A bunch of kids got maced today.
They started their day by protesting, and intended to aim this at Chris Pyne regarding changes to the education system. A harmless protest, non-violent, with a simple message we are all quite familiar with at the moment as students or as media and news consumers. You can watch them get maced if you like.
Macing people isn’t a nice thing to do, and people don’t want to watch it happen. In Australia it’s not common and usually reflects an escalation of events and a heavy handedness of the police. The simple question though is; when was the last time pushing against cops seem like a good? It’s a really shit idea.
I’ve been procrasti-tubing a bit and Noam Chomsky talks often come up. He’s getting on a bit but the content is engaging.
In his talks he mentions protesting as making a difference to the scale of the last war, and mentions that organised people are one of the only ways to make a difference. The rights of gender, race, and sexuality have all been altered by such organised movements in recent years.
What he further discuses is the notion we often refer to as the 1%. The 1% seem to be these invisible wealthy policy shifters. He explores how policy is linked directly to the needs of these people, and also their campaign donations.
The more horrifying examples he gets into explore how the needs of state held power are so much more important than the masses needs including their safety (nuclear war threats, health systems …).
The people of a population are not what matters, but a problem to occasionally deal with. Protests for example are a nuisance to the elite.
What isn’t offered as an alternative, which I would like to offer here, is that to make a difference you could aim to be part of the 1%.
I was recently reading more Plutarch, this time on some significant Romans. The power of their society was managed through wealth, corruption, power struggles and manipulation. Of course the history of such systems goes back further, crosses international boundaries, and continues today. This system of the wealthy and elite holding power is not a new one.
Why then do people continue to protest, argue, and disagree with this system in such an ineffective manner? A major factor worth considering is that this system is so embedded in our thinking and culture, that you are made to feel you cannot aspire to be part of this 1%.
Perhaps though, rather than the punk, uni student, or the anarchic forms of protest you can make, it’s worth considering changing the system from a position of power. Is it time to trade the cardboard sign, slogans and guitar for a business proposal and PhD?