In a left wing social media group I am part of, a member recently asked whether anybody supported Antifa, before continuing on to state that he personally feels that “they sound like the fascists they are trying to rid the world of” and harming the potential of the left. This sentiment was unexpected given the online location. Why do the words “anarchist” and “Antifa” provoke such strong negative reactions?
Being an ‘activist’ is a crucial part of my identity. It can be a difficult thing to be, in a society where ‘politics’ is a dirty word and its practice is often at best frowned upon, but I’m glad I’ve made it to this place. To be part of wider movements, making friends with incredibly talented, dedicated and inspiring people and, in my own flawed, stumbling way, trying to make the world a little bit better, is an enormous joy and privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy.
If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.
unattributed African proverb
Protests and demonstrations are an important part of democracy. They allow the people the opportunity to express their feelings about the behaviour of the state and its agents. They are a chance to point out society’s ills to those who can do something about it. But do they truly make a difference? Do those who are targeted by the protests feel their impact or are they just able to ignore (or worse) any public displays of anger or upset?
The election of Donald Trump saw mass protests take place across the US. Protests in Gaza have resulted in hundreds of deaths. Every G7 or G20 summit is greeted by demonstrations. In Nicaragua, protests against the government intensified after flippant remarks by the President, Daniel Noriega, and his wife, the Vice-President, demeaned the people. There have been protests in India over the caste system and the Supreme Court, in Tunisia against the cost of living, in Venezuela over the lack of food and medicine, and high inflation rates. The Women’s March globally, protests against abortion laws, the list goes on but the changes do not. Too often nothing seems to change. This is not to say that change should happen purely based on a protest but many protests are about the same thing. So what is the issue?