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Be Prepared for the Inevitable and Unpredictable Mass Movement

People who seek justice and an end to militarism feel like they are laboring in relative obscurity, organizing seemingly unnoticed actions, but at some point a wave of mass resistance arises.
 
 
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Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Mohamed Elsayyed

 

The surprise events in Turkey show how unpredictable mass movements are.  Turkey, which is in a difficult geographic neighborhood, with economically distressed Greece and Cypress nearby and Syria and Iraq on its border, seemed to be fairly stable with five percent economic growth in recent years.  But, obviously that was not the whole story. 

In recent years there has been growing opposition to the commercialization of Turkey and the crackdown on freedom as well arrests of journalists. So, when Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced the development of a park, in a city of declining green spaces, into a shopping area, the people revolted. The government’s response has been brutal with 1,700 injured and 1,900 arrested, but it has led to larger revolts. 

The unions joined and many civil-political groups have joined as well. A coalition of 180 groups now call themselves Taksim Solidarity and are starting to form demands. There are protests in 67 cities involving hundreds of thousands of people. A protester told Sky News: “This is no longer about these trees.”Turkish protesters sought international solidarity through a twitter campaign to overcome the lack of mass media coverage (TV continued to broadcast regular content such as the Turkish Beauty Pageant).  There were at least 2 million tweets, sometimes at 3,000 every minute. Prime Minister Erdogan called tweeting “a menace” and people were arrested for tweeting. International solidarity followed with Occupy protesters in New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Austin and other cities around the world as well such as in London, Amsterdam, Germany, Egypt, Canada, Helsinki and Cyprus.  On Reddit people posted helpful advice such as how to respond to tear gas.

The eruption in Turkey seemed spontaneous, as most uprisings do. But the reality is that in case after case momentum builds for a while, sometimes under the surface, until it reaches a tipping point and an event lights the spark that sets off mass protest. Nobody can predict what the event will be or when it will occur.

So often, people who seek economic and social justice and an end to militarism feel like they are laboring in relative obscurity organizing seemingly unnoticed actions, but at some point a wave of mass resistance arises. We sense the United States is at that stage once again. Protests on various issues are occurring throughout the country, more people are getting active, and the undercurrent is once again forming a wave.  What will grow that wave to a tidal force? We don’t know.  But, we can prepare for it so when it does, the people are more effective.

One key to building the movement is rejoicing in our successes.  There were two we want to highlight this week. First, protesters in Canada scored a major victory against the Alberta Tar Sands shutting off their route to the Pacific when the British Columbia government rejected the pipeline because of the dangers of oil spills.  The second victory came against Monsanto, which has given up plans to bring its products to Europe. These victories remind us once again of something that has been shown throughout history – people organized, acting strategically with uncompromising pressure can win against the power structure, today in the United States it is a conflict between the people and planet and concentrated corporate power. 

The long history of social movements and transformation guide our philosophy of how we can win which we describe on PopularResistance.org and plan to write about in detail next week.  One of the goals of PopularResistance.org is to provide tools so that as people’s anger grows and as they become ready to get active, they are able to do so more easily and be as effective as possible.  We also hope to provide encouragement by showing that we are not alone in our anger at the mistaken direction of government and the economy.  There is a growing movement that seeks an end to the rule of money so people and planet come before profits.