What Makes Protest Effective?
21/08/2012 1 comentario
Fight the System, but Know How to Make It Work. The Great Recession and its frustrating aftermath spawned the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, bands of dedicated activists who agree about nothing but the need to transform the political system. Both movements grew quickly, aided by their own creative tactics and the news media’s rapt attention. Each one forced office-holders and aspiring candidates to address their concerns and adopt some of their rhetoric, whether “protect the Constitution” or “We are the 99%” So why, less than three months before election, do only Tea Partiers wield a major influence on American politics? A big reason is that the main purpose of these conservative activists was always to elect right-wing stalwarts who could thwart President Obama’s “socialist” programs. And, from first, they could draw on wealthy contributors like Koch brothers and experienced advisers, like Richard Armey. But most demonstrators at Zuccotti Park and similar encampments across country viewed politics as a giant corporate shell game. For them, problem was an economic order run by and for finance capitalists. So it’s hardly surprising that, amid the frenzy of a political campaign, Occupiers have retreated to the sidelines, particularly since their “occupations” are now mostly metaphorical rather than physical ones. But the effectiveness of the Tea Partiers is also due to their more modest goals. Despite their rhetoric, most right-wing activists want to keep Medicare, Social Security and a huge defense establishment, which, together, make up the lion’s share of federal budget. So Republican politicians could embrace the Tea Party, without fear of alienating the bulk of electorate. The Occupiers, in contrast, condemned the entire “free-market” gospel and powerful structures that profit from it. To succeed, they need to change millions of minds, not simply elect hundreds of reform-minded Congressional representatives. “Networked social movements” like Occupy now exist in dozens of countries around the world. Whatever their differences, they all yearn for, and attempt to practice, new forms of democratic participation. But as the Tea Partiers have showed, to have political impact in the short term, one must also know how to exploit the forms you already have.