The Problem With Protesting

Discourse2 Comments

The problem with protesting is that the very act reinforces our subordinate position when what we are attempting to do is seek redress for injustice caused by subordination. To protest is to petition a greater power to make a change that we cannot make for ourselves. So when we protest we are openly acknowledging our impotence and reinforcing the structure that caused the very same problem we are seeking to address.

This is not to say that protesting is totally without merit. If a body of authority can see that a sufficient percentage of its constituency feels strongly about something and is then persuaded to make a choice that we consider good, then good was done. This can be a useful strategy for calling attention to an issue, or pressuring a government or company into changing a harmful course of action. But that mostly just constitutes harm reduction; it does not address root issues, and it does not empower us.

If the problem lies in the fact that power is centralized within a very small number of individuals and corporations, then the solution cannot be to validate and reinforce that power. The solution must be to siphon power away from the elite in order to empower communities. Ideally we would not need to protest, because in a situation where we possess real autonomy, we would only be protesting ourselves.

This world is not ideal, and I am not arguing against protesting so long as that remains true. It is an absolutely vital strategy for harm reduction, but that is about all it is. We cannot call it a day after we hang up our picket signs any more than we can say a tissue is the cure for influenza.

So how do we set about siphoning power?

SorenThe Problem With Protesting

2 Comments on “The Problem With Protesting”

  1. Steve

    Siphoning of power can only occur when there exists a safe and reliable means of information transference. Historically speaking, this is what made the Gutenberg press so important. Our generation of the Gutenberg press is the Internet in all its forms, instant communication, social media, sharing of ideas, pictures and means for organization. This is why it is important to ensure a free an open Internet, not managed by a small group of individuals, but rather by the mass majority of the world.

    There exists entities today, which much like the churches of the 1400’s, are attempting to stifle the free, unmolested flow of information. This is why bills like SOPA and PIPA , and projects like wikileaks and tor are so important. If we want to see a changes in the world, we must first be willing to fight for the principle elements required for these changes to occur.

    1. SorenSpeaks

      Perhaps what the printing press was to Protestantism, the Internet can be to democracy. Or perhaps that’s naive. I agree with you that a free exchange of information through the Internet helps decentralize power (information) and that protecting that is an important part of the process.

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