During the weekend of the G20 Summit in Toronto, I spent most of my time on the street amidst the protesters and had the opportunity to walk with Naomi Klein after her presentation at Massey Hall. Here are a few photos and notes written that weekend.
After the minor vandalism of storefronts took over as the face of the protests in the media, a friend and I got into an argument. He felt that the protest was a waste of time and regretted it…his anger only more validated by the fact that an acquaintance of ours had been one of the people smashing cop cars and smearing donuts around.
My friend’s argument was that the protest as a tool for change is a hangover of the hippie era- that the protest isn’t the effective method of change for our new world. Is it true? Is the protest only an outlet for emotional satisfaction when feeling powerless?
Walking through Allen Gardens with it’s array of mixed messages and performances with confused motives, one thing was clear- protest satisfies our basic human need for fun-to play together. Between the police and civilians, it was a fun game; everyone agitates one another and then reacts to the response of the others’ agitation.
Maybe the protest isn’t as effective today as it once was. One conclusion (the main philosophy of Burning Man) is that we need a DO-OCRACY. The reason we’re all angry about this summit is that it didn’t DO anything useful. Most of the people I saw lurking about the protests weren’t doing anything either. As one guy dramatically yelled out at some voyeurs, “this is a revolution, not reality t.v.!” Don’t go out and “protest” if you’re only really hoping to gawk at some freaks and not actually interested in doing anything to create change. The people have the power- we just don’t quite know how to use it.