March in March – where to from here

So more than 50 000 people marched across the country today, with 25 000 in Melbourne.

Firstly – a big congratulations to the organisers. To most ‘professional’ campaigners and media commentators confusion it seemed to be a genuinely grassroots movement – with a diverse range of folks organising events across the country.

Oh no! No clear messaging! No uniform placards. No neat, singular storyline with key message points! Oh the horror – no line up of the same eminent speakers, or folks rolling out some serious EPN (extreme personal narrative).

Good lord. THE PEOPLE ARE JUST ORGANISING IT THEMSELVES. They are making their own creative placards – it is MAYHEM!

Perhaps that is a little unfair, but it can be frustrating to see the ‘professionals’ consistently sniping from the sidelines, with absolutely no chance in hell of mobilising 25 000 people for one of their events. Couldn’t we all look at it as a learning opportunity instead… what galvanised all these people? What resonated with them in a way other methods are not?

And the whole multi issue thing? Well Duh, it is the government, stupid.

This sick, foul, desperately unkind and mercenary government has done wrong to so many people, in such a short space of time, that there are a multitude of issues to talk about. Hence #marchinmarch

There are certainly critiques to be made. But can we be constructive about this? Can we be a little kinder and say, ‘good on you’ to a bunch of inexperienced people who pulled together one of the biggest mobilisations this city (and country) has seen in ages?

I don’t have a great deal of faith in rallies much of the time, but I do think they can be a useful tool. Certainly this got tens of thousands of people out on streets who made themselves heard, saw they were part of a bigger movement and who may have been exposed to new ideas and information, and might take the next step in their activism. Surely this is not a bad thing?

I can’t pass judgement on the speakers as I couldn’t get close enough to hear them. How awesome!

Stepping out of central station to a gridlocked crowd and not seeing anyone I knew for a good half hour – also an excellent feeling.

The last time I had that experience… wondered what is going on here… and why I didn’t know many of the people involved in the organising… well, that was about the time of Occupy. And much as Occupy copped the same criticism of incoherent messages, it came about and spread like a grassfire because people…not your usual suspect people… but people from all walks of life, felt deeply and profoundly that there are huge things wrong in our world, that our society is incredibly unjust and becoming moreso. And they wanted to do something about it.

And that was one of my inspirations for deciding to focus full time on activist support – because I want to see the next opportunity that comes our way, flourish, and grow, and challenge the very foundations of this unbalanced society-as-economy we are told is our only option.

Yes, can we please have better, clearer ‘asks’ or pathways for people to get involved. That definitely seems to be lacking in many of these mass marches. And yes, it would be great to use these numbers to be more defiant.

We showed today we could shut down a city. And it wasn’t even planned for. Imagine if we organised, trained, reached out to all the new people to bring them with us. What if we demanded kindness, compassion, and justice, and actually held the ‘leaders’ accountable to us? What if we strategically targeted government, corporations, used mass non compliance, put levers in the machine, instead of allowing the cogs to keep turning?

Me, that is what I am focusing on. Supporting people to train to be better, more effective activists, using powerful nonviolent action. You are welcome to join me. Or work out what your next steps are… but take those next steps. Because we need to, and we are all we have.
What’s next?

Some pics from today, but there are many more excellent ones out there.

Nicola Paris ~ CounterAct (accompanied today by Luca the activist wonder dog)