How did we get any say in who rules us? Street protest. How did women get the right to vote? Street protest. How did we get gay rights? Street protest. All the rights we enjoy today come from hard-earned protest against the rich and powerful. To lose this right is to lose the most important tool that ordinary people have to make real change. For while causes can and do get taken up by political parties; they only tend to respond when there is a mass of people – and how do you get that mass of people when you don’t own a newspaper or fund a pet think-tank? Street protest.

For the rich have many other means to get what they want: They fund political parties. They own media empires. They fund ‘think thanks’. Pet columnists write missives to ensure the common people hear the wants of their betters in a more palatable form; for there’s not many protest movements that seek to drop the Corporation Tax rate. Not many people give up their Sunday to stand on a street corner holding a banner asking for lower regulation on lead levels in petrol. Therefore, the rich keep a regular propaganda barrage of articles claiming to be about ‘freedom’ yet which at their root ensure that the rich have less to pay and fewer rules on how they get, and stay, rich.

They don’t need street protest, so they’ve got no real interest in keeping it legal. Here’s an example from history (1831)  where street protest lets the powerful know the real feelings of ordinary people:

In Bristol, this amounted to about 6,000 male voters, out of a population of 104,000 men. Furthermore, the Bristol Corporation was acting as the local authority and controlled the city. This was an oligarchy of men who bathed in opulence and civic grandeur, while not achieving a great deal – they were loathed.

Local magistrate Sir Charles Wetherall had stood up in Parliament and stated that Bristol did not want reform. This was a bare-faced lie, and as he came to open the court of Assizes on Saturday 29 October, Bristolians lined the roads to let their feelings be known.

How else could this have been done by ordinary Bristolians?

So if you don’t own a media empire. If you don’t fund a think-tank. If you aren’t a newspaper columnist. If you’re not a mega-donor of political parties, then what have you got? Street protest. Anyone should be able to protest and those protests should have the right to be annoying.

To lose this right is to lose the most important tool that ordinary people have to make real change.

Image credit here.