Some think solidarity protests are merely symbolic dead-end gestures, feel-good moments or a way to vent indignation for do-gooders. Symbolic, empty gesturing isn’t why Palestinians have held the Great Return Marches for over one year now, facing off unarmed against Israeli snipers. That isn’t why Kashmiris came out yesterday also unarmed against nearly a million soldiers with pellet guns & rubber bullets. That isn’t why Syrian Arab Spring activists protest despite Russian, Syrian, & US-coalition bombing. It isn’t why the Egyptian, Bahraini, Tunisian, Yemeni Arab Spring uprisings organized protests of millions for months nor why the Sudanese protesters continue to protest against military dictatorship. Protests are political power. Protests are to counterpose the power of resistance to the power of tyranny, to mobilize, agitate, educate, broaden, strengthen opposition to war, occupation, persecution, injustice, genocide.
If solidarity protests are not ineffectual, how can we explain that there have been millions who’ve protested for Palestinians but Israel has accelerated genocide & ethnic cleansing? That there were hundreds of thousands who protested for the Rohingya & still they suffer in refugee camps with no prospects for human, democratic, & civil rights in Burma? That there were massive protests against the US invasion of Iraq & now the US controls the country & continues to bomb there? There were millions of women on every continent at the Women’s Marches & still the conditions of life for women & children continue to deteriorate? So what’s the purpose of those protests anyway if they haven’t changed the world? The best authorities on that might be the Vietnamese who encouraged the international antiwar movement, who understood it as a force that could restrain US military aggression. But Vietnam was over 50 years ago & things have changed? Protests are no longer enough?
Protests alone were never enough. Just as they aren’t in Palestine, Kashmir, Burma, Syria, Iraq, China, or anywhere else. Protests are to mobilize those who understand an issue to put political pressure on governments; to educate those who know nothing about what’s going on but would be concerned if they did; to publicly give moral support to those on the front lines of oppression, to let them know they are not alone, that we have their backs. But along with protesting, we have to develop other tactics like educational forums & campaigns, speaking tours, boycotts & campaigns like BDS, strike actions, work stoppages & slow-downs, humanitarian missions & investigative tours. Developing all that requires an authoritative, democratic, international movement & network with a collaborative structure that doesn’t let things be willy-nilly but has the resources & commitment to call emergency actions, coordinated, consistent, regular actions & connects the struggles against war, occupation, genocide.
Maybe 50 years ago we could let such a collaborative structure slide & stick with the ad hoc model of protesting. But not anymore. Palestinians, Kashmiris, Rohingya, Uyghur, Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Yemenis, & so many others are facing life & death survival against barbarism, against military power that can push a button & blow up the whole damn world & is trying to do that piece by piece. We need to get our act together & use social media to facilitate that. We should thank our lucky stars the internet & social media emerged just in time for the work we have to do.
Where do we begin? Let’s put our minds together on that & come up with a plan. Right here, right now, today. How do we work together to end the savagery, to support the political power of the oppressed, to make this world suitable for human beings to come of age in before fascism engulfs the whole damn planet or global warming fries us to death, whichever comes first? Call this a manifesto.