Do Protests Even Work?

It sometimes takes decades to find out

Zeynep Tufekci, June 24, 2020

... In the long term, protests work because they can undermine the most important pillar of power: legitimacy. Commentators often note that a state can be defined by its monopoly on violence, a concept going back to the philosopher Thomas Hobbes and codified by the sociologist Max Weber. But the full Weber quote is less well known. Weber defined the state by its “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force.” The word legitimate is as important as the words physical force, if not more. Especially in the modern world, that monopoly on violence isn’t something that self-perpetuates. Violence doesn’t just happen; it has to be enacted and enabled by people. The Soviet Union did not fall because it ran out of tanks to send to Eastern Europe when the people there rebelled in the late 1980s. It fell, in large part, because it ran out of legitimacy, and because Soviet rulers had lost the will and the desire to live in their own system. ...

(Emphasis in original.)

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