The Power of protest is a myth.
As the industrial age developed and workers demanded new rights from employers, so began what could be called the dawn of protest in our collective memory. These highly effective strikes always included a high degree of violence and destruction. Picture in your minds eye an angry stick-wielding mob as they got ready to burn down a factory for example. Fast forward to the late sixties and the anti-war movement. The famed hippy generation if you will. They’ve been celebrated in movies and song and are largely credited for bringing the Vietnam War to an early end. Yet, the height of there influence in the late sixties was long over by the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. My point being is that protest in general as we know it is highly ineffective and generally seen as counterproductive. Recent anti-war protests always get media attention but is generally dismissed by the citizens. Global protests, such as the anti-globalization movement, have not resulted in one single policy change. There has never been one single anti-war demonstration that has actually halted a war. A few years ago we had the Live 8 for Africa concerts that were put on across the globe to promote awareness of the plight of Africans that resulted in the worlds leaders to pledge billions of dollars. Not one single country, not even Canada, has kept their promise. Actually not one single dollar of new money was sent to Africa. Is the power of protest really dead? I would say no. It’s just that people seem to protest issues that have largely been settled. You can protest abortion until you turn blue in the face but the general consensus in Canada is that we are pro-choice. The women’s right to choose her own fate is what we want. We believe that properly applied military force is a legitimate way of exporting our values to another country if required. Really you say? If the Canadian government were to announce tomorrow that all Canadian Forces members were to pull out of Afghanistan and re-deploy to Darfur the majority of Canadians would be in agreement. What’s the real difference here folks? We are still imposing our values through force on another population. It just seems really pointless to me to protest an issue when you have no chance of changing anything. Raising awareness, they say, is the first step on the road to change. Unfortunately that’s when they meet the roadblock called “majority rule”.
By Dwayne Albert