Saturday, 25 June 2011
Something is happening. The Arab Spring, the Spanish 'indignados', and now Chile.
In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in protest against various proposed power generation projects and in favour of a better public education system. As Chile since 1990 has had a fairly weak civil society, the sight of so many people on the street is quite amazing. The demonstrations are mostly peaceful, although often they end in some isolated incidents, arrests and tear gas.... which is what tends to get more media coverage.
One of the most creative protests in favour of a dying educational system was last night's Thriller flash mob.
Today, a mass protest, originally aimed a pushing for gay marriage, will likely end up being a wholesale inclusion-fest, pushing for rights and accountability on the environment, education and who knows what else.
The bottom line, of course, is that all this is happening because neither the government nor the opposition have shown much interest in responding, nor do they seem to know how to respond. If this doesn't change, in the medium term we'll continue to see street protests, hopefully all as peaceful, creative and high sprited as the one in this video. In the long term, however, we could be sowing the seeds for some sort of extra-systemic political force or candidate. That could be thrilling, or just scary.