Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Story telling - Agit8 - protesting.

Since I was a boy there have been protests. A number of current singers and songwriters are getting together to nudge the delegates at the next G8 Conference. Their campaign is called agit8.

 This was an early protest.

Another was the Tolpuddle Martyrs who were a group of 19th century Dorset agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as a trade-specific benefit society. But at the time, friendly societies had strong elements of what are now considered to be the predominant role of trade unions. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were subsequently sentenced to transportation to Australia.

The Luddites  were 19th-century English textile artisans who protested against newly developed labour-saving machinery from 1811 to 1817. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.

The Jarrow Crusade. 

The 207 marchers travelled from the town of Jarrow to the Palace of Westminster in London, a distance of almost 300 miles (480 km), to lobby Parliament. Their MP, Ellen Wilkinson, known as 'Red Ellen', walked with them. When the marchers completed their feat, very little was done for them. The town's shipbuilding industry remained closed, with the marchers given £1 each for the train fare back from London.

All of the above, and many other protest situations have one thing in common. They are all about the ordinary people fighting the establishment for better conditions for a variety of reasons and yes we are getting back there again. agit8 is a collection of musicians who have got together for a week of protest singing in an effort to awaken some level of public consciousness in the G8 delegates.

In anticipation of the G8 summit next week, the rocker's advocacy organization, the ONE, kicks off agit8, a week-long music campaign designed to put pressure on policymakers to take action against extreme poverty. Agit8 recruited the help of at least 50 artists, ranging from U2 and Sting to Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran, to release music videos of themselves doing covers of protest songs.

This takes me back to my teen years and the Ban the Bomb protests that were sparked by the Cuban Missile crisis in the early 1960s. It was quite a frightening time as I recall and a number of artists produced protest songs but the one who stands out for me was Bob Dylan and some of his music is being repeated this next week.

Bob Dylan

Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan's early songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'", became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. 

My point today is - what has changed? Whatever, protesting does have an effect. You just have to look at the women's suffrage movement and the eventual success they had. BUT why should this be necessary in a supposed democratic society where people are elected to represent people?

The music of Bob Dylan is available on YouTube.

God Bless