Thursday, December 14, 2006

A radical observation

Our local high school, which is right next to UConn, has a student club: “Students for International Socialization.” (Yes, this is a college town).

I drove by the high school recently in mid-afternoon, about an hour after their school got out, and there they were about six high school students lined up along the main road holding signs deploring Bush, capitalism, and environmental damage. Standing with them were a handful of adults in their fifties or so (perhaps parents) who were also holding signs.

I had been teaching about class conflict and collective behavior, so I was interested in this little demonstration, but in looking at it I started laughing. The signs and the setting spoke of seriousness and anger, but the demonstrators themselves were smiling, talking with each other, and waving to passer-byers that they knew. It had the revolutionary intensity of a PTA bake sale or maybe a Cub Scout informational table.

I suppose that even international revolutionaries have to do emotional work.

1 comment:

Dan Myers said...

I've always found it fun to be at demonstrations, even when the subject matter is deadly serious. It's all part of a big solidarity ritual--it's very enjoyable to be with a group of like-minded and it's a great way to get your batteries recharged. Sort of like going to church for activists!

It's my impression that the angry protestor image is extremely rare--it's a creation of media selection. Same thing in riots--the vast majority of the people out there are having a good time--not angrily destroying symbols of oppression. But the cameras focus on the dramatic.