Rise Up! Rise Up!

I make no claim to psychic powers, but I have to say, things are unfolding as I foretold in many previous blogs. Our Summer of Strikes is indeed giving way to an Autumn of Protests.

Well, what do you expect? The cost-of-living crisis has everyone cancelling their Netflix accounts, so they have to make their own entertainment. Pubs are going out of business because of energy prices; cash strapped people can’t afford what landlords would have to charge in order to keep the lights on. So, where can friends go to socialise, meet new people and set the world to rights?

Why not try the latest protest? There’s bound to be at least one going on right now. If you don’t agree with the protest, you can always start one of your own. It won’t take much to gather a few people who share your grievances and are looking to vent.

People have a multitude of things to be pissed off about and very few outlets to vent their frustrations.

The Strikes are still ongoing. Rail workers, London Underground, various bus companies, the post office, barristers, dock workers and, coming soon, Nurses and Teachers. The strikes are definitely protests, they are just highly organised, exclusive to their members, with a specific set of goals and most important, an on-going dialogue with the people in power. I 100% support the strikes. Company bosses have spent far too long prioritising profits above all else. They plead poverty, claiming that to pay the workers more would bankrupt the company, all the while giving golden bonuses to executives and paying out dividends to shareholders. And if paying workers a livable wage would drive the business under, then your business is bound to fail regardless because you aren’t managing your resources effectively. The workers are no longer ‘Grateful for their jobs,’ and will not ‘Put the Company first.’ It’s time the companies learned to be grateful for their workers.

So I’m okay with the strikes, even when they inconvenience me. But, as I said, they are exclusive to their members, so while I support them, I can’t join them. Where can the average angry person in the street go to get their shout on? The street protests! They are the warehouse rave to the strikers ‘members only Ball. I don’t agree with all the protests, and I doubt their long term effectiveness, but I suppose it’s all about finding the right one for you.

Don’t Pay UK held rallies on October 1st. The initial plan was to get 1 million British households to cancel their direct debits for energy bills on October 1st, in protest of the skyrocketing prices. Unfortunately, only 200,000 signed up for the plan. Everyone else took it as a ‘wouldn’t it be nice if that worked’ plan, but knew the consequences of it not working would be freezing to death this winter. Instead, they went for a symbolic burning of energy bills. We may all repeat the gesture this winter in an effort to keep warm.

If anyone still has any bills laying around, you can bring them to the Extinction Rebellion protest this weekend, Trafalgar Square to Downing St. I’m not sure if it’s a March, or if they’re just expecting enough people to fill all of Whitehall, which is definitely achievable. From their facebook page “BRING your energy bills! Bring your messages of hope, love and rage against spiralling costs and the destruction of the planet!” Sign of the times; the Bible said ‘faith, hope and charity,’ the sixties said ‘peace, love and happiness,’ the message of today is ‘Hope, Love and Rage.’ Further sign of the times; that message is entirely appropriate.

Just Stop Oil has been very active recently. Blocking bridges, occupying the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. Today they have Glued Themselves to the roads around Harrods. On Knightsbridge and Brompton Road. It’s a well chosen spot; they are major London arteries that tend to bottleneck at the best of times. And in gluing themselves to the road, they cannot be moved by either argument or force. If you’re looking for a protest that’s not too much exercise, this could be the one for you. (Not for me, my skin reacts to strong adhesives).

Animal Rebellion has also been staging protests. They’re essentially Vegan Fundamentalists and want to force the transition to a plant-based diet. They’ve splashed paint over hunting and fishing shops, and poured milk all over department store carpets. Honestly, I don’t mid their campaign against hunting, but leave the milk alone. It’s currently more expensive than petrol and is considered essential for a child’s health and development. I’m not as on board with these protests. Veganism is a option, but I like meat and it’s My Body My Choice.

In the olden days, when you were disgruntled with the current state of affairs, the posh would write a letter to The Times, the working class would call into a radio show. That was replaced, for most people, by posts on social media; an essay on facebook, an instagram photo of the thing you didn’t like, or post on twitter, one that everyone hopes will be pithy and concise, but is more often a mess of abbreviations and emojis as they try to condense a thousand thoughts into 280 characters.

(I’m sure there are people who still write to The Times. These people are Old, either in body or in spirit.)

The problem with expressing your views on social media is that the post doesn’t land anywhere. It’s a place to say your piece and largely be ignored, except perhaps by the trolls. So many voices, posts, tweets all at once; by chance someone will go viral, something will start trending, but it’s one in a literal billion. You’re as well to scream into a pillow.

At Protests, the people are still screaming into the void, but they are screaming the same message, at the same time. So at least they can be heard. Every day, as situations worsen, more voices will join the chorus. Soon, the only people not screaming will be the ones we’re screaming at.

At the moment, they’re the ones not listening.

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