Public demonstrations provide the means for accountability for those affecting large numbers of people. If those in charge do not react to the demonstrations by changing behaviors or policies, then the demonstrations have the potential of bringing economic and/or political damage to those targeted by the demonstrations.
This technique appears to work for other social animals as well. Chimpanzees have a social organization of an alpha male having dominance, often exerted through violence. However if the alpha male's behavior becomes unacceptable to the community, there is a collective tantrun or demonstration where either the male accepts the censure and changes the behavior or he will lose his dominant status.
Human beings also have a social structure, with local communities having various economic entities including: companies (like manufacturers or automobile service stations), government organizations (like a city council or school board), and community services (like police). For each link in this social chain, there is a mechanism for accountability. If the business does not provide suitable products or services then the community will not pay for those offerings, subsequently causing an economic failure. If the local government organization fails to meet expectations then those responsible might be voted out of office during the next election; if a behavior is deemed too unsuitable some offices can be subject to an immediate recall vote. If the community service does not meet expectations (like poor fire or police support) then the community will force changes, by applying pressure on their elected representatives to change how the services are conducted.
Unlike the simpler structures of other social animals like chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants, humans have a more complex multiple tiered social structure, extending from the family unit, a local community, the local region of communities (that can be collected into a county or state or province), up to a nation. Economic entities can also exhibit a complex structure extending from a local subsidiary, a group of associated nearby facilities, to an international headquarters.
At each level in this social structure, there is usually one or two people responsible for managing that level. Having one person in charge is probably more common than a partnership of two or more; even a family is often managed by having more decisions made by one or the other parent rather than first checking for consensus.
Unfortunately these structures are notoriously top-down, where anyone not in conformance with the wishes of those at the top are subject to censure or dismissal. Therefore, unless the leadership is enlightened by being receptive to new or alternative ideas and to constructive criticism rather than (as in too many cases) just concentrating on maintaining control (and so also the accompanying acclaim and compensation), it can be difficult for significant change to arise within each organization. (The alternative social structure is bottom-up, where in a corporation (which is not given legal personhood) the employees own and directly manage the company and freely nominate/replace the figureheads at the top or where in a government entity the electorate has better mechanisms for direct accountability without the substantial influence coming from outside economic entities. A democratic structure requires true bottom-up accountability.)
Public demonstrations become the mechanism for external influence on any tier of this social and economic structure. These demonstrations can be even more effective when armed with inside information, where someone within the organization is aware of misbehavior (perhaps unethical actions) by those higher up in the organization but by lacking an internal avenue seeks this alternative for change.
The efficiency and acceptance of any social organization could be measured by whether there are any public demonstrations against its policies or behaviors. Obviously criminal actions should be pursued through the legal system for those circumstances so a company officer being convicted of embezzlement, murder, or the like is not necessarily an indictment of the company as well except in the case where the actions were condoned or ignored, as in the case of sexual harassment or abuse (like with pedophiles taking advantage of being Catholic priests).
Therefore the vitality of humanity is rather dependent on the efficiency of this mechanism of public demonstrations. Without demonstrations, then the only effective check on misbehaviors is criminal prosecution; if illegality cannot be proven then the misbehavior remains unchecked, wreaking damage on its victims until eventually there is some other influence (like running out of victims, or hitting the economic consequences, or finally stymied by a political change). There were many years of demonstrations before the 8-hour day, 5-day work week practice became common or before slavery was abolished or before blacks were allowed to vote or before American troops departed Vietnam.
The effectiveness of large public demonstrations was recently shown by the relatively quick deposal of Hosni Mubarak from Egypt.
Since the level of violence has been escalating, the continuing efforts to suppress public demonstrations are rather alarming. The recent events in Oakland for the Occupy Wall Street protests are certainly disturbing. This reaction of harassing the demonstrators is nothing less than an attempt to avoid accountability. If no demonstrations are allowed then those in charge can do whatever can be whimsically imagined, until either people change offices due to an election cycle or some other result of the action (like a proposed criminal investigation) finally forces a change in behavior.
Unfortunately, public demonstrations have been sabotaged as well, where the police infiltrators are the ones doing the violence not the actual protesters. (see here, here, here)
The UN IPCC and the AGW movement are apparently pushing for an unelected UN entity to manage the world's economy (and so also the world's nations) with the justification this entity is needed to rigidly control the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, this political movement, almost a religion, has taken advantage of many people who believe the misinformation claiming an increase in a trace atmospheric gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), from 350 to 400 parts per million will cause catastrophic changes in the world's climate, even though much higher levels of CO2 have been recorded in the world's geological record and yet a diverse plant and animal population still exists and even though the temperature increase measured in the 1990s was essentially the same as measured in the 1930s but the later decade is somehow different than the first and even though the temperatures one thousand years ago were higher than now and yet somehow the temperatures now are more dangerous than those earlier. If these public demonstrations are able to influence political change to cause CO2 reductions the economic impact could be disastrous for the third world countries already having insufficient energy for basic human needs and for necessary development. Though political and religious movements can sometimes hijack public demonstrations for their selfish goals (in the case of AGW: billions of dollars have been provided from the government and from huge international organizations like the WWF to push the AGW propaganda), the mechanism remains important.
The immediate future for humanity is becoming ominous. With the recent Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, the American elections are now openly accepted to be up to the highest bidder so the representatives no longer represent the electorate; the elections offer no real viable candidates since those on the ballot have already met the requirements of the corporate interests funding their campaigns. The European Union is essentially an entity controlled by nominated commissioners not subject to elections. The multinational corporations and banks controlling the world's economy are not held accountable since they can shift their resources easily among different countries, avoiding any consequences for their actions, even with public demonstrations.
Somehow, people must awaken to the danger of this violent suppression of demonstrations. As this continues (where there is no effective outlet for popular discontent to influence political change), the consequences will be only the further degradation of the everyday existence for all but the most rich in the world (who run the highest levels of the world's economic organizations unchecked with the aim of their own enrichment regardless of the consequences to the rest of humanity). Absolute power corrupts absolutely - and the world's economic crisis, accompanied by death and destruction as various targeted regimes fall, is a bad omen for what the future can hold when that power remains unchecked.
The Founding Fathers of the United States believed the right of people to join in public demonstrations is so important that it is part of the Bill of Rights, in the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." When a public demonstration is suppressed this is a clear violation of that standard, and even worse when violence is used to disperse those assembled. The right to assemble is also part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Article 20. This UDHR document was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The freedom of assembly is recognized by many national and regional constitutions.
created - October 2011
last change - 10/31/2011
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