Maybe it’s apathy, or boredom. I don’t know. I have struggled to get worked up over recent crises regarding atrocity. Guantanamo, Darfur, torture… I think it has something to do with the protesters.
Independently I think about these subjects and feel disgusted, angered, saddened. Oddly enough, when I think about the multitude of affected responses to these subjects I feel completely different types of digust, anger, and sadness. I am a great believer in peoples’ responsibility to organize and change things. Greater change happens with movements, not laws. Still, the screeching old woman railing against Bush, the hipster with the Save Darfur t-shirt, the players in orange jump-suits; why do they repel me so? I tend to agree with them. Strangely, they make me want to care less about these issues.
I will admit that my repulsion is most likely a matter of my own psychology, that given the ability to focus and join the group for the common goal I would find these protests to be inspiring. But I have been breeding myself as an individualist in recent years, for better or worse. Better and worse in that I feel I’ve become much more discriminatory. I agree with these people on so many issues but the people feel so foreign to me. It is similar to attending a church: I agree with valuing peace, love and altruism but the way they go about it is so fucked-up.
I used to be involved in protesting, most often before and just after the beginning of the Iraq War. I was in London for a large part of this and went to some of the largest protests in London’s history. The one issue I noticed on both sides of the Atlantic was the problem with homogeneity. If you were against the war you also had to be accordingly for or against a slew of other issues, essentially adhering to the generic far-leftist party line. Being anti-war meant being anti-Israel, anti-gun, pro-gay marriage, pro-drug, pro-radical feminist, anti-McDonalds, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-globalization; and specifically in the U.S. pro-choice, anti-death penalty, pro-health care, pro-hate-crimes laws, etc.
Now, I actually agree with almost all of these sentiments. But I didn’t go to the protest to display my disgust at anti-homosexual legislation, I went because I was AGAINST THE WAR. That is it. Demonstration organizers need to get it through their head that a focused message, unencumbered by loosely related issues, is the best way to get their message out.
I have a problem with the protest culture:
Where you have to echo chants and slogans that some person you don’t even know is shouting at the head of your line.
Where the dress code requires clever t-shirts, face-covering bandanas, vaguely junta-style fatigues, and restriction of brand-based clothing.
Where everyone is fighting to prove how much more devoted they are to “The Fight” than everyone else is.
Where agreeing with someone on one issue is acceptable, but disagreeing on another is cause to be shouted down.
Where people use complex-sounding words such as “plutocracy”, “oligarchy”, “globalization”, and “totalitarianism”, which are essentially basic concepts, but they make you feel smarter when you shout ’em.
Where shitty folk musicians, musicians from obscure countries, chick-rock bands, and obsolete punk bands write overwrought “songs with a message” that end up sounding like fucking North Korean Nationalist Pride songs.
Where they generally hate materialism, except when it comes to the multitude of clever buttons on their jackets and backpacks.
Where people think that they have found the real news because they have watched Democracy Now! a few times.
Ok I could keep going on this, but you get the idea.
The saddest thing is that you know they are going to approve Mukasey. Despite the diluted messages of the “people”, another pro-torture shitbag gets in office. Damn! I could have sworn that dressing up in orange jumpsuits and shouting, “Death to the Plutocrats! Death to the Plutocrats!!” would have done the job…