My response to ECOTRAIN QOTW 10.7

Hi! here's my response to Ecotrain QOTW 10.7: Are activists who inconvenience the general public justified?


nathan_dumlao_cck5pfztwdq_unsplash.jpg
Image Source:https://unsplash.com/photos/CCK5pfzTwDQ


In a word, Yes.

To put the importance of Activism into perspective, lets take a little semi-historical wander and get a picture of the world in which Activism and protest are necessary...

These are times of 'everything change' not just 'climate change', that is too insipid a term for what's going on. We are facing wholesale collapse of many systems, man made and not. If you love labels, you could say that we've moved from a comfortable Holocene, through the human-made Anthropocene (via the diversity destroying Plantationocene) into the corporate created Capitalocene. All of those 'scenes' could be understood and dealt with conceptually by the average person. Now, though, we're entering into an era where the runaway changes that we're seeing at every level of existence are conceptually challenging the understanding of most of humanity (especially at a political level). Some are even calling the new era the 'Cthulucene', a time where massive forces are moving through and around us, forces that have no concern for the rights or freedoms of the humans who unleashed them or at least pushed them over unrecoverable tipping points. This isn't to be confused with Donna Haraway's 'Cthulucene' which is a lot different but is an equally important conceptual take on surviving the challenges we are already facing.

Lets face it, the last century or so has been pretty easy for those with a little wealth in fact, the whole Holocene has been pleasant by geological standards and has enabled us to become who we are today. Unfortunately, along the way, someone discovered that you could swap utility and value with a surrogate, a token - money. Someone then discovered the possibility of accumulating and hording that money. Maybe it was the same person who discovered that you could trade that money and make more of it without creating substance or utility themselves. People liked this money idea and started to substitute it for pretty well everything and those with a lot of it could leverage it against the work, then the very lives of those who didn't. Welcome to the Capitalcene.

People got pretty used to this idea because they were told at every turn that it was the normal way of the world. everyone supported those with the money and the power that it gave them because they were conditioned, literally from birth to believe that it was the money that had the value, not the things that it could be traded for. It was a system that insulated those willing to accumulate money from the wildness and weirdness of the natural world. With enough of it, you could become completely abstracted from the needs of living with Nature.

Over centuries, this became the norm and the average person came to believe that it was their role, their duty, to support those with the money in order to get a little money for themselves. So much money and so many resources went into convincing the average person in the street that this was and still is, the way that it is.

To this day, people are taught that those with money are better than those without and that it is their role to support them. A little of the money that the powerful have is given back to those that support them through the monetization of their creativity, their energy and their very lives. Just enough to keep them alive and just enough to give them the delusion that they too can become rich and powerful if they just work long and hard enough...

All in all, it has been a system that has rewarded work with comfort and bred complacency. A huge proportion of the global population believe that this is the normal business of life and that business should continue as normal and that the mega rich can solve the world's problems by throwing a tiny part of their wealth at them and that this is normal.

This is where Activists (yes, with a capital 'A') come into the picture. Activists are folks who see a problem or two or ten or a thousand or two and act to educate, enlighten and inform other folks about those issues. But they are working against a complacency that trumps common sense and personal observations.

So, rather than just inform or try to work within a system that is designed to keep the complacency going, that business as usual is what is needed, these folks act. They protest, they march, they speak, lecture and perform. In some cases they break and wreck but the key thing is that they act.

It is easy to walk past a rally, a soap box or skip over a YouTube or 3Speak video. It is hard for the activists to get the attention of the populace, so they must interfere somehow with their day to day
activities, to disrupt business as usual or their message won't be noticed.

Disruption, mostly, comes as a general inconvenience, a polite 'hello world, are you listening?' but more and more the levels of inconvenience need to be ramped up. One moment of inconvenience is drowned in a day of media teaching that normality is the way and the truth, that the activists are merely fringe lunatics and reactionaries.

Blocking roads has become necessary to get the message across that things are not normal and that what we consider to be normal is killing us. Disrupting transport and interfering with the flow of money is the only thing that gets people's attention nowadays. Sustained economic loss is the only thing that will get the attention of governments and law makers.

In Adelaide, our protests are very interesting. They are negotiated spaces. Protestors gather in the same place every time, march down the same street and then collect en-masse in front of Parliament House for a maximum of two hours, after which we all move on peacefully. It is held at a time when the minimum number of businesses are inconvenienced and many even take advantage of the extra foot traffic. Ministers are usually long gone before it all starts and all we protest to are cleaners and security guards. It inconveniences nobody and achieves very little. This is the nature of protest here.

If protest doesn't upset the daily work routine of people, if it doesn't cause some kind of inconvenience, if it doesn't cause some questioning of (at least) the daily routine of many, then it is pointless. Activists need to inconvenience, irritate and annoy people in order to get them to question their view of the issue. Once the view has been challenged, then, for some, it is time to educate.

Inconvenience is a necessary step in order to get a message across before revolution becomes necessary.



5tbq4JHXhN.png









}

2bP4pJr4wVimqCWjYimXJe2cnCgnKs3wptdZXs8iWD4.webp

VhEcYhIfkj.png



0
0
0.000
10 comments
avatar

They are negotiated spaces. Protestors gather in the same place every time, march down the same street and then collect en-masse in front of Parliament House for a maximum of two hours, after which we all move on peacefully. It is held at a time when the minimum number of businesses are inconvenienced and many even take advantage of the extra foot traffic. Ministers are usually long gone before it all starts and all we protest to are cleaners and security guards. It inconveniences nobody and achieves very little.

As most of the protesters are busy making money on the other days, they can only make the days when the politicians are also off work. 😉 Then of course the reason our protests are always peaceful is because we negotiate them and get permission, so we haven't had the same issues that Victoria, for example, has had. Have those protests made any difference for being unsanctioned and violent at times? No more so than Adelaide's have, by the look of it.

I have to wonder if activism of this type makes much difference at all, whether it inconveniences or not. If you aren't inconveniencing you're probably preaching to the converted anyway and if you are inconveniencing, you're turning people off your cause before you can educate about it.

Really, the people who need to be inconvenienced for anything to happen are those in positions of authority, not the general public. Education goes much further if it's the opinion of the public you need to change. Unfortunately, it often takes time for change to happen that way; generations, usually.

0
0
0.000
avatar

Activism is always useful, even if it only connects people who are already in the loop. Contemporary protest has to shift to new techniques of action, mass marches are easy to dismiss and rarely have any momentum. The most effective protest here in Adelaide was when XR blocked off Hindley Street and did the Madison in short spurts, letting the traffic move every few minutes. If I remember rightly, the larger crowd on the day moved down the Mall and gathered at the Rundle Street end for a few minutes. that few minutes was more effective than the King William Street part because it was a new place and a new technique. It received a far better response than the main march and myself and fellow activists positively engaged with more people in that 30 minutes than we engaged with during our PR works during the King William/parliament House portion.

We have to get people to be aware of issues first before education is useful otherwise, it is just absorbed into the background hum. At present we don't have the time for generational timeframes. The biggest social changes from the shifts in global economics will be washing over us by 2030 by all good estimates. By that time the world economy will be a different east from the one we know now. The climate will have shifted so much by 2050 that population spread will be very different too. Back in 2014, the World Bank started indemnifying itself against a 4 degree rise in temperature. Whatever the US government think of it all, the US military are working against a 2050 timeframe to secure bases against their predicted changes to the world and the resultant effects on US security infrastructure. other governments are following suite. 28 years is about 1 generation in the best of conditions but this one could be the last generation of many societies.

2030 is only eight years away. Education campaigns have failed over the last 30 years and politicians only take notice when their constituents look like they're not going to keep them in power. Change has to be rapid occur from many, many different networks of action. There isn't enough time for passive approaches alone any more and the only generational change we face could very well be extinction.

Shout, scream, irritate, inconvenience, bug, pester, demonstrate, write, sing, hug and love. We've got to do it all.

0
0
0.000
avatar

myself and fellow activists positively engaged with more people in that 30 minutes than we engaged with during our PR works during the King William/parliament House portion.

These will have been the receptive ones and I'm guessing you weren't exactly inconveniencing them at this point. This is the way to do it. When you inconvenience, you get people's backs up and they switch off to the message. In some cases they can even turn against the cause when they previously supported it because they begin to feel like people are going too far and causing harm or even feel personally attacked. I've actually seen this happen a lot lately with those who were once sympathetic, but now feel under attack.

Shout, scream, irritate, inconvenience, bug, pester

You need to make sure you are doing it to the right people, though. If you take a blanket approach, then you're covering your would be allies too and they don't need or want to be shouted or screamed at, inconvenienced, bugged or pestered for something they are already doing their best with.

0
0
0.000
avatar

While I was writing my reply to your comment, I was struck dumb by the ludicrousness of the conversation and the original post.

According to the best stats, the best science and gazillions of observable phenomena, we are facing with, if not a cluster of extinction level events, a series of disasters that will kill millions and, reshape our whole society and redesign the stage upon which we act.

And we're arguing about whether it's right to 'inconvenience' someone.

0
0
0.000
avatar

Lol! And we wonder why people just switch off to surrounding events beyond their control and just get on with life. When it comes down to it, living out best lives without harming others can as much as possible just makes the most sense. Our time here is fleeting after all.

Still, it can be helpful to have these chats, it stops us getting too caught up in our tunnel vision. I rather like that I can have these discussions with you where we may not agree, but can still get a good debate without it getting nasty.

0
0
0.000
avatar

Agreed. Debate is far better than argument and I think we both respect each other enough in real life not to get bogged down in straight up arguing. If we had all started living the best we could without hurting others centuries ago, all would be good but sadly, that hasn't been the case and here we are, many of us living in a way that hurts not only others but ourselves and our future selves too.

0
0
0.000
avatar

Unfortunately we can't control what happened centuries ago, only what we do now. Unless you're also working on a time machine in your workshop. 😏 It may be too little too late, but I feel like the 60s/70s hippy movement started a ball rolling to the point where most people now are certainly more aware of problems with the damage we've caused and more receptive to conversation about it.

0
0
0.000
avatar

I love where you took this to and how you have explained how things are done to make the activists come into action. Your explanation is really a great way to agree that activists need to inconvenience the public to get them into understanding why they have come outside to protest in the first place. We all want the best for ourselves and earth, and so, it is important to reach out to people even if it will disturb their activities. Thank you for sharing.
thank_you_for_posting.png

0
0
0.000