Evaluating Social Movements and Theories

The London’s Burning chapter of the blog has focussed on the flaws and strengths of social movements, such as the anti-fascist campaigns, and the anti-war movements. This piece will aim to conclude the chapter, by assessing their successes.

The Iraq War protests saw the implementation of W.U.N.C to a great degree through the use of Worthiness, on display via the visibility of politicians engaging in parliament, and voting against the war. Furthermore, they were supported by the Daily Mirror. Additionally, Unity, Numbers and Commitment were shown via the fact a cross-section of society gathered together, with many travelling from great distance, marching on Trafalgar Square, one million strong. This protest was significant as it used the current dominant form of culture to increase its platform, and in such a manner had a bigger reach. McAdam’s Three Stage Model allowed them to have their voice heard to a much larger degree as it provided them a larger base.

In contrast, the Vietnam protest did not have media support, and this resulted in their demonization. Rather than engaging with the culture, they as a result, used alarming tactics in order to gain publicity. From this, we can learn that a social movement is hindered a great deal when it lacks Worthiness, as it makes demonization easier. However, it must be remembered that the context, and culture between the 1960s and 2000s differed to a great degree.

Regarding anti-fascist protests, we can see that the 1930s Mosley-led movement was faced by Labour and the Communist Party. Their lack of unity makes it seem as if two differing movements fought against the fascists. The Labour Party provided the Worthiness factor through its vote in parliament for the Public Order Act. However, the Communist Party provided the Commitment and Unity factor, as they showed on the streets that they possessed a large number of anti-fascist members. Their numbers no doubt discouraged some people who may have found the fascist movement attractive.

Fascism reared its ugly head again in the 1970s, which resulted in an anti-fascist backlash. Using the Cycle Protest Theory, we can see that the rise of the far-right resulted in the rise of the left. In addition, the murder of Altab Ali saw the rise of a united front between Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, and Caribbean people.

In conclusion, in contemporary society, I believe we can see the social movement is experiencing a resurgence. Thus, this line of historiography is extremely vital. The lack of socio-economic analysis of the 2011 London ‘riots’ shows that it is necessary that theories are formed and discussed. Furthermore, if more movements are to emerge, they can learn from a relatively successful campaign as the Iraq war protests, which forced Ed Miliband in 2013, to reject the airstrikes in Syria.