Protest is a call to stop. It says hang on a minute… It is not the end goal but the means by which objection to an existing goal is expressed. The purpose of protest is to challenge; to oppose intention and policy in practise. It’s the main job of the Official Opposition. And while it protests, it is supposed to say why and argue for what it prefers. In doing so, it both attempts to modify or get dismissed those government policies it sees as detrimental to the public and sets out its own stall, honing its narrative, over a Parliament, in hopes of persuading the electorate to vote for their vision, next time. This should not be cast as a futile power and a democratic irrelevance.
Defiance is to be in a state of resistance. When protest fails, whether by the organised acts of the electorate, by dissenting individuals or by the official governmental opposition (yes, I know that’s been almost entirely theoretical, these last years) and purchase cannot be found on change in attitude and direction, there are two basic outcomes: either defiance or acquiescence.
A lot of people would appear to prefer acquiescence, quite irrespective of desire, social justice and even evidence. A great many of Labour’s elder statesmen, considered political ‘heavyweights’, convey little more than the cold embers of their once-held passions and in ways that seem far in excess of a natural tempering. They are afforded gravitas because they are considered wise by experience and hindsight but they sound tired, defensive and full of cautionary tales that reveal more about their own sense of impotence and the climate in which they worked than about the enduring merits or mistakes in their youthful arguments. They tried, they say. It didn’t work, they say. They learned, they say. They adapted, they say. Whatever the strategic need they sensed for a more pragmatic approach, this once great beast of a party simply diluted and diluted its principles concertedly and for long after it was becoming markedly detrimental to them, the country and, if you ask around, a lot of the rest of the world, too. From here, as a middle-aged woman in the 21st Century, it looks like they mostly compromised their basic socio-economic ethos to flatter a seriously flawed prescription and proceeded to emulate it by increments that masked their own dysmorphia, even from themselves. They modified their philosophy until it fitted so well that they didn’t know if they were assimilating or designing. They adapted by surrendering, really. Poachers into gamekeepers.
But an increasing portion of the electorate is, mercifully, becoming defiant on its own behalf and not as petulant teenagers or anarchists, as the mainstream commentariat would like to infer. It comes from those who have always resisted the narrative that insists that competition and choice are everything; that public interest and prosperity must be sacrificed on the altar of profit by exploitation of resources (including people). It comes from those who gave the neocon bandwagon a fair shot but, whether they did well by it or not, can see and would halt the injustice and instability of this asymmetrical power that wills to plunder and disrespect Life. And it comes from the impulse of a new generation, towards a more ethical, sustainable alternative because it feels, within its whole psyche, that Life should and could be much better than the status quo can imagine.
A Society that acquiesces to the entropic neocolonialism being forced upon it demeans itself. Defiance in the face of a prevailing and overwhelming socio-political ignorance is healthy. It would be a human tragedy not to protest. It will take as long as it takes.