Protest tactics matter

Those that demonstrated around the world for ‘Extinction Rebellion’ recently have certainly been making headlines. Pity it is for the wrong reasons. On an intellectual level, their point is sound — unless there is meaningful and urgent efforts across the world to mitigate climate change, there is an environmental (and by inference economic) disaster just around the corner. All you have to do to see the evidence of unprecedented change in climatic conditions is to recall that a considerable part of Binna Burra Resort in South East Queensland burnt to the ground in September. Binna Burra’s claim to fame was its location in an unspoilt rainforest. Typically, rainforests don’t have bushfires.

A lot of the Extinction Rebellion activities are based on protest actions in the past such as the anti- Vietnam War movement in the 1970’s. In reality, as the politicians of the 1950’s retired there would have been the gradual de-escalation of tension between the Communists and Capitalists of this world in any event. It’s probably also fair to suggest that the only lasting effect of the protest marches of the Vietnam War era has been the lack of acceptance that those who served overseas in the Vietnam War endured when they returned home when compared to those that served in World War 2 and other conflicts. It really wasn’t the conscripted soldier’s fault that they were sent to Vietnam.

Certainly, those that are concerned about the future of the world in a potential climate disaster have the right to their opinion and to protest the lack of apparent action to correct the perceived wrong. Those that choose not to join the ‘rebellion’ also have the right to their opinion and the right to get to where they need to be without delay from ongoing protests in our big cities. However people that do marketing for a living will tell you the days of the over-hyped advertising screaming at you (as the protesters are doing) to buy a particular product are long gone. Most have realised it doesn’t work, except those that inhabit the wastelands of shopping channels on third rate digital television stations. Even then, they have to give you two items for the price of one to convince you to call ‘in the next 20 minutes’. So, blocking roads, gluing themselves to infrastructure and so on may get a few cheap headlines but it doesn’t answer the relevant question; what exactly do they believe should happen and how exactly do we get there?

This blogsite published a piece after the last federal election suggesting that the ‘anti-Adani’ caravan from Melbourne to Clermont in Central Queensland was a disincentive for people to support political action on climate change. The article suggested
They rolled into towns that are certainly not in ‘boom times’, having weathered a lot of economic changes in recent times due in part to drought and the cyclical nature of mining to tell everyone that their jobs and lifestyle should immediately and irrevocably change. Not subtle or conciliatory, is it?
Extinction Rebellion are using the same tactic. Demanding instant and immediate change without offering a preferred solution or a practical method of getting there is not realistic. It is the same problem the Greens suffered in 2009 when the Rudd Government was prepared to legislate for an emissions trading scheme. As we noted in the same article
The scary thing is that it’s not the first time Brown and the Greens have not seen the forest because of the trees. They voted on principle against former PM Rudd’s emissions reduction scheme in 2009 because the target range of 5 to 20% reduction didn’t go far enough. A 5 to 20% reduction was politically achievable and would have reduced emissions. Voting against the legislation meant a 0% reduction in emissions, which is what has occurred. ‘Principles’ don’t reduce emissions; legislation is far more effective.

As a result, the last 10 years of Australia fiddling while the earth burned is largely due to the Greens lofty principles overruling logic and understanding what can be achieved, together with absolutely no idea of how or when to compromise and gain part of what they want instead of nothing.
On the Nine Media news websites, Madonna King recently discussed how Extinction Rebellion is failing to achieve its aims. Unlike the demonstrators, King identifies the problem and offers a solution.
Just imagine if they tried something else — like getting every year 9 student in the state to write to the Premier, and plead for a hearing, for example.

Imagine how the media headlines might be different. Voters — aka mums and dads — would be helping out with Facebook posts, and Twitter feeds, posting letters and making banners.
As King argues, the Same Sex Marriage debate wasn’t won by people gluing themselves to roads in peak hour or other headline grabbing stunts, it was won by consistent, targeted consensus building and facilitating change in the attitude of the community, not only in Australia but around the world. Twenty years ago, love between consenting adults of the same gender was still illegal in some states of Australia and there was discussion on the need to protect the environment from climate change. Today people are free to love and marry whoever they like, regardless of gender and we’re still having the argument on climate change.

It’s pretty obvious which action group has the better tactics.

What do you think?

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