I only joined three public protests in my life.
The first protest was happening in February 1987, socialist Romania, under the dictatorship of Ceaușescu, in the city of Iași, a spontaneous protest ran by some (a few hundred) of the “Al.I.Cuza” University and “Ghe. Asachi” Politechnical Institute students, asking for a better administration of local resources (light, heat, water). This was the most focused and the most local of these protests.
The main message was: “vrem apă să ne spălăm și lumină să’nvățăm” (in Romanian).
Among the University students, only two of them spoke out at the next day meeting with the authorities, enumerating their reasons to attend the protest and officially assuming personal responsibility for participating to this
unauthorized demonstration and also maintaining that the protest’s demands were justified: one of them was me and the other was my roommate, Gabriel Curelariu (both of us were physics undergraduates in the second year). We then blamed the incompetence of local city/university administration for the happening of this protest.
The political heat has been turned on for the next couple of months, but nothing worth noting happened to the other participants or to us. We were not the initiators of the movement either (the initiators were a group of female students who got spontaneously on the march out of exasperation over the living conditions in the campus).
My belief was, then, that problems in any society appear because of some corrupt or incompetent or sick people in publicly financed positions, people who are not fit to administer public matters. It hasn’t changed since.
The next protest was in February 2003, in Berlin, Germany, against the war on Iraq, this was the biggest (about a half million people).
The next protest happened these days, 24-25 Sept. 2009, against the various evils of capitalism, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. The protesters (a few thousand people) were spelling for the G-20 meeting the real problems of today’s world. (I briefly joined the protesters for about a half an hour, today, out of sympathy; I don’t and won’t belong to any political/ideological group/organization).
Some messages that were displayed on the protest’s signs:
“Capitalism isn’t working”
“There is no planet B”
“Nuclear disarmament begins at home, send inspectors to USA, Israel then Iran”
“Ignorance is violence”
“People over profits”
“Peace over profits”
“Let’s be human beings”
“What about the world’s poor?”
“Occupation is a crime: Iraq, Afganistan, Palestine”
“Fund jobs and human needs”
“Bring the troops home now”
“These are not our wars”
“Students, not soldiers”
“Obama keep your fair trade promise”
What were the results?
The first protest got the results it wanted the next day, and they lasted at least until we graduated, in 1989. In fact, we got more than we actually requested: we requested that a scheduled use of resources be respected by the local administration, we got a non-stop availability of resources.
The second protest got no results at all, the war on Iraq happened, and the occupation continues today, in 2009.
The third protest got no results at all: while the protesters were marching, the G-20 meeting was preparing the field for the next war, this time on Iran. The method is well-worn from the Iraq period: start with UN security council sanctions under various pretexts, cripple the country’s economy for the next decade or so, and thereafter occupy and control its resources, either by war, if the country is crippled enough, or through orange revolutions, with smiling suits and ties in the name of freedom (of global businesses). Same algorithm, a different letter.
I am sorry for the citizens of the capitalist world who believe they live in a democracy, they don’t: the only protest I joined which gave results was the one that happened in the Romanian socialist dictatorship, and we were having no illusions then about how democratic was the country in fact. That is not to say that I want a socialist dictatorship, but to say that even a socialist dictatorship answered more promptly to a protest than the “democratic” capitalism of today.
My conclusion is that the citizens of the capitalist world live in a puppet theater animated by rich people. The rest of the world is even more affected by this shallow ritual of democracy. Peaceful street protests obviously don’t work in fake democracies, therefore the constitutional laws of this type of social systems have to be changed. How? By
thinking, talking and writing about the core problems of capitalism, this way, somewhere along the history, a majority of us will finally understand which is the crime against humanity here and which is the common sense,
that understanding will then be naturally embedded in your countries’ constitutions.
I grok that
as long as personal wealth is not universally limited to an estimated necessary of a lifetime we all will continue living in societies corrupted by some wealthy people and politicians are bound to cater for these wealthy people, not for the majority. This is not democracy, it is oligarchy dressed as democracy. Unfettered capitalism proved it is a historic failure for the societies it grows in: it gives power to those which are greedy, aggressive and simple-minded sociopaths over those who are not.
If you disagree with my conclusion, evaluate your total personal wealth, your total personal debt and draw your own conclusion, I’ll be happy to read it on your own homepage.
Take your time, think it over and debate it.
Blog about it, it’s the only true press you will ever own which has a chance at helping your understanding leave a trace in the public memory, otherwise known as culture.