Fair Weather Complaining

Mark van Vugt Ph.D. used the Occupy Wall Street as an example in an article he wrote about why we protest as a collective.

It’s an article that debunks some myths of a group or unorganised louts making a noise.  Van Vugt highlights that these crowd protests are usually taken part in by people with very strong opinions about a subject for which they are a lot poorer than a certain peer group.

Such a group, or rather “such a cause”, can bring together people of all backgrounds in to a flat hierarchy where all are equal in status.

In a way, it all sounds quite perfect.  It’s easy to see a lot of people causing trouble, but that somewhat negates motive unless, like that episode of Fresh Meat, the motive is to cause trouble or get some time away from university! Trying to keep away from the fantasy world of Manchester Medlock University…

I was quite amused by point number 5 in van Vugt’s article:

Much research has been done into the relationship between heat and crowd violence in many places around the world. Social psychologists Anderson and Bushman have written about it extensively. They compared the amount of public violence across various U.S. cities and showed that violence increases with temperature. The Italian scholar Lombroso showed a century earlier that political protests in Europe were more likely to take place in the summer months. An obvious explanation is that nice weather attracts a lot of people to the streets and that strengthens the crowd. The timing of the Occupy movement in the late summer is therefore no coincidence. Whether it lasts through the cold and dark winter remains to be seen.

Having gone through the plus points of mass collective protest, uniting individuals to work towards a common goal as a body greater than the sum of its parts, there is then a suggestion that it only happens when it’s nice out.

“Hey, Barry, fancy coming to join that protest about [insert appropriate cause here]?”

“Give over, Dave.  Have you looked out the window?  It’s p*ssing down and freezing cold.  Fancy a pint instead?”

“Erm, yeah, alright then.  They won’t miss us anyway.”

I’m someone who gets grumpy more grumpy in the heat so I can understand a certain irritability caused by uncomfortable weather.  However, I’ll complain about the temperature and how winter layers are much more comfortable than trying to cool down.  By waiting for fair weather to complain about things, does it not somewhat ruin the beauty of the mass complaint?

Well, a teacher of mine once told me
That life was just a list of disappointments and defeats
And you could only do your best,
And I said, “Well, that’s a fucking cop-out, you’re just washed up and you’re tired,
And when I get to your age, well, I won’t be such a coward.”
But these days I sit at home, known to shout at my TV
And Punk Rock didn’t live up to what I’d hoped that it could be
And all the things that I believed with all my heart when I was young
Are just coasters for beers and clean surfaces for drugs
And I packed all my pamphlets with my bibles at the back of the shelf

Well, it was bad enough the feeling, and the first time it hit
When you realised your parents had let the world all go to shit
And that the values and ideals for which many had fought and died
Had been killed off in the committees and left to die by the wayside
But it was worse when we turned to the kids on the left
And got let down again by some poor excuse for protest
Yeah by idiot fucking hippies in 50 different factions
Who are locked inside some kind of 60’s battle re-enactment
And I hung up my banner in disgust and I head for the door

Oh, but once we were young, and we were crass enough to care
But I guess you live and learn, we won’t make that mistake again, no
Oh, but surely just for one day, we could fight and we could win
And if only for a little while, we could insist on the impossible

Well, we’ve been a good few hours drinking
So I’m going to say what everyone’s thinking
If we’re stuck on this ship and it’s sinking
Then we might as well have a parade
Cause if it’s still going to hurt in the morning
And a better plan’s yet to get forming
Then where’s the harm spending an evening
In manning the old barricades?

So come on, old friends, to the streets
Let’s be 1905, but not 1917,
Let’s be heroes, let’s be martyrs, let’s be radical thinkers
Who never have to test drive the least of their dreams
Let’s divide up the world into the damned and the saved
And then ride to the valley like the old light brigade
And straighten our backs and we won’t be afraid
And they’ll celebrate our deaths with a national parade

So come on, let’s be young, let’s be crass enough to care
Let’s refuse to live and learn, let’s make all our mistakes again, yes
And then darling, just for one day, yeah, we can fight and we can win
And if only for a little while, we could insist on the impossible

Leave the mourning to the morning
Yeah pain can be killed
With aspirin tablets and vitamin pills
But memories of hope, and of glorious defeat
Are a little bit harder to beat

Love And Ire Song by Frank Turner

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