Though out of the headlines, protests continue in Mexico against the disappearance of 43 student teachers & in Hong Kong despite police attacks to shut down the democracy encampments. Now the US has erupted with protest over the impunity of killer cops going after unarmed Blacks. If we look at the world in the past several years, we see massive protests everywhere that shake the foundations of the status quo. Though none yet have brought it down. There were massive anti-austerity protests throughout Europe followed by the Occupy movement & by the Arab uprisings in several countries; there were protests in Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Russia, India, the Philippines, & many smaller eruptions in other countries. Many of these protests sustain now for years.
Cynics look at this & claim nothing good has come from all that protest. Tyranny was shaken but remains intact so there’s not much purpose to social protest. It would be better if cynics kept their traps shut since their vision is so tainted by pessimism. They’re a drag to be around. What they don’t see is that these eruptions in Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, & the US expose the systemic crisis of neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. Its predations have created such inequality, such human suffering, such unbearable economic, social, & political conflict they cannot be contained or managed even with countless wars.
These social explosions will continue because the global system is in profound crisis & unable to maneuver out & it’s methods remain greater austerity attacks on working people & wholesale assaults on democratic rights–most importantly the right of protest–to limit the ability of working people to resist.
It’s undeniable the massive mobilizations have not produced regime or systemic change. And where they have, as in Egypt, they have been out-maneuvered by the forces of reaction combining to reverse the gains. That doesn’t mean political resistance to tyranny & neoliberal predation is all for naught. It means the decaying system still has plenty of force left & a determination to survive at all costs so its power & treacheries cannot be underestimated. It means massive protests can be insufficient to the task of social change if there is no program for action developed & a leadership forged & selected that is uncompromising with tyranny & doesn’t confuse its enemies with its allies–like those who thought the military in Egypt could play a progressive transformative role. These are hard lessons to learn; no one can get on their high horse if major mistakes have been made.
A program for action means figuring out what is required to end tyranny once & for all, what is needed to address the injustices & inequalities in society, what would a humane society look like, who the shysters are & who the men & women capable of building a solid movement, of uniting discordant voices & visions & of standing strong against blandishments or belligerence from the ruling elites. In short social transformation is a complex process requiring the best we have to give. Sometimes it seems evolutionary–until revolutionary becomes imperative.
All that’s certain is that society cannot carry on as it is with neoliberal regimes running the planet into the ground for private profit & creating such massive overwhelming human suffering. Somethings gotta give but it won’t without a shove. We live in momentous times, stressful times, but the crisis of neoliberalism opens up possibilities for social transformation–real possibilities. And the sine qua non of that transformation is international solidarity: “an injury to one is an injury to all.”