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The Nature of Modern Protest

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I found this article on the rise of radical ecoprotests in France really interesting because it reinforces my understanding of the nature of developed world protest since 1991 as being opposed to high modernist ideology rather than capitalism or socialism. These protestors seem to have much the same worldview as many involved in Occupy, Earth First, or various other anarchistesque groups in the last 20 years–resentment toward the big project building that marked 20th century political leadership, a distrust of institutions of all kinds, and a resentment toward centralization. I’m not saying this is good or bad, just noting the point. These protestors say as much:

“We saw the trees falling one after the other,” said Camille, 18, who would not give her last name for fear of running afoul of the authorities. “It was an environmental disaster.”

Like many others, Camille said she had come to the ZAD to denounce “grand projects that are useless and imposed.”

“I have heard about the crisis ever since I was born,” said Camille, who said she had just passed her final exams. “As long as there will be capitalist policies, there will be crisis.”

The demonstrators felt vindicated last week when a report commissioned by the government found that the project was too expensive, that local needs for the dam had been overestimated and that alternative options had not been sufficiently explored. But the report also said it would be difficult to stop construction at this stage.

The entire logic of such a project is offensive to a certain set of people. Perhaps most offensive is the logic that something is unnecessary but it’s already started so let’s finish it. And there’s a good reason to be suspicious of such a mentality given the number of disastrous projects completed for just such a reason over the years.

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