What Makes Protests Effective?

by jim on August 22, 2012

"At their worst, protests and demonstrations are self-indulgent acts of personal and collective therapy, public tantrums of self-righteousness. Protests, devoid of a strong underlying organization, are bound to become self-fulfilling echo chambers.

At their best, protests can be an important tactic, but only a tactic, as opposed to an effective strategy. Political and social change comes only through hard, prolonged and persistent organizing, the sort of nitty-gritty, painstaking and frustrating work of persuasion that few professional protesters can be bothered with."

That's former labor organizer Natasha Vargas-Cooper weighing in on a New York Times "Room for Debate" feature that also posts the views of five other social change activists or critics on what makes citizen protests worth doing. If you're like most people, youll find a little bit of wisdom is each position, but it's worth comparing their definitions to our own. For too many activists, protesting is a reflexive act, without any context or strategy propelling it other than the urgency of the issue.

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