Protestors Get Maced

Posted on by TheLastPsychiatrist and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Oh God.

Police Use Forceful Tactics and Mace” reads the headline, which admittedly, is rigorously accurate.

The problem is that this is a game, this is pretend. There’s no consequences, no risk, and no expectation of change. It exists exclusively for the protestors to be part of something. It’s Woodstock 2011 with better music.

Which is fine, it’s their lives and their time, but it makes a mockery out of the idea of protest. If it doesn’t effect change, what’s the point? “Awareness” isn’t an answer, because everyone is already aware. The only thing I wasn’t aware of was how annoying entitled white people can be. No, that’s a lie.

But when the oppressive entity is so poorly defined (e.g. Wall Street, “the banks”, corruption) these protests always and without fail turn into protests against the police. Idiotically, in the minds of the protestors, the police are standing in for the banks. So all their antagonism and vitriol is turned against police officers who would probably rather be doing anything than babysitting the hipsters attending their social media drum circle. This is how it goes at G8 protests, IMF meetings, Republican conventions, NBA championships, etc. The evil white men are safely ensconced in their ivory tower behind impenetrable turnstiles accessible only with magnetic ID cards, so the protestors turn against the only other authority figure available.

The media loves, it, of course, whatever side they happen to appeal to can spin it any way they want, which is why it gets so much publicity; which in turn is why these kids did it in the first place, iphones at the ready, praying someone maces them so they can get a video out of it. Self-righteous indignation isn’t even accurate, because I get the very distinct feeling that no one really believes it.

Here’s a clue that this is a pathologic narcissism, the nihilistic kind that 17 yo boys have when they threaten to kill themselves if their girlfriend leaves them: I actually agree with the protestors about Bank of America in principle, but because they are putting their identity ahead of the cause and are making it about themselves, I find myself hating them more than Bank of America. Their arrogance and entitlement drives me away from them, into the arms of their enemies. I’m hardly alone in this. Either they are not aware of this effect, in which case they are merely idiots, or the are aware of this effect and do not care.

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50 Responses to Protestors Get Maced

  1. geerussell says:

    To pile on… the protests are not just poorly defined, they’re two to three years too late. The bailouts are done, the bonuses paid, the gamblerscounter-parties paid off at 100 cents on the dollar and any investigation into fraud dead in the water. May as well save the protest for the next crisis, a certainty given this one was merely papered over.

  2. Napsterbater says:

    Protests have always been ephemeral, faceless things. Riddle me this: How was the French Revolution any different? It was the same faceless class struggle it’s always been. There is an intelligence, a strategy behind them, if you care to look, you can catch a glimpse of it reading the excellent commentary by the anarchist collective known as Crimethinc at their website/blog here:

    • Napsterbater says:

      Note that they haven’t yet commented on this particular protest, as of yet. But they probably will soon enough. Lots of them are ‘professional’ rabble-rousers who do little more than go from protest to protest attempting to escalate the proceedings.

      • qubitman says:

        That has nothing to do with what TLP was talking about. I think the focus of this discussion is what is your reaction to this process, and what do you think these guys are really doing here?

        I see a bunch of people who feel put out by something they can’t pin down. I’ve seen effective social interests decriminalize marijuana in my home state of MA, and they weren’t pulling this kind of crap. I spent my own time and money during college getting signatures and raising money, talking to people and getting involved in the process. It’s boring as all fuck, but having a clear goal and believing in it makes it possible.

        I’m willing to put down real cash these people aren’t deriving their actions or motives from even a basic appreciation of economic theory, and so I have no reason to take them seriously. Bad shit is happening and it’s the bankers fault. Really? Bankers are holding a gun to your head and making your life a living hell? No. It’s not that easy. The reality is if you really want to make real change you’re going to have to do a lot of boring stuff. Most of what makes real social change is boring and disillusioning. God bless you if you can stomach it, and if you can you’ll find real support from competent people, but if you’re focusing on catharsis don’t think it will change anything.

        As an aside, the French revolution failed, remember? They had to put a dictator in to keep the peace. That is why I’m against what they support. I don’t want a bona-fide dictator killing my family over nothing.

  3. Dan Dravot says:

    Lenny Bruce said it back in the 60s: “They’re actually demonstrating against the police department. Actually, against police men.”

    Anyway, yeah, these retards would be costing other people less money if they got their kicks bungee jumping instead. But they wouldn’t impress their professors that way.

    • Or says:

      Beat me to Lenny Bruce. But it seems that TLP is saying that this part:

      “People can’t separate the authority and the people who have the authority vested in them… Because they have that concept — that the law and the law enforcement are one.”

      may not be relevant. The news cycle will move on too quickly to sort everything out, so the authority and the people who have the authority vested in them are combined, not because of a confusion of ideas, but for the convenience of providing a complete tidy meal of a spectacle that fits in your twitpicnic basket.

  4. muchomaas says:

    “Here’s a clue that this is a pathologic narcissism… I actually agree with the protestors about Bank of America in principle, but because they are putting their identity ahead of the cause and are making it about themselves, I find myself hating them more than Bank of America. Their arrogance and entitlement drives me away from them, into the arms of their enemies. I’m hardly alone in this. Either they are not aware of this effect, in which case they are merely idiots, or the are aware of this effect and do not care.”

    I feel like in a different context you might find this statement strange. Is this honestly true? Would you honestly completely change your intellectual position on something serious like the arrangement of our financial system, corporate (structural) dysfunction, etc. because a bunch of kids acted a little bit entitled about it? One questions how ‘serious’ your views are if they’re vulnerable to the appearance of a stereotype in the media landscape, ‘trust fund white kid activists’ (oh no!)

    Everything here is very pertinent and true, transfer of protest, lack of effect, misdirection, ‘carnival protest’ etc. But that’s not what’s interesting here. What’s interesting is how flimsy your attitudes are in the face of all of this, how easily your justified dissatisfaction with the way things are gets redirected by what we both know is a narrative about protests in the early 21st century. I feel like this is ‘revealing’, maybe.

    • qubitman says:

      You sound like you just want to be told you’re right…

    • Guy Fox says:

      Not that it’s for me to discipline anybody, but it’s bloody annoying how commenters, especially on this site, cloak their personal criticisms behind pseudo-detached observations of ‘interesting’ or ‘revealing’ phenomena. It’s patently a tactic to 1) couch the criticism in some implicit context of cultural significance, i.e. it’s an appeal to authority without even naming any bleedin’ authority and 2) get the (partial) object of the criticism to infer the content of the criticism himself, absolving the criticizer from responsibility.

      “It’s interesting that you…” all too often reads in plain English as “my post-modern sensibilities, which I assume are representative of some broader community, lead me to condemn/reproach this type of act, and if you were a postie worth his Slavoj, you’d have realized this line of criticism before you posted; ergo, I’m two steps ahead and oh so clever.” Prefacing the criticism with “I feel…” would add subjectivity, were it not for the fact that I-statements have already been hijacked by the self-help industry to further blunt effective discourse. (Do you feel that he might have found it strange in a different context the way that you feel cold or elated, or do you think it? If you merely feel it, it’s irrelevant, but if you think it, saying so is redundant.) It’s very difficult to use I-statements without affectation anymore, at least since the term ‘I-statement’ came into existence.

      I’d love for someone to come up with a suitable verb for such cowardice. The best I can come up with is ‘to backdraft’ (i.e. the arsonist tries to transfer his own agency into the flame itself), but it lacks derision.

      If you must criticize, grow a pair, be explicit, and stand by, behind, and for your criticism. To be fair, this is by no means the first instance, but it’s the straw that broke this camel’s back.

      • muchomaas says:

        Oh, I don’t think it’s revealing or interesting in any general way. The reveal in question is very specific. Nor was I going for some smarmy undergrad intellectual putdown – it’s also possible I was just trying to provoke discussion on the issue instead of taking the Asshole’s Route – “I’m right for these reasons, also you’re a [name call].” There’s plenty of that on the internet.

        We could equally describe an affectation here where, if one doesn’t like the substance of the argument, one simply attacks the form of the argument instead, under the heading of “useful but massively overused rhetorical tools” along side terms like ‘blue pill’, etc.

        Don’t worry. I’ll take a heroic masculine stance and grow all the necessary genitalia so I can participate in a debate at your level, Guy. How about this: I think that it’s a cop-out to oppose someone’s stance simply because you find them a bit annoying. I think that if it takes that to sway you, then you never were very firmly attached to your belief in the first place, and you were looking for an excuse to back out. I think that this is on the level of ‘those fucking kids!!1′ and reflects a kind of sub-strata conservatism that cannot be directly expressed in a forum like this. Wait – yes – I can feel it! My balls have emerged!

        It is, of course, your prerogative to disagree, but feel free to call me a narcissist if you don’t have anything interesting to say.

        • Guy Fox says:

          Atta BOY! :)

          Yes, I was probably laying it on too thick, and you certainly served as a proxy for a larger population of “Well, isn’t that interesting” observers.

    • Battleskull says:

      I feel like in a different context you might find this statement strange. Is this honestly true? Would you honestly completely change your intellectual position on something serious like the arrangement of our financial system, corporate (structural) dysfunction, etc. because a bunch of kids acted a little bit entitled about it? One questions how ‘serious’ your views are if they’re vulnerable to the appearance of a stereotype in the media landscape, ‘trust fund white kid activists’ (oh no!)

      I think that the TLP didn’t mean that he’ll change his intellectual position over the topic per se, but that changing someone’s intellectual position was the intended purpose of the protesters but their posture didn’t paint them at all as a credible alternative or a positive role model, thus undermining their pretensions to raising awareness over issues and critical thought. So their methods ought to be changed but if the protesters refuse to do so, it becomes pretty evident that “changing the world” isn’t as much important to them than self-posturing as “radical revolutionaries”, and that the long-reaching consequences of their actions matter less to them that some momentary ‘feel good’ and the passing self-esteem boost.

  5. claudius says:

    To change the system, you must be a part of the system. They’re worsening their situations by wasting precious time doing nothing, instead of obtaining real skills to affect change. The flow of time reverses for no one, and instead of crying about what is irreversible, they should get off their asses and fix it.

    What’s more selfish than standing around all day and whining? It’s a cosmic joke that these hippies protest and object to the society they leech off of to survive.

    The worst part about it is that these protests add nothing to changing the system. The more chaotic this country becomes, the more people will be desperate and willing to do anything to stop such turbulence. Ironically, this leads to a greater likelihood of people signing off their civil liberties in exchange for order and stability.

  6. nadiaak says:

    Heh. That was dramatic.

    These protests/walks drive me nuts.

    “Are you going to the Diabetes/CVD/AIDs walk? Are you going to protest the bus transit cuts??”
    “Are you raising money? Are you talking to patients?”
    “We’re raising awareness.”

  7. sunshinefiasco says:

    I went to college with the people who organize and execute these kinds of protests, and was saw quite a bit of the macing going on at the RNC last time around, though I never swallowed the kool-aid on the idea that having a cop mace you really showed those republicans.

    I’d agree that these protests lack focus and organization, and serve primarily to add to the activist cred of the organizers, don’t help their intended causes, everything else said above. And I have few illusions about the police and how they view/treat the hippies in these situations.

    But there are so, so, so many clips like this, and no one ever seems to give a shit. I understand that if you don’t want to get maced, these types of protests aren’t the place to be, and that’s fine. Sometimes the hippies get overly aggro with the cops/are shoving/are looking for trouble/breaking plate glass department store windows according to their black block tactical plan. And they all know what they’re getting into (let’s be real, a lot of them are hoping to get into what they get into).

    That said, the cops that staff these protests (in the case of the RNC, cops specifically brought in from the boonies, where they are generally larger/less trained in crowd control/generally more likely to overreact to a man in glitter tights screaming about revolution), routinely mace and arrest people who aren’t doing much of anything, and no one really seems to care. Again, during the RNC, no one even cared one when it was press-pass carrying established journalists.

    Did the 1968 RNC really do that much damage? Because while I’ll admit that a lot of these kids are looking for trouble, you’d think that repetitive filming of young people getting maced for being within 30 feet of someone who’s shoving at a protest once they’ve been cordoned into a small area would eventually get some kind of attention, other than just laughing at them. (Not that they don’t deserve to be laughed at a little. A lot of them do.) But everyone is totally okay with giving these kids pepper spray/criminal records? Not that the latter will matter for the trustifarians, but it’ll matter to their poorer friends that they keep around for credibility.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      Sorry, this is way too long. Been trying to work on that.

    • inarticulateinthecity says:

      Yes. And if the protesters don’t care they have the effect Alone has described on people, do the police care about the effect they have on the people who cheer for the protesters?

      The protesters don’t care if they come across as naive and self-entitled for seeing cops as pigs and bankers as people very different from themselves.

      And the cops don’t care if they come across as brutal and reckless for seeing protesters as props for their identity as guardians of the peace.

      They’re not very different, after all. But you won’t hear people calling reckless cops narcissistic – oh, no. They’re just a victim of their own violent tendencies.

      • sunshinefiasco says:

        Fair enough, but my question is why aren’t the parents of college-age children saying “is it necessary to mace that girl who looks like one of lindsay’s friends, not that I can tell them apart really?” And, I suppose, why don’t these clips ever make any national news. You’d figure they’d be fodder for somebody somewhere.

  8. inarticulateinthecity says:

    Written by a girl that was maced:

    There are those marks of self-righteousness all over the text, all those expressions that make it seem they’re into it for the fun and personal branding: “we stumble upon the afternoon march toward Union Square. So we join up and walk along behind”, “All in all, it starts out as a pretty good time”, “The lighthearted carnival air begins to get very heavy” etc.

    But she makes the effort of DISCERNING violent cops from the good ones. Isn’t it funny? She doesn’t see them as an amorphous force for evil.

    They might be self-entitled, silly white kids who had never to work a single day in their entire lives. Where were they when their beloved Obama was bailing out banks? Probably idling away on the internet, smoking a joint with friends, studying for their finals.

    Calling them narcissists is certainly accurate.

    But if by seeing their stupid actions we start to sympathise with the bad guys, what does that makes us? I’m OK with analyzing how self-defeating their tactics is. Sure, the girl screaming her lungs out because she probably never experienced something stronger than menstrual cramps is over the top, she is the symbol of self-entitlement. But it certainly doesn’t drive me into the arms of their enemies.

    If the protestors want to have a faceless enemy to make things easier, it doesn’t excuse us to do the same with the “force for good” (the cops showing them they were in the wrong). Some of the cops were in the wrong. The fact that a protestor that was maced acknowledges that SOME of them were violent, NOT ALL OF THEM, makes this exercise in calling them narcissists a bit bitter for me. Especially because there’s unwarranted violence involved.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      Another question: The “let them walk freely at first, then gradually corral them until everyone is trapped, wait for a shove and then mace everyone” tactic is clearly an actual tactic– that’s exactly what I saw at the RNC.

      Obviously it’s a way to disperse everyone– but what’s that all about?

  9. AndrewSshi says:

    I don’t necessarily think that it’s entirely the narcissism of privileged white kids and their first world problems.

    Some of it is just the way our cognition works. We’re fundamentally visual, and a lot of times what we see and how we see it can alter our perception of reality. So you may read several paragraphs in you U.S. History Since 1877 textbook about how SNCC, CORE, the NAACP, etc. spent years organizing, building infrastructure, lobbying in Washington, etc., but you’re going to remember the video footage of the March on Washington, the sit-ins, etc. Likewise, you may read a few paragraphs later in that same textbook that Vietnam ended because the so-called Silent Majority had gotten sick of the war, but you’re going to remember the images–Woodstock, the protests, the guys putting flowers in rifle barrels–and think that protesting hippies Stopped the War.

    So the people out there occupying Wall Street (or something) figure that you change things by getting out and protesting. And when that doesn’t work, they blame the corporations, the media, the cops, mom and dad, etc. They kind of need to realize that a lot of political change comes about from getting involved in your local party, canvassing, building party infrastructure, voting in primaries, giving money to the political figure of your choice, manning phone banks, etc. etc. These things are deeply unsexy and require a “long game.”

    The more information we get about the past through visual media, the worse this sort of thing is going to become.

    • thelastcpa says:

      Great comment and excellent analysis. Everyone wants the panacea and not the complex answer that can’t be reduced to a soundbite.

    • Fifi says:

      AndrewSshi – That’s a good insight about the power of visual media, particularly images that have become iconic (meaning they have become symbols and are well past being a subjective documentation of an event). However, this isn’t something that started with photography, film, tv or social media – in other words, it’s not new. Visual art has often served this purpose, documenting and mythologizing (glorifying) certain people and events (as has the written word, “the victor writes history” and all that). One other thing that’s worth noting is that the iconic American protest images from the 60s are incredibly mainstream and have become part of the American national identity (whether you love and identify with this particular version of the “American outlaw” trope or hate/fear the part of America that you don’t identify with is a whole other psychological ball of wax and narcissistic conflict). Hell, the “American outlaw” is fully commodified within both advertising and politics (whether it’s hippies, bikers or Tea Party libertarians). It’s kind of funny to see TLP (who promotes an image of himself as a “pirate”, a more contemporary and international version of the “outlaw” popularized by people that TLP more often criticizes than supports) getting all frustrated because the protesters (or at least the images we have seen of them in the media) are who and what they are instead of being who he’d like to them to be. Obviously, if TLP wanted the protests to be more in his own image (or how he’s imagining them) and truly believed this was important there are things he could do that could potentially achieve this. Or he could continue to get annoyed that others aren’t conforming to his desires and presenting him with an image he can personally identify with but, hey, that would be kind of narcissistic wouldn’t it? Narcissism, we’ve all got it, it’s really about where we fall on the healthy to malignant spectrum (do we make other people’s actions all about us, our desires and how they impact the the image we construct via our words and actions of who we want people to think we are or are we able to see others as more than simply an extension of ourselves/the image we promote that we want people to believe is who we are?).

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  11. SeanM says:

    “I actually agree with the protestors about Bank of America in principle, but because they are putting their identity ahead of the cause and are making it about themselves, I find myself hating them more than Bank of America.”

    What does this have to do with the rest of the article?

    And there’s nothing really to criticize in the protesters except that they’re mostly standing around. There are a lot of legal ways to screw with rich people and their business. I.e. to punish a grocery chain, get a bunch of people and go fill up carts. Get in line and when it’s time to pay, just say you can’t afford it and walk out. That creates a big mess, and people aren’t going to keep going to that store. You could have people go into a store and re-arrange the shelves, etc. But just standing around isn’t punishing — at best it “sends a message” and it’s a message the top 1% knows about.

    They should be targeting corporate person-hood businesses at random, disrupting them in a way that effects their bottom line.

    • MaitreyaB says:

      Yeah, like they do in London. Not the August riots (although they certainly sent a message, so Americans should perhaps consider it), but organisations like UKUncut occupy stores of tax dodging corporations and stand outside bailed out banks handing out pamphlets. I closed my account in one of them and opened one in a mutual society.
      These American protests seem amateurish and badly organised compared to that.

      • Fifi says:

        MaitreyaB – Activists in the UK (and Europe in general) have more practice at tactical civil disobedience and also the experience of living in a crumbling empire. Add in the physical logistics of organizing protest in a massive nation like the US and it’s a bit of a different ballgame (plus you have established independent media like the Guardian in the UK, as well as well established communication networks).

        • MaitreyaB says:

          Good points but I’ve seen better in the US itself. The Tea Party.

          • Fifi says:

            MiatreyaB – The Tea Party doesn’t seem to be particularly self organizing though, there’s some pretty hefty corporate organizing and funding going on behind the Tea Party. I’m not sure it’s actually a good example of ground up organization. The essential problem is one of logistics – organizing in the US is more like getting all of the EU organized for a protest (with less of a solid history of labour/union protest and weaker unions in general), while organizing a protest in the UK is a bit more like organizing a protest in one of the states. Not a wonderful analogy but I think people often forget or don’t quite understand how these kinds of logistics influence what can be done and how. There are other factors of course but I think sometimes people forget about the practical aspects of organizing – even with social media, there are physical logistics to be dealt with.

          • MaitreyaB says:

            I don’t know enough about the Tea Party to comment on that, but it seems to me that despite the corporate support, the Tea Party still has a wide base of support.

            Also Occupy Wallstreet isn’t a nationwide protest. How hard would it be to get people from all across the nation to turn up in New York for one day? Why weren’t the unions brought in before the protest? A pathetic 1000 people turned up for the first day of protest. By contrast, the March 29 London protest had 35,000 people from all corners of the UK. Heck, even in the US, the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear brought in a quarter of a million people.

          • Fifi says:

            MaitreyaB – The Tea Party is heavily promoted in the media and gets disproportionate attention because it’s mainly a construct of the Koch Brothers and Fox. (There are real libertarians – and Libertarians – in the US which the corporate construct that is the Tea Party tries to take advantage and has attempted to coopt but most of what’s on TV is a construct and not actually representative of what a lot of original Libertarians are about.) There are less people at most Tea Party rallies that get media attention than there are occupying Wall Street.

            There are protests being planned and staged all around America in different cities, as well as international ones. It’s actually pretty hard and time intensive to get from one end of the US to the other, particularly if you can’t afford to fly. The physical scale of countries like the US, Canada and Australia is very, very different than in Europe (from the land itself to the size of houses) and this presents some different organizational challenges. Plus there exist more unions in Europe and they’re more willing to block roads and engage in civil disobedience – unions are great at organizing resistance and monkeywrenching, it’s why there’s such a concerted effort by corporations to destroy them.

          • MaitreyaB says:

            Okay but the Tea Party have made an electoral difference. Whatever the level of corporate support and media exageration, there’s still something there and they’re much better organised and effective.

            What I meant about the unions is why didn’t Occupy Wallstreet secure their support before they began instead of now with the NY Transit Workers Union?

            And I agree with your points about the US being geographically large poses different problems, but this is New York; one of the most liberal places in the country and this is all they could gather?

    • Gary says:

      “to punish a grocery chain…”

      Good to see that SeanM has a plan to harm cashiers, stockers, and other low-income workers at the grocery chain. Why do you hate poor people SeanM?

      • SeanM says:

        The fact that some people’s lives will be made more difficult doesn’t mean the larger corporations should go unpunished. The point is the long-term, not the short-term.

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  13. Fifi says:

    There are some valid points made in TLP’s post but I’ve seen them being made for years with much more insight and understanding elsewhere (particularly from within the activist community incidentally). Unfortunately, TLP’s focus on his own personal disapproval of the protesters and his personal prejudices as if his own dislike is important (or as if he speaks for the mythical “everyman”) makes him no different than the people he’s criticizing in some ways. For what it’s worth, it’s not just White privilege at work since not all the protesters are White. As North Americans we all have all kinds of privileges that aren’t available to many other people in the world, there are levels of class, race, gender and lifestyle privileges but we’re all starting from a position of privilege compared to many other people in the world.

  14. robotslave says:

    And yet…

    …annoying, self-absorbed, over-privileged white protesters furious at The Bankers have already changed the political discourse, the media narrative, the national whatsit. They haven’t gotten everything they want, not by a long shot, but they made new rules and everyone plays by them now. Of course, I can’t recall the Tea Party getting maced very much, so maybe that’s something to shoot for, if you go in for this sort of thing.

    • geerussell says:

      The tea party worships The Bankers. For the tea party The Bankers represent the last bastion of capitalist freedom and the only genuine products of a free market meritocracy.

      • claudius says:


      • robotslave says:

        You have apparently simply assumed that what the Tea Party thinks about The Bankers must be the opposite of whatever you think.

        But the Tea Party hates The Bankers. Very much.

        Those who actually pay attention to what the Tea Party protesters and bloggers are saying (and dear lord yes, I know that’s a chore) know that they’re furious with the Fed for abandoning the gold standard (never mind that it happened under Nixon) and furious at “The Bankers” who sucked up all that money through TARP (and yes, they hate banker bonuses just as much as any lefty does).

        They’re furious that “The Banks” weren’t left to fail (the libertarians amongst them, at least). They’re culturally furious at the “Liberal New York Elites” kind of bankers, which is of course all bankers, when they’re blaming someone else for the crisis.

        They blame “The Bankers” for ousting them from their preposterously overmortgaged homes, exactly the same way lefties do.

        The Tea Party is every bit as convinced as the leftiest of lefties that this economic crisis is entirely the fault of the elite banking class. The only difference is that they view that class as liberals conspiring together to suppress wealth-creators, while you, the lefty, view that class as righties conspiring together to oppress labor.

        Banker-hatred is universal. This is exactly why nothing will come of it.

        If you want egalitarian politics, you’re going to need to find another foundation to build it on.

        • geerussell says:

          “The Tea Party is every bit as convinced as the leftiest of lefties that this economic crisis is entirely the fault of the elite banking class.”

          I just don’t see that. At all. When I look at the tea party movement I see them casting blame at their neighbors (deadbeats who don’t pay their mortgages), the CRA (poor people caused it!), the unions, and government regulators who burden the banking elite with rules and laws.

          Really want to bring the difference into sharp relief? Mention AIG and GM to a tea partier. One will get you a blank stare. The other will hit all the rage buttons.

  15. Lieutenant Geyser Shitdick says:

    A story (Possibly not relevant):

    My roommate told me he was going to a protest (we are mid-20s white people living in an urban center), but he had something that was troubling him. He was concerned because he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to get arrested or not. What happens (apparently, at this particular protest) was that after a bit of protesting, the cops would give three warnings to disperse. First warning would be stern, the second warning sterner, and on the third they would start arresting folks. At the pre-prostest meeting that he attended, they explained that people who didn’t feel like they could financially handle the trouble of being arrested (essentially you spend a couple hours in a cell and then pay something along the lines of a $250 fine) should leave at the second warning at the latest and no one would think less of them. He explained that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to pay the $250 to make the stronger statement.

    Any way I thought that was weirdly transactional. Like, the police must be making fat stacks off a protest like that, right?

    Take this with a grain of salt though, my roommate’s kind of an idiot.

  16. qubitman says:

    I’m not saying this entire event was manufactured by the media, but I’ll will say that these people wouldn’t know what a bailout was if they weren’t tuned in to the narrative everyone in society has to hear.

  17. lemmycaution says:

    I wouldn’t be too sure that such protests will be ineffective. In the eighties, people used to protest south african apartheid. I thought that this was sure to be hopeless. How can US protesters change the situation in south africa. It turns out that external pressure on south africa made a big difference.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      Pretty sure that all the boycotts and embargoes were more responsible for “external pressure” than photos of people in other countries, though the photos might have helped a little.

      • Fifi says:

        It seems to me that individuals are increasingly using “protests are useless” to justify their own lack of action. If protests were seen as so incredibly useless, the Koch brothers wouldn’t have invested so much in the Tea Party and astroturf activism and protests. Protests have their place and can be effective for putting pressure on politicians.

        The point of the protests against apartheid was to indicate to your own governments that THEY needed to act (and sometimes it can also help people who are in the immediate struggle to know that their fight is not going unnoticed in the world at large or to help raise funds for them). The protests and public disapproval of apartheid outside of South Africa is part of what led to the political actions and sanctions imposed by our governments. The other thing that public protests can do is to create the context for discussion (seems to have worked vis a vis TLP) and empower others to speak up and act.

        • sunshinefiasco says:

          Okay, my point was not that protests are useless. It was that I agree with the statement “external pressure on South Africa made a big difference”, but the effectiveness of that pressure came from embargoes, boycotts, and public shaming by banning them from the Olympics (i.e. governmental decisions, not personal decisions).

          While it may have had an impcat, it seems to have almost never worked again (I suppose Ireland/Australia and East Timor, maybe?), leading me to suspect that a few things carried more weight:

          -There was little to be lost by publicly shaming/boycotting SA in the late 80s, and a considerable moral high ground/domestic distraction tool to be gained, both
          -At home (masking our own racial issues/crack and HIV/Reagan, for the UK: Thatcher/ decolonization/immigration of (BROWN!) colonial subjects/rise of skinheads, for both: the beginning of the end of manufacturing/ skilled labor)
          -And abroad (as a champion of human rights and racial equality/telling people we’re the boss of them).

          -The U.S./Europe were able to more effectively shame white SAffers due to the fact that they had a strong state engaged in international relations for some time, and the shared heritage/cultural similarities with white, European-descended “westerners”. (For instance, the massive, massive impact of banning SA from sporting events, which was considered among the worst impacts of apartheid by White SAffers).

          -The explicit nature of the racism (it was on forms, sometimes even in English, etc.) which makes it much easier to sell to everyone.

          -The power of Western finance in Africa. Okay, you’ve divested from SA. I’m sure Nigeria/whichever other African nation supplying SA with whatever good/service/financial service is MORE than happy to take it & play middleman. Now that they’ve been out of the UK a while, they desperately need infrastructure and foreign investment, and all the macroeconomists moved to London.

          So, the protestors may have won… but I think the big guys let them win, then patted them on the back and created whatever the 90s version of texting to donate to Darfur was. While I don’t believe protesting is useless, I believe comparing the two protests, even if I forget that international protest doesn’t work the same as internal protest.

        • sunshinefiasco says:

          Also, the Koch brothers recognize what getting people elected to city council/school boards can do. That’s how we got tort reform and conservative state/local judges all over the place. (Check out the documentary Hot Coffee, it talks a lot about different impacts of corporate marketing through the news, as well as astroturf activism.)

          The Tea Party people organize, run, and get elected in those elections, because that’s what the right in this country has perfected doing in the last few decades. The people occupying Wall Street have none of that organization… it may get more people involved on a legit level, but any centrists/lefties in this country are [i]years[/i] behind on training in getting people elected where it matters. It also will make a bunch of people who are capable of taking this much time off work think that they “did something”.

  18. Santos L. Helper says:

    Damn kids on Wall Street / my lawn. Get a job, ya hippies!

    Aren’t you concerned that you might sound like a fogey looking to rationalize your reflexive support for the powerful? And that the work you’ve done to convince people to recognize & work on their narcissism might be sabotaged when you use the protesters like this as props in your narrative?

    Daddy issues is a cheap shot, even when it’s true. Your criticizing young people is just an expression of your psychological hangups on your own misspent youth, so readers can just armchair-psychoanalyze you rather than addressing the substance of your critique.

    The protesters I talked to in [another city] were quite clear that they see the problem as being the concentration of power to the point where a tiny fraction of the populous can have the rules rewritten to favor them at the expense of the bottom 99 -point-something percent, not that Tony Baloney is a pig.

    Our politicians debate in bumper-stickerese & even the Fox News supported teabaggers can barely get out a more nuance message than government (except the military) = bad. Even if these protesters had a great plan to actually fix the system, how likely is it that the media, which serves the powerful, would tell us about it, rather than presenting a narrative designed to make you hate protesters? Cause if you’re watching it…