Sunday, January 12, 2014

In Defiance Of The Law

This is a protest in Bilbao, Spain, in support of Basque political prisoners, held yesterday, January 11, 2014, in defiance of a new Spanish law outlawing protests. There are huge protests like this daily now in different parts of the world. South Korea, Ukraine, Cambodia, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, are a few I can name off the top of my head. In England, Germany, France, Greece, and other places, large protests have occurred recently and can be re-organized quickly.

Those of us who were around in the 1960s remember the huge marches on Washington, and massive uprisings in other parts of the world. In France, protesters nearly took over the country. They were running parts of Paris through local committees.

Concessions were made. Civil Rights bills were passed. The Vietnam War was ended. The streets emptied, and a counter-revolution was launched. Politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected. The great Neoliberal project variously known of as Reaganomics or Thatcherism began to undo the economic gains working classes had made in the post World War II era.

Making concessions is authority's most powerful weapon, but the Neoliberals in power today, from Merkel to Obama to the Egyptian Army to the Chines Communist Party, with the goal of a worldwide low cost labor force within reach, aren't as likely to use that option as the politicians of the 1960s were.

Authorities are trying to clamp down with violence, as they just did in Cambodia, as Obama did in clearing the Occupy camps, and by outlawing protest, but as in this case in Spain, people have begun defying the law, an important development in the escalation toward what could be a critical mass, maybe in the Spring when it's warmer in the north.

Don't underestimate the willingness of authority to escalate, but there is also a limit to their power. Communication technology is such that things can rapidly feed off each other. The defiance shown here in Spain will give confidence to others. Stay tuned. Agitate. Educate.


  1. If only I shared your optimism! The Civil Rights laws passed in 1964 were proper for the day. However, the freedom riders forced Bobby Kennedy to use the Civil Rights laws against local and state government. Without the freedom riders, we wouldn't have the case law we have today. That brings me to the derth of lawyers in our state that is inundated with good ole boy politics. We need freedom riders who are willing to protest in and out of the courtroom. Good luck finding those.

    1. I agree that optimism isn't really called for. Hope may be a better condition to be in.

      But optimism and hope aside, there is the fact of these protests, so what to make of them? Nothing similar is happening in the US and hasn't for a long time, but there is always the potential and the more people become disillusioned the more likelihood something will break out. There was the Occupy Movement. That was a brushfire that broke out spontaneously and grew rapidly, until the militarized police we have now went in and cleared out the camps, (which later evidence suggested were coordinated by Obama's Homeland Security department.)

      These protests elsewhere aren't prominent in the news and most Americans aren't aware of them but the segment of the population that followed Occupy is aware of them at least to some degree. I'm saying that these things can feed off each other and give people who are thinking about trying to change things more confidence.