There is no “right” to protest – Vic govt moves against BDS Campaign “secondary boycott”

Every time I want to organise a public demonstration, the Police are at pains to point out that they respect my democratic right to protest.

Whenever I want to do something that might actually change something, challenge something, or achieve something, the Police are quick to point out how easily they can arrest me on spurious grounds.

The only right to protest recognised by the state is the right to ineffective protest. Effective protests are illegal.

Ineffective protests are welcome. Ineffective protest occurs within the strictures permitted and regulated by the state and thus reinforce state power. Ineffective protests moderates and co-opts forces that might otherwise build to challenge existing hierarchies. Let’s all give money to GetUp.

In contrast, effective protest is outlawed. The Police stand ready to arrest, the media stands ready to denounce, the Parliament stands ready to change the laws if present provisions are insufficient.

If these forces fail, and public protest succeeds in changing or forcing some small concession from state, capital, some other institution or dominant culture more broadly; then the impact of the protest is denied and other theories (usually centred around the benevolence of the changed institutions) are advanced to cover up the power of public action.

Overland, 15 July 2011: The Boycott Israel 19:

On Friday 1 July, 19 pro-Palestinian activists, including me, were arrested in Melbourne’s CBD for opposing Max Brenner, a chocolate store that sends care packages to some of the most brutal sections of the Israeli army.

The Australian, 8 August 2011: Israeli boycotts: ACCC called in:

ANTI-Israel activists face investigation for alleged secondary boycotts under landmark attempts by the Baillieu government to curb the global campaign to target companies and businesses linked to the Jewish nation.

Mr O’Brien, a former barrister who specialised in trade practices law, has written to ACCC chairman Rod Sims citing potential breaches of section 45D of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

He has also suggested the ACCC consider pecuniary penalties against organisations that participated in the boycott.

Take heart when you’re being arrested, sued, and denounced, you’re starting to hit home.

In solidarity with the BDS campaign.

1 Comment

  1. What would you describe the difference is between your mentioned ‘effective’ and ‘ineffective’ protests?

    If your talking about driving 200 trucks into Canberra and blasting your horn at The Lodge, then that’s allowed, but all it’s going to do is annoy the house keeper at The Lodge, and piss off some public servants who just want to get to work on time.

    If you want to pick up arms, go to war against the current leadership, then that’s not allowed. Not because it’s an effective form of protest, but because it’s murder (Depending on the classification of the conflict).

    I think people just have to be smarter in their protests, and don’t think like they would, but think how their target would.

    Will me driving that far actually have any impact on calling an early election?
    Or should I talk with my local member, and those of other areas where my issues are reflected in order to build a respected base of support?

    Will Max Brenner cave to 19 people standing out the front of one of their 32 branches, or would a viral online campaign raise more awareness of the topic?
    Would that then bring in media attention (We know ACA love a good viral video).

    PS – I was on Twitter, you were listed as Similar to, found the link to here.


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