Skip to main content

Why protest is a powerful tradition of change that shapes present, assures better future

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
As social, economic and political Darwinism dominates the intellectual debates and discourses to naturalise and normalise capitalist exploitation and inequalities, survival of the fittest is becoming the new normal. The best human qualities based on love, peace, sympathies, empathies and coexistence are becoming the signs of human weakness in the rat race success and survival.
In this process, human beings are becoming mechanised where life has become a project to achieve. Human beings are becoming like orderly objects shaped by the market forces of capitalism, where success means achievements.
The reversal of such a system is possible and important for the survival of all. The present and future of humanity depends on our abilities to protect the achievements and protest the ruinous capitalist path. History is the witness to achievements of protests against power by common people.
The time has come again to celebrate the idea of protest and sketch its significance in the history of human progress. Protests are individual or group expression of dissent both in its violent and non-violent forms. It expresses itself in the form of writings, poems, singing, rallies, demonstrations, resistance movements, and revolutionary struggles.
The history of protest is as old as the history of human civilisation. It is the protests against social, economic, political, religious and cultural power structures, that shaped the idea of freedom and human progress towards the 21st century. The ideas of human freedom from bondage of slavery, feudalism, colonialism and capitalism are products of protests.
The ideals of democracy, liberty, equality and fraternity are the products of different struggles in history. From French revolution, October revolution, anti-colonial struggles to women’s movement and environmental movements in Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe revealed that protest against power is human progress.
The organised and unorganised protests put pressures and pursue human beings to accept, accommodate and advance change. In this sense, protest is a powerful tradition of change that shapes our present and assures better future.
All these ideals of human progress are at the crossroads today. The uncertainties of today and questions of better future confronts everyone. The rise of authoritarian states and governments, right-wing politics, reactionary religious forces, conservative leaderships, environmental catastrophes and wars are integral to capitalism, which undermines human lives and progressive values. 
Capitalism as an economic, social, political and cultural system is based on deception. It is corrosive as well. Is there any alternative to this worldwide capitalist system? The liberal, conservative and capitalist intellectuals argue that ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism. Such an argument derives its philosophical foundation from Darwinian philosophy. 
They argue that deception and survival of the fittest is not unique to capitalism. It is a part of the natural world and integral to human evolution. So, capitalism cannot be immune to deceptions, inequalities, exploitations, deaths and destitutions. Such normalisation of reactionary trends in economy and society are accelerated by religious and political forces to re-establish capitalist world order in a post pandemic world.
There are three trends of protest movements today. The first trend of protests demands to restore the past and celebrate all reactionary orders in the society based on patriarchy, feudalism, racism, superstitions and hierarchy. These protest movements today hide behind nationalism to achieve their goals. They use ethnic, cultural and religious idioms to popularise their reactionary goals. Even the progressive forces fall into these narrow populist and bigoted nationalist strands of protest movements. 
Protests against social, economic, political, religious and cultural power structures  shaped the idea of freedom and human progress
The second trend is the liberal version of the protest movements that intends to reform, revise and restore the capitalist order with a human face or compassionate capitalism as they call it. The liberal version is a dichotomous myopia that helps in maintaining the hegemony of the old and powerful forces of capitalism. There is very little qualitative difference between the reactionary forces of the first trend and the liberal version of the second trend. The liberal outlook is irrelevant as capitalist system does not show any sign that the system can be reformed. 
The third trend of protest movements are universalist, progressive, democratic and egalitarian in its approach. It demands a complete radical change of society. This trend of protest movements has shaped historic transformations of society and continue to inspire human progress. But these movements are in the weakest ebb of their own history but strongest alternative available based on historical experiences.
The human progress depends on reviving the revolutionary protest movements with universal appeal to save humanity from different disasters ingrained within capitalism. The prelude to the post pandemic world shows very regressive trends of human history. It is time to unlock and revive the power of human potentials for revolutionary protest movements for a sustainable future.
The predatory nature of capitalism cannot be reformed and revised as liberals claim. The predatory capitalism reproduces itself in different forms that promotes consumerism in one place and religious fundamentalism in another place. It forms alliances with democratic and dictatorial forces at the same time.
It can take the shape of social democracy in Europe and neoliberal authoritarianism in Asia and Africa. It is not an article of faith but systematic treadmill of miseries of the masses within capitalism in different forms. This is the revealing feature of capitalism over last three centuries.
The world is in a very critical moment in its history. The revolutionary reconstitution of our society is the only alternative. As Rosa Luxemburg warned, the choice is between socialism or barbarism. The history is the witness to human prosperity and progress due to the sustained power of protest movements for progressive change. It is time to reclaim the history of protest movements to revive its present and fortify our future.
If the progressive, democratic, socialist and left forces fail to organise successful protest against capitalist order, the future of humanity would decent into the barbaric stage of capitalism. Peace, solidarity and unity are three weapons of revolutionary protest movements against capitalist order which destroys our planet and our future. The collective and democratic struggle against capitalism and all its power structures is our only chance to ensure peace and prosperity for all.
---
*Coventry University, UK

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.