What is the goal of a protest? Evoking change. Trying to persuade the people in charge in favor of the people protesting. For less costs of daily things, against corrupt officials, to support or defy a certain law. Protest is part – and key – to every democracy. (Or any other type of state; it depends.) Is is vital. It is needed. In Chile, in Iraq, or in Hong Kong. The world is ablaze. The people want change. They want that their will manifests itself in favor of corrupt or simply stupid politicians. We run into a problem though – protest don’t change a single thing. Protest has never stopped anything.
I can only speak for Germany. (Since I know its history better than other countries its protest.) In Germany Germans have protested against atomic power for thirty and more years. And the only reason Germany is free of atom power plants was the incident in Fukushima. (Long story.) Germans protested against ballistic missiles, against the dying of the woods, or against the transport of atomic waste through Germany. And nowadays they protest against cole mining and climate crisis. (Although climate crisis evoked protests around the globe.) But this proves my point; protest does not change anything. And it doesn’t even “raise awareness” or something.
But to make other points. The US protested against the Vietnam war and the Chinese protested against the Communist party. (The massacre.) It didn’t do anything. (Even though I have to point out, that US protests are democratic and Chinese protest happen or happened in a dictatorship.) Anyway. Protests are only a vehicle to express dissatisfaction communally. It is nothing bad; in fact it is very good. But it is not really an instrument for change. Protests are mostly trends or hypes or movements. The powerful are fully aware that they will disappear soon enough. And that breaks everything.
We must bring protesting to the next level: to action. Protesting is mostly an expression; and therefore very easy. Everyone can join a protest on Sunday afternoon to feel better about themselves. The real deal would be actual communication with the powerful and other people in charge. The next level is to express needs, dissatisfaction, ideas, concepts and other things to the powerful and force them to come to the table. In democracies the people have all the power. And a new way of protesting should express that.
We run into a problem though. If the protestors and the those who are protested for – or against – come to a round table; one has to loose. The officials have to change their politics, or the protestors have to accept that their ideas and visions are not welcomed. We need to shift the focus. From simple: “I am against!” To a: “Let’s talk.” This way things maychange. Only may. Why do I express this idea? Because I am sick and tired of both parties. The protestors – and the officials. It annoys me that people have a request and the officials simply dismiss it. And I don’t like that. They should listen because they have to.
To come to a close. Protesting is something that is useful and it benefits. (Even though only a little.) We must find a way to develop the idea of a democracy. From protest to dialogue. From election to real interest. From accepting democracy to defending it. Protesting is a good indication of how the people feel and think. And we should use that indicator to improve our democracies. Be it in the US, Germany or somewhere else.