February 23, 2022- A week after Ottawa, the world saw images of Climate Strikers blocking access airports in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. This time, the focus was on ending food waste, which the group sees as contributing to global warming.
It occurs to me that there is an increase in the number of people engaged in socially disruptive public demonstrations, in many more countries, over the past eleven years. This is, one way or another, a shot across the bow of any authoritarian government, or individual satrap. That is good news for authentically democratic regimes. A little constructive criticism never hurt anyone. It is actually very bad news for those who think demonstrations by conservatives are a stamp of approval for their more blinkered, retrograde policies. There will come a time, should a reactionary or revanchist government come to power in the U.S., that the authorities will step on the toes of the mobs who put them in the driver’s seat.
Then, the parting on the right will turn to parting on the left, again. This was true in France, circa 1795-7. It was true in Spain and Portugal, in the 1970s and was certainly the case in the unraveling Soviet bloc, from 1985-1993. It will be the case again, as hyperactive curbs on individual rights are always the result of a wall being raised between those in power and those on the street.
What is also happening is that the political center, often mischaracterized as “sheep” or “The Silent Majority”, is finding its voice. The recent recall of three socially hyperactive members of the San Francisco School Board was largely effected by those who were neither Right nor Left, but just fed up with some ill-conceived actions or announced plans, such as renaming schools presently bearing the names “Abraham Lincoln” or “Paul Revere”. There will continue to be increased scrutiny and activism, at all points on the spectrum.
I see it as a collision of mindsets: Those who think an elite can do the best job, on behalf of the people, and those who have confidence in the collective judgment of an informed electorate. Keep speaking truth to power. The elitists may actually learn something.