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Protest Culture and the Manifs of France

We all have the right to protest which is enshrined in the constitutions of liberal nations. But perhaps, no other nation takes this right as seriously as the French. They even have a dedicated website that shows which demonstrations are scheduled for the day and where it will happen.

Protesting has become part of the French culture which is no surprise since it is widely noted that the French Revolution changed the game entirely from the public to the private arena. The people found their voice and they chose to let them be heard. 

And I think, in part, that's why protests in France are a more common sight than other places in the world. The people are spurred to action for the causes in which they believe and they take to the streets whenever they see any injustices being done. On the other hand, other countries also see their fair share of protests but perhaps not as vigorous as those of the French.

Back in the US, we have our share of demonstrations, but they tend to be, for lack of a better term, wimpier. Americans might take to the streets for a day or two, but they can’t match the work ethic of those French men and women who, every morning, don their uniform of protest and trudge dutifully to the picket lines. The participation rates are staggering. Adjusting for population, a Parisian-scale protest would equal six million descending on Washington.

Of course, one other thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the impact of these protests. Being an ordinary occurrence, the question is whether the government, businesses, or whatever institution or policy the demonstrators protest against will respond to these concerns with urgency.

(Image credit: Norbu Gyachung/Unsplash)


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