Protests are vital

Historically, syndicalism, insurrection and protests have been effective political organizational tools

Jason Stahl’s column arguing against the street protests of the upcoming RNC deserves critical examination. Indeed, even after the protests of the 2008 RNC and DNC, Bush will not end the war or stop torturing people, nor will he change his ways with respect to domestic and international affairs. This much is clear. However, as Stahl stated in his article, these voices of dissent (especially those during the run-up to the Iraq War) are necessary, goal-oriented and worthwhile. They are obligatory to the inner-workings of democracy, which has been historically proven.

The conclusion that protests are not, in every case, the correct political organization tool is counter-productive to furthering democracy because this response capitulates to the same power structure it seeks to eliminate. For instance, Dr. Cornel West argues, “(People) become ineffectual by having bought into the corruptions of the power-hungry system. Though they may wish that the system could be made to serve more truly democratic purposes, they have succumbed to the belief that a more radical fight for a truer democracy, battling against the corruption of elites, is largely futile. So they’ve joined the game in the delusional belief that at least they are doing so in the better interest of the public.”

Historically, syndicalism, insurrection and protests have been effective political organizational tools. For example, in 1768, Samuel Adams and other founding fathers began organizing a revolution against their British/colonial ruler’s imposition of taxation without representation. 100 years later, in 1868, slave revolts/insurrections ran rampant through the southern states, organizing around the cause of women’s suffrage and the abolition/emancipation of the African American. Subsequently, in 1968, the Civil Rights and anti-war movements were in full effect. The organization of major protests such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Kent State demonstration and the protesting of the 1968 DNC were all public displays of dissent and governmental opposition that left an indelible mark on the nation.

These examples of struggle throughout the centuries suggest that democracy is not simply a matter of an electoral system, in which citizens get the right to vote and elected officials must compete for the public’s favor.

Rather, democracy is a continuous process of resource mobilization and counter-resource mobilization among competing or conflicting groups/ interests, and that is why the public commitment to democratic involvement is so vital.

Alexis Pennie is a University Alum. Comments are welcome at [email protected]