Some of my friends, from Anarchists to the vaguely liberal and small-business conservatives, seem to have a feeling on all the rallies and protests that have been going on around here that they're a waste of time. Perhaps slightly under the influence from having made it to the 80 percent park on the Muqadimmah, I have come to the conclusion that rallies are quite useful, even if the specific criticisms that my friends place to them are valid. Among these criticisms, some of which I would happily note myself, are that often the people have not fully thought about the stances they've taken, the related issue that they haven't considered the alternatives, and the rather different criticism that there is little way they can have an effect. Protests serve a number of purposes. One effect is to send a message to unfriendly politicians that their policies are out of line with what is wanted, and likewise to friendly politicians that there is ground to be had by aligning themselves with the protest. At the last big antiwar rally, a state politician came to Squirrel Hill and spoke for 5 minutes in the half-hour that march organisers were speaking to ramp up for the walk downtown. Another effect is to pass information around -- people often hear about other protests, events, and organisations at these things. Finally (this being the point of the Muqadimmah reference), rallies create group-feeling among those present. Routine is one of the biggest enemies of social change, especially with the degree of isolation that people in true suburbs have. Group-feeling is one of the few things capable of breaking the placidity that that routine engenders. Massive unhappiness and feelings of infringement also aid in group-feeling. Any movement or government that becomes sufficiently detached from any group-feeling that exists, if it would lead or shape the people, is destined to fall into obscurity if it does so before it gains power, or to create a failing society if it does so after it gains power. A movement that would be successful must therefore either prevent widespread group-feeling or command it. For this reason, it is helpful for people who support massive social change, as I do and my anarchist friends do (albeit to different ends), to support rallies that align with their causes as much as is convenient.
All that being said, I missed today's anti-military-recruitment rally because I was tired from yesterday's KGB Underground Tour, and woke up twice this morning, first around 06:00 (I was still tired, so I went to bed) and then around 11:20 (the protest started in Oakland around 11am). Oh well. There are plenty of protests to go to -- I'll go to another one in a few weeks, I'm sure.