Sunday, October 03, 2004

Anti-War Rally

MelbournePhilosopher

I had been avoiding this topic as done to death, but given that I went to the anti-war rally in the city today, I thought I had better post. Philosophically speaking, there are many arguments on both sides, and my personal opinions about the issues are far to intricate to post in 2000 words let alone 200. However, I thought I'd give you an overview of my impressions of the rally and the message that was put out.

The rally itself was I thought quite small. Hundreds of people, maybe a thousand, but not two. The best speaker was David Risstrom, senate candidate for the Greens party, but there was an Aboriginal activist who also came across well. Unfortunately, the speeches lacked a cohesive message. The various minority groups plyed their own wares, with "And troops out of Iraq" as a mandatory comment somewhere in the politikspeak. David R. was the only speaker who really kept focused on the issue for which I was willing to lend my voice. This was unfortunately echoed in the choice of red flags carried by many of the protesters, some of which bore the image of Che Guevara, thus bringing other left-wing political issues in, blurring the issue. I thought it would have been a more successful rally if the message had been kept more pure.

It was my first political rally since I was about 8 years old, tagging behind cousins and uncles in an antinuclear protest. I have to say, I rather enjoyed it. You get a good feeling of empowerment from standing in the streets, looking out at people who are watching the rally and thinking, "This is it. I'm standing for something." It was as much an opportunity for me to realise my political views as it was any mechanism for real change. I don't think that most people react well to rallies - there is a kind of instinctive reaction against dissidence in our culture which often makes it hard to hear the message being put forward. Which is why protesters need to do all they can to avoid alienating their audience.

I would advise anyone interesting in taking part in rallies not to take themselves too seriously, but to enjoy the experience of shouting to the world "I have an opinion, I will not let you go unchecked." The actual chant was of course a little more catchy, but the meaning was clear :)

1 Comments:

Blogger David Risstrom said...

Dear Melbourne Philosopher,

Thank you for the nice comments. Rallies are an important forum for presenting ideas, especially those that are not readily supported by other media.

As more people are realising in conservative times, rallies that attract extraordinary people who are prepared to voice their beliefs are an invaluable part of our democracy.

8/31/2005 09:16:00 AM  

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