You have the right to protest ineffectually!


2 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 2 2 Flares ×
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

This was sent to Irish Left Review this morning by email

You have the right to protest ineffectually!

The right to protest ineffectually is enshrined in the Irish Constitution and we are here today to exercise that right.

To ensure that the demonstration will have no effect whatsoever ICTU have taken certain sensible measures.

The demonstration is on Saturday.

The demonstration will be addressed by boring windbags who will make aggressive noises, satisfying our desire for robust action.

They will criticize ‘the Bankers’, in colourful terms.

They will say ‘we will not stand for this’.

This fighting talk will be followed by suggestions that demonstrators ‘lobby their TD’s’. This will direct any impulse for direct action into a suitably pointless activity.

There will be talk of a ‘campaign’. Perhaps even an ad campaign ‘to get our message out there’.

On the other hand a campaign of effective civil disobedience will….

bring a violent reaction from Gardaí.

upset the IMF.

cause market jitters.

send out ‘the wrong message’.

…………………….and the nightmare scenario…..

………………………….it might actually have some effect!


14 Responses

  1. donal scannell

    November 26, 2010 5:54 pm

    you guys are morons for suggesting that ‘civil disobedience’ is the way to go. it never solved anything and you are playing right into the hands of those you are trying to disrupt!

  2. Aine Quinn

    November 28, 2010 1:19 am

    ‘Civil disobedience never solved anything’? What is that curious revolving noise? Must be Gandhi and Martin Luther King spinning in their graves.

  3. Michael Kelly

    November 29, 2010 5:18 am

    What the Irish people should now do is take ownership of the problem through elections.Civil disobedience leads to civil disorder and gives the ruling party the excuse they need to impose draconian measures thereby subverting the democratic system.Ireland now needs a quiet revolution and the democratic means are in place for that to happen,just make sure you elect people or a party that has the interest of the country and it’s citizens first.

  4. William Wall

    November 29, 2010 9:59 am

    I think a campaign to disrupt the working of the Government (as opposed to the Oireachtas) and the Fianna Fail and Green Parties would be very effective – preferably an intelligent one that would point to the effects of their policies.The attach on Mary Harney with fake blood is a good example.

  5. Stephanie Lord

    November 29, 2010 11:54 am

    “…you guys are morons for suggesting that ‘civil disobedience’ is the way to go. it never solved anything…”

    Oh yes, I forgot Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus just for the craic of it, and it didn’t change the course of racial segregation or result in a massive civil rights movement that inspired people around the world at all. Donal, please enlighten us on the correct way forward!

    @William – I think you’re absolutely right, but Irish people for some reason are so disgusted by anything that even looks like direct action, that it’s hard to see how it could get mass support.

  6. William Wall

    November 29, 2010 1:11 pm

    @Stephanie – ‘The irish people’ as mediated through Pat Kenny and Joe Duffy, you mean? I have met no one who didn;t think pouring fake blood on Mary H was a brilliant idea.

  7. dara

    November 29, 2010 4:12 pm

    Just to be clear – paint-pouring, while absolutely brilliant, is not direct action. Nor is a demonstration like Saturday’s direct action. Nor is minor vandalism a la anti-WTO protests direct action. These are symbolic actions.

    Direct action should be used in a limited sense so that we’re more clear on what it means and why we are advocating it. Unfortunately, one of the residues of the alter-globalisation movement (and particularly mediation of it), is that the label of DA is used very loosely. I think the phrase is worth clarifying, as it is very important to anarchism, syndicalism, and progressive forces in general.

    I like this article:

    “Many are those who talk about direct actions these days, fewer try to explore its meaning, asking what kind of tool it is. This is not a semantic question but one of substance – one that lies at the core of the whole anarchist, social-revolutionary project where “the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves,” and the means are determined by and contained in our ends.”

  8. William Wall

    November 29, 2010 5:30 pm

    @ Dara I accept your distinction, however, what is being proposed here is civil disobedience, an admittedly symbolic form of action very often (but also, as the article suggests, “what they are at their best: means of communication”). But civil disobedience can also be quite direct. Withholding tax, withdrawing money from banks, etc. The key, as your article suggests is the direct link with the interests of the activists together with the sense of collective action. One man parking his lorry in the gateway to the Dáil is admirable, but a hundred people doing it is a powerful act.
    I also think you must consider that the ‘communication’ element of symbolic action has a direct effect in that it involves a mass education. Pouring fake blood on MH, for example, told us that she had blood on her hands, a thought that would not have occurred so directly to many people, but also that it is possible to pour fake blood on a minister – a boundary transgressed.