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December 09, 2012

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james higham

in the face of inequality and austerity

The issue is the austerity scam of Osborne's. Inequality is a PC beat-up the way it's currently defined.

Romford Dave

Stoicsm has long been a trait of British people, you've only have to look back at the enduring nature of the population from the times you allude to.

What is more of a surprise is why hasn't decades of immigration had an effect of this very real national trait. Have these immigrants from wide and varied sources of origin, embraced Britishness with all it's foibles, preferring the previously successful stoic approach, rather than revolt in the face of adversity?

I'm reminded of the fleeing Taliban, who desperate for water while plodding through the Afghan desert, saw something far off in the distance.

Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the oasis only to find a British soldier selling regimental ties.

The Taliban asked, "Do you have water?"

The soldier replied, "There is no water, the well is dry. Would you like to buy a tie instead? They are only £5."

The Taliban shouted, "You idiot infidel! I do not need an over-priced tie. I need water! I should kill you, but I must find water first!"

"OK," said the soldier, "It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that, and that I am a much better human being than you. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find our Sergeant's Mess. It has all the ice cold water you need. Inshallah."

Cursing him, the Taliban staggered away over the hill.

Several hours later he staggered back, collapsed with dehydration & rasped......"They won't let me in without a f-------g tie!

Of course that's a joke and some might say in poor taste, but the point is clear, as bad as things are, they could get a whole lot worse.

gastro george

Definitely (2). If I draw an admittedly self-selection-bias comparison between my student days and the attitudes of the children of my current circle - the biggest difference is one of imagination of other possibilities, and the desire to attain them.

But it will be interesting to see what happens if the current squeeze on middle incomes, and post-university employment, continues.

BenSix

Nick Cohen's contribution to Britain's protest culture was, of course, to claim that the largest dissenting movement in years was constituted of uncaring apologists. Smooth.

windsock

When 1 million people march through London on a cold Saturday in February to oppose an imminent war, but are then comprehensively dismissed, is it any wonder that people feel any attempt to do anything about economics would be futile?

cjcjc

In what sense was "collective action" (in the sense you appear to mean in here) responsible for the creation of the welfare state?

Staberinde

It's said that a million people marched against the Iraq war in London. Did they get what they wanted? Nope.

A large number of students protested the result of the coalition negotioations. did they get what they wanted? Nope.

One might suggest that a large scale protest is a tool of a 'mass age', characterised by mass production and mass media. We're clearly not living in that age today. Isn't today the age of micro-targeted lobbying?

Set up a think tank, write a book, go to Davos and TED, get a blog, run a social enterprise, cultivate a couple of rising stars so you can influence them when they become ministers.

Is it un-democratic? Arguably no more so than the notion of the swing voter.

pablopatito

"What has collective action actually achieved in our lifetime?"

Under-40s could just about claim that the poll tax riots brought down Thatcher.

I think the major difference is that in the eighties (IIRC) there was collective action that was broadly centred around bringing down the government and replacing it with a socialist Labour party. That option no longer exists. Without an opposition party that offers an alternative it is difficult to believe that any action will achieve anything. If the poll-tax happened now, Miliband and Balls would probably largely support it, so would there be much point in rioting?

I also think popular culture helps frame the debate, rather than simply following it. So now we have Miliband essentially agreeing that the unemployed are shirkers, whilst in the Eighties we had George Michael on Top of the Pops singing "Wham bam, I am a man, job or no job you can't tell me that I'm not". That will surely have a massive influence?

When you are 18 you think you can change the world. I don't think you do a great deal of empirical analysis before you start a riot. But you do need a Billy Bragg or a Michael Foot to help give you a nudge.

Guano

It's a bit naive to think that going on one demonstration is going to turn around government policy. I am very proud to have been one of more than a million people who marched though London against the imminent invasion of Iraq on 15th February 2003. But I didn't think that this demonstration would stop the invasion or lead to the UK opting out of it. I was fairly sure that both New Labour and the Tories would support the UK's participation in the invasion, whatever happened, because their mindset couldn't conceive of not supporting the Americans 100%. It was though important to say that the invasion did not have my support, that it wasn't happening in my name. It was important to put down a marker, to show that someone had noticed all those illogical statements and evidence-free assertions in Blair's justifications.

Are people more likely to believe now that demonstrating will have an immediate effect? Is this one of the reasons that people are more passive, because the feel depressed when there isn't an immediate effect?

Binky Bear

In the 80s the National Security States continued the programs they began in the 1960s to divert protesters and prevent cohesive movements from forming through sabotage.
Part of this involves the cooperation of the media, part with business; thus today you can go out with a safety pin through your face and not get beat up, but by the same token any public sign of rebellion is immediately co-opted by the media-mercantile conglomerates, diluted or neutered in the process.
The revolution will be televised and in so doing destroyed.

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