Do protests work? Only when gutless politicians or company owners fold like deck chairs

John Minto

Apparently, protests work:

Taking part in direct protest action for an environmental cause can generate attention and headlines, but do they prompt change?

Environmental protests have been a common sight in New Zealand in recent years – in January, protesters chained themselves to a Fonterra factory gate, while Greenpeace protesters occupied the ocean research ship Tangaroa in Wellington and staged a day-long protest on parliament’s roof in 2015.  

Some high-profile protest marches have generated almost immediate results – in 2010, the government did an abrupt u-turn on its plan to open conservation land to mining soon after tens of thousands of people turned out in central Auckland to protest.

But Greenpeace senior campaign advisor Steve Abel, who has been protesting against environmental abuses for 20 years, says protesting is more than just taking part in a single march, and can be a long-term battle.

Mr Abel says peaceful protests still have a major part to play in changing the system, and are part of an overall philosophy of ‘by any peaceful means available’.

“If you can achieve what you need by going through the government, then great, but if the message is falling on deaf ears of vested interests, you have to resort to other means available in a democratic and non-violent tradition.”

“Protesting is a tactic, it exists as part of a whole strategy that could include a multitude of activities over time.

“The anti-nuclear ships movement really got going in 1976 [the nuclear-free pacific campaign began in the 1960s], but our nuclear-free status wasn’t passed into legislation until 1987. The underlying goal is culture change and that takes time, and legislation is a part of that, not the ultimate end.”

Protests work in New Zealand because politicians and most corporates are squeamish pansies who fold like a deck chair the moment some social justice bullies get active on Twitter.

Protestors are arseholes. They are forcing their views and beliefs onto innocent people and companies, and instead of backing free enterprise our politicians cave.

My advice to corporates under attack is to ignore the weasels, and never, ever apologise, or even look like you are apologising. That’s what they want as they implore you to cave in…just say sorry and it will all go away. It won’t. They will then use the apology to prove to their vocal supporters that you had something to apologise for.

Tell them to get stuffed. And wait it out. They will soon move onto another outrage in a day or two.

 

– Radio NZ

 


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