Time magazine declared 'The Protester' its Person of the Year for 2011. Joe Glenton agrees it has been a breakthrough year for resistance, but insists this is just the beginning.
Time magazine declared its Person of the Year to be ‘The Protester’. This is recognition of the extraordinary range and breadth of resistance witnessed this year: the 'indignados' of southern Europe, mass strikes in a number of countries, the worldwide Occupy movement, and – above all – the contagious revolutionary uprisings of the Arab world.
But there is some sense of finality in Time’s assertion: as if it’s all done. As if we can all stand back and admire our efforts. As if we made it home for tea and medals.
Much has been achieved. Unlike some of my comrades, I spent the Arab revolutions jumping up and down in front of the TV; they tell me it was even more magnificent from Tahrir.
The term ‘protester’ may be inadequate: it could diminish what’s happened if we accept it. It may be true that people started 2011 protesting against something bad, but as 2012 approaches they – we – are fighting for something better.
If next year Time announces that person of the year is ‘the revolutionary’ we might allow ourselves a grin. It will mean Time is being run by its staff, which is the only way it would meaningfully concede such a thing. Until then, take a breath and add steel. Accept no defanging by the corporate media.
Our rulers have demonstrated, many times before and again this year, that they will respond to our attempts to re-shape the political landscape with water cannons, armoured vehicles and militarized policemen. They hate how mass social movements threaten their power and privilege, but these movements remain the only way to achieve genuine change.
2012 approaches. Economic depression, war and political instability are on the cards – and none of them are of our making. But us ‘protesters’ will have to deal with them.
Just don’t forget we are in a fight against an enemy which sees us largely as cattle – expect no quarter and give none. Imperialism and neoliberal capitalism are in crisis. It remains our task to give them as many kicks as we can.
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