Monday, October 10, 2011

revolutions, movements, and anarchists

"How can you have protests without specific agendas?" ask many in the punditocracy, even those who sympathize with the protesters, but they miss the point. It is too soon to prescribe solutions. It is too soon to make demands.

Electoral politics and legislative policy are the endgame of social and democratic engagement, not the opening or the mid-game. They are how you secure gains achieved by an inspired population, not how you inspire a population. Before you can make demands, you must have the power to demand. Before you can prescribe legislation, you must have a constituency. Before you can pull a lever and move the world, you must have a place to stand.

In asking for an agenda, most pundits and leaders are not looking to empower the protesters, but to undermine and defeat them. They seek demands and policies not to address or enact the policies, but to marginalize and fracture the protests. They seek specific policies because specific policies can be attacked, because by attacking the proposed solutions, they can deny the grievances.

Elites always demand "constructive" criticism and protest, but that is merely a mechanism to deflect the criticism and silence the protest. You do not and should not need to know how to right an injustice or fix a policy to object to the injustice or point out that the policy has failed, any more than you should need to know how to cure a disease to go to a doctor and describe your symptoms.

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