I see that Time has named the protester as their Person of the Year. I get that, however; I would separate the protests in the Middle East from Tea Parties, Occupy Movements or “Get the Frack out of my town” activities.
However, while not as meaningful the latter are valid forms of protest.
I continue to get haranguing emails about my stance on shale gas development – one person this week going so far as to ask me to show my wife the web page of a lady in Alberta who is suing the government for $3 million. For him, I guess, that constitutes some form of proof of the evils of shale gas development. Unfortunately, I had to inform him that my wife is even more supportive of shale gas than I am. She doesn’t go for hype – she tends to be pragmatic.
But I continue to maintain that social license matters. If the people don’t want it, you can be sure it won’t happen. Even if the Tories continue, the Liberals will use it as their toll highway, or HydroQuebec wedge issue to get elected next time and then shut it down.
If you read Wilbur’s book on NB history since the 1960s, there were serious protests on a wide variety of environmental issues but they tended to be localized. In the age of Facebook , Twitter and in this case – especially YouTube – you get widespread outrage in nanoseconds. See Gladwell’s Blink for details.
But as Mr. Spock said, “as a matter of cosmic history it is more easy to destroy than create”.
You can get thousands of signatures on an anti-shale gas petition and the last time I looked the pro-shale gas Facebook site had a couple of hundred poor souls that like it.
If you step outside shale gas, I think this is a new kind of politics and social interaction. These same techniques will be used to cut down other mining, municipal reform, toll highways, tax rises, health care reform, education reform – any of the big policy issues will be subject to this effect where thousands of angry people will mobilize against and there will not be an equivalent ‘for’ side.
But, that’s democracy.