Protest for the sake of...
In his documentary, Occupy Love, director Velcrow Ripper looks to the Arab Spring, Movimiento 15-M, a Tar Sands Healing Walk and Occupy Wall St. to answer the question: how can the crisis we’re facing be a love story? Footage of Tahrir Square, in particular, draws the viewer into the emotional experience of a mass of humanity, coming together for a common purpose. And yes, it feels a lot like love.
But as Naomi Klein states in the documentary, overthrowing a dictator and drastically changing a complex and over-arching global system, like neo-liberalism, are very different things. Difficult to explain, even.
Nicholas Kristof described the Occupy as a movement to “restore capitalist principles like accountability,” while Matt Tabbi described the protest as being against corruption. It was both, and many other things depending on which one of the thousands of protestors you asked.
Idle No More has faced similar criticisms as Occupy - no clear goals, no clear leadership. They’ve made headlines, but for what? The Native American author, Sherman Alexie spelled out his skepticism in a tweet:
Mass movement protests are powerful, beautiful, temporary lightning. It's boring bureaucratic politics that make lasting change.
I hope he’s not as cynical as he sounds, that maybe he’s just pushing buttons. I would tend to agree with Priyamvada Gopal, writing in The Guardian, that: the politics of liberation anywhere in the world unfolds both in presidential mansions and on the street.
In answer to his question, Velcrow Ripper decides, at this time of planetary crisis, we see a love story forming between humanity, albeit a complicated love story. For me, watching the footage of protests from around the world confirmed the value of the act of protest. What did Occupy change? It broke thousands of people from the silos of their own lives and problems, bringing them into a mass conversation - many voices, with many different things to say. In the street, there is an enduring patience, through rain, snow and tear-gas, and a patience that causes people to listen to other people they might not ever hear from at any other time. There’s no movement without conversation, and movements, like love-stories are often long, drawn out affairs.
Whether or not we have time for that, is a whole other question.
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