Out of Action: Do protests work? | The New Yorker

Out of Action: Do protests work?; Nathan Heller; In The New Yorker; 2017-08-14.
Teaser: Skeptics suggest that “folk politics”—marches, protests, and the like—are a distraction from the challenges of real change.

tl;dr → No.  Betteridge’s Law. folk politics as “leaderless” slactivism does not work; “leader”-based, top-down circa 1955-1965 did work; see Zeynep Tufekci.

Summary

<quote>Tufekci’s conclusions about the civil-rights movement are unsettling because of what they imply. People such as Kauffman portray direct democracy as a scrappy, passionate enterprise: the underrepresented, the oppressed, and the dissatisfied get together and, strengthened by numbers, force change. Tufekci suggests that the movements that succeed are actually proto-institutional: highly organized; strategically flexible, due to sinewy management structures; and chummy with the sorts of people we now call élites.</quote>

Mentions

  • “folk politics”
    • Attributed to Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams in Inventing the Future
    • Constitutes
      • authenticity-mongering
      • <quote>reasoning through individual stories [is] also a journalistic tic</quote>
      • <quote>a general inability to think systemically about change&lt/;quote>
    • “This is politics transmitted into pastime—politics-as-drug-experience, perhaps—rather than anything capable of transforming society”
    • <quote>Their objection to protest and direct action defies generations of radical zeal. “The people, united, will never be defeated!” the old street chant goes. These lefties say that, actually, they will.</quote>
    • <quote><snip/>the left, despite its pride in being progressive, is mired in nostalgia.
      “Petitions, occupations, strikes, vanguard parties, affinity groups, trade unions: all arose out of particular historical conditions,” they say. They think that modernizing these things for an internationalized, digitized world will free us from what they vividly call our “endless treadmill of misery.” Protest is fine for digging in your heels. But work for change needs to be pragmatic and up-to-date. </quote>
    • <quote>Inventing the Future may be the shrewdest, sanest pipe dream of a book published since the recession.</quote>
  • “the multitude”
    • Attributed to Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri; Assembly (Heretical Thought);
    • Constitutes
    • …some things…

Quotes

  • <quote><snip/>the killings of “more than” forty unarmed black people by law-enforcement officers. A majority of these officers were not indicted, however; of those that were, three were found guilty. To date, only one of the convicted has received a prison sentence.</quote>
  • …more…

Referenced

Previously

In The New Yorker

Datelined
Essays

Soup

  • New York
  • London
  • 2003
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • misdeeds of the finance industry
  • stranglehold of corporate power
  • predations of inequality.
  • Autumn 2011
  • Zuccotti Park
  • lower Manhattan.
  • 2014.
  • Black Lives Matter (B.L.M.)
  • demonstrators
  • Missouri
  • Women’s March
  • female empowerment
  • just-inaugurated President
  • boulevards in cities
  • New York
  • Washington
  • London
  • Los Angeles
  • First Amendment
  • “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”
  • Stamp Act boycotts of the seventeen-sixties
  • 1913 suffrage parade and the March on Washington
  • 1963
  • Tom Lehrer
  • Arab Spring
  • Macau
  • the feminism-and-rationalism-flaunting event known as Boobquake.
  • strident
  • Boobquake
  • Brainquake.
  • smartphones
  • social media
  • made organizing easier
  • social theatre
  • folk politics
  • authenticity-mongering
  • reasoning through individual stories [is] also a journalistic tic
  • channelling the righteous sentiments of those involved over the mechanisms of real progress.
  • pastime—politics-as-drug-experience
  • [not] wing nuts of the right
  • [not] stodgy suits
  • [not] quailing centrists.
  • Marx-infused leftists
  • “post-work,” open-bordered world.
  • “postcapitalist”
  • shorten the work week
  • a generous and global basic income
  • when robots take our jobs.

Previously filled.

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