But, obviously, clearly, it isn't having an effect. Or more accurately, it's not having the effect we hope, of ending the war, or ending immigrant-bashing, or bringing down Bush. Then again, I'm not convinced the antiwar protests in the 1960s succeeded in their aims either.
Obviously, that last observation is clearly wrong, but the first part of his comment reflects the views of a large number of people and that is one of instant gratification. It goes like this: 'if I do something and don't see results right away, why bother doing it at all?' and, not only that, the change must be one of immense measure such as "ending immigrant-bashing" - which was not what those protests were about in the first place.
Western society is plagued with people looking for quick fixes. Whether it's expressed in the form of chasing a high with alcohol or other drugs, believing that this week you'll win the lottery and life will then be wonderful forever, thinking that all you need to do to change a government is to show up on election day or living vicariously through others and letting them do the dirty work for you because you don't want to get your hands slapped. You want to stay safe, of course.
I think Americans sometimes forget that they're supposed to be involved in the pursuit of happiness which is far different than having it handed to you on a silver serving dish. And, of course, some believe that happiness is a goal that, once reached, is yours ad infinitum - unwilling to believe that the reaching of it ebbs and flows throughout life and that happiness is not some place you arrive at - only to stay in forever.
But, while there is a chorus of 'baby steps, baby steps' expressed in that diary's comments as well, there is a tone of obvious resignation and acquiescence to the power of corporations and the status quo of the political infrastructure. Once again, if it can't be fixed on a grand scale, then we'll just struggle for decades hoping our little actions might cause some change somewhere down the road.
There is no sense of revolution in America anymore. And, if America ever needed a revolution again, that time is now.
Our Damnit Janet is doing her best over there to explain that to MLWers, but the atmosphere of fear and 'I do what I can, what more do you want me to do?' is overwhelming. She's not the only shining star, of course. Witness Lilian Friedman who says she knowingly broke the rules at BT by posting 6 diaries in one day asking why people weren't out on the streets and was summarily banned for being such an undisciplined shit-disturber. Did anyone over there actually realize she was trying to make a point? I don't know. I wasn't there at the time. But, she broke the rules and obviously had to be punished. If that type of reaction happens among so-called progressives, no wonder so many people don't want to risk what might happen if they actually do get out there and protest amongst those who oppose their opinions. (Janet can tell you stories about exactly what goes on in the face of dissent. Luckily no one can ban her from the streets. They've tried, but they haven't succeeded. We love Janet.)
What's with this culture of ennuie? This culture where staying safe is revered among all else? This culture of keyboard revolutionaries who often don't get beyond their own front door? This culture of endless hoping that someone, somewhere will change everything for everybody else? This culture that believes the only way to change the system is to work within it? This culture of defeatism? This culture of 'oh well, maybe next time'? This culture of only doing things that are comfortable? This culture that is so stunned it needs laugh tracks to tell people when to laugh and sad music to tell people when to cry? This culture that is so lazy it has lost the will of aggressive inquiry? This culture that obssesses over the murder of a child beauty queen 10 years ago while little Iraqi, Palestinian, Sudanese and [fill in the blank] girls are being murdered every single day?
You cannot change political institutions and corporations quickly, but you can change a culture. First of all though, you must have the willingness to do so. Unfortunately, the fear that holds too many back - fear that we on the so-called left often believe is the exclusive domain of those on the right who've bought into Bushco propaganda without even realizing that the Rove machine had beaten us as well - is the prime obstacle.
We say we're free. We think we're fearless. We believe we do all we can.
We are wrong.
('This Revolution Won't be Televised' is the name of a book by Joe Trippi)
See also: Call Me Old School: Protests Matter by me and Quit Your Bellyachin' About Antiwar Demonstrations by Meteor Blades.