Monday, 15 November 2010
Demonstrations and Hard Times
The recent fracas regarding student demonstrations in central London over rising tuition fees and cuts to higher education -- and a very small number of violent protesters who ended up at the Tory Party headquarters -- reminds us that hard times and demonstrations naturally coincide. During heady salad days, there is little to feel wronged over. When fortunes are reserved, however, anger tends to boil to the surface. "The Thirties" were the hungry decade, the Red Decade, the "low dishonest decade" -- you may take your pick of adjectives. It certainly was a decade of marches, protest, and anger. From the National Museum of Photography in the UK, this photo shows spectators watching a demonstration by the Labour Party-controlled Daily Herald in Trafalgar Square, 4 March 1934, possibly the culmination of a hunger march. They seem rather docile, and besides there hardly appears to be enough protesters to summon any critical mass of anger. They watch and wait -- part of a continuum of democracy, citizenship, and "the demo."