'What's the point of political action?' Dan Hind asks in his latest opinion piece for Al Jazeera. He begins by outlining the general and widespread cynicism that has characterised our attitude to the public protest in recent years,
In Britain, vast public demonstrations in 2003 failed to prevent our government from joining the United States in a war of aggression in Iraq. If they can get away with that, why bother?
Politics has, for some time, been the reserve of politicians and broadcasters, who have been free to decide what is and isn't political for all of us. It seemed that we, the public, had given up the fight. However, in the light of recent events, Hind argues that what may have seemed like 'common sense' a decade ago now appears absurd; 'There is too much evidence that direct action, if sustained and sufficiently troubling to the established order, works.' Using the actions of protest group UK Uncut against tax avoidance as an example, Hind points out that,
A relatively small number of people who aren't supposed to act politically have begun to act in ways that effectively disrupt the orderly circulation of idea, goods, and alibis for inaction. In assembling and discussing matters of common concern they have exceeded the formal limits of polite protest. Their methods are demonstrably effective.
Arifa Akbar writes in the Independent that Kashmir is full of 'urgent truths' about the disputed region and its struggle for independence, praising Arundhati Roy for a particularly 'powerful' contribution. Paris Review recently published a short interview with Roy about her other recent book, Walking with the Comrades, in which she argues that in her opinion there is more hope to be found among the oppressed than their oppressors:
I always find it interesting that when you’re with people who are really at the receiving end of oppression, you find a lot less despair than you do in middle-class drawing rooms. In these situations, despair is not an option. I wonder if the amount of information that is hammered into our heads day and night leads people to think that the world’s problems are so huge they’re insurmountable. Whereas people who are fighting against something in a more or less localized way are far clearer about what they have to do and how they have to do it.