While watching these videos from the Berkeley protests, I considered how this modern round of civil upheaval compared to the 60’s anti-war/civil rights protests, and it occurred to me that the turmoil America experienced in the 1960’s tended to be anti-government and anti-Establishment with most street violence erupting between the young “revolutionaries” and the figureheads of the state, the police officers representing local and national jurisdictions.
Today’s protests, on the other hand, pit citizens against each other and I don’t fathom the situation will improve, nor take a turn for the peaceful any time soon.
Instead of “authorities” physically repelling the rebellious youth, it’s the voices of “authoritarianism” fighting in lieu of police and the governmental Establishment, two groups who have fallen out of favor with both camps of protesters. In fact, the police have appeared to be somewhat negligent and displaced from the frontline battles and the government is fragmented and in parallel turmoil as well.
I believe this has a great deal to do with the nuances and phenomenon of the internet age in which “localization” of cultural motifs has displaced previous collectively delineated vehicles by which these same sociocultural motifs are delivered.
Books and music, once sold en mass through immutably fashioned publishers and record labels, now can be delivered individually and fashioned to the specific consumer. Individual blogging has usurped the newspaper column and the news show commentary.
Likewise, protest has “microcosmized” from the archetypal citizen versus Establishment model of the old economy into a battle of citizen versus citizen with one side assuming the mantel of “authority.” We have taken it upon ourselves to fight the battle of reason and strength by proxy while the emotionalism and immature rebellion of inexperienced youth seeks to overthrow its peers, not its rulers.
And the government? It sits on the sidelines, refereeing and fading into oblivion for it shall soon become irrelevant once we assume the role of self-governance, the next stage of our digital revolution.