"My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel--it is, above all, to make you see." -- Joseph Conrad (1897)
oh.. i've just been waiting and hoping and waiting and hoping and wondering why the american 'left' doesn't organise a massive "march on the capital".. an old-style nationally-promoted-and-coordindated walk-right-up-to-'em and don't-leave-'til they've-heard-you march...please let this be it? = )
Ricia,What is going on up North--does Canada have a strong protest movement?
do you think marches do any good? i have participated in a few, mostly in support of AIDS awareness and fundraising, but I always wonder if "marches on washington" etc do any good? what do you all think?
Seemed to have an effect during the Vietnam War... Imagine a million people marching on DC? What would be the impact on the public consciousness?
Canada has a much larger community services movement, thanx to lottery funding and social programs. For eg: GLBT org's, poverty org's, alt economic org's, art org's, human rights org's, immigration org's - all not-for-profit. Most (not all) NGO's are inherently supportive of 'the movement' and advocate perspectives and lobbying through the nature of their programs (engendering solutions) and through communique's. These org's are not privately funded, though all survive through membership donations. The benefits are that memberships / communities establish the direction and activities, mandate et al. This means that there is a high awareness (relatively speaking) level surrounding the 'peoples' views, concerns and needs. The drawback is that gov't regulation, cuts in funding etc can heavily impact the org's effectiveness.There are numbers out and on the street to demonstrate quite frequently, but rarely large numbers. Our population is so spread out that organising is costly and thus (largely) difficult to achieve. It's hard to reach the over-whelmingly rural population in most of the country. The largest urban centres (in BC, Ontario and Quebec) have the easiest time of it and the strongest (most visible) counter-culture or participants. But the most of the country is built of medium to small size cities, towns and hamlets that can be three to six hours (or days) apart from each other. This makes gatherings difficult, thus large gatherings are rare (for most, but not all, of the country). For eg: the pre-emptive strike on Iraq drew Canucks out in droves, all over the country, they travelled for it. But that calibre of street-level protest hadn't happenned for a few years and hasn't happened since. I do believe that marches are important. It is but one tactic necessary to reach the psyche of our 'leadership' but it is a visible one (where all other routes are relatively silent and invisible to the population). In the eg of Iraq protests, the 'first round' was surprisingly large... Citizens were impressed and relieved to see that their views were shared among many. Each 'round' was larger than the last as others realised there was a outlet for the expression of these views. The PM was forced to make a public address regarding Iraq and Canadians were "assured" that we would have no formal participation in that war. (though since, and quietly, Canada has had various participation).On one hand marches are a spectacle that draws attention to public opinion and the issues at hand. On the other hand, citizens can have that rare sensation of unity, which promotes feelings of hope. Both are positive and solid enough reasons to continue marching.
ah.. I should explain that the ultimate benefit of the NGO system in canada is that there is direct participation. Even the citizen who claims they don't "pay attention to politics" has written a letter to their MLA or has a view of an "alternative solution" (to whatever specific issue) as the result of being a member or volunteer for an NGO.... not sure how clear my response there was!
I think the Vietnam marches worked well because they were fairly new to the American culture? Not sure. Ricia, you bring up many good points on marching. I don't know how much it reaches the psyche of our leaders ( I personally believe only the pocketbook or the "right" people complaining make a diff to our leaders), but I do believe perhaps it can help those on the fence and also remind the American public just how many folks may not like what is going on. I live in the Seattle area, and we have lots of protests and marches here compared to much of the US, and it seems that much of the media coverage of it makes it sound like a bunch of hippie throwbacks are out causing riots and trouble, rather than focusing on what the protest or march is about. So that's why I wondered if it was helping much, but I think you have reaffirmed my participation. =)
Thanks for the background Ricia...
Susanne,The Vietnam marches were not a new phenomenon, but a part of a long history of American radicals protesting in public and putting their bodies on the front lines, from abolitionists to suffragettes to union activists to the civil rights marches--Vietnam protests were just one example ....Dramatic, concentrated instances of feets-in-the-streets will make an impact, especially if they gather a cross section of Americana to show up in big numbers. More and more we are encouraged to disregard the public sphere and public spaces... we do at our peril.
Post a Comment