The Stop The War Coalition held an antiwar demonstration on Monday in London. It was successful in that it was held in defiance of a governmental ban on protests in the area, and the government backed down at the last moment.
But Socialist Unity asks, if a demo is held in a big city and the mainstream press ignores it, did anyone hear it? Indeed. I’ve been thinking the same thing. The Sept. 15 march and demo in D.C. drew 100,000 people, had 200 arrests for civil disobedience, yet the response from mainstream media was mostly crickets. It’s not always this way. Sometimes smaller protests have made the front page of newspapers.
Part of it is timing. Don’t hold a demo when other news will dominate the news. The London demo (in addition to being on a Monday) was on the opening day of Parliament.
On the day Gordon Brown becomes leader of the Labour Party there is no point having a demo, because Gordon Brown will dominate the news and you wonâ€™t be reported.
On the day parliament opens there is no point having a demo, because the opening of parliament will dominate the news and you wonâ€™t be reported.
In addition to the inevitable demo fatigue, when the bulk of the populace now opposes the war, but the protests are getting smaller, then it’s clear they are becoming less effective.
There are still tremendous strengths in the Stop the War Coalition, in the many local groups around the country still campaigning. But we need to be much more imaginative than constant demos through the streets of London.
Agreed. New approaches and tactics are needed. Civil disobedience and direct action come to mind, but they need to be creative and targeted, not just lying down in the streets, but lying down in the streets at a specific time for a specific purpose to block something from happening. They need to be deliberately aimed to resonate with the public and get major press.
Satire and street theatre can also be hugely effective. In the 60’s, when Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin threw dollar bills off the balcony to traders on the New York Stock Exchange, the whole world watched and laughed as traders scrambled and fought for the money. It was a brilliant tactic, made a point, and got headlines worldwide.
If we make our protests mediaworthy events, they will be reported.