Saturday, July 20, 2013

How To Organize Boycotts, Protests, And Demonstrations, Part One.

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) demonstration in New York, 11 April 1914

Conservatives by their very definition declare Class Warfare upon the 98 percent, and Wikipedia's entry on "Class Conflict" lays the framework for this series on "How To Organize Protests And Demonstrations":

"Class conflict, frequently referred to as class warfare or class struggle, is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests and desires between people of different classes.

"Class conflict can take many different forms: direct violence, such as wars fought for resources and cheap labor; indirect violence, such as deaths from poverty, starvation, illness or unsafe working conditions; coercion, such as the threat of losing a job or pulling an important investment; or ideology, either intentionally (as with books and articles promoting capitalism) or unintentionally (as with the promotion ofconsumerism through advertising). Additionally, political forms of class conflict exist; legally or illegally lobbying or bribing government leaders for passage of partisan desirable legislation including labor laws, tax codes, consumer laws, acts of congress or other sanction, injunction or tariff. The conflict can be open, as with a lockout aimed at destroying a labor union, or hidden, as with an informal slowdown in production protesting low wages or unfair labor practices."
The Table of Contents on Class Conflict is very readable and extremely informative:


Demonstration against the president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the RIO+20 conference June 2012
Protests and demonstrations are two of the three political activities that we'll be discussing for the next several days.  Tar and feathering, while a traditional form of protest in America, will not be considered as we have already covered the subject here -->

Strikes, pranks, and the Writing of Angry Letters To The Editor may be covered at another time.

Wikipedia is a goldmine of information about protests and demonstrations, and in the entry on "Protests," they note:

"A protest (also called a remonstrance or remonstration) is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations. Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy, or they may undertake direct action in an attempt to directly enact desired changes themselves.[1] Where protests are part of a systematic and peaceful campaign to achieve a particular objective, and involve the use of pressure as well as persuasion, they go beyond mere protest and may be better described as cases of civil resistance or nonviolent resistance.[2]

"Various forms of self-expression and protest are sometimes restricted[3] by governmental policy, economic circumstances, religious orthodoxy, social structures, or media monopoly. When such restrictions occur, protests may assume the form of open civil disobedience, more subtle forms of resistance against the restrictions, or may spill over into other areas such as culture and emigration.

"A protest can itself sometimes be the subject of a counter-protest. In such a case, counter-protesters demonstrate their support for the person,policy, action, etc. that is the subject of the original protest."

The Table of Contents on "Protest" should direct you to the aspects of Protest that will get you on your way to understanding the nature of political protest:


"1 Historical notions
2 Forms of protest
2.1 Public demonstration or political rally
2.2 Written demonstration
2.3 Civil disobedience demonstrations
2.4 As a residence
2.5 Destructive
2.6 Direct action
2.7 Protesting a government
2.8 Protesting a military shipment
2.9 By government employees
2.10 Job action
2.11 In sports
2.12 By management
2.13 By tenants
2.14 By consumers
2.15 Information
2.16 Civil disobedience to censorship
2.17 By Internet and social networking
2.18 Literature, art, culture
2.19 Protests against religious or ideological institutions
3 Economic effects of protests against companies
4 See also
5 References"
The "See Also" section provides even more information:

Activist Wisdom
Civil resistance
Fare strike
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
I Protest
Port Militarization Resistance
Protest art
Public Library Advocacy
Right to protest
Social criticism
Tactical frivolity
List of uprisings led by women"

Monday demonstrations in East Germany helped to bring down the Berlin Wall.
The introduction to their entry on "Demonstrations" is slightly different:

"A demonstration or street protest is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause; it normally consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers. Historian Eric Hobsbawm says, "Next to sex, the activity combining bodily experience and intense emotion to the highest degree is the participation in a mass demonstration at a time of great public exaltation. Unlike sex, which is essentially individual, it is by its nature collective...and it can be prolonged for hours....It implies some physical action--marching, chanting slogans, singing — through which the merger of the individual in the mass, which is the essence of the collective experience, finds expression.'[1]

"Actions such as blockades and sit-ins may also be referred to as demonstrations. Demonstrations can be nonviolent or violent (usually referred to by participants as "militant"), or can begin as nonviolent and turn violent dependent on circumstances. Sometimes riot police or other forms of law enforcement become involved. In some cases this may be in order to try to prevent the protest from taking place at all. In other cases it may be to prevent clashes between rival groups, or to prevent a demonstration from spreading and turning into a riot.

"The term has been in use since the mid-19th century, as was the term 'monster meeting', which was coined initially with reference to the huge assemblies of protesters inspired by Daniel O'Connell in Ireland.[2] Demonstrations are a form of activism, usually taking the form of a public gathering of people in a rally or walking in a march. Thus, the opinion is demonstrated to be significant by gathering in a crowd associated with that opinion.

"Demonstrations can be used to show a viewpoint (either positive or negative) regarding a public issue, especially relating to a perceived grievance or social injustice. A demonstration is usually considered more successful if more people participate. Topics of demonstrations often deal with political, economic, and social issues.
And like their entry on Protest, the Wikipedia entry on "Demonstrations" is also a mine of information:


"1 Forms
2 Times and locations
3 Nonviolence or violence
4 Law by country
4.1 Russia
4.2 United Kingdom
4.3 United States
5 See also
6 References
7 External links"

And the "See Also" section is also informative for the budding organizer:

"Civil resistance
Civil Rights Movement
Crowd control
Fare strike
Nonviolent resistance
List of uprisings led by women

Political protest can also take the form of economic attack, Class Warfare, if you would:

"Economic effects of protests against companies

"A study of 342 US protests covered by the New York Times newspaper in the period 1962 and 1990 showed that such public activities usually had an impact on the company's publicly traded stock price. The most intriguing aspect of the study's findings is that what mattered most was not the number of protest participants, but the amount of media coverage the event received. Stock prices fell an average of one-tenth of a percent for every paragraph printed about the event.[11]

Protesters advocating boycott of Kentucky Fried Chicken due to animal rights issues
One of the purposes of protests and demonstrations is to inflict economic hardship on the entity that we're protesting against, as Wikipedia notes - and we conclude this Introductory section with the Wikipedia entry on "Boycotts," a difficult tool for the political activist to work successfully, but when it works, the mighty can fall - with a thump:

"A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons. Sometimes, it can be a form of consumer activism.


"1 Etymology
2 Notable boycotts
3 Application and uses
4 Legality
4.1 United States
5 See also
6 Notes
7 References"

The foundation for any enterprise consists of understanding its history and theory, and reading the Wikipedia entries above will prepare you for the rest of our series on "How To Organize Boycotts, Protests, And Demonstrations," political activities that have fallen into disuse in what was once the most potent of democratic countries, the United States.  But even though other countries have adapted boycotts and organized political protests and demonstrations  that outshine ours by far, we're never too old to (re)learn the tools that once made us an example of democratic action around the world, tools that can help lead us to a world in which Conservatism is finally criminalized.


"When the oppressed rise and start setting about the oppressor, their fury is
always formidable. One noticed this in the French Revolution."

P.G. Wodehouse, *Service With A Smile."