Is protesting against a government pointless or can it yield results?

Protests against governments have been around for centuries. But does protesting make a difference? Nowadays peaceful protests are legal in most countries. People protest for various reasons. Some are high costs for education or healthcare, police brutality, the renovation or demolition of historical places, government corruption and etc. Often with these demonstrations, people want to achieve the repudiation of the government or a certain political figure. But do people really have a say in any of it? Let’s have a look at some of the bigger protests in recent history.

  • Occupy Wall Street, USA, 2011 – Beginning in September 2011, OWS witnessed people come in flocks to “occupy” Zuccotti Park as a form of protest against America’s wealth gaps and lack of financial opportunities. It helped spark the global Occupy movement which protested against global inequality. It continues to this day as people try to reach their goals.
  • Anti-war protest of Iraq and Afghanistan, Worldwide, 2001 – Protests with one goal, running for more than a decade. Beginning a month after the 9/11 tragedy, these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused many protests in different countries. Over 31,000 lives have been lost in these wars and they cost billions of dollars.
  • Arab Spring, Arab League and more, 2010 – 2013 – Starting in Tunisia, they spread to many other countries. These protests weren’t always peaceful, but they had a great impact on Arab countries. The leaders of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia were forced out of power and many other governments were affected profoundly.
  • Euromaidan, Ukraine, 2013 – a wave of demonstrations against corruption, abuse of power and violation of human rights, that later sparked the 2014 Ukranian Revolution, which resulted in the overthrow of the government and the president.

There are many other examples, which haven’t received so much popularity worldwide. Government protests will always exist, and people’s opinions will differ but recently not much is happening other than the governments not responding to the people’s demands and opinions.

Protests in the past have yielded results. Here are a few examples of successful protests:

  • Arab Spring
  • Singing Revolution (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia against the rule of the Soviet Union)
  • Gandhi’s Salt March (it didn’t work immediately, but it is considered a turning point in India’s fight for independence against Britain)
  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott (started by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on the bus for a white man)

In today’s social media world beginning any march for change is easy. Through Facebook groups or twitter hashtags, people have sparked many protests. The problem with this is that, while social media helps spread the word and attracts many crowds, the people are less organized and have trouble following through after their “march” for the cause. The dull political work, face-to-face meetings and complex things that are required to be done in order to make a change are simply forgotten because there is no hierarchy behind the decision making for the movement and it either ends in police violence or simply just dies out with no change at all.