6.4.2.1 Demonstrations of Concern: ‘People-Power’

The population needs to be able to raise issues on an impromptu basis, to demonstrate their concerns and ask for policy changes.  Several techniques are available, varying in their effectiveness:

  • People should have direct access to a politician who represents them and who should be prepared to take up issues on their behalf. Some former congressional staffers published a guide on how to use politicians effectively, based on successful Tea Party tactics, called Indivisible.
  • People can make their views known by letters to newspapers or by blogging on the Internet.
  • They can sign petitions.
  • They can step up the pressure by participating in demonstrations. For example, protests in Cairo ultimately unseated President Hosni Mubarak – as described in a BBC article entitled Tahrir Square’s place in Egypt’s history.
  • Demonstrations are not always popular with the public. Extinction Rebellion, which wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency”, was criticised for causing disruption.  It gained huge publicity in a good cause, though, and its leader Greta Thunberg was invited to speak to world leaders at the United Nations in September 2019, saying “How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
  • Protests can turn into riots, such as the poll-tax riots which led to the toppling of Margaret Thatcher; the BBC published a retrospective article on these, entitled 1990: Violence flares in poll tax demonstration.

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This is a current page, updated since publication of Patterns of Power Edition 3a.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6421b.htm