Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Political activism - is it worth it?

I just watched a programme on the BBC iplayer (This is available until Saturday 23rd July)

I was struck by the difference being made betwen the Suffragettes and the Suffragistes. In summary the Suffragettes were the ones who took militant action while the suffragistes chose to work inside the system to reform it. The point being made in the programme is that both were necessary to achieve the victory of votes for women...

I feel that this is a lesson we have failed to appreciate today. To many at the start of the 20th century, the issue of women's suffrage was not the basic right it is to us today, but a radical and dangerous change to the system. Today we are faced by different issues... how will History judge these?

I am too young for the seventies to have made a real personal impact on my thinking. My first real political memories are from just post the '79 election. I don't subscribe to the "I'm all right Jack" school of trade unionism or activism, but I do think it has its place.

There is a place for direct action, and a place for constructive building. The post election phase of 2010 saw direct action and internal dialogue. These 5 days in May brought this factor in our political system to a renewed prominence.

And since then we have had a number of mass protests that have tested the system to its limits.My question is which of these protests will History judge to be right and which misguided (please note not WRONG).

We are a democracy.... there must always be a place for peaceful (if not always lawful) demonstration free from provocation to violence from both sides. Only then can we show that we have truly learnt what History has to teach us.

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