This is the question I get asked a lot.
Oh so you’re off on another pointless protest I’m asked regularly.
Yes I say another one of those that we seem to be doing more and more of these days. Not that protest has ever gone away but the concept seems to becoming a bit more mainstream again dare I say.
Since the students demonstrations of 2010 and the march for the alternative on March 26 and the subsequent strikes that followed now with the workfare protests protests seem to be cool again for want of a better word.
No longer just for the far left but many different sorts of people seem to be getting seen on protests.
So do they work ?
Protest works! With the right action on the right issue at the right place and time, a small band of people can win the day – or at least strongly influence the national debate. That's the message after the recent workfare protests.
Trotsky called it the little lever and he was right a small group of people who have the right ideas at a certain time can catch that wave and gain a larger influence than they may otherwise be able to. As socialists due to a mass movement at the moment developing and the ever evident absence of a mass workers party putting forward the arguments of true opposition to capitalism we are having to use tactics as catching the right mood at the right time to propel ourselves forward in the struggle and get a hearing.
Of course as Marxists these conditions don’t just come about like that on a whim they are brought about due to a specific set of circumstances and events of consciousness. But as I say having the right ideas and programme at that time can really push you forward. Take for example Youth fight for jobs during the recent workfare protests we had a representative asked on to news night to speak on the actions. That would not have happened if they didn’t think we had a point even if they didn’t fully agree they clearly saw us as a credible opposition rather than the labour party and asked us to put someone forward which we gladly did.
Also take UK uncut which I do have reservations about but even still you can’t deny they have got tax justice back firmly on the agenda and now it may or may not be linked but tax does now a big issue once again with the recent budget and George Osborne have to take tax evasion a bit more seriously. Now I don’t seriously think he is suddenly going to go all anti capitalist tax the rich till the pips squeak on us but certainly the level of consciousness has shifted towards a feeling that the rich do not pay their fair share and even among reformists of capitalism are having to admit maybe the financial sector has gone too far and they do need a good spanking or we could have a mass uprising on our hands. Which clearly the ruling class do not want. SO we may see an attempt to go after tax evaders as an attempt to quell descent and curb the financial mercantile sector of capitalism as Karl Marx called them. A move back to more industrial sovereign wealth based capitalism may be their preferred way out of this crisis with a move back to state capitalism to keep their system alive in a critical stage. All this is theoretical and may not happen but just some possibilities as capitalism will look to see off an uprising and mass anger anyway it possibly can. As the old phrase went its reform or revolution if we don’t give them reform they will over throw us and it may get to that point where big reforms may be granted in the face off a crumbling system.
But be under no illusion protest does work and on a small or large scaled certainly has the power to change things but it has to be linked to a clear programme, a programme of Marxism with a end goal of changing society to benefit the millions not the millionaires. For a better fairer socialist society.