The fashionable public get-together of youngsters of the early 2000’s was the flash mob, public shenanigans of seemingly senseless coordinated activities. In retrospect it seems like these were only try-outs for what we see on Europe’s streets nowadays. They have become the place-to-be to scream and shout for your beliefs.
It used to be only those pacifist, do-gooders, hippies, the ones causing public attention to issues like atomic energy or animal cruelty. But it seems like the topic portfolio has diversified – and so has the demographic of the demonstrator. In Germany this phenomenon even got its own name. They are called “Wutbürger”, “anger citizens”, accusingly blindly raging against anything that is decided by the elites. I used to consider this notion as utter bullshit aimed to belittle and undermine the freedom of expression, but a recent example challenged that view.
All over Europe we can see a change from the ballot to the boot, taking civic politics from the voting-booth out to the streets. Indignation is their mantra – against unemployment in Spain, social security in Greece, the political system as a whole in Italy, wasteful expenditure of public money for prestigious infrastructure in Germany and now the full legal accreditation of gay marriage in France.
Liberté, fraternité and égalité?
Wait, what? Okay, the German issue sounds banal in comparison to the other, but what exactly happened in France, the cradle of liberté, fraternité and égalité? Police reports say that about 300.000 people, organizers speak of 1,4 million, demonstrated against the decision to fully legalize gay marriage and adoption. And even more shocking, it ended violently with police apparently choosing to make use of tear gas.
What seems to be a step back to dark medieval ages, could be an example of an ongoing radicalization in times of financial and social crises. It is debatable, if the real motivation for many demonstrators was not so much their deep religious beliefs, but rather their strong opposition to other government decisions – one banner said: “We want work, not gay marriage!”
So, there is nothing wrong with “fighting for your right”, but please, if you do fight, then
“fight for what is righteous.