The Nature of Mass Demonstrations

Berger, John
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/20/the-nature-of-mass-demonstrations/

Publisher:  Counterpunch
Date Written:  23/05/1968
Year Published:  2017   First Published:  1968
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20293

John Berger analyses the social dynamics and strengths of mass demonstrations.

Abstract: 

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Excerpts:

Mass demonstrations should be distinguished from riots or revolutionary uprisings although, under certain (now rare) circumstances, they may develop into either of the latter. The aims of a riot are usually immediate (the immediacy matching the desperation they express): the seizing of food, the release of prisoners, the destruction of property. The aims of a revolutionary uprising are long-term and comprehensive: they culminate in the taking over of State power. The aims of a demonstration, however, are symbolic: it demonstrates a force that is scarcely used.

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It is in the nature of a demonstration to provoke violence upon itself. Its provocation may also be violent. But in the end it is bound to suffer more than it inflicts. This is a tactical truth and an historical one. The historical role of demonstrations is to show the injustice, cruelty, irrationality of the existing State authority. Demonstrations are protests of innocence.

Subject Headings

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