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French Senate passes pension bill. The protests accomplished nothing

All that protest in the streets, with blocked streets and shut-down ports, has accomplished precisely nothing. The French Senate just passed a law raising the pension age from 60 to 62.

Symbolic protests in the streets accomplishes very little now. The police know how to isolate it, the media often ignores it, and politicians simply route around it. The whole “Wa-hoo, solidarity, dude we showed them” by getting in the streets and protesting may make participants feel good when they do a fist bump, but it terms of genuinely changing things, the impact is negligible.

This is something the hard left genuinely doesn’t get. Perhaps that’s why they’re so dispirited of late, tactics that worked admirably for decades no longer do, and they don’t know what to do instead.

If you want to get in the streets and create real change in today’s world, then the targets need to be more than symbolic, and the protest more than just saying hooray for our side. That’s the reality in 2010.

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  • I was at a mass “demonstraion and rally” in Edinburgh on Saturday, the figure was quoted as about 20,000, what a sombre and pathetically quiet affair, we could have been following a funeral. A comrade I was with turned to me and cynically remarked, “This will have them shaking in their shoes.” We certainly gave a lot of police officers some overtime pay. The same afternoon in Glasgow 11 people occupied a large bank in the city centre and closed the bank for a couple of hours on a busy Saturday afternoon and left before there were any arrests. Those 11 probably had more impact than the 20,000.
    Selective targetting, boycotting, work to rule, and selective picketting have to be incorporated into your struggle. Maximum impact and unpredictable should be behind planned actions. The mass protest does sometimes get other people politicised, it can be a gauge of the support for an idea but it will not get a state to change its mind on any issue it considers important, for what ever reason.

  • It’s a bit much to say they accomplished nothing. It’s too soon to say that just yet. But I don’t necessarily disagree with you about how the state has changed in its reaction to protests.

  • I don’t think I said it accomplished nothing.–
    “The mass protest does sometimes get other people politicised, it can be a gauge of the support for an idea but it will not get a state to change its mind on any issue it considers important, for what ever reason.”
    And Bob said, –“Symbolic protests in the streets accomplishes very little now.”

    • I was replying to Bob. His headline literally says “nothing” and the story says pretty much the same thing.

      • Well, the pension bill passed, didn’t it. The big unions may strike, if so that could bring the country to its knees and force the government to roll back the changes.

        But actions like that are more than just people in teh street, it then has direct political targets and aims.

  • If they roll back the pension changes, and that is not a given, it will not be because there were marchers on the street, it would be because of the marches morphing into something more, ie. larger strikes and targeting fuel depots etc. Perhaps the marches are need to politicise people, though there are other ways, but marches on there own will achieve little in the way of political gains.