Protesting

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Usenko
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Protesting

Post by Usenko » Mon, 27. Nov 17, 13:59

Today some friends of mine, including a former student, were involved in a protest in which several Christian leaders chained themselves to the gate of the Prime Minister's official Sydney Residence, Kirribilli House. They were hoping to raise awareness of the appalling treatment of refugees by the Australian government.

Now, cards on the table - I totally support their cause. I think it's a national disgrace that these people are being treated in this manner. But . . what do people think of the method?

Do sit-in protests of this nature achieve anything? Do governments care?

Over to you for dissection. :)
Morkonan wrote:What really happened isn't as exciting. Putin flexed his left thigh during his morning ride on a flying bear, right after beating fifty Judo blackbelts, which he does upon rising every morning. (Not that Putin sleeps, it's just that he doesn't want to make others feel inadequate.)

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Post by Bishop149 » Mon, 27. Nov 17, 14:15

I think the goals of any protest are to draw attention to your cause and try to affect positive change. There are two primary methods of protest as I see it:
1) A public demonstration
2) Direct action
The best method is probably the former, but requires weight of numbers to make any kind of impact, a protest of a few 100 will be ignored by everyone. Even if you have the numbers the organisational skill required to set up such a thing is substantial. What you describe is a version of 2) whose chief advantage is that it can draw attention without requiring the numbers / logistics. Such actions are deemed newsworthy and indeed you link a news report!. As long as you steer clear of hurting anyone or doing substantial damage then I'm ok with it.

Now will either approach actually affect change?
The key here is repetition, one protest (even of millions) won't change a damn thing, but do it on a regular basis and there's a chance. Follow the decision makers around with it, make it something they can't get through a week without being forced to confront. If possible get the media on board, form lobby groups etc etc. Well then something might happen.

The reason most protests are ineffective is because most of those protesting have neither the time, money or the motivation to make it essentially a full time sodding job.
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Re: Protesting

Post by Morkonan » Mon, 27. Nov 17, 18:22

Usenko wrote:...Do sit-in protests of this nature achieve anything? Do governments care?...

"Governments" don't exist. "People" exist, including elected officials, dictators and dog-catchers.

So, unless a "protest" effects "people in government" they don't give two wet farts about the protesters or what they're protesting about.

Now, that doesn't mean that a certain amount of unfavorable media attention in regards to elected officials and the policies they support won't eventually get them motivated to act. However, the "follow through" is what is important and such demonstrations are always long on the immediate act and short on the follow-through. They're usually just a "release" of energy and concern, not really associated with a concerted effort to promote and ensure true "change."

In short - "Protests" are the perfect opportunity for mostly young people, sometimes disaffected older people, to feel as if they've accomplished something, but without the responsibility and hard work it would actually take to induce truly meaningful change...

Sorry this sounds so pessimistic, but that's my take on it. I am slowly evolving into a crusty curmudgeon. :)

On Australia's treatment of refugees - To be honest, I've been somewhat appalled by it. But, then again, I'm an 'Murican, so I'm a bit careful, these days, of pointing fingers at other nations. I do understand Australia's somewhat unique geographic position and the possibility that it could very well develop what could be called a "Fortress Apache" sort of mentality, where it sees itself under "assault" from all sides by refugees from many different regions, all flocking to it due to its proximity and "Western" economic and political sensibilities, which may contrast with those of its neighbors.

But, it has to deal with this and can't just ship people off to neighboring islands with dubious sovereignty issues in order to avoid the very real facts of its location, economic attractiveness and the plights of neighboring peoples. (MUCH like some things the US has to deal with, like the economic and political situations neighboring countries face.)

There must be a "route to a solution" not just a "route to a continuation of the problem." There should also be a concerted effort by the Australian government to act outside of its borders with its Foreign Policy in an effort to stabilize the region and in promoting economic growth and prosperity so that it doesn't have to face a refugee crisis spawned from such troubles.

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Post by jlehtone » Mon, 27. Nov 17, 22:41

Bishop149 wrote:I think the goals of any protest are to draw attention to your cause and try to affect positive change. There are two primary methods of protest as I see it:
1) A public demonstration
2) Direct action
Logically, there is a third option that takes even more effort and participation:
3) Become the dog-catcher (preferably by "democratic" means)

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Post by Usenko » Tue, 28. Nov 17, 09:26

jlehtone wrote:
Bishop149 wrote:I think the goals of any protest are to draw attention to your cause and try to affect positive change. There are two primary methods of protest as I see it:
1) A public demonstration
2) Direct action
Logically, there is a third option that takes even more effort and participation:
3) Become the dog-catcher (preferably by "democratic" means)
Could you unpack the last one?
Morkonan wrote:What really happened isn't as exciting. Putin flexed his left thigh during his morning ride on a flying bear, right after beating fifty Judo blackbelts, which he does upon rising every morning. (Not that Putin sleeps, it's just that he doesn't want to make others feel inadequate.)

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Re: Protesting

Post by BugMeister » Tue, 28. Nov 17, 09:35

Usenko wrote:Do sit-in protests of this nature achieve anything? Do governments care?
yes and yes.. :lol:
- the whole universe is running in BETA mode - we're working on it.. beep..!! :D :thumb_up:

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Post by pjknibbs » Tue, 28. Nov 17, 10:17

I'd have to agree with Morkonan. Unless a government is very, very weak and needs every public vote it can get, it isn't going to care about a single protest. A series of protests, then you might be getting somewhere.

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Post by mrbadger » Tue, 28. Nov 17, 11:41

One problem with single protests is that they show clearly how few people really care about a thing to protest.

If you organise a protest against a government thing and a thousand people turn up? Well that's a thousand people out of a population of millions.

So they can ignore you quite safely (unless something serious happens at that protest)

The union at my university keep arranging one day strikes. It really irritates me.

It disrupts teaching because the students tend to assume there won't be any lectures.

Those of us who aren't on strike have to sign in or we get our pay docked. And we have to cover the classes of people who aren't teaching because they're taking part.

And in all the years I've been at the Uni, they've never made the slightest difference to anything, other than to make the union people feel better about themselves because they've 'made a stand'.

It's just childish and intensely irritating.

I'm pretty sure a lot of these one day strikes are mostly about reinforcing the power of the union reps, and not about actually getting anything changed, since forcing real change would involve actual hard work, and need a reason to do it other than 'first world problem' whining, which mostly what I hear from them.

Small strikes are utterly pointless, as are small protests, you need to go big or not bother.
Last edited by mrbadger on Tue, 28. Nov 17, 11:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Usenko » Tue, 28. Nov 17, 11:42

Even there, my own question is whether this is confusing cause and effect.

If there are enough people willing to be involved in a long series of protests, that would have to indicate that there is a bit of a public opinion problem for the government.

So is the protest actually helping, or is it just a sign of dissatisfaction?
Morkonan wrote:What really happened isn't as exciting. Putin flexed his left thigh during his morning ride on a flying bear, right after beating fifty Judo blackbelts, which he does upon rising every morning. (Not that Putin sleeps, it's just that he doesn't want to make others feel inadequate.)

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Post by mrbadger » Tue, 28. Nov 17, 12:04

If you're in a union, peer pressure forces you to take part in protests, whether you agree with the reason or not.

I've seen this, which is why I've never wanted to join one.

Peer pressure can also force people to participate in small protests. Big protests not so much.
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Post by Morkonan » Tue, 28. Nov 17, 15:43

Usenko wrote:...So is the protest actually helping, or is it just a sign of dissatisfaction?
Showing signs of dissatisfaction is helping, but a protest, itself, won't accomplish much.

How much effort does the public wish to put into making "change?"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_movement

And, one of the most popular, massive, frequent "protest" movements in recent Western history accomplished.... nothing. Why?

To be fair, protests that shed light on really nasty, egregious, terrible things have a chance of raising awareness quickly enough to affect immediate change. But, since news outlets hunt these things down like bloodhounds, because they're darn profitable and high-profile, things like "Politician caught raping kids on camera" aren't available for protestors to protest very often. And, if such a thing happened... given the current sentiment regarding politicians, I don't think many people would be shocked, unfortunately. (Remember the outrageous stuff uncovered in the UK with child-sex ring/whatever stuff and politicians? Whatever happened to all of that? Nothing much, probably, once it died down.)

How much real work does it take to make substantive change in a representative republic/democracy?

It's not the politicians one has to convince - It's The People. It takes a heck of a lot more effort to convince The People that change needs to occur than it does to organize a "sit-in" on the courthouse steps. A protest gratifies the protestors, feeds their need to be heard, and can gain some public attention. But, if real "work" doesn't follow up on those gains, it will go nowhere. That real work has to go towards convincing "The People" and, hopefully, gaining the support of an insider (politician) "advocate" that can keep the message going. But, a politician isn't going to turn into an advocate unless their constituency would support such a thing. Convincing "The People" is paramount.

Here's the history of nuclear power-plants in the United States...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFMsnicAtiY

(Wow, trailers in the 70's were darn cheesy, weren't they? :) )

What provoked the massive public "movement" in the US in the 70's and afterwards against nuclear power plants? Well, the "accidents" that occurred, particularly at Three Mile Island, raised public awareness rapidly and did a lot to increase oversight and regulation. But, it could be argued that nothing, no accident, no release of radiation, no protestors chaining themselves to the gates, did more to cement public opinion against nuclear power plants than the movie "The China Syndrome." It doesn't matter if the movie was accurate. It doesn't matter that most people living in the US wouldn't be effected by any conceivable accident at a nuclear power plant. What matters is that due to the events and with the popularization of the subject by a decent feature film, suddenly The People were carrying the torch for the anti-nuclear protestors.

Aaaand, the result is that it pushed back nuclear power production in the US to the point that it became nearly non-existent and still has a great many hurdles to overcome, including the somewhat false beliefs of "The People." (By the way, this had no effect on the development of nuclear weapons, but had a small effect on rearming them, but the public didn't really know about all that.)

Imagine being a politician in the 70's after these events and truly believing in and with a desire to support "nuclear power." Well, thanks for playing, you won't get re-elected no matter what happens and no matter what you say...

Here's the "secret" to effective change:

Exponentially multiply your power and the power of your message by convincing others to do it for you.

Most people don't care about much of anything unless it's happening in their own back yards. "Protestors?" They're either an inconvenience or something to watch on television while you're having dinner. Sure, they "could" be effective if they can get enough people talking about the subject, but unless those people also believe that this subject involves things happening in "their own back yard" the conversation will go nowhere. You have to convince The People that the subject involves them and their back yards... You have to co-opt their attention, make the subject relevant, and get them working on distributing your message, themselves, whether they know they're doing it or not.

Once you co-opt enough of "The People" into carrying your message, then the value of your work is multiplied minute-by-minute. The meme must spread, like a virus, until enough of The People are talking about it and, hopefully, supporting it, before the field is ripe for sowing change.

That takes hard work to accomplish, much more than any "protest" is capable of accomplishing. Yes, a protest can get the subject in front of the faces of The People for a short time, but it will do nothing on its own.

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Post by Chips » Wed, 29. Nov 17, 01:29

The only way things change is if everyone gets on board.
You have to raise awareness, but is chaining to a fence going to achieve it? It'll get reported, but is it going to get people to identify/care. If it isn't, it's a waste of time.

That's my only contribution :D

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Post by philip_hughes » Wed, 29. Nov 17, 08:43

The local extreme left party threw a similar demonstration outside my workplace. I agree with the cause as well. What I saw was a carefully orchestrated publicity thing that was being milked by both the party associated with the protest, and the conservative "fat cats" who were supposed to be suffering under the weight of public opinion.

Lots of oppertunism, no real change, I went away quite depressed.
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Re: Protesting

Post by clakclak » Fri, 1. Dec 17, 16:15

Usenko wrote:[...]
Do sit-in protests of this nature achieve anything? [...]
Certainly more than doing nothing.
Laugh and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone;
The good old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

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Post by Mightysword » Fri, 1. Dec 17, 17:03

philip_hughes wrote:The local extreme left party threw a similar demonstration outside my workplace. I agree with the cause as well. What I saw was a carefully orchestrated publicity thing that was being milked by both the party associated with the protest, and the conservative "fat cats" who were supposed to be suffering under the weight of public opinion.
Protesting is fine, it's a freedom of expression. I think in most protest that I see, the issue is really only matter to a certain group of people. Protest to me has 2 components: firstly to raise the issue to the people you have problem with - could be the government, could be your boss. And secondly to garnish support/sympathy from people who doesn't care or relate to the issue you have. Basically it's a form of asking for support.

That's why protesting is a right, but also a responsibility to do it right. People can protest about anything they want, that doesn't mean the thing they're protesting is just, and given if it is just, it's still a matter of doing it right. I said this across multiple topic, but these days people tend to think "if I have a good cause I have a license to do whatever the hell I want irregardless of anything else". For example, if you have grievance with your boss, and decided to gather your friend/family to block the entrance to his business holding up cardboard, then your boss has the right to call the police to remove you lot from his property, and you'll get zero sympathy from me, regardless of whether your grievance is valid or not.

An example on a larger scale is when profession like Pilot/Train Operators decided to pick the peak travel time to "protest". For me, regardless of what is the cause, these incident can not longer be called "protesting", rather they are a form of demand at gunpoint or holding hostage. When you think there are some profession can NOT do this, like nurse and doctor or ER staffs, these Pilot/Operators receive little sympathy from me. I remember back during the Regan era when the Air Traffic controller in the US tried to do something like this, Regan ordered them to go back to work or get fired. And he did end up firing all of them and moved military operators in as replacement. The US have not seen the same issue ever since.

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