Back from vacation and jumping into this one a bit --timely, given LA & Philly.
I would argue that demonstrations are both inevitable and necessary to the degree
that the electoral (and legislative/policy-making, and media) system(s) is closed
to the points of view represented by the demonstrators. And quite clearly,
recall the 60s, demonstrations have the ability to build momentum and trigger a
response from the mainstream political system & media --witness, most
effectively, the civil rights movement. But, the real problem, as I see it, is
that demonstrations that are trying to articulate a radical critique --a critique
of the system which encompasses media, legislatures, & elections-- find that the
media are closed off to that point of view, to a radical critique. Mainstream
media are no more capable of comprehending truly radical criticism, than they
are of disassociating from & ignoring market imperatives. That's why we see so
many articles on the recent LA-Philly demonstrations that, well, just don't 'get
it,' that are asking 'what DO these people want?' [And of course, that other side
of the media --very much market driven-- is riveted by the various manifestations
of the "alien other" represented in the 'bizarre' behaviors, attire, etc. (and,
yes, age) of protesters.
So, it's a very tough dilemma. Electoral politics, by itself, is but a shell
game, even with Ralph on the ballot (note the blanketing of Ralph-the-spoiler
articles that began to appear as soon as he showed up on the poll/radar of the
media. Street demonstrations (and other effective visual actions) are a
necessary part of the puzzle, but that doesn't remove the need for them to be
very mindful of ways of 'sneaking' their message through to people --something it
seems to me they are increasingly not doing (since Seattle). And, plain old
face-to-face (and internet) organizing is also a necessary piece of the puzzle.
All completely reminiscent of the 60s, I'd suggest..
Marty Jezer wrote:
> William is right in part. Street demonstrations were -- and are -- not the
> road to power.
> But they were and are a means of building a movement. Where the left has
> always failed is translating protest energy into a means of vying for power
> or of shaping public policy. Slogans aren't enough. And the best of
> political theater is useless if there is no larger strategy to advance
> specific programs or compete for power. In the sixties, there was little
> faith in the electoral process. There still isn't and unless we have true
> campaign finance reform -- i mean full public funding as in the clean money
> reform -- the electoral process, as a means of gaining political power, is
> pretty hollow. (But useful and necessary for minor reforms and as a means
> of stopping bad stuff happening).
> Marty Jezer
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