anti pollution laws,and that had unions that had forced the paying of benefits over time and higher salaries etc) and move their factories to china and use Chinese labor/operate in a country that DIDN’T have “environmental laws” and “Regulations” and “Unions” like the USA.
Now those who know history know that President Nixon got the credit for this—but in actuality, it was Henri Kissinger and UN Ambassador to China George H.W. Bush who did the real work and who negotiated with Mao to make this happen in 1970-71.
Once the deal was made, Nixon got the credit in Jan of 1972, and THAT was really when the war REALLY ended, because THAT had been the true goal.
What did China get?
Well, we gave up South Vietnam. The attack on North Vietnam was the pressure we used to negotiate with them. North Vietnam is right on China’s borders, and had it fallen,the west would’ve been right on China’s borders—something they obviously would not want.
But, the fact is, once we got the Chinese to open up their markets/allow western industry inside China, the goal had been achieved,m and the US began to withdraw.
THAT is why the war ended—the protest, while perhaps raising the consciousness of the nation to the atrocities being committed IN that war had NO EFFECT on ending it.
In fact, by the late 60’s early 70’s the media and ‘Cointel pro” had done a pretty good job at making all the protesters look like “anti American communists who needed a hair cut”—you know–“hippies” LOL
A few more cases in point: Think of all the protests worldwide against the Iraq war in 2003?
Those protests numbered in the millions——- and nothing changed.
It had zero effect.
Or the many protests against globalization, or the one in Seattle in 1999 against the WTO?
Think of all the “Referendums” and protests against Monsanto and GMO food/the desire to “Have it labeled”—-most of those efforts led nowhere as it is easy for these companies to rig the results and make it look like the referendum failed despite the vast majority of people wanting GMO’s labeled.
What HAS made an effect on Monsanto and GMO/companies using their products?
People boycotting their products!
Boycotts/boycotting a companies products and their sponsors/subsidiaries are a form of protest THAT WORKS—–because the company being boycotted loses revenue and THAT forces them to adapt their businesses to what the people want.
Another “protest” that would definitely have an effect on those in power would be a boycott of labor—that is, having a large % of the work force simply refuse to go to work,
Or a nationwide refusal to pay taxes/to file a return.
THESE are the types of things that would actually have an effect. But while “chanting slogans” and “Having drum circles” and “marching down a street waving signs” might make you feel good, and might make you some new friends, it does very little in changing the minds of those whom the protest is directed at.
Also, we must never forget that “staged protests” can be used to create chaos , division and/or to further causes that do nothing to help “The People”. People like George Soros and groups like “the Ford Foundation” have mastered this and have been doing it for decades.
So in sum: The desire to protest inequity and inequality is a valid one—-but unless the methods are adapted to this new paradigm we live in, not much is going to change.